Gameweek 15 has proved to be one of the most enthralling rounds of Premier League football yet, this season, with 29 goals being scored in the six Saturday kick-offs alone. The early match would see a Watford side face Everton at Vicarage Road, with both sides looking to buck trends of terrible recent form. There was a vital clash at the KCOM stadium as Crystal Palace travelled to face Hull City, while Burnley hosted Bournemouth at Turf Moor. Swansea would also play host to a Sunderland side that was in terrific form, while the Welsh side were beginning to string some results together themselves. The late kick-off saw Manchester City travel to face a Leicester side that were just two points off the bottom of the Premier League. The most notable of the Sunday matches was Manchester United playing host to Spurs at Old Trafford. So, here’s the FPL Updates gameweek 15 review…
David De Gea – David De Gea put in a fine display as Manchester United edged past a strong Tottenham Hotspur side at Old Trafford 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. The victory hauls Man United back towards a potential Champions League place for next season. The match winner came courtesy of Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who raced onto Ander Hererra’s through ball, only to hammer the ball into the roof of the net past Hugo Lloris in the Spurs net. Victor Wanyama headed agonisingly wide from just six yards when it seemed easier to score. Later Paul Pogba would bend a superb free-kick against the post, which would have sealed the match for José Mourinho’s side. Spurs will feel disappointed to have lost the match, with De Gea’s performance compounding their misery on a tough afternoon.
Aleksander Kolarov – Despite losing 4-2 away at defending champions Leicester City it was a bittersweet day for Serbian full-back Aleksander Kolarov, who scored and assisted in the last ten minutes of a poor display in truth. Having found themselves 4-0 down with a quarter of an hour remaining, things were looking very bleak for Pep Guardiola’s struggling side. The two goals scored late on were to prove an unsatisfactory form of consolation, but showed that City still possess real firepower, even without suspended Sergio Aguero. When City won a free-kick on the edge of the Foxes penalty area, Kolarov would step up to curl the ball into the top corner past the despairing Ron-Robert Zieler in goal. Nolito would pull another back as he met Kolarov’s low cross to pass into the bottom corner across the goalkeeper. City are struggling at the moment, and Pep Guardiola finds himself in need of a change of fortunes are they to mount a serious title challenge.
Charlie Daniels – Burnley secured a vital three points at home to Bournemouth on Saturday as they look to secure Premier League survival. Jeff Hendrick began the scoring, plucking a high ball out of the air before controlling on his knee, and belting in a volley from 25 yards. Burnley doubled their lead after 15 minutes, as Steven Ward was quickest to react when Artur Boruc saved from a Ben Mee header. Sean Dyche was then incensed when Bournemouth pulled a goal back through Benik Afobe twenty seconds after the two minutes of first half injury time had been played. However, Burnley would restore their two-goal lead when George Boyd drilled home into the bottom corner. Charlie Daniels pulled another one back when Charlie Daniels picked up the ball inside the penalty area, only for the former Spurs man to hammer a terrific effort into the top corner of the net. It’s a superb result for Burnley, who know that they will need strong home form are they to survive.
Virgil van Dijk – Southampton secured a good home win to Middlesbrough on Sunday as Sofiane Boufal netted the winner shortly into the second half. The Moroccan picked the ball up from James Ward-Prowse, before going on and smashing the Saints in front from 25 yards. Middlesbrough struggled to gain a foothold in the game, mustering just 6 shots, with only two of them finding their way on target. Victor Fischer was the closest to finding the net for ‘Boro, but José Fonte was on hand to get back on the goal line and prevent ‘Boro from scoring what would have been just their 14th goal in 15 matches.
Wilfried Zaha – Former Manchester United man Wilfried Zaha produced one of the season’s best individual performances as Crystal Palace and Hull played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday. Zaha twisted and turned in the area, before being scythed down to give Crystal Palace a chance to equalise early on. Christian Beteke made the most of his chance, coolly slotting the penalty into the corner. Zaha then scored one of the best goals you’ll see this season. As a corner fell to the Ivorian on the edge of the area, Zaha dribbled through three or four Hull players before unleashing a hammer of a strike into the top corner at David Marshall’s near post. Having found themselves 3-2 down late on, Zaha would produce one more moment of magic, as he crossed brilliantly for the open Frazier Campbell, who nodded a header in at the near post to earn Palace a deserved point.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – The Icelandic international is widely recognised as one of the Swans best players, and lived up to that tag again as his side recorded a superb 3-0 win over a recently resurgent Sunderland side at the Liberty Stadium. Sigurdsson picked up a goal and an assist as his side romped to victory, as American boss Bob Bradley begins to stamp his authority on a side that had been in abysmal form until the past few matches. Sigurdsson put his side in front from the spot after Jason Denayer handled the ball in the area. Sigurdsson calmly approached the ball before lofting the ball down the middle and into the back of the net, before running towards the Swans fans in celebration. Swansea would double their lead shortly after when Sigurdsson’s quick free-kick found the onrushing Fernando Llorente to put the match beyond doubt. The Welsh side are beginning to look like the footballing side we have seen in recent seasons, but with an added grit instilled by Bradley’s management.
Robert Snodgrass – It was a controversial afternoon for Robert Snodgrass and Hull City, as his involvement in both boxes was at the centre of attention for fans and players alike. After 27 minutes of the match, the Scot would cause controversy, as he went down anticipating contact from Scott Dann that never arrived. Despite declaring that it was never a penalty on social media after the match, it didn’t stop Snodgrass getting up and passing the ensuing penalty high into the corner of the net. However, Palace may feel they got even when Snodgrass brought down Wilf Zaha at the other end, only for Benteke to equalise. After finding themselves 2-1 down, Adama Diomande scored a sensational solo effort, receiving the ball into feet, before nutmegging a Palace defender and slotting the ball past the keeper to send the Hull fans into raptures. It would get better when Jake Livermore put them in front, striding into the penalty area before smartly finishing at the near post. However, Frazier Campbell’s late equaliser
against his old club meant Hull fans would go home with a draw that felt more like a defeat.
Mesut Ozil – Mesut Ozil enjoyed an afternoon to remember as he was the star of the show in Arsenal’s 3-1 home win against Stoke City. However, they did it the hard way, after going a goal down to a penalty conceded by Granit Xhaxa. The referee took a dim view of an elbow thrown by the Swiss international at Joe Allen just inside the area. Despite incessant protest, Charlie Adam stepped up and converted. But it wasn’t long before Arsenal drew level, with Theo Walcott meeting a Hector Bellerin cross at the near post to toe in past the Lee Grant. Shortly after half time, Mesut Ozil would delicately lob a header over the onrushing Grant after being found superbly by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Alex Iwobi would complete the rout when he slotted past Grant after picking up a loose ball inside the penalty area.
Jamie Vardy – With Just one goal prior to a clash at home to Manchester City, few would have put money on Vardy bucking the trend on Saturday afternoon. However, what was to follow was sheer brilliance, as Vardy netted a hat-trick that left Manchester City wondering what had hit them. His first came just three minutes in as Islam Slimani played Vardy in, for the England international to slot the ball home firmly across Claudio Bravo in the City net. His second would come when he was played in again, before rounding Bravo and passing into the empty net. His hat-trick goal would come courtesy of John Stones, who played a pass blindly back to Claudio Bravo, dropping it short, allowing Vardy to race onto it. Once in, Vardy rounded the Chilean for a second time, before superbly finishing from a tight angle, despite Bacary Sagna’s best efforts to clear off the goal line. It was a superb win for Leicester, who survived some late pressure from City to end a run of torrid form.
Stefano Okaka – Italian forward Stefano Okaka started just his second match in a Watford shirt as they played host to a struggling Everton side. What was to follow was full home debut to remember, as the bulky forward would bag a brace in a thoroughly impressive display all-round. Everton opened the scoring through Romelu Lukaku’s smart finish, before Okaka bettered it, finishing a bouncing cross with a brilliant back-heel. Watford would then hit the front when Sebastian Prodl headed in from a brilliant Jose Holebas delivery. Maarten Stekelenburg made a great save from Miguel Britos to prevent Watford adding a third, until and unmarked Okaka would do so through a flicked near post header, that couldn’t be kept out by a combination of goalkeeper and defender. Watford did let Everton back into the game when Lukaku bagged his second from an Aaron Lennon cross. However, Watford held on despite late Everton pressure to claim a good three points.
Fernando Llorente – The Spaniard, Llorente, is really starting to make his mark on the Swansea City side, netting 4 goals in his last 2 home appearances. Against Sunderland on Saturday he netted a second consecutive home brace, first getting on the end of a well-worked training ground corner routine, to slot past Jordan Pickford in the Sunderland goal. This goal put the game beyond David Moyes’ side, who had seen somewhat of a resurgence in recent weeks. Llorente wasn’t done there though, as the former Juventus and Bilbao man was on hand to power home a header after Jefferson Montero dinked a great cross to the back post. The third goal sparked great celebrations as the Swans confirmed a second consecutive home win, which is to be vital should they manage to avoid relegation this season. A squad filled with talent, Swansea will be looking to create some kind of consistency to ensure that they aren’t found flirting with a return to the Championship come the latter stages of this campaign.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)