I’m back again to go through this week’s games, personally I had an average week and dropped points to my nearest league rival due to my reluctance to take a 4 point hit. Anyway, enough about me – let’s move onto the games!
Sunderland 0 – 1 Man United
The final straw for Martin O’Neill here somewhat surprisingly to me anyway, although the black cats have been dismal for some time now. Regardless, this game really lacked any punch to it – United rested a host of players leading into their FA cup replay with Chelsea last night which included the likes of popular FPL options Rooney and Evra. As a result players like Buttner got a rare start and he looked very threatening, he’s not an option this year but if he starts getting games next season he’ll be a hugely viable option, always threatens to get attacking returns.
Moving on, RVP was the man to do the damage for united, a poor defensive effort combined with bad luck resulted in the Dutchman claiming the winner in the first half. Left to control the ball at the edge of the area the striker let fly with the ball taking a big deflection off Bramble before sailing past Mignolet, so only an assist for us RVP owners. De Gea made his first save about five minutes from time which goes to show how dull this game was. RVP had a chance with the final kick of the game to seal victory but he was denied with one on one with Mignolet.
Bonus Points: RVP (3), Young (2), Buttner (1).
Arsenal 4 – 1 Reading
In the preview I said that Reading might make things difficult for Arsenal. Well, yeah.. they didn’t as you can clearly see. If Arsenal were at full strength this would have well and truly been a cricket score. Anyway, it started pretty early here at the Emirates in terms of the goal scoring – of course it started with the guy I refused to take a point hit for, Cazorla threading a brilliant pass for Gervinho to run onto and virtually tap in after 10 minutes. Strangely that was it in terms of first half scoring though, not that Arsenal were without chances – Giroud and Gervinho unable to convert from the gunners dominance in possession.
The second half quickly put to bed any hopes of a Reading revival – Cazorla himself this time literally passing the ball around defenders into the corner from the edge of the area to give the gunners a two goal break on 47 minutes. Again a lull before a late flurry of goals – Giroud finally getting on the scoresheet was offset almost immediately by Robson-Kanu scoring as the gunners got a bit comfortable. The finishing touches were put on however when Oxlade-Chamberlain won a penalty after a turnover and then poor tackle by Mariappa, which was duly converted by Arteta. The above surely is evidence enough that it’s time to start considering the little Spaniard Cazorla for the gunners double in GW33 if you don’t have him already.
Bonus Points: Arteta (3),Cazorla (2), Gervinho (1).
Man City 4 – 0 Newcastle
Newcastle were without several first team players due to injury and City finally clicked and well and truly made them pay. Aguero didn’t start like I thought he might on his return from injury, giving Tevez and Dzeko another week to audition in hope of locking in that second strikers starting spot. It took over 40 minutes (which included a Gareth Barry miss from inside the six yard box) for City to finally capitalise though – and Tevez it was on the end of a Clichy cross. Then again just before half time where some neat passing between Yaya Toure and Clichy found Silva 12 yards out and he made no mistake.
Following the flurry to end the first half, City started much the same in the second with Kompany of all people scoring a clever goal with a skillful flick on from a Barry long range shot. More dominance, more shots.. more saves being required from Newcastle backup keeper Elliot, then finally the rout was completed in the 69th minute when Yaya Toure controlled the ball taking on defenders in the box but near the byline, where his ambitious shot was deflected in for an own goal off Perch. It’s hard to know what to make of it all given Newcastle’s injury list, but certainly some form was finally found by some of City’s stars and key players seem to be coming back from injury – don’t discount some of these guys in the run home.
Bonus Points: Silva (3), Clichy (2), Yaya Toure (1).
Southampton 2 – 1 Chelsea
So there was Rafatation alright, as I predicted – and it was extensive. Then add to that fact that Mata also missed the game entirely due to illness and we somewhat of a second rate Chelsea side appear against the in-form Saints. The likes of Moses, Marin, Bertrand, Mikel and to some extent Torres all got rare starts whilst regulars sat and watched from the comfort of the sidelines. Meanwhile on the pitch it was all the Saints – a series of efforts were denied before finally the deadlock was broken after 23 minutes through Rodriguez. Not all that long later captain Terry who was returning from injury found way too much space and latched onto an open header from a Marin corner, easily hitting the back of the net from only a few yards.
Still in the first half and that man for the Saints, Lambert, had a free kick from around 30 yards which he brilliantly curled over the wall and out of the reach of Cech. That proved to be the match winner after a second half which blanked on the score sheet, even though Saints in-form keeper Boruc was subbed at half time due to dizziness. The blues finally brought on some of their guns in the second half and they pressed to get an equaliser which never came – Lampard and Hazard probably getting the best of those chances. The Rafatation is likely to continue however as now Chelsea move on in the FA cup after beating United last night.. awesome.
Bonus Points: Rodriguez (3), Lambert (2), Terry (1).
Swansea 1 – 2 Tottenham
This was a great game in my opinion, lots of genuinely good chances on goal and some really skillful play from players on both sides – with some better finishing it really could’ve been anything. It started with a flurry from Spurs, that man Bale of course played a key role as he lofted a ball behind the Swans defense which Vertonghen of all people ran onto, controlled and slotted home as well as any good striker past a rushing Vorm. Those same culprits were in action again not long later, when the defender this time found Bale just outside the box, the Swans defense paused waiting for Welshman to rush at them, instead he brilliantly ‘passed’ the ball past them all into the top left corner – leaving all (including Vorm) standing flat footed. With that goal Bale become the most prolific goal scorer from outside the box in all European leagues this season.
After the first half finished well in the favour of Spurs on the score sheet at least, the Swans kept pressing and it took until the 71st minute before Michu finally converted one of the several good chances he had – latching onto a header from a set piece. That was the 20th goal of the season for him, unbelievable for someone bought for a mere two million pounds. Anyway, a frantic final twenty minutes ensued as Swans pressed for an equaliser but it didn’t come, Spurs holding out and taking third position on the table as a result.
Bonus Points: Bale (3), Vertonghen (2), Sigurddson (1), Dembele (1).
West Ham 3 – 1 West Brom
Surprisingly the Hammers really had this their own way most of the game, after the Baggies had recently shown some decent form. If there’s a team that would be suited to counteract Carroll’s threat and height in set pieces, you might think the Baggies would be that team – that wasn’t to be the case with the big striker thumping a trademark header in from a corner to get things rolling on 16 minutes. That definitely lifted the Hammers and it wasn’t long before they extended that lead – Vaz Te offloaded after a nice run to O’Neil who hit the top corner with a curling shot over the defense from outside the box. The baggies were stunned and that certainly seemed evident in their play and definitely from Clarke on the sidelines.
The second half continued in the same vein but it wasn’t until the 79th minute when the score board was impacted again, when again Carroll this time scored with his feet as he got in behind the baggies defenses. A token effort in the end from the baggies came when Lukaku was fouled and Dorrans took the resulting penalty kick – ruining the hammers clean sheet in the 88th minute. That win probably means the hammers will be safe from the relegation scrap, which a few weeks ago they definitely looked like falling into!
Bonus Points: Carroll (3), O’Neil (2), Collins (1).
Wigan 1 – 0 Norwich
I would like to know what the code is.. the cheat code that Wigan keep engaging at this time of the year, “escape inevitable relegation”. Although it might not be totally out of the box they win against Norwich at home, it’s the manner in which they keep managing these points that just amazes me, well that and the fact their lineup is.. well. Anyway, an hour of really nothing as both sides lacked any impetus whatsoever, especially in the final third meant the blank score sheet went deep into the second half.
That’s when Martinez must have engaged the cheat code (I’m going to watch the replay again and see if I can catch it), as the Latics all of a sudden came into the game and started threatening on goal. Alcaraz met a Beausejour corner which was cleared off the line by Howson in the 70th minute, followed by McCarthy firing wide on 77 minutes. But the 81st minute it was when they finally snatched the lead and ultimately the win, Hoolahan turning the ball over in midfield to Gomez who found their superstar Kone on the edge of the box who fired home. Unfortunately with the cheat code engaged the Canaries couldn’t muster up any sort of a response to try find an equaliser and the Latics ran out winners and escaped the bottom three.
Bonus Points: Kone (3), Beausejour (2), Robles (2).
Everton 1 – 0 Stoke
As suspected this game really wasn’t one for the highlights reel, without both Fellaini and Pienaar the toffees were without two key attacking focal points and Stoke (yeah I know, they’re my team).. well they couldn’t score at a swingers party. Anyway a really lackluster opening from both sides was finally broken open after 28 minutes, Stoke has a free kick which Wilson curled in only to be cleared by the returning Howard. That clearance however fell to Mirallas who was basically in behind the Stoke defense whilst in his own half – that started an electrifying run where he was on his own and managed to get one on one with Begovic before sliding the ball past him into the net. That miraculously meant that Howard of all unlikely candidates provided the assist to what was the match winning goal.
The second half was much more of the same, which wasn’t much, whilst the last twenty minutes or so Stoke decided to threaten goal a few times including a Huth header which went wide from a set piece – where he really should’ve hit the target. All in all you’d have to say Moyes will be delighted as the Toffees continue their run towards what seemed an unlikely tilt at the top four whilst Stoke continue their disastrous run of form (especially away from home) and slide towards the relegation scrap.
Bonus Points: Mirallas (3), Jelavic (2), Distin (1).
Aston Villa 1 – 2 Liverpool
Dear oh dear. The reds threatened to do it again, and if it wasn’t for some really poor efforts from Villa they probably would have. If you haven’t got what I’m angling at here, I’m referring to losing a game they should definitely win. It was Villa who started with all the fire here as you’d expect in some respects given their predicament, but the Reds let it run on far too long – to the point where Agbonlahor missed a sitter from just three yards and then Benteke of all players also failing to convert. The prolific Villa striker however made up for it on 31 minutes when he combined with Agbonlahor and smashed a shot past Reina from around 15 yards – a lead which they took into half time despite some threat of a reds revival.
The second half was when that revival kick started, Coutinho superbly found Henderson who was in behind the defense and he calmly chipped over an onrushing Guzan. The reds really took the ascendency then, finally taking the lead after 59 minutes when a clumsy tackle on Suarez from Baker resulted in a penalty which Gerrard slotted home (thankfully for those of us that captained Suarez!). It wasn’t the Uruguayan’s day really, he had several decent chances which he either spurned or had denied smartly by Guzan. Anyway, Weimann should have leveled not long later but he missed a shot from 8 yards under no pressure whatsoever. That was all she wrote really for Villa as Liverpool made sure of the result, despite Benteke netting in injury time – but unfortunately he was two yards offside in the process.
Bonus Points: Gerrard (3), Henderson (2), Suarez (1).
Fulham 3 – 2 QPR
It’s amazing sometimes what sort of results you can get in this league – who would have thought we’d see this sort of result from this fixture? It started as you’d probably expect it to, Fulham dominated play and in the first half alone Berbatov found the back of the net first from a penalty and secondly after pouncing on a Samba defensive error. Surely from that sort of start you expect the Cottagers to romp away with it at home.. nope. It certainly continued to be the case late in the first half when Fulham scored again – this time a huge deflection off Hill from a Riise cross found the back of his own net. Amazingly against that run of play, a returning Taarabt went on one of his blazing runs and somehow managed to evade the grasps of a diving Schwarzer just before the break.
Regardless, I thought the game was over, but it wasn’t to be. First bit of action came when Karagounis clumsily brought down Taarabt at the edge of the area near the by line. Remy took the resultant penalty which a diving Schwarzer saved low to his right before his defenders cleared the loose ball for a corner. Over yet? No not yet. Minutes later Remy was played in and made up for his mistake by protecting the ball before smashing past a rushing Schwarzer off the crossbar and into the net. All of a sudden the R’s were a chance! Then not long later a sliding Sidwell catches Traore late and is given a straight red – but it’s a fizzer. With around 15 minutes of play the R’s couldn’t find the killer blow to land an equaliser let alone a winner – which as you can see above ‘Arry wasn’t too ‘appy ‘bout.
Bonus Points: Berbatov (3), Duff (2), Senderos (1).
Summary for the GW31:
Lord: Bale, RVP, de Gea
Loser: Evra, Mata, Davies
Trades: I’ve already made up for my idiocy last week by bringing in the guy I wanted rather than settling for a guy who’s not even guaranteed a start. Cazorla came in for Lampard with a bit of cheap bench defender swapping required.
Vent: As I started on about earlier, this week I refused to take a 4 point hit to trade cheap defenders for cash to get Walcott to Cazorla – as a result I settled for Lamps, who spuds. Meanwhile my main league opponent brings him in and captains him – net result my 4 point hit would’ve stopped me dropping 20 points on him. Lesson? Don’t be scared to sometimes take a small point hit for the sake of your overall structure!
No tips were done this week (although if you look at my preview I would’ve done reasonable this week with two correct score predictions!), so that’s it from me for now. I suspect we’ll have our normal content this week and maybe even a little something from Liam who’s been a bit quiet lately! Just a hunch anyway.. in the meantime catch me around on twitter and post your scores below! Cheers!