Aston Villa 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bonus Points: Conor Coady (£4.8m) x3 Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.3m) x2 Emiliano Martinez (£5.3m) x1 Tyrone Mings (£5.4m) x1 Jonny (£5.4m) x1
Aston Villa and Wolves played out a goalless draw remarkable mostly for some of the season’s more comical misses.
The worst culprit was visiting defender Romain Saiss (£4.9m), who contrived to blast over an open goal from two yards out after Conor Coady‘s (£4.8m) close-range header had hit the post.
And at the other end, Ezri Konsa (£4.6m) managed to hit the bar when scoring was probably easier before slashing another decent chance wide with one of the last kicks of the match.
Chances Would Be A Fine Thing
All of that profligacy was not a huge surprise, however.
Wolves have managed 28 goals from as many matches this season, and just seven from their last nine.
As for Villa, their form has been patchy over the last eight matches – three wins, three defeats and two draws – and their attacking output wretched, with only five goals in that run.
Manager Dean Smith remained upbeat post-match about that lack of attacking output:
No, it’s not an issue. If we’re creating big chances it’s never a concern. We’ve created a number of big chances in the last two games and, unfortunately, haven’t scored. Ollie’s (Watkins) play up front was excellent. He thundered the bar. I’ve got no concerns, goals will certainly come.
Smith might not be concerned, but the 26.9% of FPL managers invested in Ollie Watkins (£6.6m) endured a fifth straight game without a goal from their man.
The striker, much like the rest of the side, is clearly missing the attacking influence of Jack Grealish (£7.3m), with the Villa manager delivering a vague injury update:
I haven’t sat down with the medical staff yet but he was running on the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill) yesterday, which is a positive because if he’s running it means he’s pain-free.
As Villa are one of only eight teams with a Gameweek 29 fixture, it would seem unwise for managers to sell their assets just yet.
But Grealish’s return can’t come soon enough for a team looking increasingly toothless without him.
Centre Half-Decent Returns
At least Villa have kept things tight while not scoring – they’ve managed as many clean sheets as goals during those last eight matches.
That meant yet another return for FPL’s most productive (and most popular) goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez (£5.3m and 40.0%), although he had one stop taken away from him yesterday, which cost his owners a save point and the chance of more bonus as well.
Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.3m) continued his role as a cut-price Matty Cash (£5.0m) with an eight-point haul, but it was a case of what might have been among Wolves’ centre-backs.
The Saiss miss was hurtful for his 5.1% ownership, while the 4.6% on Coady should have been looking at a monster haul.
He earned maximum bonus despite missing two superb chances that would have more than doubled what was already a season’s-best nine points.
Having scored his first goal of the season last time out, against Manchester City, this new-found goal threat is no coincidence, either, as manager Nuno Espirito Santo explained post-match:
The header from Coady, I think he should have done better with his close-range header, but credit to him because we’re encouraging him to get in the box. Hopefully, we’ll find more solutions for him to score.
With three clean sheets from the last six starts, Coady and his crew are looking a lot more like last season’s Wolves now.
And while he might struggle to add to his goals tally against Liverpool and West Ham on either side of a Blank Gameweek 29, the schedule that follows should put Wolves defenders back on the Fantasy radar.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-2-1): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, El Mohamady; McGinn, D Luiz, Sanson (Barkley 61); Trézéguet (Davis 78), B Traoré (Ramsey 83); Watkins.
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Dendoncker; Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Semedo; Neto, Willian J (Silva 78), A Traoré.
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-2 Leicester City
- Goals: Adam Lallana (£6.2m) | Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.6m), Daniel Amartey (£3.9m)
- Assists: Neal Maupay (£6.1m) | Youri Tielemans (£6.4m), Marc Albrighton (£5.2m)
- Bonus Points: Iheanacho x3 Amartey x2 Lallana x2
Brighton continued their critically-acclaimed ‘How Not To Win At Football’ series with a modern take on the classic game of two halves routine.
Adam Lallana (£6.2m) scored his first goal of the season to give the Seagulls a deserved lead at the interval.
But they failed to build on that early dominance and were outplayed by the visitors during a dispiriting second half.
None of that was a major surprise, however.
Brighton haven’t scored more than one goal in a match since Gameweek 17 – and only six times all season – while Leicester have now picked up 34 points on the road, which is the league’s best record.
Not that many Fantasy managers felt the benefits.
The most popular player on the pitch, and by some margin, was the 20.1%-owned Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), who made it just one goal in 11 appearances with a third straight blank.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has started his star striker in tandem with Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.6m) for three consecutive matches now, and the pair are building a nice understanding.
But it is the Nigeria international who has reaped the more tangible rewards, with a second straight goal, maximum bonus and nine-point haul – a run enjoyed by a mere 0.4% of FPL managers.
Vardy had one shot (off-target) all match, while five players had more than his three penalty area touches and his minutes-per-touch average of 2.9 was the worst of any player, starter or sub, at the Amex.
Iheanacho, by contrast, is joint-second among FPL forwards for shots over the last two Gameweeks.
Leicester don’t have a Gameweek 29 fixture and will face Manchester City and West Ham directly afterwards, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Vardy’s ownership dropping below the million mark for the first time all season once next weekend’s visit from Sheffield United is done.
In the continued absence of attacking midfielders James Maddison (£7.2m) and Harvey Barnes (£6.8m), the excellent Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) maintained his solid recent form with an assist for Iheanacho’s goal – his second attacking return in three matches.
And Rodgers handed starlet Sidnei Tavares (£4.5m) his first-ever league start, with the midfielder impressing, particularly when his sweetly-struck half-volley forced Robert Sanchez (£4.5m) into a brilliant save.
Brighton’s next two fixtures – away at Southampton, home to Newcastle – look vital for their Premier League survival as they’ll then face Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea during a nasty little start to April.
That Newcastle match is in Gameweek 29, however, so those with Brighton defensive assets in their FPL squads will probably sit tight for now.
But having kept five clean sheets in six matches up to Gameweek 24, the Seagulls have now gone three games without one, while finding ever more hurtful ways of losing.
Brighton XI (4-1-4-1): R Sánchez; Burn, Dunk, White, Veltman; Bissouma (Jahanbakhsh 90+1); Trossard, Mac Allister (Alzate 68), Lallana, Groß; Maupay (Welbeck 79).
Leicester XI (3-5-2): Schmeichel; Söyüncü, Fofana, Amartey; Castagne, Tielemans, Tavares (Albrighton 72), Ndidi, R Pereira; Vardy, Iheanacho (Choudhury 90+1).
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