West Ham 2-1 Aston Villa
- Goals: Angelo Ogbonna (£4.9m), Jarrod Bowen (£6.3m) | Jack Grealish (£7.7m)
- Assists: Bowen, Saïd Benrahma (£6.0m) | Matty Cash (£5.0m)
- Bonus points: Bowen x3, Grealish x3, Ogbonna x1
Owners of Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) were treated to a torturous Monday evening as the Aston Villa striker registered a zero-point score in Gameweek 10.
It was not for the lack of trying though, quite the opposite, as Dean Smith’s men were arguably the better side in their 2-1 defeat at West Ham.
Watkins missed a second-half penalty, watched Trézéguet (£5.3m) spurn his square ball from close-range and had a goal ruled out for offside in stoppage time, which would have provided Matt Targett (£4.5m) with an assist.
The last of those incidents left the sourest taste in the mouth considering how close he was to being onside, as well as the fact that Angelo Ogbonna‘s (£4.9m) robust contact with the forward was a key factor in the position of his arm.
Following two blanks in a row, Watkins’ 9.8% ownership might be getting itchy fingers right now, with several factors at play.
The former Brentford forward has now missed three of his last five penalties, which could be enough to see Jack Grealish (£7.7m) step in and take the next one.
That said, a Gameweek 11 home fixture against Newcastle did initially feel like the wrong time to sell a player who was still unfortunate to blank on Monday night and will surely be fired up to put things to right as soon as possible. The Magpies have conceded in three of their last four away matches too.
But, in this exceptional season, the plot thickens further with news coming out of Newcastle’s training camp over the last 24 hours.
Steve Bruce’s club has been hit with a fresh wave of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, four unnamed players and one member of staff contracting the disease in the latest round of testing.
That has seen the game postponed from its Friday-night slot. It might remain in Gameweek 11 but right now, things are very up in the air for Villa assets.
THE GREAL DEAL
There was more positive news for owners of Grealish who registered his third double-digit haul of the campaign thanks to his first-half goal and securing of maximum bonus points.
The big score was especially welcome considering the feared impact of Ross Barkley‘s (£5.9m) absence from the team after he sustained a hamstring injury in Gameweek 9.
Against Brighton, Villa were noticeably jarred by losing Barkley so soon into the match, his replacement Bertrand Traoré (£5.9m) lacking the same level of understanding with Grealish, whose output suffered accordingly.
It seems as if Traoré was turned to in the wake of Barkley’s injury as he was the closest way of replicating the shape and patterns Smith had prepared for that Brighton game.
However, as already mentioned, Villa were the better side at the London Stadium on Monday night as Smith had the time to prepare a different approach in midfield during the week. He selected the set-piece specialist Conor Hourihane (£6.0m) to play a deeper role and asking John McGinn (£5.5m) to fill in at number 10.
The former Plymouth Argyle and Barnsley midfielder cannot match Barkley for cut and thrust on the counter but his set-play delivery, the threat from direct free-kicks and an eye for a killer pass were important, while McGinn replicated some of the energy and dynamism we have seen in the number 10 role recently.
“Hourihane knows the league, he was with us last season, he knows what’s required of him. He’s an outstanding technician, very good with set play delivery but he’s got a great understanding of the players he’s playing with.” – Dean Smith
Knowing that Villa are not a lost cause without Barkley after all is encouraging news for those considering Grealish. That said, the all-action midfielder could potentially benefit from Villa’s postponement and miss fewer games accordingly.
Fantasy managers may have to wait a little while before Michail Antonio (£6.2m) is ready for serious consideration again.
The West Ham forward made his return to the team on Monday night starting as the lone centre-forward in David Moyes’ 3-4-2-1 formation, displacing last week’s match-winner Sebastien Haller (£6.1m).
“It is a big boost for us (to have Antonio starting again). It was a tough decision for us because Haller got a goal at the weekend but (Antonio) just gives us something different.” – David Moyes, speaking pre-match
However, a rusty Antonio offered very little in the opening 45 minutes, isolated from West Ham’s midfielders and struggling to keep pace with those around him. The Hammers resorted to lumping long balls forward, hoping Antonio could run onto them and hold play up. Unable to fulfil that role with much success, it made for a very flat opening period, despite Ogbonna’s early set-piece goal.
Therefore, Moyes chose to replace him at half-time, as well as Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m), Haller and Saïd Benrahma (£6.0m) adding more to West Ham’s cause after the break.
“We made a big call tonight but I think to play Michail Antonio was the right call. He’s just not quite fit 100 per cent. If Seb can keep his form up then it will be useful for us.” – David Moyes, speaking post-match
It only took a few moments for Benrahma to have an impact, as he played in a low cross for Jarrod Bowen (£6.3m) to head beyond Emiliano Martínez (£4.8m).
The signs remain very promising for the Algerian international considering that in just three substitute appearances since joining West Ham, he already has three assists.
With Villa pushing West Ham so much even in the second half, Benrahma operated as a left wing-back but what he has produced going forward is sure to trouble Pablo Fornals (£6.5m) for his starting spot on the left-hand side of attacking midfield soon.
“(Benrahma and Haller) came in and done quite well, I don’t agree the full game we played well, but I think that look we are introducing Saïd gently, there were signs there you could see why we are doing that.” – David Moyes
Meanwhile, Bowen registered a double-digit haul from his goal and assist, his first attacking returns since Gameweek 4. His services for the coming weeks are still worth considering though.
80% of the former Hull man’s goal involvements have come at home this season while Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Brighton are the next three to visit the London Stadium this season, combining for just one clean sheet on the road between them thus far.
West Ham United XI (3-4-2-1): Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena; Masuaku (Benrahma 46′), Souček, Rice, Coufal; Fornals, Bowen (Noble 79′); Antonio (Haller 46′).
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash (El Mohamady 88′); Hourihane (B Traoré 74′), D Luiz, McGinn; Grealish, Watkins, Trézéguet (El Ghazi 73′).
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 10
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