Pereira fourth for FPL points in 2021 as Villa’s clean sheet drought drags on |

Aston Villa 2-2 West Bromwich Albion

  • Goals: Anwar El Ghazi (£5.2m), Keinan Davis (£4.2m) | Matheus Pereira (£5.5m), Tyrone Mings (£5.4m) own-goal
  • Assists: Ross Barkley (£5.8m), Ollie Watkins (£6.6m) | Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.6m), Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m)
  • Bonus: Pereira x3, El Ghazi x2, Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) x2


A contentious stoppage-time assist for Ollie Watkins (£6.6m) dominated the discussion after the two-all draw between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

The striker’s knock-down took a couple of touches off Albion defenders, the most significant involving Kyle Bartley (£4.4m), before being converted by substitute Keinan Davis (£4.2m); last-gasp delight for Watkins’ FPL owners, irritation for those Fantasy managers without him in their sides.

To the best of our knowledge, these were the key points as to why the assist was given:

  • Assists can still stand if there are one or more touches from an opponent after a pass, so long as they don’t divert the ball away from the intended target/destination.
  • Watkins is intending to head the ball to either Davis specifically or across into the six-yard box. Bartley’s touch doesn’t stop either eventuality from happening, while Davis would have reached the ball with or without the defender present.
  • Bartley wasn’t deemed to be in possession of the ball, in Opta’s eyes, but rather took an ‘unsuccessful touch’. Had Opta deemed that he had gained possession of the ball (i.e. a ‘recovery’ or a pass), then there would have been no assist.

It’s all very convoluted and ultimately open to some presumedly subjective interpretation from the data providers.

But there is at least some method behind the surface madness, even if it fails to appease the seething masses.

Back to the goal itself, and the ever-present Watkins, the only FPL forward to play every minute this season, made it 20 attacking returns for the campaign with his contribution for the late leveller.

There hasn’t been a double-digit haul since Gameweek 15 for the Villa forward but he provides a steady drip-feed of points, returning in 10 of his last 16 appearances.

Davis, meanwhile, is the cheapest starting forward in the game and has now appeared in six of Villa’s last eight matches, all as a substitute.

There’ll be hope among the budget forward’s owners that his goalscoring contribution can lead to more first-team opportunities in future but it would likely rely on a tactical rejig from the stubborn Dean Smith, such is Watkins’ undroppable status.

And the return from injury of Wesley (£6.0m), on as a late replacement against the Baggies after 16 months out, may only serve to further shunt him down the pecking order.


Villa and West Brom traded penalties in the first half, with Anwar El Ghazi (£5.2m) and Matheus Pereira (£5.5m) on target.

The trigger-happy El Ghazi has the best minutes-per-chance average (23.4) of any FPL midfielder with more than two starts to their name and now has seven goals in 2020/21, more than anyone in the £5.2m-and-under price bracket.

But, as the last few weeks have shown, we can’t rely on him for starts even when Jack Grealish (£7.5m) is out.

Pereira is altogether more assured of minutes, having failed to start just one league match this calendar year.

And it’s his form in 2021 that really catches the eye, as only three players can better his total of 100 FPL points from Gameweek 17 onwards:

Being on penalties, free-kicks and corners obviously helps but an attacking return every other game is still some achievement at £5.5m in a Championship-bound side, with his points-per-match average of 4.6 even better than that of Leeds United’s Raphinha (£5.4m).

The Baggies have been a defence-first team under Sam Allardyce for much of his tenure but with wins and not draws needed to keep alive their faint hopes of survival, West Brom will have to continue to open up in the final month of the season – which can only benefit Pereira.


Pereira’s penalty and a Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) strike that deflected in off Tyrone Mings (£5.4m) meant another match without a clean sheet for FPL’s most-owned, highest-scoring goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez (£5.4m).

Villa have now gone six matches without a clean sheet, which represents the joint-longest current shut-out drought in the Premier League.

Other than a Gameweek 36 clash with Crystal Palace, the Villans’ remaining fixtures don’t scream ‘defensive returns’, either.

But there is at least a guaranteed Double Gameweek involving a yet-to-be-rearranged home match against Everton, which will keep many owners interested.

Whether or not Grealish will be back to play a part in that double remains to be seen, with Smith offering a familiar-sounding fitness update ahead of kick-off on Sunday:

He’s on the way back, he’s pain-free at the moment which is what we wanted to get to. We’ve just got to build his fitness up.

Aston Villa XI: 
Martinez, Mings, Konsa, Elmohamady, Targett, Traoré (Wesley 91′), El Ghazi, Luiz (Ramsey 78′), McGinn, Barkley (Davis 82′), Watkins.

West Brom XI: Johnstone, Furlong, Bartley, Townsend, Ajayi, Gallagher, Yokuslu, Robinson (Phillips 67′), Maitland-Niles (O’Shea 86′), Pereira, Diagne.

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