So another GW rolls by, this one not as helpful to some of us as it has been to others! Regardless, I’ve got you covered on all the happenings of the round..
It wasn’t exactly the easiest game to sell as the opener to GW27, but nonetheless it meant I could watch my team without having to channel flick for once. Though sadly for me it didn’t end as I’d hoped – with the Cottagers playing out of their skins (at least given their recent form) and dominating the majority of the game to take all three points. In the first half it was really all Fulham – but they just couldn’t find an avenue to goal. The likes of Begovic and Shawcross were proving difficult to beat, but there was constant threat on the right where Shotton was matched up against Riise and Duff. Instead of breaking through the defense, Begovic decided to break through N’Zonzi’s nose instead (with an accidental elbow) – which only infuriated the Frenchman and delighted the home fans.
Aside from that, after several shots and numerous close calls later (from Stoke’s perspective), the deadlock was finally broken in stoppage time of the first half – Berbatov unleashing a cracking volley which not even Begovic could prevent. That proved the eventual winner for the Cottagers, but not before Dejegah gave away a penalty in the second half after raising his arms to block a Shea shot – however Walters spot kick was brilliantly saved by Schwarzer who turned back the clock a little diving low to his right. In other points to note, Wilson did make his return for Stoke at left back and played the full 90 minutes (albeit a little rusty, but still by far their best fullback option in the squad and a bargain at just 3.9) and Shea made his debut after Etherington injured his back midway through the first half. I can’t see Shea being an option for us this season though, but keep an eye on him in future years.
Bonus Points: Berbatov (3), Reither (2), Schwarzer (1).
This game was probably penned in to be a complete rout for the Gunners in most pundits eyes, but that didn’t end up being the case with the Gunners relying on a late winner to clinch three points. The first half started as expected, taking only six minutes for Wilshere to capitalise on a defensive error and find Cazorla who put the Gunners in front. The remainder of the half though played out without too much happening, although late on Giroud was denied by Guzan quite smartly.
In the second half it looked like becoming one way traffic as we’d all expected, but it didn’t result on many shots strangely – which came back to haunt when Weimann leveled the scores after 67 minutes when they counter-attacked from an Arsenal corner. Things nearly got worse when Mertesacker luckily just got in front of Benteke before he could give Villa the lead. The home crowd began to get frustrated as the Gunners piled forward, Wenger even brought on Podolski for Jenkinson in a bid to get a winner. He had to wait until the 85th minute though, when Monreal crossed low into the box and Cazorla again scored. For the most of us who had Walcott, unfortunately he had just the three shots out of 24 total – the closest he came was a decent curling shot that missed the bar by a matter of inches. That isn’t likely to appease anyone that put the captains armband on him though!
Bonus Points: Cazorla (3), Wilshere (2), Monreal (2).
Well, I have to say I didn’t see this coming – particularly not when Everton took the lead in the first half! Proceedings were underway and played out fairly evenly, with both sides having their chances on goal. However as I mentioned, the deciding effort of the first half came when Baines crossed into the box, only for both Johnson and Bassong to miss the ball – leaving an open Osman free to glance a header past Bunn. The canaries keeper couldn’t deny this shot after previously denying Jelavic and deflecting a dangerous cross from Coleman. At the other end Howard (who played his 300th game for Everton), smartly denied Holt – who probably would have scored had he hit the ball with more power.
The second half was more of the same really, until the Canaries pressed late for an equaliser. They got their goal to level after 84 minutes, with MLS loan signing Kamara scoring his first goal for the Canaries from a Snodgrass corner. That wasn’t all though, the Canaries pushed on for a winner – which they nearly had until Distin superbly blocked a shot from close range delivered by Holt. After 94 minutes though the Canaries claimed the winner, when Martin floated in a long ball which was nodded on by Bassong to Holt, with the captain putting it away. Those of us with Fellaini were left disappointed, but again he had his chances on goal – the best of those was a powerful shot blocked by a diving Turner.
Bonus Points: Holt (3), Osman (2), Kamara (1).
This was probably in some ways a little bit of a danger game for United, but they came up trumps with a strong performance resembling the way they’ve played most of this season. United started without Rooney as predicted midweek (although he was on the bench), leaving RVP starting up front with Hernandez. As you’d expect, United controlled the match mostly from start to finish, however Taarabt did unleash a low shot just wide of the post early on. However not lot after this, Van Persie managed to squeeze out a cross from an acute angle which Cesar cleared only as far as Rafael – who proceeded to absolutely thump the ball into the top left corner from around 25 yards. The same pairing nearly extended United’s lead not long after, when Rafael’s lofted pass was met first touch by RVP on the volley – however Cesar was equal to the task diving away to his left.
Disaster struck however for RVP owners, with the Dutchman subbed just before halftime due to a knock he received to his hip. Strangely this knock was acquired when he assisted Rafael’s goal, he managed to trip over the cameraman just outside the by-line and land on his already injured hip. Apparently however United are claiming he will play against Real, but that surely must put some doubt on him appearing in GW28 against Norwich as well. The game continued much in the same vein, however 10 minutes from time United finally sealed the result when Nani found the evergreen Giggs, who composed himself on the ball before firing across Cesar and into the net. Rooney made a belated appearance in the second half, however he didn’t manage to acquire any FPL points aside from his half an hour of minutes on the pitch.
Bonus Points: Rafael (3), Giggs (2), Carrick (1).
I don’t really want to talk about this game a whole lot, as this ruined what was a very tasty multi for me (and Seag’s) this week! Anyway, in a battle between the relegation strugglers it was surprisingly the Latic’s who walked away with a convincing win at the Madejski. Looking at the stats from this game is a bit misleading, you’ll notice that Pogrebnyak got himself straight red carded – that was for a stupid challenge on Figueroa on 55 minutes. However as I was saying, looking at the stats you might think Wigan piled the score on against ten men – that wasn’t the case with all the goals scored prior to the sending off.
The first 40+ minutes of the game were fairly even, chances at both ends – though particularly from Reading’s perspective with Kebe being quite prominent. That was about where it ended though for the Royals, as Kone flicked a switch scoring a brace within three minutes just before the break. In fairness, the first goal was a clear deflection off his back into the goal after he got in the way of a Figueroa shot, but the second he chipped over Federici somewhat nonchalantly as the Aussie keeper was rushing at him. Right after the break Figueroa piled more pain on the Royals when he combined with Di Santo before firing between Federici’s legs. Somehow the Royals held out the rest of the match, even though the Latics dominated possession, but that didn’t stop the loud boos ringing out around the Madejski on the full time whistle.
Bonus Points: Kone (3), Figueroa (2), Beausejour (1).
Well this result seems to confirm that West Brom are returning to some form, maybe not akin to their run earlier in the year, but certainly improved based on recent results. This game started out somewhat messy, there were chances at both ends as much due to poor defending as it was brilliance from the attackers. Sunderland were probably the first team to settle and forced a smart save from Foster before Fletcher was denied by the woodwork not long after. Not long after this Graham (making his first start for the black cats) then had a shot blocked by Foster, which was shortly after followed up by Lukaku responding and putting the ball into the net – only to be denied by a foul which had already been called. The Baggies striker didn’t have to wait long for his next chance though, when Ridgewell was fouled by Gardner, gifting a penalty which Lukaku had no problems putting away.
The second half saw more pressure coming from the Baggies, with Morrison and Mulumbu influential in midfield. The former also cleared a Sessegnon shot off the line following a Larsson corner. Lukaku however continued pressing, and finally broke through again when a backpass from Bramble saw Mignolet scramble to clear the ball – only to smash his clearance into a charging Lukaku which rebounded 18 yards straight back past him and into his net. Minutes later Sessegnon then scored a curled shot to make the last 10 minutes or so tense, but the black cats couldn’t manufacture an equaliser – probably justifiably so.
Bonus Points: Lukaku (3), Ridgewell (2), McAuley (1), Brunt (1).
Battle of the heavyweights, probably the fixture I was most looking forward to in GW27 purely from a football perspective (I only have Mata in FPL from these two sides). I have to say I was somewhat disappointed in the end, Chelsea had a relatively poor first half and then when they missed their golden chance (to be discussed), they didn’t really threaten again. It was somewhat destined to be a tight game, Mancini opted to flood the midfield by only having Aguero up front and throwing Rodwell a rare start. Regardless, City pressed the Chelsea defense on several occasions, with Cahill defending brilliantly in the absence of Terry who was on the subs bench. The aforementioned Rodwell was probably the surprise packet in front of goal, having a shot expertly blocked by Cahill and then testing out Cech twice in a minute.
The second half started with probably the pivotal incident of the game, Ba got in behind a napping City defense and was clumsily brought down by Hart’s trailing legs. A penalty ensued, but fortunately for City Hart was spared a card as Ba was deemed to have deviated away from goal – a controversial call either way in itself. Lampard who was going for four goals in four games and on 199 goals for Chelsea, took the spot kick – only to see Hart dive full length low to his right and make amends for his earlier indiscretion. This clearly disheartened them and it wasn’t long before Yaya Toure broke them altogether, with Milner and Silva combining near the by-line before cutting back to Toure who took a couple of touches to get around defenders before placing the ball past Cahill and Cech. Late in the game Tevez (who came on for Rodwell early in the second half), sealed the result with an absolute belter from outside the area somewhat out of nothing. That meant City didn’t fall further than 12 points adrift of United, but they did extend the gap to third (now Tottenham) to 5 points.
Bonus Points: Silva (3), Yaya Toure (3), Tevez (1).
This game definitely had the potential to be high scoring, but for whatever reason I certainly didn’t expect it to be anything like this! The Saints started with a bang, taking only three minutes to put the ball into the net – through a striker from 12 yards by Schneiderlin after a cross from Lambert. The threat continued until at least midway through the first half when Newcastle began to settle into the game and started producing their own chances. Cisse and Sissoko were the prime targets up front for the Toon, however it wasn’t until 12 minutes left in the half when Sissoko finished off a Gouffran cross that they found parity on the scoreboard. Late in the half, Elliot (making his debut in the absence of Krul) fired the ball long downfield which Cisse got in behind the defense and volleyed over a helpless Boruc to give them the lead – somewhat reminiscent of the form he showed at the end of last season.
The second half then strangely started the same way as the first, with Southampton in the ascendency and Lambert and Lallana both threatening, with the two then combining when the former steered home a cross on 50 minutes. Newcastle were then very fortunate not to concede the lead when Lambert headed wide from another Lallana cross, then Lallana himself pushed a shot just wide with Elliott stranded. The home team then gathered themselves again and took the lead again after a penalty was given when Fox was deemed to have handled the ball – Cabaye did the rest from the spot. It only got worse for Fox (and Soton), when an attempted clearance by the defender cannoned into Hooiveld and deflected into the net for the defenders THIRD own goal this season.
Bonus Points: Sissoko (3), Lambert (2), Cisse (1), Debuchy (1).
Again this fixture I expected low scoring, West Ham have been incredibly dour at home and it’s not as though Spurs have been delivering a frenzy of goals this season. Anyway, it was a game where once again Bale rescued Spurs from what would otherwise be a frustrating draw. It only took 13 minutes for the scoring to open, with Bale doing what he does best, beating defenders with pace before he fired across Jaaskelainen into the net. It wasn’t long however before the Hammers equalised, Parker giving away a penalty for a two footed challenge on Carroll who then slotted home his own spot kick. That remained the score for the rest of the half, although the football was quite entertaining with a lot of end to end action.
Early in the second half though, Spurs were pressing again and Bale and Caulker were both denied (as they were on several occasions – 10 in fact) by Jaaskelainen. The Hammers then capitalised on their dominance of possession when Cole got in behind Caulker and then slotted past Lloris to give them the lead. There were further brilliant saves by Jaasekelainen and then one from Lloris, which proved pivotal as the ball rebounded and resulted in a Spurs equaliser. A Bale free kick wasn’t dealt with by the Hammers defenders and second half sub Sigurdsson managed to take advantage from close range. The game then appeared to be headed for a draw until that man Bale intervened again. With only seconds to go in regular time, he collected the ball at 25 yards and unleashed another bullet – this time it was too good for Jaaskelainen (or any other keeper really) and gave Spurs another last gasp win to lift them to third on the table. It was definitely a case of if you didn’t have Bale you may have had a very low scoring GW!
Bonus Points: Bale (3), Caulker (2), Sigurdsson (1).
My summary for GW27:
Score: 61 (-8)
Lord: Bale, Lambert, Sissoko
Loser: Walcott, Mata, Clyne
Trades: Demel is finally going this week (probably Wilson), plus RVP may make way as well (injury/blank GW29) – probably for Suarez.
Vent: Nothing to complain too much about this week, from my end anyway.
Brag: The hits I took this week all paid for themselves (Lambert, Sissoko, Evra), just chose the wrong United defender.
We didn’t have a preview article this week unfortunately, but we still managed to get our little tipping competition going for this GW (which we started in GW25):
Seags: 4pts (20pts total)
Matt: 6pts (17pts total)
Me: 4pts (16pts total)
As you can see Matty did the best out of us, but in fairness we didn’t fare as well as past weeks. In fact between the lot of us there was only one correct score prediction – which was me predicting the QPR v Man Utd game correctly (yep, otherwise I had a shocker).
That’s it from me for now, it’ll be a reasonably quick turnaround through the articles this week given it’s already Tuesday! Stay tuned for all of our regular articles as GW28 approaches (hooray for ten fixtures!). In the meantime you can catch us all on here, or on the tweetvine. Oh, remember to tell us your scores for GW27 in the comments below!Cheers!