There’s just a couple more of these remaining and this is the last before the big double that is GW36. Let’s see what happened this weekend as we lead into the massive week (or so) ahead!
Man City 2 – 1 West Ham
A game where the defending champs showed not only glimpses of their potential brilliance but also key reasons why they haven’t managed to defend their title at the same time. There were two high quality goals, the first of which came through a returning Aguero after some neat passing between Yaya Toure, Silva and Nasri, leaving the striker to simply turn in his 15th goal of the season. The second came from more of a solo effort from Yaya, as he found space in the box before powering his shot into the top corner.
As I mentioned though, there was also the bad – Nasri somehow managed to spurn a simple chance at an open goal when he missed the ball altogether, whilst missed shots from the likes of Tevez and Zabaleta weren’t the sort of things we saw last season. However the real moment of disbelief was when Hart managed to make a howler in the 94th and final minute of the game, allowing Carroll to roll a consolation goal through his legs whilst also ruining clean sheet points for those of us who own Zab. It’s funny though how Hart seems to escape criticism, meanwhile DDG copped it from all angles for anything similar last season, hmm..
Bonus Points: Yaya Toure (3), Nasri (2), Zabaleta (1).
Everton 1 – 0 Fulham
I can’t help but feel this game was impacted by two key points; the first being Fellaini continuing to play in a defensive midfield position (Moyes must seriously be trying to hide him to scare off potential buyers) and the second with the early injury to Berbatov which left Fulham toothless after his departure. It was Pienaar however who got the early and ultimately decisive goal after a cut back from the by-line from Coleman. I mentioned above that Fellaini played in quite a defensive position, but he did still have chances which is failed to convert, with two of the home sides clearest chances falling to him just before half time.
In between all of this Everton generally had the run of play but really failed to capitalise on their dominance in possession, with Fulham at the other end failing to really make any real impression on Howard’s goal. Around five minutes from time it was Fellaini again who could’ve sealed the result, but he inexplicably missed Baines cross altogether. Anichebe also had a chance, but he headed wide whilst late substitute Barkley forced a late save from Schwarzer but all was said and done really a long while before.
Bonus Points: Pienaar (3), Coleman (2), Baines (1).
Wigan 2 – 2 Tottenham
As Seags mentioned in his preview you sometimes just have to expect the unexpected from Wigan. Watching this game early on it appeared as though Spurs might run over them, after an early defensive howler resulted in a rushed effort to clear by Robles – which only went as far as an on-rushing Bale and the deflection flew back past him into his own net. However, only just over a minute later Boyce connected with a powerful header from a Maloney corner to put the home side back on level terms. Spurs looked to recover quickly and pressed on again, a desperate tackle from Figueroa saved a certain shot on goal for Defoe moments later – but in doing so the latics defender managed to injure his groin and was soon after carried off on a stretcher.
It was the Latics who emerged from the break the more lively, and they capitalised on that in the 49th minute when McManaman connected with a powerful shot from outside the box to give them the lead after receiving the assist from McCarthy. Some desperate play from the home side kept the scoreline in their favour, although it could have been over with Kone failing to convert two good chances – one of which he hit straight at Lloris. In the 90th minute however Spurs finally broke through, with a low ball deflecting in off an unlucky Boyce (it came off Bale as well but he wasn’t initially credited with the assist – until last night). The away side almost snatched the win late with some scrambling in the area of the home side, but some clever defense and a fine save from Robles ensured they only left with a point.
Bonus Points: Boyce (3), McManaman (2), Bale (2), McCarthy (1).
Stoke 1 – 0 Norwich
This game was never going to be a high scoring thriller, these two sides have been involved in the most nil all draws this season (six each) – and they certainly lived up to that tag. Funnily enough it was a bit of the Stoke of old, they were dour defensively and even had some attacking threat about them at times – as you’d expect particularly in set pieces. However the likes of Adam and somewhat surprisingly Jerome in particular were also causing the canaries problems up front during open play, however the interval came about with the scores still locked at nil.
It didn’t take long for the home side to nail the definitive goal in the second half, only around 50 seconds in fact. A long ball (are you surprised?) from Huth was nodded down by Crouch (still not?) and Adam it was who ran onto the loose ball and poked home under Bunn from only seven yards. The canaries failed to rally following this and it was really the home side who should have extended their lead, the best chance coming when Crouch missed an open goal from only four yards when he failed to make contact with his foot when unmarked. However the home side had done enough as the Canaries just couldn’t find a way to threaten Begovic’s goal.
Bonus Points: Crouch (3), Walters (2), Begovic (1).
Southampton 0 – 3 West Brom
I have to say a bit of an unexpected result in some ways, the Saints had been solid of late and their games incredibly dour since Pochettino has arrived – but that was a different story here. The baggies came out firing and dominated the game from the outset, the Saints looked far too relaxed and it didn’t take long for that to prove their undoing as Fortune scored after only six minutes. That was the clear action in the first half though, with most of the highlights (and lowlights) coming after the main break.
With the baggies dominating Boruc had been incredibly busy, denying Lukaku in particular on more than one occasion. However that didn’t continue for much longer when on 66 minutes Fortune returned the favour to Lukaku setting him into goal and he finally slotted home. Shortly afterwards a double red card to both Fortune and Ramirez reduced both sides to ten men, which opened the game up. That only helped the baggies though as Long got away from Hooiveld and they had their third and with it, the three points. In a final moment of madness for the home side, Fox also got himself red carded for a clumsy challenge on Reid, ensuring the day ended on a somewhat sour note for the home side.
Bonus Points: Lukaku (3), Fortune (2), Long (1).
Newcastle 0 – 6 Liverpool
Who needs Suarez? That’s what Liverpool fans are no doubt saying, quick sell him to Chelsea for £50M! Just kidding Seags. Anyway moving on, I actually had my hard earned on Newcastle at least landing a draw here at home against a Liverpool side who would surely struggle to score given their striker who had either scored or assisted over 50% of their goals wasn’t playing – how wrong was I. The dominance started early too, Newcastle couldn’t get their hands on the ball and sustained pressure (for a grand total of the first four minutes) resulted in Agger of all people giving the away side the early lead after several failed attempts on goal following a corner. The other goal of the second half came as a gift from Sturridge who drew Elliot out before offloading to Henderson to tap into the open net – a classic FIFA type goal really.
The second half was absolutely no better for the home side, regardless of Pardew introducing both Gouffran and Ben Arfa from off the bench. In fact it was the latter who basically was pick pocketed by the brilliant Coutinho before he perflectly split two Newcastle defenders with a pass that set Sturridge onto goal and he calmly slotted home. Next Henderson returned the earlier favour by Sturridge producing the assist for the January signing’s second goal within minutes. Fabio Borini came on as a substitute after being out for weeks since injuring his shoulder, he put that behind him though by toe-poking his first goal in the PL and first for Liverpool. Then just to rub salt into the wounds, Debuchy decided to lay a horrid tackle on Coutinho outside the box and received his second yellow card. The resulting free kick taken by Henderson somehow missed everyone including Elliot before hitting the back of the net. The boos ringing round St. James weren’t as loud as they could have been, as a large portion of the crowd left almost 30 minutes before the final whistle.. interesting times ahead for Toon!
Bonus Points: Henderson (3), Sturridge (2), Coutinho (1).
Reading 0 – 0 QPR
This is going to be a really quick review as in all reality you should ditch any of these guys if you still have them for whatever reason. I can say they’re still relevant to us as FPL coaches though.. with regards to the fixtures and who they’re playing against – load up on players from these teams in the run home!
Quite frankly I’m doing the EPL an injustice in saying this game was dour, it was beyond that really. It appeared neither side had any real desire to win even though a draw or worse would consign them both to certain relegation. The game opened up very late with a few chances but the quality of the last ball was appalling and none of these chances were clear cut. I’ve already talked about this game too much, time to move on!
Bonus Points: Guthrie (3), Green (2), McAnuff (1), Morrison (1), Bothroyd (1).
Chelsea 2 – 0 Swansea
I have to say that I had an expectation of this sort of result and the game duly delivered whilst not making any real headlines whatsoever. The first half hour was really just long pot shots at goal from each side, somewhat frustrating from a viewer’s perspective (especially if you are a Mata, Michu or Hazard owner!). Ramires suffered a dead leg and was substituted for Lampard and soon after things started to happen. The veteran substitute cleverly found Oscar who then hit the far corner of Vorm’s goal to give the home side the lead three minutes before the half. That invigorated the home side and they got another goal on the stroke of half time when Lampard slotted a penalty after Mata was virtually saddled just inside the area by Britton. I believe that goal equaled the record for most goals by a Chelsea player – I wouldn’t expect it to be long before he breaks that record (next week on the double?).
In the second half Chelsea continued to press but with little reward, then De Guzman had a chance to reduce the gap after seizing on a Lampard turnover but he failed to beat Cech. Swansea were winless for five games leading into this and didn’t look like rectifying that stat thereafter, Mata in fact spurned a chance to extend the lead after a heavy first touch. Interesting points to note from this game, Cahill returned from injury to play alongside Terry at the back with Ivanovic on the bench and Luiz playing midfield. As Seag’s pointed out to me last night, Luiz has only been rotated once since Rafatation arrived at the Bridge – with the defensive stocks replenished we could see him in midfield both games of the double, definitely a viable left field option along with the likes of Lampard (pending the fitness of Ramires).
Bonus Points: Oscar (3), Lampard (2), Hazard (1).
Arsenal 1 – 1 Man United
With the title all wrapped up, this game was really all about Arsenal and their top four hopes.. haha, who am I kidding? Of course it was all about a returning RVP to the Emirates, apparently he even accidentally went to the wrong changerooms when he arrived at the ground – old habits die hard I guess. Anyway it was the Gunners who started like a house on fire, somewhat unsurprising when you consider the current predicaments of each side. Funnily enough it was United getting a taste of their own medicine when Walcott got in behind Evra and beat de Gea one on one to give the home side the lead after just two minutes. I say United got a taste of their own medicine as replays showed Walcott was in fact offside in the lead-up to the goal.
Still before the break, it had to happen – RVP scored against his old side. Sagna turned the ball over and RVP ran into the box albeit in a position that wasn’t very threatening, but the Arsenal full back tried to make up for his earlier mistake with a clumsy tackle on his former teammate that only resulted in a penalty. As a good striker does, RVP gave Szczesny no chance of stopping the spot kick and scores were level which is where they stayed. That wasn’t without threat from the home side though, defenders Koscielny and Gibbs both had chances in the closing stages to snatch the win but neither could find the back of the net. The relaxed United now face Chelsea this week whilst the gunners play hapless QPR – clean sheet and goals to Theo here we come? Also, beware the rotation risk now United can’t break the points record, they have nothing whatsoever left to play for.
Bonus Points: RVP (3), Walcott (2), Evans (2), Rooney (2).
Aston Villa 6 – 1 Sunderland
Before this game I thought I had a really good score, having no one from this game didn’t really bother me too much either. Again, I couldn’t be more wrong on both counts as the home side took a huge step towards avoiding relegation by thrashing the previously rejuvenated Sunderland. The game started slowly in the first half hour before Vlaar of all people fired the hosts into the lead with a ridiculously long range strike, which somehow Mignolet couldn’t get to. That was almost immediately countered when Graham and Rose combined with some neat passing before the full back fired past an outstretched Guzan to level the scores again. The game tempo then stepped up a notch or three and the home side soon were in the lead again, this time Lowton intercepted a pass in midfield before finding Weimann who ran at goal and virtually passed the ball past Mignolet.
In the second half it wasn’t pretty at all for Di Canio’s men, there was no fairytale this week after a glittering start under the new manager the last couple of weeks. It started out fairly even but then Benteke came into the game and blew it away, scoring his first goal after Mignolet could only block a shot from Weimann straight into the Belgian’s path only six yards out. Only minutes later it was Benteke again, rising high from a corner and powering his header into the bottom corner. Things weren’t quite bad enough for the black cats so Sessegnon decided to see to that by going into a challenge studs up on Sylla resulting in a straight red card. That opened the door for more goals and Benteke saluted again, completing his hat trick when his left foot shot from a tight angle was inexplicably not saved by Mignolet who really like the rest of his teammates, had a howler of a game. Agbonlahor put the icing on the cake late for the home side when he calmly ran around Mignolet and tapped into the open net leaving the home side now five points clear of 18th spot, also moving ahead of Newcastle (on goal difference) in the process.
Bonus Points: Benteke (3), Agbonlahor (2), Weimann (1).
Summary for GW35:
Lord: Lukaku, Bale, RVP, Yaya Toure
Loser: Vertonghen, Clyne, Michu
Trades: I haven’t exactly figured out what I’m doing, but I could do something as simple as 1 trade (Clyne to Dawson?), or I could possibly go hard on the double and do something like RVP to Aguero and Clyne to Zabaleta which leaves me with 9 players on the double and some pocket money to play with next week again (~1.8).
Vent/Brag: Again, I don’t really have anything to either vent or brag about.. I’m clinging to a ~15k overall ranking at the moment which isn’t bad but not quite brag worthy.
It’s worth noting that we really need to be careful about who we’re bringing into our teams as the season winds to a close, some teams still have something to play for but there is a growing number of those who don’t. After watching the Reading vs. QPR game I would definitely consider looking at whoever is playing these guys, they will no doubt be pummeled for the rest of the year now they have absolutely nothing to play for. Meanwhile, expect the likes of United to pull some surprise moves at the selection table – I am sure RVP won’t play all the remaining games given he has the golden boot wrapped up and United now can’t catch the record for most points in an EPL season (Chelsea, 95pts in ‘04/05).
Anyway, these things are probably going to be covered slightly better in Transfer Talk later in the week. Until then, feel free to add your score summary below and even generate some healthy discussion about what might be a critical DGW for some of us! Cheers.