Gameweek 28 would see just four Premier League fixtures take place due to the FA Cup quarter-finals taking place in parallel this weekend. While Lincoln City travelled to the Emirates to face Arsenal, in search of the biggest giant-killing in recent memory, Hull City would face Swansea at the KCOM in an enormous relegation-battle clash. Also in the Premier League, Bournemouth would host West Ham, while West Brom would travel north to face Everton at Goodison Park. Manchester City and Middlesbrough would be two more casualties of the cup, which would give their respective rivals a chance to make up some ground. On Sunday, Liverpool would face Burnley, in search of a win against the league’s worst away side. So, here’s the FPL Gameweek 28 Review…
Darren Randolph – There was an entertaining spectacle at Dean Court as Bournemouth hosted West Ham on Saturday afternoon. Bournemouth had been starting to look over their shoulder, after an abysmal start to 2017 had seen Eddie Howe’s side under pressure. However, his side would claim a priceless three points at the Hammers’ expense as they ran out 3-2 winners on the day. Darren Randolph would certainly be at the centre of much of the drama, as he enjoyed a good day on a personal level, despite having to fish the ball out of his own net three times. He did manage to save from the spot as well as seeing another spot kick put wide by Bournemouth. Having already seen Josh King miss from the spot, and his side immediately go 1-0 up through Michail Antonio, Randolph guessed right when Benik Afobe spurned yet another chance from the spot. Despite it looking like Slaven Bilic’s side may have had lady luck on their side it wasn’t to be.
Alfie Mawson – In a vital clash at the bottom of the table, resurgent Swansea City would make the long journey to the KCOM stadium to face a Hull City side in desperate need of points on the board to back up their solid displays of late. Paul Clement’s side were unfortunate to see focal point and aerial powerhouse Fernando Llorente forced off due to injury, only to be replaced by January signing Jordan Ayew, who failed to make any real impact on the day. After a decent first half of dominance, the Swans found themselves two goals down late in the second half after a Tigers blitz. As the points began to slip away, centre-half Alfie Mawson glanced a header in at the near post after a delightful ball in from star man Gylfi Sigurdsson. Mawson, who has featured regularly under Paul Clement has been in excellent goal scoring form of late, and has really impressed at the heart of a struggling defence in the Premier League since his £5 million move from Barnsley in summer.
Phil Jagielka & Ashley Williams – Everton put in a thoroughly dominant performance at home to West Brom to ensure they secured a vital three points, as they begin to sense there may be a European place up for grabs come the end of the season. West Brom are well on the way to their record Premier League points total and have certainly been no pushovers this campaign under the management of Tony Pulis. However, Everton’s firepower was too much for the Baggies on Saturday, with the Toffees recording a 3-0 win that perfectly displays their dominance. It’s a fifth successive home win for Ronald Koeman’s side, and the former Southampton boss has enjoyed a good first season at the helm thus far. The implementation of youngsters in the first team has been a driving force behind their success, whether that be the likes of Tom Davies and co. through the academy, or Ademola Lookman, purchased in January from Charlton Athletic. Davies once again turned in a dynamic performance in the centre of the park and displays a confidence well in advance of his years.
Josh King – After missing a penalty in the ninth minute, nobody would have been more relieved than Josh King, as the Norwegian hit a vital hat-trick to ease the Cherries’ relegation fears. He rolled wide from the spot, only to see Michail Antonio turn and fire past Boruc under a minute later. However, King would soon equalise when he brilliantly flicked the ball over a defender, and slid past Darren Randolph on the half volley in style. He was by no means finished there though, as he converted from close range to give his side the lead just after half-time. Despite having plenty of chances to kill the contest, West Ham would level through record signing Andre Ayew, when some neat play from Pedro Obiang and Sam Byram would see the Ghana international presented with an empty net to slot into with just seven minutes remaining. However, as the game seemed to be fizzling out to a frustrating draw for Eddie Howe’s side, a brilliant low ball across the area would be met by King as the game entered injury time, and he made no mistake, slamming into the corner to send the home crowd into raptures. It was a relief for Bournemouth, as they became the first top-flight side to miss two penalties in one game since Wimbledon in 1998.
Emre Can – In a nervy affair at Anfield, Liverpool would just about take three points against a Burnley side that had their fair share of opportunities. After just seven minutes the Anfield crowd were stunned when Matthew Lowton played a superb ball that split the Reds defence, only for Ashley Barnes to slide home at the far post. Burnley fired several warning shots early on, and Sean Dyche will have undoubtedly been delighted to see his side about to hold out until the break with the one goal lead. However, it wasn’t to be, as after the ball bobbled around the area, it fell to Giorginio Wijnadlum, who side-footed home to level in first-half injury time. It was a kick in the teeth for the Clarets, who had put in an exemplary away display for forty-five minutes. Jurgen Klopp’s side struggled to break down the Clarets in the second half, until Emre Can intervened. After being played the ball by Divock Origi about 35 yards from goal, the German international drove forward and unleashed a fierce 25-yard drive that whistled into the bottom corner past Tom Heaton. Liverpool had chances to kill the contest through Sadio Mané and Ben Woodburn, but Matt Lowton would spurn a brilliant chance in the final seconds to snatch a point. Sean Dyche’s side still only have two away points to their name this season.
Kevin Mirallas, Morgan Schneiderlin & Ross Barkley – Everton’s midfield turned in a display of the highest order as they upstaged West Brom at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. First to impress was Belgian midfielder Kevin Mirallas, who gave the Toffees a lead five minutes before the interval, after he was fastest to the rebound when Ben Foster parried Ross Barkley’s low driven effort back into play. Everton even found time to add a second after a dominant first period when Morgan Schneiderlin danced through the Baggies defence before dinking the ball past Foster and into the net to give the Frenchman his first goal for the club since joining from Manchester United in January. Somewhat ironically, it had been Tony Pulis and West Bromwich Albion that had rivalled Ronald Koeman’s side for his signature. In the end, the former Southampton man made the short journey to Goodison, and seems to have hit the ground running with his new side. The French international has really hit the ground running, and has slotted right into Ronald Koeman’s mix of youth and experience. The Dutchman is supposedly set to be handed a wealth of funds to strengthen in summer and Everton fans will be excited to see who arrives in summer.
Oumar Niasse – Having been deemed well surplus to requirements at Everton by Ronald Koeman, Oumar Niasse made the loan switch to Hull City, as the Tigers look to combat relegation and secure another season in the Premier League. Having not even been registered as a part of the Toffees squad, the former Lokomotiv Moscow man has scored some vital goals for his new side, and none more so than the two he netted in his side’s vital relegation six-pointer with Swansea City on Saturday afternoon. After a nervy affair, where the Swans had probably edged it, Hull boss Marco Silva turned to his bench and introduced Niasse. His decision was almost immediately vindicated when the Senegalese played a neat one-two with Abel Hernandez. As Swansea legs began to tire he raced onto the return ball and slotted home under Lukas Fabianski to the delight of the Hull fans. Then, just nine minutes later, Niasse took the ball down from an Elmohammedy cross before slamming home on the volley to secure a massive three points. After Alfie Mawson made it a nervy ending, Hull held on, and claw themselves back towards safety.
Romelu Lukaku – Few have been in better form of late than Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, and he bagged yet again as his side romped to victory against a disappointing West Bromwich Albion side. After being two goals to the good at the break, Everton took their foot off the gas to an extent, but not Lukaku, as ten minutes from time he headed home a delightful cross from Ross Barkley to secure a great three points. Tony Pulis lamented his side’s defensive frailties afterwards, although they weren’t the first and won’t be the last to be on the wrong end of a fantastic attacking display from the Toffees on home turf. The win sees Ronald Koeman’s side remain in 8th position, although they have cut the gap on Manchester United to just two points. It’s worth remembering that José Mourinho’s side also have two games in hand on the Goodison Park outfit. However, they will no doubt be beginning to sense that there may be a European place for them at the end of the season dependent on the winners of both the league and F.A cups respectively.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)