West Ham United 1-1 Crystal Palace
- Goals: Sebastien Haller (£6.1m) | Christian Benteke (£5.5m)
- Assists: Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m) | Joel Ward (£4.3m)
- Bonus: Coufal x3, Andros Townsend (£5.8m) x2, Haller, Ward x1
A clash between David Moyes and Roy Hodgson produced exactly the game of football you’d expect – tight, hard-fought and lacking major chances.
Two old school centre-forwards, Sebastien Haller (£6.1m) and Christian Benteke (£5.5m), scored the goals, while Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend (£5.8m) managed to walk off with two bonus points despite having no shots and creating only two chances.
Townsend did provide one of the game’s two big chances and put over six crosses, but the creator in chief on the night was West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m).
The full-back’s four chances created led the way, as did his total of 13 crosses.
Since he made his debut in Gameweek 4, only two FPL defenders have supplied more key passes than the Czech international.
Six of Boufal’s crosses were successful, including the one that Haller converted into a goal thanks to a spectacular overhead kick.
That piece of skill prompted some fantastically Moyes-like praise from his manager:
One of my first games he scored a scissor kick. It’s the tap-ins I want him to score as well. We need somebody to come up with the goods.
Those who didn’t come up with such goods included relatively well-owned Hammers midfielders Tomas Soucek (£5.0m and 7.7%) and Jarrod Bowen (£6.4m and 5.3%) and popular Palace man Wilfried Zaha (£7.5m and 22.3%).
But in a match involving, the goals aside, just two shots on target, their blanks weren’t all that surprising.
Their futures in a number of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) teams aren’t exactly assured, however.
Palace face up to Liverpool, Aston Villa and Leicester next, while West Ham’s schedule is not much better (che BHA sou eve) and they’ll have a blank Gameweek 18.
Faith In Christian
One of the unlikelier occurrences of what is already a highly unpredictable season has been the re-emergence of Benteke as a Fantasy force.
The striker had a wild Wednesday night, scoring his third goal in as many starts – thus matching his entire output of the past two seasons – and leading the way for attempts (five) and big chances (two) from 69 minutes of action.
He also topped the bill for sendings off after receiving two yellow cards – a harsh state of affairs according to both Moyes and, less surprisingly, Hodgson:
It was a ludicrous decision. He only tried to use his arm for leverage and honestly win the ball. It’s odd to sit here and say these things as if you’re some monster who wants everything to go his way. Decisions like that are ruining the game.
Benteke will now sit out Saturday’s visit from Liverpool. Based on the feverish festive schedule, that makes him virtually nailed-on for the Boxing Day trip to another of his former clubs, Villa.
In the £5.5m or cheaper striker price bracket, Benteke’s 24 points puts him only seven off a top three place even though he’s played just 307 minutes this term – at least 200 (and in some cases over 400) minutes fewer than every other player above him in that list.
His dismissal scuppered his chances of bonus against West Ham, while Townsend gained two extra points courtesy of a fine all-round display involving 12 recoveries, seven tackles, four successful take-ons and two key passes.
West Ham XI: Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Coufal; Rice, Soucek; Fornals (Lanzini 45), Benrahma (Snodgrass 88), Bowen (Yarmolenko 80); Haller.
Crystal Palace XI: Guaita; Van Aanholt, Dann, Kouyaté, Ward; Eze (Ayew 76), McArthur, Milivojevic, Townsend (Schlupp 85); Zaha, Benteke.
Fulham 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
Bonus: Tosin Adarabioyo (£4.5m) x3, Alphonse Areola (£4.5m), Joachim Andersen (£4.5m), Robert Sanchez (£4.4m) x2
A lively encounter – at least after the break – ended pleasingly goalless for some of the few with Fantasy interest in an otherwise low-key FPL affair.
Love For Lamptey, Misery For Mat
The 10.7%-owned Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey (£4.8m) returned from a one-match ban and gave his owners clean sheet points for just the second time this term.
The only other player with double-digit ownership was Seagulls keeper Mat Ryan (£4.4m and 12.6%), but he didn’t even make the bench as manager Graham Potter handed Robert Sanchez (£4.4m) a second start of the season.
Ryan’s owners would have been more than annoyed to miss out on a rare shut-out. More worrying, however, were Potter’s post-match comments about Sanchez:
He will keep his place, he earned it on merit, has trained well, worked hard and his performance was good tonight. Rob played tonight and Jason (Steele) plays the role as No.2 really well and that’s where we are at.
Where Ryan could be at is out on his backside based on Potter’s quotes. His FPL owners might not want to use up a valuable Christmas transfer on a new keeper, but their hands could well be forced.
Close, But No Cigar
Potter was happy with his team’s overall showing:
The spirit of the players was fantastic, I can’t complain about that in any way. There was personality out there, they worked for each other, they had everything but the goal.
‘Everything but the goal’, aside from being a fine name for a 1980s tribute act, adequately describes Brighton at present, with Danny Welbeck (£5.5m) again close to a decent haul.
He’s produced attacking returns in three of his six starts this season and he missed a brilliant chance at Craven Cottage, as well as having an assist chalked off (rightly so) for a handball in the run-up to Adam Lallana‘s (£6.2m) disallowed goal.
Back Line Buys
If Brighton can’t score, they are at least offering the prospect of defensive returns, with a festive schedule – SHU whu ARS WOL – that suggests more stalemates than six-goal thrillers.
As for Fulham, their improvement at the back is there for all to see, even if Wednesday’s clean sheet was only their second of the season.
Christmas might herald more of the same, with trips to Newcastle and Burnley particularly promising.
But they’ve also got to face Spurs and Southampton and will have a blank Gameweek 18 to further dampen what little interest in their players their recent form might have prompted.
Fulham XI (4-3-2-1): Areola; A Robinson, Adarabioyo, Andersen, Aina; Zambo Anguissa, Reed (Lemina 63); Lookman, Loftus-Cheek (Mitrovic 77), De Cordova-Reid (Kamara 62); Cavaleiro.
Brighton XI (3-4-2-1): R Sánchez; Dunk, Webster, White; March, Bissouma, Alzate, Lamptey (Veltman 78); Trossard (Jahanbakhsh 79), Lallana (Gross 85); Welbeck.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 13
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