West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Manchester United
- Goals: Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) | Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m)
- Assists: Conor Gallagher (£5.5m) | Luke Shaw (£5.0m)
- Bonus Points: Shaw x3, Fernandes x2, Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) x1
Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) spared Fantasy managers a whole heap of anguish by scoring for the third match running even as his Manchester United side struggled against lowly West Brom.
The midfielder came into the encounter as Gameweek 24’s most-captained player, with more than a million Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bosses handing him the armband despite United’s lack of a double fixture.
His superb volley, from a Luke Shaw (£5.0m) assist, ensured the Red Devils got something from the game. Two bonus points meant most Fantasy captainers were also satisfied as Fernandes made it 14 goals (and 11 assists) from an increasingly exceptional season.
The same can’t be said for United as a team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were held to a third draw in four fixtures, although Shaw has proved as equally reliable as Fernandes during that spell.
As well as a Gameweek 21 clean sheet, the left-back has four assists from the last three matches. Everton’s Lucas Digne (£6.1m) and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell (£5.8m) are the only FPL defenders who have more than his total of five assists for the season.
Things weren’t so impressive elsewhere, however.
A net 196,720 bought Edinson Cavani (£8.0m) and watched their man have precisely zero shots. Anthony Martial (£8.7m) was just as unproductive, while Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) managed one, which was off target.
Much like anyone who has experienced a ‘workforce streamlining’ over the last couple of decades, West Brom striker Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) was asked to do more with less.
He duly obliged with a match-leading four attempts, despite the home side having just 26% possession.
The Galatasaray loanee now has a goal and two assists from his first four fixtures, although he contrived to miss a couple of excellent chances to win the game against United.
Competition among forwards in his £6.0m price bracket is not the stiffest. Southampton’s Che Adams (£5.8m) leads the way for points, despite scoring only four goals all season and none since Gameweek 12.
But investment in a West Brom forward looks unwise even with a short-term schedule involving Burnley and Crystal Palace away and Brighton and Newcastle at The Hawthorns, especially as Brighton and Burnley have been defensively solid of late.
United’s fixtures (NEW, che, mci, WHU) are tougher than that. Looking beyond Fernandes, and to a lesser extent Shaw, doesn’t offer the prospect of reliable returns.
West Brom XI (4-1-4-1): Jonhstone; Peltier (Furlong 45), Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Yokuslu (Livermore 67); Maitland-Niles, Gallagher, Pereira, Snodgrass (Phillips 87); Diagne.
Man Utd XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (van de Beek 79); Rashford, Fernandes, Martial (Greenwood 66); Cavani.
Everton 0-2 Fulham
- Goals: Josh Maja (£5.5m) x2
- Assists: Ola Aina (£4.5m), Harrison Reed (£4.4m)
- Bonus Points: Maja x3 Aina x2 Tosin Adarabioyo (£4.5m)
Everton and Fulham’s Double Gameweek campaigns got off to remarkably different starts on Sunday, with the lowly visitors excelling against a dreadful home side.
Fantasy interest centred on the Toffees – the entire Fulham squad’s ownership totalled 17%, or less than half a Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m and 38.5%).
Unfortunately for all those managers, including the net 116,977 who’d bought him for the double, the striker’s hamstring injury meant he didn’t even make the bench.
Lonely And Lost
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti responded by first playing Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.8m) as a false nine, later moving Richarlison (£7.9m) to a central role.
Everton sat deep and allowed the visitors plenty of possession in the final third (70% v 30%), which suited Fulham just fine.
In a game of little goalmouth action, Scott Parker’s team converted two of the three attempts they had on target, with the 0.1%-owned Josh Maja (£5.5m) scoring twice.
And while a team with just six clean sheets from 23 matches doesn’t exactly scream defensive investment, three of those shut-outs have come in the last five games and an immediate fixture list of Sheffield United and Crystal Palace suggests more could be incoming.
Sunday’s result meant yet another bad day at Goodison Park for Everton.
They haven’t won at home since Gameweek 14, scoring just the once and conceding six goals during a run of three losses and a draw.
Small wonder, then, that Richarlison suffered so badly – Everton have managed a league-worst nine attempts on target and just one big chance during that barren spell, while the 23 opportunities they’ve created is second only to West Brom’s 20.
Those managers who bought into Everton’s Double Gameweek 24 might already be considering their exit strategy, seeing as their awful home form will be combined with trips to Liverpool and Chelsea before a blank Gameweek 29.
A net 162,928 had purchased James Rodriguez (£7.7m), only for their man to limp off with an ankle issue after 67 minutes.
Ancelotti played down the seriousness of the injury post-match, while giving a non-committal update on the likes of Calvert-Lewin.
He (James) had a knock in training. I think it will not be serious,. We are going to check tomorrow, like we have to check Dominic for the game on Wednesday, and also Allan and Pickford.
FPL bosses will be desperate for the forward to get some midweek pitch-time, although hoping for returns from any Everton assets at home to the juggernaut that is Manchester City looks the wild side of optimistic.
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Olsen; Coleman (Keane 56), Holgate, Godfrey, Digne; Davies (King 56), Gomes; Rodríguez (Bernard 68), Doucouré, Sigurdsson; Richarlison.
Fulham XI (4-4-2): Areola; Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina; Reed, Lemina (Onomah 90+1), Lookman (Zambo Anguissa 83), Loftus-Cheek; De Cordova-Reid, Maja (Cavaleiro 73).
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