Gameweek 31 saw a full mid-week program of Premier League fixtures, and some crackers at that! Tuesday would see Manchester United host Everton, with a win potentially vital to their somewhat distant top four hopes. Watford would play host to West Bromwich Albion, with Burnley taking on Stoke at Turf Moor, in the hopes of securing Premier League safety. Wednesday would see Arsenal take on West Ham, desperate to begin a late charge for a top four finish. The big match of the week was Chelsea’s fixture against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, a win in which would see Chelsea put one hand on the Premier League title. Anyway, here’s the FPL Updates gameweek 31 review…
Kasper Schmeichel – Leicester City’s new boss Craig Shakespeare made it five consecutive wins since his arrival as Leicester manager, in a sensational turnaround of fortunes. They secured a 2-0 win over Sunderland to further plunge David Moyes’ side into danger. Moyes had a rough week himself, as he was widely criticised over comments made towards a female journalist. The Sunderland board were fast to get behind their manager, saying that while the comments were ‘unacceptable’ he would remain their manager. A header from Islam Slimani and a stunning finish from Jamie Vardy after some great work from Marc Albrighton saw Leicester condemn Sunderland to yet another defeat that may see them destined for the Championship.
Maya Yoshida – It was an eventful match for Southampton’s Maya Yoshida, as his side completed a superb comeback to run out 3-1 winners over Crystal Palace at St. Mary’s on Wednesday night. Christian Benteke gave Palace a lead after half an hour when some neat Palace play saw Andros Townsend drill the ball across to the Belgian, who side footed home. However, the Saints would draw level on half time as Nathan Redmond finished after a tough challenge on Wilf Zaha saw the Palace players up in arms. With just five minutes remaining, a tap in from Yoshida put the Saints in front, before Ward-Prowse finished the contest just sixty seconds later, after a fantastic cross from full-back Cedric Soares.
Phil Jagielka – Everton came away lamenting their luck at Old Trafford as they conceded in the fourth minute of injury time to deny them what would have been a superb win over José Mourinho’s Manchester United side. Everton took the lead after twenty minutes when Phil Jagielka pulled off a superbly skilful finish, volleying over his shoulder through the legs of United stopper David De Gea. Manchester United squandered several chances, which left Everton fans feeling like it might just be their day. However, it just wasn’t to be as Ashley Williams was given his marching orders when he handled on the line to deny Luke Shaw. Zlatan Ibrahimović stepped up and calmly converted the penalty to give United a point.
Michael Keane – Burnley found themselves just five points from the relegation zone prior to their home clash with Stoke City on Wednesday. They were the victors as they edged to a vital 1-0 win to hopefully stave off relegation once and for all. It was George Boyd’s second league goal of the season that gave the Clarets all three points on the night, although Stoke City will feel they could have come away with more. It was a Jeff Hendrick low cross that found the Scotsman, Boyd on the penalty spot, and he swept home after an hour to secure a precious three points. Burnley will now turn their focus towards yet another Premier League campaign, which will mark a success on the parts of Sean Dyche and his players.
Mesut Ozil – German midfielder Mesut Ozil has come into criticism in recent weeks in conjunction with Arsenal’s poor form. However, they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners as they faced West Ham United at the Emirates on Wednesday. The German international netted once and assisted once in fantastic performance. On his 150th appearance for the Gunners, Ozil opened the scoring from the edge of the area after an error from José Fonte. He then crossed for Theo Walcott to double the advantage after a neat one-two with Alexis Sanchez. Olivier Giroud came off the bench to net the third when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked the Frenchman out, only for the sub to curl a superb effort beyond Darren Randolph.
Christian Eriksen & Dele Alli – Spurs pulled off one of the comebacks of the season as they came from behind to score three goals in five minutes and secure a precious three points at the hand of Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night. They found themselves a goal down when Jordan Ayew drove to the line before squaring the ball for Wayne Rutledge to tap in from close range. Fast-forward to the 89th minute and Dele Alli equalised for Spurs to set up a grand-stand finish. With Spurs on the ascendency, some neat play saw Heung-Min Son break in behind, before squeezing under Lukasz Fabianski. Christian Eriksen added a third to seal the points and further cement their second position in the Premier League.
Eden Hazard – Manchester City travelled to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in search of three points that could have seen them boost their top four chances. They came away disappointed and feeling like they could have come away with more. Eden Hazard gave the Blues the lead when he finished past Willy Caballero courtesy of a deflection off of returning City captain Vincent Kompany. Goalkeeping has been a hot topic at City this season and the Argentine will feel he could have done more. However, Sergio Aguero would equalise for City when Thibaut Courtois’ error allowed David Silva to cross for Aguero to tap in. However, Chelsea would score the winner after just 35 minutes, when Eden Hazard’s penalty was saved, but rebounded to the Belgian, for him to tap home and put one hand on the title.
Abel Hernández – Hull City played out a thriller when Middlesbrough arrived looking to clime away from their relegation fears. Hull may have feared the worst, when Alvaro Negredo slid in after five minutes to give ‘Boro the lead. However, Hull would turn it around with two quickfire goals from Lazar Markoic and Oumar Niasse. They would make it three through Abel Hernández, but Martin De Roon scored right on the half time whistle to make it 3-2 at the interval. It was a performance both sides could be proud of, but Hull would make the points safe when Harry Maguire thundered home a fantastic header to seal a vital win. Middlesbrough look doomed, while Hull City look like they may be able to mount a superb escape.
M’Baye Niang & Troy Deeney – Watford recorded a fantastic home win over West Brom on Tuesday to likely confirm their Premier League status ahead of their third consecutive season. They recorded a 2-0 win with goals from Frenchman M’Baye Niang and captain Troy Deeney. Their first came when Niang picked up the ball from Deeney and drove at the Baggies defence, before cutting inside and unleashing a ferocious strike into the corner from the edge of the box. Troy Deeney then doubled their lead when he combined with Niang again before poking in from close range. They wouldn’t have it all their own way, though, as Miguel Britos was dismissed on the hour. However, they would hold on for a good victory.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)