Leeds United 0-0 Manchester United
Bonus: Aaron Wan Bissaka (£5.7m) x3, Luke Shaw (£5.4m) x2, Diego Llorente (£4.4m) x1
The Uniteds of Leeds and Manchester played out a curiously sterile draw from which only those Fantasy managers with key defenders in their teams profited.
Just as well, then, that three of the five most popular players in action brought in clean sheet points, with visiting full-backs Luke Shaw (£5.4m and 16.5%) and Aaron Wan Bissaka (£5.7m and 17%) garnering two and three bonus points respectively for good measure.
The other well-owned defender, Leeds’ Stuart Dallas (£5.2m and 25.9%), was again employed in his now almost customary midfield role.
He ended up with a team-leading two attempts on the day, although neither he nor any other Leeds player ever truly stretched away keeper Dean Henderson (£5.2m).
If Henderson was hardly tested, his opposite number Illan Meslier (£4.7m) did at least have a tricky save or two to make, most notably when pushing away an excellent Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) free-kick.
One player who failed to trouble the keeper was FPL’s most popular player, Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m).
The 57%-owned midfielder was never backward in coming forward, leading the way on the day for attempts (five).
But none were on target and he missed with one very presentable chance inside the area, which is indicative of a man short of form, even if the excellent man-marking job done on him by Kalvin Phillips (£4.9m) was a major mitigating factor.
One Manchester midfielder having a much happier time of it is Mason Greenwood (£7.1m), with his ownership more than doubling in anticipation of a fourth straight haul.
The omens looked even better when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dropped Edinson Cavani (£7.9m) to the bench, with Greenwood nominally playing as a lone striker.
But he ended up rotating positions with his fellow frontmen and the fact he led the way for shots on target (three), which was three quarters of the team’s entire output, was cold comfort for his new owners.
At the other end of the pitch, the 43.9%-owned forward Patrick Bamford (£6.5m) could only dream of such figures.
He had no shots at all, and just the one penalty area touch, as he failed to score for a fourth straight Gameweek.
Despite a 6-2 win for the Red Devils in the reverse fixture this season, a goalless draw was perhaps not such a surprise after all.
Leeds have developed a taste for frustrating clubs with European Super League pretensions recently, beating Manchester City, drawing with Liverpool and playing out a stalemate with Chelsea.
Coach Marcelo Bielsa seemed to suggest his players have become less gung-ho as the season has progressed:
The group of players have constructed a solid group. Throughout this time they’ve made errors and learned how to correct them. I have the feeling that there has been a growth in the maturity and experience to manage these games.
Indeed, over their last 10 matches, they have conceded on only eight occasions.
While they’ve allowed more shots than any other Premier League club in that time, the opportunities they have given away have been of relatively low quality: only four sides have conceded fewer ‘big chances’ from Gameweek 25 onwards.
If they can display similar solidity over their final five fixtures, involving Brighton, Burnley and Southampton away and visits from Spurs and West Brom, then their cut-price defensive options could prove to be fruitful investments.
Pascal Struijk (£4.0m) is especially cheap and has clean sheet points from two of his last four starts.
As for Solskjaer’s men, the competitively-priced Shaw remains an attractive option, particularly as he offers so much going forward.
He led the way for chances created at Elland Road, with five, and produced twice as many crosses (12) as his nearest rival on the day, Fernandes.
Post-match, Solskjaer couldn’t help but mention the Europa League semi-final first leg to come on Thursday:
We are looking forward to the semis. We have felt the disappointment too many times in semis and we are looking forward to attacking these games. They are challenges for us and great tests for the group.
With United needing only four points from their final five matches to sew up a spot in next season’s Champions League, there is a question of whether Solskjaer now throws his weight behind the tilt at the Europa League and rests key players on the domestic front – starting with the Gameweek 34 and 35 fixtures that follow the two-legged semi-final against Roma.
Solskjaer does have a strong enough squad to chop and change his attacking line-up, with Paul Pogba (£7.6m) another to be benched on Sunday.
Perhaps if a clash with a Sheffield United or a Southampton was scheduled for next weekend, the United boss would more seriously contemplate fielding an under-strength side.
The fact that it’s the old enemy does, however, maybe make it less likely.
Leeds United XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips; Dallas, Hélder Costa (Klich 72), Roberts (Koch 77), Harrison (Poveda-Ocampo 68); Bamford.
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (van de Beek 89); Fernandes, James (Pogba 76), Rashford (Cavani 86); Greenwood.
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Source : www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk – https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk%2F2021%2F04%2F26%2Fleeds-defenders-continue-fine-form-with-another-positive-big-six-showing%2F