WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0-0 NEWCASTLE
- Bonus: Conor Townsend (£4.4m) x3, Ciaran Clark (£4.5m) x2, Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) x1
OUT ON THE TOWNSEND
West Bromwich Albion left-back Conor Townsend (£4.4m) picked up three bonus points in a fairly drab affair at the Hawthorns.
Townsend’s whopping overall BPS score of 38 reflected his contributions at both ends of the field, with the defender creating five chances in the Sunday stalemate.
Townsend was unsurprisingly the Baggies’ chief creative threat against the Magpies but there was again no finishing touch provided by his teammates and Sam Allardyce was left to rue a lack of quality in the final third:
“The players need to keep their chins up and play like they are playing. The only thing missing is converting the chances we create. We have got the defensive side of it spot on now.
“Not in the context of what we wanted to achieve and how we played [a point is not enough]. We have suffered badly over our lack of quality finishing teams off. It’s going back to Manchester United here, Burnley away, Everton here when we had chances but lost instead of drawing and then today.
“I can’t blame the lads for the quality of the effort they showed with playing on Thursday night but unfortunately that final piece of the jigsaw isn’t there at the moment. You look at those four games and it could be four wins easily. It’s four points instead of 12 and we could have been challenging the other boys and unsettled them that little bit more.
“So the task now is almost every game has to be a win to get out of the trouble we are in. erformances hopefully will stay the same. We can only try and win as many as we can and see if anyone above us slips up.” – Sam Allardyce
The West Brom boss also had another pop at the fixture schedulers in his post-match offering, as he fumed:
Newcastle didn’t have a game [in the week]. I don’t think we got fairly treated by the Premier League, having to play at noon today. We need fresh legs.
They would have been an awful lot fitter had they not played on Thursday and if we could have had this fixture on Monday or even eight o’clock tonight; we’d have been that bit fresher and it might have been the difference between scoring or not scoring.
MAGPIES FLYING WITHOUT WINGS
While Newcastle did have a couple of promising counter-attacks in the opening 20 minutes, a lack of quality in attacking areas was also a problem for the away side.
Steve Bruce is currently without key attackers Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m), Miguel Almiron (£5.6m) and Callum Wilson (£6.5m) – and it showed, with Joelinton (£5.7m) in typically profligate mood alongside an ‘out of position’ Ryan Fraser (£5.6m).
Joe Willock (£4.7m) may appeal as a bench-fodder option, considering Newcastle play Brighton in Blank Gameweek 29, but investing in the Newcastle attack at present seems otherwise unwise. U
Clean sheets are in short supply, too, with uber-budget defender Jamal Lewis (£4.2m) benched on Sunday in favour of Paul Dummett (£4.4m).
After the draw, the Newcastle chief said:
It wasn’t a classic, was it? That’s for sure. We’re disappointed that we haven’t come here and won but we always knew it was going to be difficult, considering the circumstances. Take a point and move on. I couldn’t fault [the players’] effort and endeavour to make sure they got something out of the game. That was pretty evident for everyone to see.
But at certain times, we just lacked that little bit of quality in the final third which unfortunately deserted us a little bit. We had one or two really good opportunities without making the [final] pass. With all the big injury problems to the top end of the pitch, I thought they did as well as what they could. We’ve got to find a way [to score].
We’ve got 11 games, we’ve been handicapped without our three most creative players. We have to simply find a way. The way their attitude was today was the reason we got the point. We’ve gotta do our utmost to make sure we stay out of the bottom three. It’s not about performances, we have to find a way [to win]. I’m quietly confident we’ll do it.
KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) owners will at least have been happy with the stalemate at the Hawthorns.
The West Brom keeper made five saves over the 90-minute clash, enough to earn him one bonus point along with a clean sheet and take him to 27 points over the last three Gameweeks.
The Baggies have another potentially profitable fixture, from a defensive point-of-view at least, at Crystal Palace in Gameweek 28.
But Allardyce’s team do not play in Blank Gameweek 29 before a run of relatively tough fixtures, beginning away to Thomas Tuchel’s stingy Chelsea side in Gameweek 30.
West Bromwich Albion XI (4-3-3): Johnstone; Townsend, Bartley, O’Shea, Furlong; Maitland-Niles, Yokuslu, Gallagher; M Phillips (Grant 83′), Diagne (Robson-Kanu 83′), M Pereira.
Newcastle XI (4-1-2-1-2): Dubravka; Dummett, Clark, Lascelles, Krafth; Shelvey; Hayden, Hendrick (Gayle 57′); Willock; Fraser (Carroll 90+2′), Joelinton.
ELSEWHERE IN DOUBLE GAMEWEEK 27…
Liverpool’s sunk to new depths on Sunday, slumping to a sixth straight home defeat.
An ever-improving Fulham side were the latest victors at Anfield, with Mario Lemina (£4.5m) taking advantage of the Reds’ inability to clear a set piece by lashing home the only goal of the game just before the interval.
It’s now just one clean sheet this calendar year for the Reds, while Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) has blanked on 11 occasions in his last 14 appearances.
And we couldn’t even count on starts for our Liverpool assets on Sunday, with Klopp responding to a jaded-looking display against Chelsea and a swift turnaround between games by making seven changes to his starting XI.
Sadio Mane (£11.8m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.4m) were among the players benched, with Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) missing out through injury.
Three of the Reds’ ropey-looking backline cost £4.0m or less in FPL, while the motley crew of regulars and fringe players further forward failed to register a single big chance.
As for the Cottagers, this was yet another superb defensive display led by the excellent centre-half duo of Joachim Andersen (£4.5m) and Tosin Adarabioyo (£4.5m) – both of whom deservedly picked up bonus points.
Scott Parker’s side have now kept six clean sheets in their last eight.
Manchester City’s Double Gameweek 27 got off to an underwhelming start at the Etihad on Sunday, with the champions-elect’s cross-city rivals once again getting the better of them.
After much negative coverage of United and Bruno Fernandes‘ (£11.5m) recent record against ‘big six’ opposition this week, it was almost inevitable that the Portuguese playmaker would find the net; his second-minute strike coming from the penalty spot, naturally.
Luke Shaw (£5.1m) then continued his fine form by lashing in United’s second goal, which took him to five attacking returns in the last six Gameweeks – that’s two more than any other FPL defender over the same timeframe.
An improved Anthony Martial (£8.7m), who returned from injury at the expense of the absent Edinson Cavani (£7.9m), wasted a further two big chances as United caused City numerous problems on the counter.
Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) was a casualty of the victory, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying of the winger’s injury:
It is one of them. It was a great recovery run, a recovery sprint, he saved maybe a goal, so he sacrificed himself for the team.
It is something with his ankle I think. I am not a doctor but hopefully, it is not too bad. We will have to scan him in the morning.
United’s backline once again shone on the biggest stage: six of the Red Devils’ 10 clean sheets this season have come against Chelsea (twice), Liverpool, Man City (twice) and Arsenal.
City had their opportunities, with a misfiring Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) wasting the best of them, but they were due a sub-par display and it duly arrived on Sunday.
There was some encouragement for Ilkay Gundogan (£6.2m) owners, with the German, getting into some promising shooting positions without capitalising on any of his four attempts.
He and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) were among the City assets who for once were not quite at their best and the worry now, of course, is that rotation will strike for what is the most appealing of their two Double Gameweek 27 fixtures in midweek.
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