Burnley 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Ashley Barnes (£6.0m), Chris Wood (£6.2m) | Fabio Silva (£5.2m)
- Assists: Charlie Taylor (£4.5m)
- Bonus: Wood x3, Barnes x2, Silva x1
Burnley stretched their unbeaten run to four on Monday night as they defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers at Turf Moor.
The Clarets’ defence once again caught the eye from a Fantasy perspective, albeit without a keeping a clean sheet this time as Fabio Silva‘s (£5.2m) consolation penalty deprived them of a fifth shut-out in the space of seven Gameweeks.
The previously goal-shy Ashley Barnes (£6.0m) and Chris Wood (£6.2m) were reunited in attack and did the damage with close-range finishes either side of half-time.
ALL ABOUT MEE
When they are in a rhythm and can call upon their first-choice centre-halves and goalkeeper, there aren’t many teams who look like a more stable defensive unit than Burnley.
The start of the season saw the Clarets having to call upon back-up stoppers Jimmy Dunne (£3.9m) and Kevin Long (£4.4m) as an injury crisis mounted and it was no surprise that they shipped eight goals in the first three Gameweeks.
Since the return to fitness of James Tarkowski (£5.3m) and Ben Mee (£4.9m), things have taken a turn for the better.
In the six matches that those two centre-backs and Nick Pope (£5.4m) have played together this season, Burnley have kept four clean sheets and conceded only twice.
Yes, they are capable of being spanked by the better teams – but that was always the case, as witnessed by the string of 5-0 defeats at the Etihad over the years.
But we aren’t likely to want to field Burnley defenders in our Fantasy teams in those games anyway and the burning question for these budget assets is how likely are they to register shut-outs in the more winnable fixtures.
The answer is ‘very’: Pope kept 13 clean sheets in 20 matches against the bottom-half teams last season. His record is similarly impressive in 2020/21, with five clean sheets in seven games against clubs now sitting ninth or below.
Were it not for a clumsy late foul on Silva by rookie substitute Josh Benson (£4.5m), then Burnley would have been looking at another clean sheet and Pope would be sat atop the FPL goalkeepers’ points table.
Sean Dyche’s side completely nullified players who had turned Chelsea over just last week, with the only two saves that Pope had to make coming from long-range efforts.
TAYLOR’S SWIFT RISE
With Mee and Tarkowski costing that bit extra, Charlie Taylor (£4.5m) has become the go-to budget route into the Burnley backline.
The left-back chipped in with his second assist of the season for Barnes’ opener, getting to the byline and producing a teasing cross for the striker to nod in from inside Wolves’ six-yard box.
Taylor is now the leading points scorer among FPL defenders priced at £4.5m or less.
The prospects for further clean sheets look positive in the next three Gameweeks, particularly the two matches in Lancashire either side of New Year.
The issue is what happens after that. Without a fixture in Blank Gameweek 18, their double-header in Double Gameweek 19 is unappealing and they won’t be top of many managers’ shopping lists for either.
Raul Jimenez‘s (£8.2m) head injury raised the possibility of a £5.2m-rated forward leading the line for Wolves over Christmas and New Year but Nuno Espirito Santo has understandably still been careful in placing too much weight on an 18-year-old striker’s shoulders.
In only two of the four matches that Jimenez has missed has Fabio Silva led the line and he was again benched on Monday, with Pedro Neto (£5.9m) and Daniel Podence (£5.5m) tasked with providing the goal threat from kick-off – with little joy.
We don’t even know where Silva stands in the penalty-taking pecking order when he does take to the field as both Jimenez and his understudy, Ruben Neves (£5.2m), were off the pitch when the teenage forward netted confidently past Pope from 12 yards.
Max Kilman (£4.2m) returned to the Wolves starting XI after a four-game absence but it’s still too early to say whether he’ll nail down a starting role again.
While the switch back to a wing-back system does open up an extra spot at centre-half, Kilman might not have even started had Willy Boly (£5.4m) – who was an unused substitute on Monday – not been an injury doubt ahead of the match.
Similarly, Owen Otasowie (£4.5m) – curiously playing in an advanced midfield role – would likely not have featured had Leander Dendoncker (£4.8m) been fit.
It remains to be seen how quickly the Belgian will recover but his absence in the middle of the park was keenly felt.
The Athletic’s Wolves correspondent, Tim Spiers, made a similar point, also highlighting Boly’s tail-off in form; it’s no surprise that the clean sheets have dried up as his own performance levels have dropped.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brady (Pieters 69), Brownhill, Westwood, McNeil (Benson 87); Wood, Barnes (Rodriguez 82).
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves (Vitinha 76), Moutinho, Ait-Nouri (Traore 60′); Podence, Neto, Otasowie (Silva 60).
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 14
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