Gameweek 30 saw the welcomed return of Premier League action, with a full program of fixtures across both Saturday and Sunday. There were some mouth-watering prospects as well, with a Merseyside derby to look forward to on Saturday lunchtime as well as some vital games for the sides struggling at the wrong end of the table. Sunday would see a massive relegation six-pointer between Swansea and Middlesbrough, the winner of which may well see their relegation fears eased ahead of the remaining eight matches. The final game of the weekend would see Manchester City travel to the Emirates to face an Arsenal side that may well miss out on a top four finish. So, here’s the FPL Updates gameweek 30 review…
Victor Valdes – Swansea’s home fixture with Middlesbrough looked to be an exciting prospect as both sides scrap for survival at the bottom of the table, however it would largely disappoint the neutral as the match would fizzle out to a 0-0 draw at the Liberty. Both sides will be somewhat disappointed with the result as it gave the sides a chance to move clear of the sides around them, while the drop leaves things as they were prior to kick-off for these sides. Paul Clement’s side had put some strong form together, however recent results have been disappointing and leave the Swans looking over their shoulder.
Miguel Britos & Craig Cathcart – Watford scraped to a narrow 1-0 win over a seemingly doomed Sunderland side at Vicarage Road on Saturday, with Sunderland’s hopes of survival taking yet another hit. Despite a fairly dull affair all-round, the Hornets would take the win courtesy of a second half strike from an unlikely hero in Miguel Britos. The result sees the Hornets seven points clear of the drop zone and Walter Mazzari and co would no doubt hope that this result will ensure yet another year in England’s top flight and easy any nagging doubt in fans’ minds. Sunderland meanwhile find themselves eight points from safety, and it seems unlikely they will be able to replicate the form that has seen them escape year on year.
Danny Simpson – Leicester seem to have turned a corner since they sacked title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri and selected interim boss Craig Shakespeare as his immediate successor. Shakespeare has overseen his side as they have romped to four consecutive league wins for the first time since their title-winning campaign last time out. They ran out 2-0 winners against a Stoke City side that seem destined for mid-table obscurity this campaign. The form has seen many in the media left with a bitter taste in their mouth as many suggest the players turned on their former boss, further fuelled by senior players lack denial when questioned on the matter. Regardless, the Foxes fans will be delighted with their form of late.
Shkodran Mustafi – Arsenal faced Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon, in what would have been viewed as a must-win match for both sides. Naturally then, the match would end in a 2-2 draw that will leave fans of both sides frustrated. Leroy Sané opened the scoring for City when he was threaded through by Kevin De Bruyne before rounding David Ospina and rolling into an empty net. Arsenal would haul themselves level close to half time when Theo Walcott poked beyond Willy Caballero. So, imagine the frustration when Sergio Aguero drilled home just one minute later. Shkodran Mustafi would equalise for the Gunners, but both sides will go home frustrated with what could have been.
Andrea Rannochia – January signing Andrea Rannochia struck a later winner as Hull City secured a massive three points towards Premier League survival as they beat West Ham 2-1 at the KCOM stadium on Saturday afternoon. Hull, who sit in 18th position in the Premier League, got off to the worst possible start as Andy Carroll neatly controlled and swept past Eldin Jakupovic in the City goal. However, just after half time Andy Robertson would equalise when he struck from 20 yards after some good play from Lazar Markovic. As the game seemed to be headed towards a draw, Italian defender Rannochia rose highest to slam a header beyond Darren Randolph to send the Tigers fans into raptures. It’s a massive result for City while Slaven Bilic and West Ham are left frustrated yet again.
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool faced Everton in a fiery Merseyside derby on Saturday lunchtime. It would be Liverpool who would leave with the bragging rights though, as they powered to a 3-1 lead against their local rivals. Liverpool took the lead when Sadio Mane raced through the Everton midfield and defence before unleashing a low drive that deceived Everton keeper Joel Robles as it rolled towards the far corner, having travelled through several pairs of legs. Matthew Pennington would have a moment to savour as he netted his first Everton goal to equalise, however Philippe Coutinho would steal the show when he drove at the Everton defence before cutting inside and wrapping a superb effort into the corner. Divock Origi would complete the victory, curling the ball past Robles from twenty yards as the Toffees defence parted.
Eric Dier – Tottenham were able to record an impressive victory at Turf Moor on Saturday against a Burnley side that aren’t used to losing on their own patch. Despite their wretched away record, the Clarets are among the league’s top home sides, and were well-beaten on the day by a Spurs side missing several key players. The Clarets managed to keep last season’s runners up at bay for over an hour, until Eric Dier broke their resolve after Sean Dyche’s side were unable to clear from Christian Eriksen’s cross. Spurs would finish the contest just eleven minutes later when Heung Min-Son netted off the bench from Dele Alli’s ball across to the South Korea international. It’s a good three points for Spurs, while Burnley find themselves just five points from the relegation zone.
Wilfred Ndidi – It’s been a difficult start to life at the King Power for Nigerian youngster Wilfied Ndidi since his January switch from Belgian giants KRC Genk. A powerful midfield player, many had expectations of the new signing to fill the void left by Ngolo Kante’s summer departure to title favourites Chelsea. Ndidi hd just one goal to his name prior to this weekend as he hit a thunderbolt against Derby County in the FA Cup. He would replicate the feat against Stoke City this weekend when he received the ball from Danny Simpson, before driving at the defence and whistling an effort into the top corner leaving Lee Grant with no chance. Jamie Vardy doubled the advantage just after the interval, which would see the Foxes cruise to a fourth consecutive league win.
Wilfried Zaha – Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Zaha enjoyed a fruitful afternoon’s work when his side stunned Chelsea by winning at Stamford Bridge. The victory leaves Sam Allardyce’s Palace side four points clear of the drop zone, a remarkable improvement compared to the situation at hand upon his arrival. Despite securing the three points they were certainly made to work for it as Chelsea piled on the pressure and even had several opportunities themselves to breach the Palace backline. Despite this, Allardyce heaped praise on his side, and rightly so as they reduced the Blues lead at the top to just seven points from Tottenham. That won’t matter to Allardyce and Palace’s fans, though, as they take a big step towards safety.
Christian Benteke – One of the key men behind Palace’s miracle at Stamford Bridge was none other than big number nine Christian Benteke. He scored and assisted as his side edged past the likely champions come May. They had to come from behind, as Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring for the Blues, much to the delight of Antonio Conte. However, just four minutes later the Blues were stunned, when Wilfried Zaha turned on the edge of the box before driving the ball past Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea net. It would get worse for Chelsea, as Christian Benteke completed the turnaround just ninety seconds later. Then Zaha would put through the big Belgian, who sat down his international team-mate Courtois, before scooping the ball over the keeper and into the net. Palace would nervously see out the remaining seventy-nine minutes to ensure a famous victory.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)