Gameweek 34 saw a double gameweek for many sides as we head towards the FA Cup semi-finals. The relegation battle intensified as Southampton faced Chelsea and Leicester City, while West Ham hosted Stoke City on Monday night. Manchester United had to face West Bromwich Albion as well as Bournemouth at Dean Court. They would need six points to deny Manchester City the title yet again. Their neighbours faced Spurs at Wembley on Saturday evening. Spurs would also face Brighton at the AMEX later in the week. Anyway, here’s the FPL Updates gameweek review…
Ben Foster – It looks a case of too little, too late for West Bromwich Albion, who handed Manchester City the title by running out victorious against their neighbours United at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Darren Moore took charge of a Baggies side all but assured of relegation to the Championship. They turned in a back to the wall performance during which they frustrated José Mourinho’s side, before they made the most of a rare corner when Jay Rodriguez turned the ball past David De Gea to secure the win.
Chris Smalling – Manchester United had a mixed couple of Premier League games as they lost at home to West Brom, before securing three points at Dean Court against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side. They opened the scoring against the Cherries when Ander Herrera threaded in Jesse Lingard, who squared the ball to Chris Smalling who turned in from close range. Bournemouth felt aggrieved to have been denied a penalty for handball, before Paul Pogba drove forward and played in Romelu Lukaku who dinked past Asmir Begovic to seal the win.
Victor Moses – Chelsea started off their double gameweek with a trip to the South Coast to face struggling Southampton at St. Mary’s. They went two goals down, before a goal from Eden Hazard combined with an Olivier Giroud brace turned the match on its head. The result was disastrous for Mark Hughes and Southampton, who are running out of games to save themselves with just four fixtures remaining. Victor Moses enjoyed a strong couple of games, as he looks to convince to club that he should nail down the wing-back position.
Jan Bednarek – Dusan Tadic opened the scoring for Southampton against Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. The Saints were in dreamland when Jan Bednarek netted his first goal for the club on the hour. However, as has been the way for Saints this season, a lack of defensive stability saw the Saints blow the lead, and succumb to a Blues side that will most likely have to make do with a fifth placed finish in the Premier League come the end of the season. It looks likely that Antonio Conte will leave the club, with his successor still a mystery to fans.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool faced Bournemouth at Anfield in their only fixture of the gameweek riding high after knocking Manchester City out of the Champions League, winning both legs of the tie. They opened the scoring through Sadio Mané after just seven minutes. They were made to wait an hour for their second, with Mo Salah continuing his incredible goal-scoring form. They sealed a treble from their attack when Roberto Firmino got in on the act with just moments remaining of the match.
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace faced rivals Brighton at Selhurst Park, looking to all but secure their survival for another season. They started brilliantly, with Wilf Zaha opening the scoring after just five minutes. They doubled the lead through James Tomkins, to the delight of the Palace faithful. Brighton pulled one back before Zaha’s second restored the two-goal lead. A second Brighton goal ten minutes before the interval proved to be a consolation as Palace secured a precious victory, which sees the Eagles six points clear of the drop zone.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson – Burnley have had a tremendous season, and look headed for Europe next season, depending on the eventual winners of the FA Cup. They hosted Leicester on Saturday and secured a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from Chris Woos and Kevin Long within the opening ten minutes. A Jamie Vardy goal twenty minutes from time served as a scare for Sean Dyche’s side, who held on to secure a major step towards European qualification. They then lost out 2-1 to Chelsea on Thursday in a match in which many will consider them somewhat unlucky.
José Izquierdo and Pascal Gross – Brighton have had the most successful season in the club’s history as they look to have secured Premier League survival with matches to spare. Their two star men this season have been signings José Izquierdo and Pascal Gross, signed from Brugge and Ingolstadt respectively. Gross has been a real quality addition for the seagulls and has laid on leading scorer Glenn Murray for several vital goals in their debut Premier League campaign. Chris Hughton seems to have done an outstanding job.
Olivier Giroud – The signing of Olivier Giroud was met with mixed receptions by Chelsea fans as the Blues confirmed his signing from London rivals Arsenal for £18 million in January. He scored two goals in an eight-minute spell to help turn their clash with Southampton on its head. The first was a header past Alex McCarthy, before a left footed finish secured the win for Antonio Conte’s side. These were the France international’s first league goals for Chelsea, and the former Montpellier and Arsenal man will be hopeful of a place in the World Cup squad.
Ayoze Perez – Newcastle secured a magnificent result as they came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 at St. James’ park. The result saw Arsene Wenger announce that he would be stepping down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season. The Gunners went in front through Alexander Lacazette, before Ayoze Perez levelled for the Magpies. Newcastle knew a win would mathematically secure their safety, and they got it when Matt Ritchie calmly slotted past Petr Cech to spark pandemonium in the stands.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)