Gameweek 36 would see Spurs play before Chelsea as the North-Londoners chased the West-Londoners as the season reaches a climax. With Spurs travelling to West Ham and the London Stadium, Chelsea would watch on in hope that the Hammers could leave them just two wins from a title party. Meanwhile, there was drama at the bottom, as Hull City hosted already relegated Sunderland on Saturday afternoon. In the day’s late match, Swansea would face Everton at the Liberty Stadium, with so much resting on it for the Swans. There was also a big clash in the race for a top four finish as Manchester United travelled to face Arsenal on Sunday. A win could give Arsene Wenger’s side a late chance of a top four finish.
Anyway, here’s the FPL Gameweek 36 review…
Fraser Forster – Former Celtic and Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster would be the hero as Southampton grinded out a superb point at Anfield against a Liverpool side who looked blunt in attack. Both sides struggled to create chances, and supporters inside Anfield were visibly frustrated with their side’s lack of chances. However, the big moment would come after sixty-five minutes, when the referee pointed to the spot when Saints youth product Jack Stephens was adjudged to have handled Lucas Leiva’s ball into the box. The ever-reliable James Milner stepped forward, having not missed from the spot in the Premier League in over six years, but his low effort was kept out by Forster in the Saints net. Other than a late header from youngster Marko Gruijic, the Reds would fail t create anything else, and the Saints left in debt to their stopper.
Billy Jones – Sunderland were left lamenting the fact they were able to turn in such a strong away performance after being relegated to the Championship. Their demise will mean an end to a ten-year spell in the Premier League, and their attentions will already be turning towards next season. However, it didn’t stop them doing their best to take Hull City with them, as they managed a superb 2-0 victory at the KCOM Stadium. After missing several chances, Hull would rue their poor finishing when John O’Shea nodded on a corner, for full-back Billy Jones to power home a brilliant diving header. The Tigers, who dropped into the relegation zone with this defeat, pushed forward in search of what would have been a massive point, Jermain Defoe killed the game off when the England international netted from close range.
Nicolas Otamendi – Manchester City certainly put their best foot forward as they chased a top four finish on Saturday, as they hammered a sorry Crystal Palace side 5-0 at Eastlands on a great day for the men at the back. David Silva opened the scoring after just two minutes, although Palace would have been happy to see the game out to half time being just the one goal down. However, just after the interval the ball would be drilled to the edge of the area, to be met by the boot of one club captain Vincent Kompany, who slammed the ball into the top right corner, giving Wayne Hennessey absolutely no chance. This would open the floodgates, as further goals from Sterling and De Bruyne would put the match out of sight. Deep into injury time, City would find room for a fifth, when Nicolas Otamendi headed home to complete the rout.
Marcos Alonso – Middlesbrough arrived at Stamford Bridge knowing that only a win would see them safe for another week. However, it’s not always easy when your opponents had become aware that just two more wins would see them crowned champions in Antonio Conte’s debut season in English football. It was clear from the outset who the dominant side were, with Marcos Alonso rattling the crossbar early on. Chelsea would start in fine fashion, but wouldn’t make the breakthrough until the twenty-third minute when Diego Costa squeezed the ball between the legs of Brad Guzan to give the Blues a lead. Alonso would double his side’s lead just ten minutes later, when he met Cesc Fabregas’ deep ball on the full volley, yet again nutmegging Guzan in the ‘Boro net. The rout was complete after sixty-five minutes, when Nemanja Matic volleyed in, yet again through the legs of Guzan. The win leaves Chelsea just one win away from sealing the title.
Rob Holding & Kieron Gibbs – Arsenal recorded two massive victories, as they look to end a poor season with a vital top four place. With a number of players, as well as manager Arsene Wenger’s future in the balance, their fortunes may greatly depend upon the final three matches of their season, before they head to Wembley for an FA Cup final showdown against none other than Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side. With Arsene Wenger having supposedly been offered a new two-year deal, his decision whether to sign or not will most likely rest on the club’s league finish. With a large section of fans now calling for the manager’s head, but the two wins over Manchester United and Southampton will certainly have appeased them for the time being.
Kevin De Bruyne – It was the Kevin De Bruyne show as Manchester City gave a poor Crystal Palace side a lesson in football at Eastlands. The Belgian midfielder, alongside Spaniard David Silva, ran proceedings from the outset, as City romped to victory. The Belgian’s first contribution would come when he pulled the ball back for Vincent Kompany, who finished emphatically. He would then score himself when Gabriel Jesus laid the ball off after some good hold-up play, for De Bruyne to curl into the near post, much to the disappointment of Wales international Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal. However, De Bruyne wasn’t finished there, as he would curl a delightful freekick onto the head of Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi, who would convert to complete a great victory.
Granit Xhaxa & Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal recorded a monumental victory over top four rivals Manchester United on Sunday to put them in with a late shout of a Champions League place for next season. They came out against United in strong fashion, but only a three minute second half spell would swing the match in the Gunners’ favour. After fifty-five minutes, Granit Xhaxa’s long-range effort pinged up off of Ander Herrera, beating David De Gea all ends up. Just three minutes later, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would curl in a brilliant cross onto the head of Danny Welbeck, who headed in off the crossbar to seal the win. They would then travel to Southampton. Alexis Sanchez would put the Gunners a goal up when he turned the Southampton defence before slotting past Fraser Forster. Olivier Giroud would then seal a vital win with a late header.
Cesc Fabregas – Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas became the first player to record ten assists in six different Premier League seasons, when he turned in a world-class playmaking display against Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge on Monday night. Firstly, his curling ball would leave the ‘Boro centre-backs floundering, and would find an unmarked Diego Costa, who coolly slotted home. His second assist would come when he picked out Nemanja Matic in the penalty area, who controlled on his chest before volleying through the legs of keeper Brad Guzan. Guzan wouldn’t have enjoyed his evening at the Bridge, as he saw the ball go in through his legs three times. Middlesbrough’s fans turned out in force, despite their side’s demise, and Antonio Conte was quick to praise their fans.
Sam Vokes – West Brom and Burnley played out a thrilling 2-2 draw as the Clarets look to secure safety and another season in the Premier League. On 40 points with two matches remaining, Sean Dyche’s side look to be set for another season in the big time following a successful return to the Premier League. They took the lead after some brilliant work from Ashley Barnes set up Sam Vokes to give Burnley the lead. However, a nice turn and finish from Venezuelan Salomon Rondon and a superb diving header from Craig Dawson looked to have secured a fantastic win and three points for the Baggies, who have faced accusations that their effort levels haven’t been up to scratch. This might have been further fuelled, when Ben Foster flapped at a cross, and Sam Vokes’ header looped into the net to level the match late on.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)