CRYSTAL PALACE 2-3 WEST HAM
- Goals: Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m), Michy Batshuayi (£5.7m) | Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) x2, Craig Dawson (£4.5m)
- Assists: Jordan Ayew (£5.6m), Christian Benteke (£5.5m) | Michail Antonio (£6.4m), Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m), Jarrod Bowen (£6.3m)
- Bonus: Soucek x3 Dawson x2 Cresswell x1 Batshuayi x1
Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) scored twice as West Ham moved above Liverpool and into the top four with a sixth straight win in all competitions.
The 18.1% owned midfielder wasn’t exactly everyone’s prime candidate for returns at Selhurst Park.
Benched by 422,285 and sold by 213,909, he punished the faithless by making it seven league goals for the season with a first-half brace.
Soucek Him Out
The Czech Republic international brought in 15 points on the night – his third double-digit haul from the last six Gameweeks.
Small wonder that his manager, David Moyes, was quick to praise him post-match.
“I keep saying that Tomas has got a great goalscoring record and he’s a great boy and he’s a good footballer as well. When you think from a year ago when we bought him, the difference he has made to the team is fantastic.”
Soucek offers so much bang for his modest £5.3m buck that he’s now FPL’s best value player in terms of points per million (PPM), with 18.1.
That price tag might not stay so low for so long, however. He’s currently in the top three for Gameweek 21 transfers-in despite a nasty schedule involving Liverpool (home), Aston Villa (away), Spurs (home) and Manchester City (away) over the next six matches.
Then again, the Hammers flourished during a particularly spiteful early-season fixture list and even the naturally understated Moyes can’t curb his enthusiasm at present.
“We’re on it and the players are on it and I think they can even do much better. I think we are only scraping the surface and there is a lot more to come.”
The Bargain Boys
It’s not only Soucek rocking the value table either.
Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m) leads the way for PPM among defenders, with 16.7, while team-mates Angelo Ogbonna (£5.0m and 14.8) and Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m and 13.8) are also in the top 12.
Another defender offering a fine return on investment is Craig Dawson (£4.5m).
He scored at Palace and in the the five straight starts he’s made for West Ham since joining on loan from Watford he now has a goal and three clean sheets to his name.
Up front, the 8.3 PPM provided by Michail Antonio might seem like a major downgrade, but the striker’s season has been hugely disrupted by injury, and an assist last night meant he’s now produced returns in three straight starts.
And it could have been so much better – in the first half, Soucek hit two goals, Antonio two posts.
The Moyes The Merrier
Of the two managers, Moyes was understandably the happier, although Palace boss Roy Hodgson took some solace from losing by just the one goal.
“We tried hard, made substitutions and put attackers onto the field which led to a consolation goal at the end. But it also opened us up enormously to the counter-attack. There were a lot of situations in the game I was fearing West Ham would aggravate the score.”
Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m) scored early to break his personal three-Gameweek goal drought, courtesy of Christian Benteke’s (£5.5m) second assist in three matches.
But goals aren’t exactly pouring from Hodgson’s side – the 24 they’ve managed can be bettered by 12 teams and Zaha has nine of them.
And the manager’s more traditional reputation for defensive solidity has gone AWOL this term.
Only West Brom (48) have conceded more goals than the Eagles’ 36 and the three clean sheets they’ve kept is the league’s third-worst record.
Then again, two of those shut-outs have come in the last four Gameweeks and all three have involved Tyrick Mitchell (£3.9m).
The cheap-as-chips defender can now be found in 18.1% of FPL squads, making him Palace’s most popular asset.
The club’s short-term schedule involves Wolves, Burnley and Fulham at home and Newcastle, Leeds and Brighton away, which suggests more Mitchell returns incoming – if he continues to keep Patrick van Aanholt (£5.4m) out of the team, that is.
Hodgson will also have another attacking option to try out against Wolves – new signing Jean-Philippe Mateta (£6.0m).
“He now has his visa, which was a slight issue we had to sort out, but he now has that and he’ll train with us on Thursday and Friday. He’ll certainly be in the squad for Saturday and I’ll have to make a decision whether he starts the game or not.”
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Mitchell; Townsend (Batshuayi 66), Milivojevic (Riedewald 73), McArthur, Eze; Zaha, Benteke (J Ayew 73).
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Fornals. Benrahma (Noble 87), Bowen (Fredericks 81); Antonio (Yarmolenko 83)
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