Gameweek 29 would see a huge clash at the Etihad as Liverpool travelled to face Manchester City in a vital match in the race for a Champions League place next season. There would also be a massive bottom of the table battle between Bournemouth and Swansea City as both sides try to ensure they won’t be facing the drop this campaign. England have played two matches since gameweek 29 against Germany and Lithuania respectively. The Germany match would see a dominant display by England as both sides put out weakened elevens. Despite their dominance, however, it was Germany who would take the honours as Lukasz Podolski thundered home into the top corner from all of 25 yards on his international swansong. The Three Lions, however, would claim victory in their second match, with goals from Jermain Defoe and Jamie Vardy.
Anyway, here’s the FPL Gameweek 29 Review…
Jordan Pickford – Sunderland would host Burnley in a largely forgettable affair this gameweek, with Billy Jones spurning Sunderland’s best chance late on. As the clock ticked down, a cross to the back post found an unmarked Jones, who somehow managed to head wide from just six yards, leaving a despairing Jermain Defoe flying in to no avail. Burnley failed to create much, and leaves them with their unwanted record of being the league’s worst away side. They may not care too much though, as they sit safely in mid table, while their opposition look doomed unless they’re able to replicate their late season form of past seasons.
Craig Dawson – West Brom pulled off the shock of the week as they ran out 3-1 winners over a dejected Arsenal side. As planes swept across the midlands skyline asking for Arsene Wenger’s resignation, Craig Dawson gave the Baggies the lead as he beat Petr Cech to an in-swinging corner to head home. However, Arsenal were level in minutes when Granit Xhaxa superbly picked out Alexis Sanchez, who cut inside and slammed in off the underside of the crossbar. Later on, Hal Robson-Kanu would net a rare goal as West Brom re-took the lead, before Craig Dawson was the unlikely hero yet again to make the points safe later on with another header from yet another corner. The result is a disaster for Arsenal, who look like they may be on course to miss out on a top four place for the first time since 1997. It also seems that the league’s longest serving manager may move onto pastures new in the near future.
Mamadou Sakho & James Tomkins – Crystal Palace looked doomed just three weeks ago, but three consecutive wins may see Sam Allardyce work his magic yet again to rescue the South London club. They recorded a huge home win over Watford at Selhurst Park on Saturday, as they move four points clear of the drop. Despite not registering a shot on target, they were able to claim a vital three points courtesy of an own goal from Watford skipper Troy Deeney twenty minutes from time. Somewhat ironically, the last team to achieve this feat? Watford, of course, as they ran out 1-0 winners against Hull in October. Palace look like they may be set t secure safety in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Watford look to be fairly clear of danger, although fans will be anxious for their side to get to that magic 40-point mark in the upcoming weeks.
James Ward-Prowse – Southampton travelled to White Hart Lane on Sunday to face the challenge of an in-form Spurs side that look to be headed for a top four finish yet again. Christian Eriksen gave the North-London side the lead when he collected a pass from Moussa Dembele before slamming into the top corner from twenty yards. Spurs would double their lead just thirty minutes in when Dele Alli was brought down inside the area, and with regular penalty-taker Harry Kane out injured, the responsibility fell to Alli, who slotted in past the keeper. James Ward-Prowse would halve the deficit just five minutes into the second half, as it seemed we may have been set for a nervy finish. However, it wasn’t to be for Spurs, who held on to secure a good three points.
Jesse Lingard – Manchester United travelled East to face lowly Middlesbrough at the Riverside. It would see a managerial debut for Steve Agnew in the Premier League, after Aitor Karanka left his position last week. However, the chances of an immediate impact looked bleak when Marouane Fellaini nodded home at the back post from a teasing Ashley Young cross. With an hour on the clock, Jesse Lingard would double the lead with a stunning solo effort. After receiving the ball deep, he drove at the ‘Boro defence before hammering into the top corner for twenty yards. Rudy Gestede netted his first league goal for the Riverside club to make it a tense finish. However, a moment to forget for Victor Valdes left Antonio Valencia to dribble into an empty net. The former Barcelona man slipped as he attempted to clear the ball, and paid the price.
Manuel Lanzini – West Ham were optimistic as they headed into a home clash with recently-revived Leicester City at the Olympic Stadium. However, they were stunned as they found themselves 2-0 down at the hands of the Foxes after just seven minutes. First, a Riyad Mahrez cross would evade all and find its way past Darren Randolph, before Robert Huth headed home from a Marc Albrighton cross just two minutes later. West Ham would come back into the game when Manuel Lanzini curled a free kick right into the top corner from twenty yards, leaving Kasper Schemichel with absolutely no chance. Jamie Vardy, however, would restore the two-goal lead before half time. Andre Ayew would yet again reduce the deficit as he headed home, and set up a close finish. It would be the Dane in goal for the Foxes who would steal the headlines, as he made a series of superb saves to deny Andy Carroll and West Ham.
Willian – Chelsea left it late to secure a precious win at Stoke on Saturday afternoon, which takes the Blues a step closer to the title after a dominant campaign. Willian gave Chelsea the lead with a brilliant free kick that caught out on-loan keeper Lee Grant at his near post. However, John Walters would equalise from the penalty spot after he was fouled by centre-half, Gary Cahill. Marcos Alonso would curl a free kick against the cross bar, however it would be the afore mentioned Cahill who would be the hero, redeeming himself as he put home just three minutes from time to give his side a precious three points. Chelsea were without Eden Hazard on the day, Phil Bardsley was sent off late on for Stoke, when he went in late on Cesc Fabregas deep into injury time.
Romelu Lukaku – Few in Europe are in as rich a vein of form as Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku at the moment. Having just announced he won’t be signing a new Everton contract, it certainly didn’t affect his performance, as he bagged a brace against Hull City at Goodison Park on Saturday. Dominic Calvert-Lewin would give Everton the lead just eight minutes in, slotting home at the back post to net his first Premier League goal. It would take until the 78th minute for Everton to double their lead, after Tom Huddlestone had been sent off for Hull. Lukaku would then net twice in injury time, first slotting neatly past Jakupovic after being played in by Enner Valencia. Then, he would round the Swiss keeper and tap into the empty net to complete the rout. Hull look to be in real trouble after a brief revival under Marco Silva.
Benik Afobe – Former Arsenal forward Benik Afobe was the hero in a big match at the bottom with Bournemouth beating Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court. It would be his shot that would give the Cherries the lead, although the goal will go down as an Alfie Mawson own goal after his effort deflected off the former Barnsley man and past Fabianski in the Swansea net. Swansea failed to offer a lot going forward, and looked bereft of ideas when their direct style of play failed to yield any results. They will now be looking over their shoulders again after Afobe’s second condemned the Swans to a 2-0 loss, when he swept the ball home after being played in by Norway international Josh King.
Jamie Vardy – It’s been an eventful eight days for Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, as he netted for both Leicester City as well as England to help secure good results for his respective sides. His goal in the Olympic stadium would give Leicester a two-goal lead back in their fantastic 3-2 win over West Ham as they look to steer clear of relegation worries. The win would see Leicester move six points clear of the drop zone. Fast forward eight days, and the former Fleetwood forward would slide home England’s second goal at Wembley as they swept past Lithuania in a 2-0 win. Jermain Defoe would steal the headlines, though, as he netted his first England goal since 2013 on his return to the side. Gareth Southgate’s side yet again look set to qualify as group winners .
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)