Sheffield United 1-2 Leicester City
- Goals: Ollie McBurnie (£5.6m) | Ayoze Perez (£6.0m), Jamie Vardy (£10.3m)
- Assists: John Lundstram (£5.0m) | Marc Albrighton (£5.3m), James Maddison (£7.0m)
- Bonus: Vardy x3, McBurnie, Perez x2
Jamie Vardy (£10.3m) eased Fantasy minds and broke Sheffield United hearts in equal measure with a late winner at Bramall Lane.
The Leicester striker, owned by 30.2% of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, finished clinically from James Maddison‘s (£7.0m) through-ball just as the game looked to be lurching to a draw.
The goal summed up the Blades’ wretched time of it this season.
Maddison capitalised on a mistake in midfield from John Fleck (£5.6m) to send Vardy clear, while John Egan (£4.8m) opted not to take the forward down – a win for less cynical football, maybe, but at the expense of a loss for his team.
More than 136,000 new managers had boosted Vardy’s ownership levels, while a further 766,006 made him the third most-captained Gameweek 11 player.
That was a lot of love looking unrequited as it had been a quiet day for Vardy, with just the one attempt, which hit the post, to his name before his 90th-minute winner.
Instead, it had been Ayoze Perez (£6.0m) and Maddison catching the Fantasy eye until the striker’s late intervention.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers’ decision to start Perez for the first time since Gameweek 5 was a bit of a curveball.
But it paid off when he smashed home emphatically from close range.
Despite some Fantasy pedigree, Maddison is a bit-part player in FPL this season, with just 2.7% ownership.
He was, however, an influential presence against the Blades.
His assist for Vardy’s winner was only his third of the campaign, and he’s scored just the one goal.
But with the more popular Harvey Barnes (£6.9m and 4.1%) playing no part at all for the first time this season, a more advanced and involved Maddison – who let’s not forget had an injury-affected start to 2020/21 – could offer increased attacking threat over the next few weeks.
It’s a mixed bag for the Foxes from now until the new year, with Everton, Spurs and Manchester United a tricky triple-header either side of Christmas Day, but Brighton, Crystal Palace and Newcastle softening that schedule somewhat.
The problem for Rodgers is that his side often struggle, as they did on Sunday, to break down teams who sit fairly deep to negate Vardy’s threat in behind.
So those three ‘easy’ games might not offer the prospect of many attacking returns from Leicester’s more progressive players, particularly when their manager insists on playing three centre-halves against even the most limited of attacks.
Unfortunately, their defenders aren’t delivering either, with just two shut-outs in the last ten Gameweeks.
The most-owned players besides Vardy are James Justin (£4.9m and 23.8%) and Kasper Schmeichel (£5.5m and 12%) and the pair have brought in a mere 11 points between them over the last three, clean-sheet free, Gameweeks.
Conceding from corners and free-kicks has been a particular issue, as Rodgers alluded to after the game:
We’ve conceded more goals from set pieces than we normally do, purely because of the profile of players that are missing – tall defenders. But we kept going, got the result in the end, and it’s really pleasing.
As for attacking returns, Justin hasn’t added to his one goal and an assist for the season since Gameweek 2, while fellow wing-back Albrighton recorded his first assist against Sheffield, but his classification as a midfielder means he offers little as an FPL prospect.
It doesn’t look like Justin has much competition for his place in the short-term, at least, with Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) sidelined for another fortnight and doubts surrounding Timothy Castagne‘s (£5.7m) return.
Rodgers said in an injury update after full-time:
Ricky has a slight, not a serious, issue with his groin, but probably one that will keep him out for 10 days to two weeks.
Cags [Soyuncu], it’s too early for him to come in, but thankfully it’s not as bad as first feared. He’ll be out with the medical team next week, and we’ll monitor that, but hopefully, it won’t be too long.
UNITED THEY FALL
Ollie McBurnie (£5.6m) headed home John Lundstram‘s (£5.0m) corner just two minutes after Leicester took the lead to give the Blades real hope of getting something from the match.
That was in the 26th minute. They didn’t manage another shot on target after that and had only four attempts all match.
One of those came from the most popular Blade in FPL, the 6.3%-owned Rhian Brewster (£4.5m), during yet another fruitless cameo from the bench.
No other striker at that price bracket offers the prospect of points Brewster does – if he were starting and United were not so woefully short of confidence and attacking prowess, that is.
Manager Chris Wilder was, as ever, frank at full-time:
I can’t talk about luck, I can talk about bad decisions being made that get punished at this level.
The only bad Fantasy decision at present is having Sheffield United players in your squad.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Bryan, Egan, Basham; Lowe (Osborn 45), Fleck, Berge, Lundstram (Norwood 63), Baldock; Burke, McBurnie.
Leicester City XI (3-4-2-1): Schmeichel; Fuchs, Evans, Fofana; Justin, Mendy (Ndidi 69), Tielemans, Albrighton; Maddison, Perez (Iheanacho 69); Vardy.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 11
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