Solskjaer “has to” make changes for United’s next Gameweek 35 matches |

Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United

  • Goals: Bertrand Traore (£5.8m) | Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m), Mason Greenwood (£7.2m), Edinson Cavani (£8.0m)
  • Assists: Paul Pogba (£7.6m), Marcus Rashford (£9.6m), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.7m)
  • Bonus Points: Greenwood x3 Fernandes x3 Cavani x1

Manchester United came from behind to win at Villa Park, ticking plenty of FPL boxes for the multitude of managers who went big on their Triple Gameweek assets.

The entire starting XI for the Red Devils went into the match with extra owners looking to capitalise on their three Gameweek 35 fixtures, with Fred (5.3m) bottom of the pile on 4,495 net transfers in and Mason Greenwood (£7.2m) top on 338,832.

But while the Fantasy Lord can giveth, they just as frequently taketh away, with 156,523 new Harry Maguire (£5.6m) owners seeing their man go off with an injury that is almost certain to rule him out for the short term, and possibly longer.

Meanwhile, the 26.7% ownership of Ollie Watkins (£6.5m) picked up -1 points as the striker was sent off for a second yellow card that means he’ll miss Aston Villa’s second fixture of the Gameweek, against Everton, on Thursday evening.

Post-match, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not optimistic that Maguire would be back for the second of the side’s Gameweek 35 triple header, at home to Leicester.

The boy landed on top of him and he twisted and got a knock on his ankle. So we just have to test him. I doubt he’ll be ready for Tuesday, to put it that way, but we’ll just have to do all the scans and checks we can.

Most Fantasy managers were more interested in players and events further up the pitch, however, and they weren’t left disappointed.

Greenwood bagged a goal and maximum bonus for a third double-digit haul in four Gameweeks, while other in-form stars included Paul Pogba (£7.6m), who made it four assists from as many starts.

Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) also produced an assist for a third attacking return in five matches, with Edinson Cavani (£8.0m) coming off the bench to score a third goal (to go with an assist) from his last four fixtures, despite only playing 164 of a possible 360 minutes in that time.

But the biggest impact of all came from the 56.9%-owned Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m), who slotted home a penalty to score for the first time since Gameweek 27 and reward the 2.2 million-plus managers who handed him the armband.

It was his first return in four matches, although his owners’ joy might well be short-lived if Solskjaer comes good on his pledge that ‘the boys who played Thursday and today will not play 90 minutes’ in Tuesday’s Leicester clash.

In more ominous quotes released on Monday, Solskjaer added:

I wish I could have said let’s go full out in all of the games but it’s impossible. That’s the hard bit for me, knowing if I do play this XI on Tuesday and then again on Thursday it’s impossible, I run too much of a risk in injuring them.

Talking about integrity in the league and stuff, don’t blame me when I have to make changes because I have to. It’s not safe for them to play all four so I have to prioritise.

Thee [young players] are in the first-team squad, they’re training with us every day, so I would think that some of the young boys will get an appearance. If it’s coming on towards the end or if it’s starting, I don’t know.

The manager stuck with much of his Europa League side at Villa Park, making only four changes, suggesting major midweek surgery is on the cards. How much time he hands to major Fantasy assets over the next two fixtures could be the difference between a good Gameweek and a great one.

‘Great’ is not the word on the lips of those Watkins’ owners, or indeed the 39.6% on keeper Emi Martinez (£5.4m), who hasn’t kept a clean sheet since Gameweek 27.

At least manager Dean Smith had some better news regarding the fitness of Jack Grealish (£7.5m), who has missed 12 matches through injury:

Yes, Jack trained yesterday. He scored a hat-trick in the small-sided game as well so came off with a smile on his face.

The midfielder is still in 14.1% of FPL squads, but surely none run by active Fantasy managers, making him a curiously well-owned differential option for the run-in should he get some pitch-time on Thursday and beyond.

Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash; D Luiz (Ramsey 65), McGinn; B Traoré, Barkley (Davis 77), El Ghazi (Wesley 77); Watkins.

Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Shaw, Maguire (Bailly 78), Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, McTominay; Pogba, Fernandes (Matic 86), Greenwood (Cavani 65); Rashford.

Arsenal 3-1 West Bromwich Albion

  • Goals: Emile Smith Rowe (£4.2m), Nicolas Pepe (£7.6m), Willian (£7.5m) | Matheus Pereira (£5.4m)
  • Assists: Bukayo Saka (£5.1m), Callum Chambers (£4.5m) | Conor Townsend (£4.4m)
  • Bonus Points: Willian x3 Pepe x2 Townsend x2

Arsenal relegated West Brom with a performance full of youthful verve but devoid of Fantasy relevance.

The most popular player on display was Gunners midfielder Bukayo Saka (£5.1m), displaying his usual versatility by operating as a left-back for much of the match against the Baggies.

That didn’t dampen his attacking threat – he led the way for penalty area touches (eight) and the big chance he created led to Emile Smith Rowe‘s (£4.2m) opening goal.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gave youth a chance up front as well, preferring Gabriel Martinelli (£4.9m) to lead the line ahead of more seasoned operators, although the 4.6%-owned Alexandre Lacazette (£8.4m) was given 30 minutes from the bench and could well start the Gunners’ second match of their double Gameweek, at Chelsea on Wednesday.

But it is a mark of how far Arsenal’s players have fallen down the FPL pecking order that very few of the squad enjoyed net transfers-in ahead of Gameweek 35’s pair of fixtures and one of those, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m), didn’t even make it onto the pitch on Sunday.

As for West Brom, big victories over Chelsea and Southampton in Gameweeks 30 and 31 proved to be a false dawn as they’ve failed to win a single match since.

The brightest spark across those six matches has been midfielder Matheus Pereira (£5.4m) and he was at it at The Emirates as well, scoring his fifth goal (to go with two assists) during this impressive spell.

No midfielder has hit more goals in that timeframe, only two have created more chances than his 14 and he is also joint-top for big chances created, with four.

Whether he can continue that level of performance now that the Baggies are down remains to be seen, although the final three matches do represent a final chance to show potential Premier League suitors exactly what he can offer.

His manager, Sam Allardyce, continued to talk the talk after the match:

The most important thing for me and the players is to give everything we have got to try and finish the season with pride in your own performance and your own professionalism.

If that proves to be the case, the 5.1%-owned Pereira certainly has the form, if not necessarily the fixtures (LIV WHU lee), to extend his excellent end to an otherwise hollow season.

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Saka; Elneny, Ceballos (Partey 76); Pepe, Smith Rowe (Tierney 63), Willian; Martinelli (Lacazette 60).

West Bromwich Albion XI (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Gallagher, Yokuslu; Phillips, Robinson (Diangana 68), Pereira; Diagne (Robson-Kanu 56).

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