As Christmas approaches, for many sides precious points would be the perfect present this year. There was a relegation six-pointer early in December, with Hull travelling to Middlesbrough in need of a result to help offset their relegation prospects. On Saturday, Manchester City would host Chelsea in the early fixture in a battle between title contenders. West Ham would host Arsenal as the Hammers sit just outside the bottom three, while the Gunners found themselves in great form headed towards Christmas. Slaven Bilic would have also been aware of the speculation regarding his position at the club, given the club’s awful start to the campaign. So, here’s the FPL Gameweek 14 Review.
Lee Grant – Stoke City have begun to capture some kind of form in the Premier League after a poor start to the season. This has been in no small part down to the impressive form of summer signing Lee Grant. Having signed on loan for six months from Derby County in summer, few would have expected Grant to have much, if any involvement for City this season. However, an injury to Jack Butland opened the way for Grant to get some first team minutes, and his form has meant he’s stayed there ever since. Butland is beginning to recover from the injury he picked up, but there’s no evidence to suggest he will take his place back right away. Grant has been one of the most in-form keepers of this Premier League season, and it will be interesting to see how a vastly improving Stoke side fare.
Marc Muniesa – Stoke ran out 2-0 winners as they hosted Burnley at the Bet365 stadium. The result sees a continuation of the Potteries good form in the league in recent weeks. John Walters gave Stoke the lead when he was able to volley home superbly from a Mame Biram Diouf cross. Stoke weren’t finished there though, as Spanish Defender Marc Muniesa, finished smartly with a low drive after good play from Austrian winger Marko Arnautovic. The result sees Stoke move into ninth place in the Premier League table, while Burnley sit in 14th place, three points above the dreaded drop zone. Burnley have struggled terribly away from home this season, something that may have to change are to avoid a third consecutive relegation from the Premier League.
Chris Brunt – West Brom are one of the league’s form sides at the moment, having won three of their last four league matches, having drawn the other. They faced a Watford side on Saturday that had made a strange start to the season, sitting in 8th prior to the weekends fixtures, having yet to play the football that they seemed to last season under Quique Sanchez Flores. In the end, West Brom ran out 3-1 winners at the Hawthorns. Jonny Evans scored the opener, heading in from Chris Brunt’s delivery, before Brunt himself scored with a deflected 25 yard effort. Watford pulled one back through centre-half Claudio Kabasele. Roberto Peryera was then sent off for his reaction to a stamp from James McClean that was not seen by officials. In the dying minutes, Matty Phillips curled a good effort in to seal the three points.
James Tomkins – One analysis last week showed that Crystal Palace had the worst 2016 of any side in the top four divisions, so something had to give for Alan Pardew’s men, but with an in-form Southampton visiting Selhurst Park, none too many would have expected It to be this week. However, a 3-0 victory stunned fans, with the key moment being a horrendous mistake from Saints keeper Fraser Forster. As the ball was rolled back to the England international, he took a wild swing at the ball, only to miss it, giving Christian Benteke the easiest goal he’ll score this season. James Tomkins doubled Palace’s lead just minutes later when he poked in from just 4 yards. Benteke would double his tally with just 7 minutes remaining, converting Jason Puncheon’s pull back. It was a day to forget for Southampton, while Palace will take encouragement from a great win.
Alexis Sanchez – We’re running out of things to say about the Chilean in these reviews. Sanchez hit a stunning hat-trick and set up another in Arsenal’s brilliant 5-1 win at the London Stadium over West Ham. His first goal is testament to his world class ability, controlling a drilled pass with the outside of his foot to turn his man. This before jinking past two defenders and hammering into the bottom corner from a tight angle. His second wasn’t bad either, rolling his man before smartly volleying home past Darren Randolph in the West Ham goal. Sanchez finished the contest when he was played in only to step over the ball, sit the keeper down and delicately chip the ball over the onrushing keeper. It was without doubt the best individual performance seen this season, and Arsenal march on.
Christian Eriksen – Having started slowly, Spurs fans will have been delighted to witness a brilliant performance from Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen as their side hammered a poor Swansea side 5-0 at White Hart Lane. His first of two goals came when he followed in to force home after a smart save from Fabianski in the Swansea net. His second would finish the contest as he picked up the ball, taking a smart touch on the edge of the penalty area before wrong-footing the goalkeeper by drilling into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Ryan Fraser – Introduced as a half time substitute against Liverpool on Sunday, few would have predicted what was to follow for Scot Ryan Fraser and Bournemouth. At 2-0 down, Fraser was introduced, and he won a penalty shortly after coming on, nicking the ball off a Liverpool toe, only to be brought down. Despite converting the spot kick, Bournemouth would find themselves 3-1 down when Emre Can curled home a rasping effort. Fraser would then score, curling home from the edge of the area. Steve Cook would level the scores at 3-3 when he took a touch over his shoulder, only to slam home on the full volley, a goal a forward would have been proud of. Then, into injury time, Cook hammered an effort straight at Loris Karius in goal for the Reds. The German spilled the ball to Nathan Ake, who converted to send the Cherries fans into raptures.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Potentially the other stand out man for Arsenal on Saturday was none other than England International Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The winger has struggled for game time over the past couple of seasons despite impressive performances, however with Alexis Sanchez now being deployed as a number 9 there’s now an extra space in behind, and the Ox has definitely staked his claim. He scored a superb goal, cutting inside after being supplied by Mesut Ozil, only to unleash a fearsome drive into the bottom corner past Darren Randolph. He also played in Alexis Sanchez to claim Arsenal’s fifth and his hat-trick. It was a superb performance for Arsenal, while West Ham look to be in serious trouble.
Harry Kane – With Spurs scoring five at home to Swansea on Saturday, of course Harry Kane would get in on the action, netting a brace in a very dominant display. Early on, Dele Alli appeared to dive in the penalty area, simulating a trip in order to con the referee into giving a penalty, and he duly obliged. Harry Kane stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way. His second would come later on, when a flowing counter attack would send Heung-Min Son in. After checking inside the Korean left the ball for Harry Kane to slot in firmly past Fabianski. The result sees Spurs remain in fifth position, however it’s worth noting that the top five have now created a minimum gap of six points to their nearest competitors.
Diego Costa – Chelsea put in one of the performances of the season so far, as they hit Manchester City on the break three times to go home to London with a priceless three points. They struggled to begin with, Gary Cahill sliced an attempted clearance into the top corner of his own net as Jesus Navas put in a cross. The game would turn on a miss from Kevin De Bruyne, as he hit the cross bar from a couple of yards as he was unable to keep his effort down, with the goal gaping. Chelsea went up the other end and equalised when Diego Costa took down a superb Fabregas pass in behind, before drilling past Claudio Bravo. Costa then turned provider, playing in Willian to slot past Bravo. Hazard finished the contest late on, accelerating past Kolarov, before hammering past Courtois in net. The game was marred by a truly horrific challenge from Sergio Aguero that will see the Argentine banned for four matches, while Fernandinho will be suspended for three matches following an incident involving Cesc Fabregas.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)