Gameweek 23 would see a Liverpool side in extremely poor form play host to high-flying league-leaders, Chelsea. Arsenal would welcome a Watford side that found themselves on the wrong end of a cup upset at the week-end. Spurs would travel to strugglers Sunderland, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side looking to continue their strong form into February. Elsewhere, Burnley would try to continue a run of four consecutive home wins as they faced champions, Leicester City, who look in danger of slipping into a relegation scrap. Lower down in the table, Swansea would look to continue their resurgence that has seen their relegation fears ease in recent weeks. Premier League draw specialists Middlesbrough hosted West Brom at the Riverside. So, here’s the FPL Updates gameweek 23 review…
Eldin Jakupovic – Hull seem to be on the up since the change of management that saw Marco Silva take over from Mike Phelan. They had a busy January window, losing the likes of Robert Snodgrass and Jake Livermore, while replacing them with players like Evandro and Everton outcast Oumar Niasse. Having pushed Manchester United all the way over two legs in the capital one cup last week, it was no different as they travelled to Old Trafford. They put in a fantastic performance, and were able to grind out a hard-earned 0-0 draw. Stand-in goalkeeper finds himself in good form and made some fine stops to deny the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney. Hull looked like they might have won it late when on-loan Liverpool midfielder Lazar Markovic rattled the post.
Scott Dann – Crystal Palace’s recent form will have been massively concerning for Steve Parish and Sam Allardyce, however their luck may have changed, after a superb 2-0 win away at Bournemouth on Tuesday night. The Eagles started much the stronger, with Wilfried Zaha firing against the upright to give the Cherries an early warning. However, they wouldn’t listen, and when Damien Delaney flicked the ball to the back post, centre-half Scott Dann was there to slam home with the inside of his right foot. Andros Townsend had seemed set for a move back to Newcastle on deadline day, however he came off the bench to great effect. After bolting past Simon Francis, he stood the ball up to the back post where Christian Benteke waited, before powerfully heading home to seal the three points in second half injury-time.
Michael Keane – Burnley have shocked everyone this season, having been many fans’ favourites for the drop this season. The main reason for their success has been their home form, with the Clarets having picked up a stunning 28 out of 29 points at Turf Moor this campaign. They won it late against champions Leicester City, with Sam Vokes scrapping home a controversial late goal, in which he seemed to use his arm. The loss sees the Foxes hovering dangerously, just two points above the dreaded drop zone. Their fans will no doubt be very concerned, with their form failing to improve. Burnley on the other hand, have reason to be cheerful, having completed the signings of Ashley Westwood and Robbie Brady on deadline day. The latter was announced over the tannoy after the victory, much to the delight of the Clarets faithful.
Damien Delaney – Irishman Damien Delaney has had to battle hard for his place this season, but will have been delighted to impress when called upon by Sam Allardyce in his side’s 2-0 win away at Bournemouth on Tuesday. He featured at left-back while new signing Patrick van Aanholt featured on the left-wing as he made his debut. Palace have cause for optimism, after Christian Benteke remained at the club despite interest from China, as did Andros Townsend. There’s also the return to fitness of on-loan Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who has scored goals everywhere he’s been since arriving in England with QPR from Marseille. The win sees Palace in 18th place, with work to be done if they are to ensure Premier League survival.
David Luiz – Few can dispute the footballing ability of two-time Chelsea defender David Luiz, and he pooped up with a moment of magic as his side secured a point at Anfield against a Liverpool side who halted a run of home defeats. Having won a free-kick thirty-five-odd yards from goal. The Brazilian thundered home a dipping effort that caught Simon Mignolet by surprise in the Liverpool goal, to send the travelling Chelsea fans into raptures. Chelsea seemed fairly comfortable, until a flowing move saw Georginio Wijnaldum put home after some good work from James Milner. Liverpool seemed in the ascendency, but it was Chelsea who would have the chance to win it from the spot when the referee adjudged Joel Matip to have brought down Diego Costa. Uncharacteristic of his form this season, the Spaniard stepped up only to see his effort saved by the Belgian Mignolet. Antonio Conte was, however, delighted with the point, as he thanked the Chelsea support.
Lamine Koné – It seems a long time ago that Ivorian defender Lamine Kone submitted a transfer request at Sunderland, following interest from Everton. Four months on, and he seems to be recapturing the kind of personal form that saw so many clubs take an interest in the stocky centre-half. He remained solid in his side’s 0-0 draw with Spurs on Tuesday night, repelling everything that Mauricio Pochettino’s side could throw at them. The point takes Sunderland off the foot of the table, although they still remain five points from safety in the Premier League, with a poor goal difference of -22. David Moyes will have a job on his hands to guide the North-East club to survival, as they bid to ensure survival a bit earlier than they usually do.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – The form of Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson has seen Swansea come back from the dead, following an abysmal half a season. They now find themselves having won three of their last four Premier League matches, and Paul Clement seems to have found a winning formula at the Liberty stadium. They ran out 2-1 victors as Southampton travelled to the Liberty stadium. Summer-signing Alfie Mawson opened the scoring as he powered home a header from Sigurdsson’s corner. However, Southampton would come back, and things were looking precarious when Shane Long slotted home from a Cedric cross to complete a fine move. However, Sigurdsson would step up, and how, as he swivelled onto a Luciano Narsingh pass to bend home from the edge of the box first time. It’s a massive win for the Swans.
Georginio Wijnaldum – Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum seems to come out for the big games, both when playing for Newcastle and now Liverpool. He once again delivered as he scored the equaliser late on against Chelsea at Anfield on Tuesday. The two best chances both fell to Roberto Firminio, and the Brazilian spurned both. First, he collects a well-timed pass only to swipe over on the turn, before a perfect cross left him eight yards out, but he was only able to head straight at Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal. It’s a disappointing result for Liverpool, who could have cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League.
David Silva – Manchester City have struggled somewhat this season, trying to find a blend between youth and experience as well as trying to implement a new style of football, and Pep Guardiola was the first to admit that managing in the Premier League has been much more difficult than he had anticipated. One player you would think could be a help with this would be tricky midfielder David Silva, however he has struggled to make his mark this season. However, when they travelled to West Ham on Wednesday night he found the form we are so used to from him. He was on hand to tap home for City to kill the game, while also contributing to a couple more goals, as they ran out 4-0 winners on the night.
Gabriel Jesus – Having been signed for £30 million in summer, many were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Jesus, and he seems to have been worth the wait. Early on, he and Belgian Kevin De Bruyne played a neat one-two which saw the latter sweep home into the bottom right hand corner of the net. However, he wasn’t done there, as De Bruyne played in Raheem Sterling. As he bared down on goal, he saw his Brazilian team-mate and squared him the ball to roll in his first Premier League goal. It’s been an impressive start for Jesus, who also netted in his side’s cup win at Crystal Palace at the week-end.
Peter Crouch – Where do you start with Peter Crouch? He netted his 100th Premier League goal as his side drew 1-1 with Everton at the Bet365 stadium. It had been much talked about and out came ‘the robot’ to the delight of the watching faithful. This opened the scoring early on for Stoke, but it wasn’t to be on Crouchy’s big day, as Everton controversially levelled through a combination of Seamus Coleman and Ryan Shawcross. As Coleman put across goal, it seemed Romelu Lukaku had scored from an offside position and the goal was ruled out. However, upon a second look, you can see that it was in fact Ryan Shawcross who put through his own net, and the linesman changed his mind to give Everton a great point.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)