Gameweek 21 would see several big games for those at the top of the Premier League table. It would also see many clubs pay their respects to the family of former England manager Graham Taylor, who sadly passed away on Thursday. He masterminded such triumphs as Watford’s rise from the fourth tier all the way to runners up in the first division, the likes of which won’t be seen again. Watford would host a massive display prior to their home clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday. Saturday’s early kick-off would see Tottenham look to continue where they left off against Chelsea when they hosted West Bromwich Albion. New Hull City boss would find himself up against it at the KCOM as his side would play host to free-scoring Bournemouth. Sunday would see Everton play host to Manchester City, with Manchester United looking to continue their superb form as Liverpool came to town.
So, here’s the FPL Updates gameweek 21 review…
Victor Valdes – Victor Valdes would enjoy a quiet afternoon as Watford hosted Middlesbrough, as they remembered their greatest every manager, Graham Taylor. Their current manager, however, finds himself under pressure, as they failed to break down a resilient ‘Boro side. Aitor Karanka’s side have proved challenging to break down this season, and were no different this afternoon. This isn’t to say the Hornets went without opportunities, as after coming on as a sub Tom Cleverley passed agonisingly into the upright on his return to the club where he was once named player of the season. This came after Abdoulaye Doucoure glanced a back-post header wide from 6 yards. The major chance of the match would fall to Watford skipper Troy Deeney, who spun in behind with just Valdes to beat as the clock ticked down. However, he would be left to curse his luck, as the toe of Valdes would leave Watford with just the single point.
Marcos Alonso – Former Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland man, Marcos Alonso, was an unlikely hero as Chelsea exacted their revenge over Leicester City after the Foxes ended José Mourinho’s regime at the King Power last season. The Spaniard Alonso, would slot home after just six minutes, after he curled home past Kasper Schmeichel. Returning to Leicester was midfielder N’golo Kante, who was one of the Foxes’ star men last campaign, and he was greeted warmly by former boss Claudio Ranieri. Alonso would double his and his side’s tally when Wes Morgan deflected in his volley from the edge of the box. Pedro would complete the rout when he headed into an empty net after some good work from Willian on the right.
Seamus Coleman – Everton registered one of the season’s greatest results as they dismantled Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side 4-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday. The two stand out moments of the afternoon would come courtesy of a couple of youngsters. Firstly, step forward young midfielder Tom Davies, who enjoyed a fantastic afternoon after being handed a start by Ronald Koeman. He stated it was a dream for him to score for Everton, and his dream would come true on 80 minutes, as he dinked over the onrushing Claudio Bravo, only for the ball to squirm into the bottom corner, despite the efforts of Romelu Lukaku who tried to tap in on the line, only to miss the ball altogether. Then there was a magic moment for Ademola Lookman, the recent £11 million signing from Charlton. After a clearance rebounded off Seamus Coleman, the ball fell to Lookman, who took the ball down before slamming home through the legs of Claudio Bravo to send Goodison into raptures.
Kyle Walker – Tottenham would play host to West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane after their superb victory over Chelsea, which stopped the Blues from claiming a record number of consecutive league wins. Two of the standout players for Spurs this season have been their fullbacks, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose each enjoying a brilliant campaign so far. They starred alongside Harry Kane as they ran out 4-0 winners at Saturday lunchtime. Kyle Walker found himself high up the pitch after a superb angled pass from Toby Alderweireld, before crossing for Harry Kane. Rose was also able to tee up a team mate as he laid the ball back for Christian Eriksen, whose strike deflected twice, eventually finding its way in courtesy of Gareth McAuley.
Michail Antonio – West Ham fans were furious to hear that French star Dimitri Payet has decided to refuse to play for the club, after manager Slaven Bilic announced so in his pre-match press conference. With several clubs supposedly circling, few would be surprised to see Payet move on in this January window. They showed their fans that they can live without the Frenchman as they beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at the London Stadium. Sofiane Feghouli opened the scoring after 70 minutes, with Andy Carroll striking a superb bicycle kick into the top corner shortly after to provide a goal of the season contender. They would complete the rout late on when Antonio picked up his third assist of the match, slotting in Manuel Lanzini, who ran from the half way line before dinking the ball beautifully over the onrushing Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal.
Marko Arnautovic – Stoke picked up a fairly simple win at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, running out 3-1 winners on a bitterly cold afternoon. The Austrian opened the scoring for the Potteries when he was picked out superbly by Xherdan Shaqiri, before seeing his first attempt saved by the foot of Vito Mannone. However, the ball rebounded to Arnautiovic, who slammed home at the near post to give Stoke the lead. He would double their tally in a similar fashion when he smashed the ball into the roof of the net a mere 7 minutes later. It was a great day for the Austrian international, who has been in decent form this season. The win moves Stoke into 9th place in the Premier League after an abysmal start that had manager Mark Hughes under pressure.
Kevin Mirallas – Belgian midfielder Kevin Mirallas has had to bide his time over the past couple of seasons at Everton, being far from a regular in the side under Roberto Martinez in the previous managerial regime. However, after the arrival of Ronald Koeman in the summer, the Belgian has found opportunities much more readily available. He was in fine form at the weekend, as he scored and assisted for his side. The Belgian got in behind the Manchester City defence of Sunday, before pulling the ball back for Romelu Lukaku to hammer home with the inside of his left foot. Mirallas would find the net himself just after half time, as he was played in, only to drill the ball into the bottom left corner past Claudio Bravo in the City net. Bravo has received criticism this season, as fans are yet to see what the Chilean offers over England number 1 Joe Hart.
Alexis Sanchez – Given the form that Swansea City find themselves in, Paul Clement could have done without the visit of Arsenal on Saturday afternoon. Having appointed former Chelsea title-winner Claude Makelele as his assistant in the week, he would have hoped for some defensive solidity from his side, and for a while they provided it, until Olivier Giroud scrambled home from 5 yards. A couple of own goals would then see Swansea put to bed, with Alex Iwobi first seeing his effort deflect up over Fabianski, before his cross deflected in off Kyle Naughton. Alexis Sanchez would finish the contest as he swivelled to turn a loose ball in on the volley. However, much was made of Sanchez’s reaction to being substituted late on, with the Chilean star appearing to sulk on the sideline.
Harry Kane – It was a day to remember for England striker Harry Kane as he netted a hat-trick at White Hart Lane in Spurs’ demolition of West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. His first would come when he was played in by Christian Eriksen, before turning and lofting the ball over Ben Foster into the top corner off the post. He wasn’t finished there though, as he fired in a low effort before an acrobatic volley would finish the rout after Kyle Walker crossed for the former Millwall and Leicester loanee. The result takes Spurs into second place, as they continue to chase frontrunners Chelsea, who still sit seven points clear at the top.
Abel Hernandez – Hull stunned Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon, as they came from a goal down to run out 3-1 winners on a dramatic afternoon at the KCOM stadium. Marco Silva was able to introduce Abel Hernandez back to the Tigers line-up after a lengthy spell on the side-lines, and how the Uruguayan responded. Junior Stanislas converted from the spot after just 3 minutes, and Hull fans could have been forgiven for thinking it was going to be another one of those days. However, Hernandez headed home from a superb Andrew Robertson cross. Then, he picked up the ball on the right flank, before driving at Tyrone Mings, before unleashing a fierce, curling effort into the bottom corner. Things would get worse for Mings, who put through his own net late on to cap a terrible first Premier League start since his arrival from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2015.
Peter Crouch – One could be forgiven for having forgotten about Peter Crouch, to an extent, on the periphery of the Stoke side with a move being very much tipped with every passing transfer window. However, the form of the former England international has been a breath of fresh air, and he was in superb form yet again as he assisted Marko Arnautovic early on against Sunderland on Saturday. He would then net himself as he headed past the onrushing Vito Mannone to notch Premier League goal number 99 of his career. One would expect it won’t be too long before the former Spurs, Villa, Norwich, QPR, Southampton, Portsmouth and Liverpool forward nets number 100.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)