Gameweek 26 would see several teams without a Premier League match given the presence of the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday afternoon. This would mean that Manchester’s City and United wouldn’t feature, as well as Arsenal and Southampton. The final would see a dramatic affair where the Saints would haul themselves back level from two down after they were denied a clear goal to take the lead in the first place. However, it wasn’t to be, as none other than Zlatan Ibrahimović would thump home a late header to take the crown. It was a devastating blow for Claude Puel’s side, who had been dominant in the second period. Don’t forget, there was plenty of Premier League action! So, here’s the FPL Gameweek 26 Review…
Wayne Hennessey – Crystal Palace took a vital three points in their relegation six-pointer with Middlesbrough. The win takes Big Sam’s side up to 18th on 22 points, level with Aitor Karanka’s side. It blows things wide open at the bottom, with Palace looking destined for the drop. However, ‘Boro seem to be on the slide, and it doesn’t bode well for a side that has struggled to score goals this campaign as well as a leaky defence emerging in recent weeks. Having missed a chance to go six points clear of the relegation zone, it sees ‘Boro without a league win in their last nine matches, and they go into matches with Stoke and Sunderland knowing they will likely need a win from at least one.
Patrick van Aanholt – Having signed for a hefty fee on £12 million in January from Sunderland, Dutch defender Patrick van Aanholt seems to have made some impression, and the Palace faithful will have been delighted to see him score what could prove a vital goal in securing Premier League survival. He drilled in low after 35 minutes as his side face Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park to bring home a massive three points. Palace looked to find a second, however found it difficult to net again against a solid ‘Boro backline. They also staved off some late pressure from Aitor Karanka’s side to claim a priceless victory at the bottom.
Seamus Coleman – One man who is having a superb season at Goodison Park is Irish international Seamus Coleman, who once again provided as his side ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against a Sunderland side doomed in the eyes of many. It was Coleman who squared for Everton to take the lead after 40 minutes, before a solid performance at the back would see the Toffees kill the game late and claim the three points. It’s another loss for Sunderland, who sit bottom of the Premier League, however remain just three points from safety. Can they pull off another miraculous escape from the drop?
Gareth McAuley – Veteran defender Gareth McAuley has been in superb goalscoring form for West Brom this season, and he netted his 7th of the season as they ran out 2-1 winners as they faced out of form Bournemouth at the Hawthorns. Craig Dawson levelled for the Baggies, when his effort was deflected past the Bournemouth keeper. When Artur Boruc made a mess of collecting a cross, McAuley stabbed home after Bournemouth had taken the lead with Josh King converting from the spot. The win sees Tony Pulis’ side remain in 8th position, as they potentially chase a European spot come the end of the season.
Cesc Fabregas – How fitting that on his 300th Premier League game, Spain international Cesc Fabregas would not only start, but score for Chelsea as they fought off a brave Swansea City side at Stamford Bridge to claim all three points in the top vs bottom clash. Fabregas gave the Blues the lead when some neat interplay saw the Spaniard stab home past a helpless Fabianski in the Swansea net. It was a fantastic performance from the former Arsenal man, who sprayed balls all over the park, despite the best efforts of a resilient Swansea side, under former Chelsea coach Paul Clement.
Pedro – Having taken an early lead, the Blues were stunned when Fernando Llorente powered a header into the top corner from twelve yards on the stroke of half-time. It was probably deserved by Swansea, whose structured and calculated approach had seen them keep it tight at the back. However, Chelsea would re-take the lead as a fierce drive from another Spaniard in Pedro would squirm from the grasp of Lukasz Fabianski into the Swansea net. This came after Swansea had a penalty turned down for what looked like a clear handball by Cesar Azpilicueta. Diego Costa would make the points safe as he netted from close range to extend the lead at the top to ten points
Christian Eriksen – Spurs turned on the style as they ran out clear winners over Stoke City, 4-0 the scoreline. Despite a two-week break heading into this fixture Stoke City manager Mark Hughes was noticeably furious to see his side 4-0 down at half-time, as Spurs tore the Potteries apart. A Harry Kane hat-trick and a Dele Alli tap in would condemn Stoke to defeat after what was in truth an abysmal performance. Hughes’ side improved in the second half but by this point the damage was done in truth.
Idrissa Gueye – Summer signing Idrissa Gueye has had a fantastic season for Everton since signing form relegated Aston Villa in summer. He was on target in his side’s 2-0 home win over former manager David Moyes and Sunderland. When Seamus Coleman cut the ball back to the edge of the 18-yard box it was Gueye who ran onto the loose ball and lashed an effort into the top corner with style. It was a goal befitting of his performance, as he broke up play as well as getting attacks moving for the Toffees. He appears to be one of the signings of the season. They would secure the result when Romelu Lukaku marched through before putting the ball past the returning Jordan Pickford.
Tom Huddlestone – Hull could only take a point in their vital home clash with Burnley on Saturday, even after taking the lead. In a cagey affair, Tom Huddlestone’s penalty on 72 minutes looked like it may have secured a vital three points for the Tigers, however, Michael Keane volleyed home from then yards to secure a precious point on the road, as the Clarets seem well on their way to survival. It came after Keane had himself given away the penalty, and left Hull to rue their own missed chances. Marco Silva has his side playing at the moment, and they look like they may just escape, despite all the odds having been against them at the start of the season.
Harry Kane – It was two hat-tricks in seven days for Harry Kane as Spurs hammered Stoke City 4-0 at White Hart Lane. He opened the scoring when he controlled before drilling in from a tight angle in the penalty area. His second was a sublime volley from a corner as he drilled home on his weaker left side from the edge of the penalty area. He would complete an excellent treble when his drilled free-kick deflected off Peter Crouch and in past the despairing Lee Grant in the Stoke net. Kane even found time to unselfishly square the ball to Dele Alli to net after a nightmare against Gent in midweek. The result sees Spurs into second, ten points off leaders Chelsea.
Jamie Vardy – In their first match after the sacking of Premier League winning manager Claudio Ranieri, Leicester stunned Liverpool, running out deserved 3-1 winners at the King Power on Monday night. Jamie Vardy opened the scoring when he was slid through by Danny Drinkwater, before slotting in at the near post past Simon Mignolet. They would double their lead in style, when a bouncing ball 25 yards out fell to Drinkwater, who smashed home a superb volley to send the Foxes fans into raptures. Vardy would double his tally later on with a deft header from a Christian Fuchs cross. A late spell of pressure from Jurgen Klopp’s side wouldn’t be enough to take a point despite Coutinho’s late consolation.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)