Gameweek 34 Reviews, the story so far… – FPL Fantasy Football Premier League
Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa
Bonus Points: Puncheon (3), Ward (3), Speroni (3)
Crystal Palace: With their third win on the run, Palace have all but secured top flight football for another year. Playing their typical put you to sleep style in the first half, they came alive in the second and really should have won this game by a heftier margin. Julian Speroni and Joel Ward did not only grab their fourth clean sheet in five but they also secured 3 bonus points for their owners. Speroni was not very busy throughout the game, but he did come up huge with a cat-like save to secure the win for his side. Investment in their back line does come with a word of caution though as we see the two highest scoring teams in EPL still on their schedule in their last 4 games. Mile Jedinak played a good game in the middle, but one assist and one bonus point for the season, enough said. Yannick Bolasie was an absolute nightmare for the Villains; he grabbed an assist and was a bit unlucky to not have more points on the day. Don’t get sucked in though as the assist is only his second of the season and his minutes are not the ideal even when he starts. Jason Puncheon scored the winner and secured his second straight double digit game. This makes it 5 double figure games in his last 13 appearances and the goal makes him the leading scorer for Palace. He almost added another but his shot banged off the post in the closing stages of the encounter. His 6 shot attempts led the team and was only one less than Aston Villa for the game. Cameron Jerome exemplifies what is expected from an Eagles striker as he was able to clear one from the line to save Palace when Speroni was beaten. This poor chap is more likely to get a defensive bonus than a goal as he demonstrated when he missed a sitter in the 54th minute. One goal in 26 appearances, I can only assume Jerome miskicked the one that did go in. Marouane Chamakh came on early as a sub, he did not disappoint, adding 0 goals/assists to his tally and staking his claim to lead the non goal scoring line.
Aston Villa: Another pathetic display by Villa in this one. This is their 4th loss in a row and if not for a slight cushion in the relegation battle they would be a definite candidate to descend. It is really hard to point to anyone as a half decent candidate for a purchase even with their fixtures and a double game-week in 37. They are 4th worst at keeping clean sheets with only 8 for the season. Their midfielders offer no real returns worth mentioning and their forward line is a hot mess. Andreas Weimann came in off the bench late in the game and had one of the better chances to score, but Speroni denied him with a spectacular save. That is no goals in his last 10 games and his futility is matched by Gabriel Agbonlahor with an equal drought. Grant Holt was granted his second straight start and he demonstrated his appreciation by managing zero shot attempts despite playing the full 90. Leandro Bacuna, their 2nd leading goal scorer, did not play in this one as he is nursing a hamstring injury.
Fulham 1-0 Norwich
Bonus Points: Rodallega (3), Sidwell (2) Stockdale (1), Riether (1), Amorebieta (1)
Fulham: What is going on?! Two straight wins for Fulham and the news of their imminent relegation now seem premature. With 4 games to go and only 2 points from safety, the great escape is on. One way to describe Fulham in the last couple of games is that they are not pretty but they have a great personality. With decent fixtures in the stretch run, the cottagers will feel the dream of staying up is within their grasp. Clean sheet potential is still a hard sale, so their defenders and keeper are probably not a wise buy. I am a bit disappointed with Fulham’s defence as with them only allowing one goal in their last two, means they may not set the record for most goals allowed in a 38 game season. Lewis Holtby had a disappointing output from a FPL perspective. He placed the cross that led to the goal, but the slight flick on by Steve Sidwell meant that he lost out on the assist. He still looks the biggest threat for Fulham in the midfield and one should still expect some points here or there. Sidwell got his 2nd assist in 3 games and even though he has not been producing like earlier in the season, he might need to get forward to help Fulham survive. Pajtim Kasami and Ashatan Dejagah sre still not seeing enough minutes to merit any consideration. Hugo Rodallega once again slotted the game winner and if he keeps this up perhaps he will one day get a statue outside the grounds just like Micheal Jackson once had. Rodallega, who I personally enjoy a hate-hate relationship with, ever since he declared himself better than Messi in a U20 South American tournament, has to begrudgingly be given credit for offering Fulham the best option up top since Dimitar Berbatov looked like he half cared.
Norwich: This was a stinging loss that could prove to be the tipping point for the Canaries. Although they are still above the relegation zone, a look at their nightmare fixtures to end the season spells impending doom. They will have to face four top seven sides to finish out their fixture list. 13 goals conceded to their remaining opponents and only 3 scored spells trouble across all the lines for anyone mysteriously looking to invest in a Norwich player. Norwich were perhaps a bit unlucky against Fulham, particularly in a 5 minute stretch that saw David Stockdale make 2 great saves, had Bradley Johnson put a chance just wide and Robert Snodgrass hit the crossbar. Fixtures make it so that there is no realistic investment to be made in their defence. Snodgrass is the best player on a bad team, but it is now 3 consecutive games where he has failed to produce anything. Leroy Fer reappeared for the first time since GW27, but he is practically useless. He has 5 yellows for the season and that amount matches his total for goals & assists when combined. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel continued his horrid display and is probably the worst signing of the EPL. I can definitely hear the canaries crying about the Wolf from a distance.
Southampton 0-1 Cardiff
Bonus Points: Cala (3), Marshall (2), Schneiderlin (1)
Southampton: A frustrating day for the Saints who dominated possession but failed to find a breakthrough in the absence of the injured Jay-Rodriguez. Gaston Ramirez came close on a number of occasions, while Morgan Schneiderlin and substitutes Nathaniel Clyne and Sam Gallagher also forced David Marshall into valuable saves. Adam Lallana was always involved and had a number of shots just off target, while Rickie Lambert had a quiet afternoon and struggled to get into the game. Goalkeeper Artur Boruc again missed out with a back complaint leading to Paulo Gazzaniga getting another start while the old right-back conundrum again came into play with Clyne replacing Callum Chambers just after Cardiff scored.
Cardiff: A massive win for Cardiff in their fight for survival and they were indebted to keeper David Marshall who produced a string of top saves and defender Juan Cala who powered in the winner midway through the second half. It was very much a rearguard action from Cardiff with Steven Caulker impressing once again, although substitute Wilfried Zaha came close to doubling the lead late on, but had his effort saved and continues to be non-existent as a FPL option. Jordan Mutch was quiet, but it wasn’t a day for expansive football – it was a day for fight and solidity and this was enough to give Cardiff only their second away win of the season.
Stoke 1-0 Newcastle
Bonus Points: Pieters (3) Arnautovic (2), Wilson (2), Shawcross (2)
Fantasy Focus :
Stoke: Asmir Begovic was tipped during the week and rightly so as Stoke produced another clean sheet at home and are looking a lot more solid again. Bonus points awarded to Marc Wilson and Ryan Shawcross at the back added even more value to their defence, but the big points haul came from another defender, as Erik Pieters came up with his first Premier League goal, BUT before you get excited for a goal scoring defender, he intended to cross the ball and it landed up in the net. A valuable contribution from Marko Arnautovic also saw him produce a decent points haul. Peter Crouch hit the post with an effort from four yards out, while Steven N’Zonzi also went close.
Newcastle: The rot goes on for the Toon and perhaps they should just forfeit the rest of their games and stay at home. Either that or it might be time for another change at the helm as Alan Pardew seems to have lost the plot again. To be fair, Papiss Cisse should have had a clear cut penalty but it was not awarded, while Newcastle’s best chance came in the final ten minutes when Vurnon Anita headed Shola Ameobi’s cross over at the far post. Hatem Ben Arfa again played a bit-part role, only being introduced with 17 minutes left.
Sunderland 0-1 Everton
Goals: Brown (og)
Bonus Points: Howard (3) Distin (3) Baines (1), Stones (1)
Fantasy Focus :
Sunderland: In the words of Gus Poyet a Wes Brown own goal basically sums up Sunderland’s season and their misfortunes. I think it goes a bit further than that as Sunderland have been woeful of late and with their fixtures, really look like they will be relegated. Vito Mannnone was kept busy as usual and came up with a couple of save points. Adam Johnson was a let down and only produced the solitary point as he was booked. Phil Bardsley was also booked and now misses the next two games. With City next, looks like Sunderland’s double gameweek can only get worse.
Everton: With a majority of managers having captain Lukaku playing in this one, they will be highly disappointed as he came up with nothing, but don’t lose faith there is still another game. A clean sheet for Everton would have made it a little better though as well as plenty of bonus points distributed at the back. More frustration as Ross Barkley as well as Kevin Mirallas started on the bench as Martinez started Gerard Deulofeu and he was duly rewarded as he came up with the cross that was turned into Sunderland net. Hopefully the former two will start the next game at home. Everton keep going on and now occupy that fourth spot.
West Brom 3-3 Spurs
Goals: Vydra, Brunt, Sessegnon, Olsson (og), Kane, Eriksen
Assists: Amalfitano, Naughton, Lennon
Bonus Points: Eriksen (3) Vydra (2) Foster (2)
Fantasy Focus :
West Brom: they will be kicking themselves in this one as they could have put a little bit of breathing space between themselves and the bottom three, but they squandered a three goal lead and only took a point. The goal scoring opened up in the first 20 seconds as Vydra scored. Chris Brunt then smashed in a well controlled volley and a break away Sessegnon third had West Brom in dream land. In between those goals Ben Foster came up with an easy penalty spot save hence why he got that bonus point. With a double game week in the future, keep your eye on one or two of these players.
Spurs: Spurs were Spurs for the first half as their defence was diabolical again. Add to that a terrible Adebayor penalty and this 45 minutes was terrible. Moving onto the second half and a great comeback was rounded off by that man again Christian Eriksen who is in some really great form and worth serious consideration for the rest of the season. If Emmanuel Adebayor was bothered he could have come up with some points in this one as well so don’t write him off. If you are really desperate and looking for the ultimate punt then have a look at Harry Kane, two in two games now.
Liverpool 3-2 Man City
Goals: Sterling, Skrtel, Coutinho, Silva & Johnson (og)
Assists: Suárez, Gerrard, Milner & Silva
Bonus Points: Coutinho (3), Silva (2), Skrtel (1)
Liverpool: An emotionally charged afternoon at Anfield saw the scousers nick the spoils and continue their march towards the league title. Liverpool dominated the first half and quickly established a 2-0 lead. Rodgers again started Raheem Sterling and Phillippe Coutinho and they both rewarded the manager with significant contributions to the victory. Sterling scored the first, moving onto Luis Suarez’s through ball to make a mockery of the City defence before firing into an open goal. Shortly after Steven Gerrard swung in a corner for Martin Skrtel to head home. Sterling and Coutinho linked well throughout the game and they will be increasingly important for Liverpool in the coming weeks. Coutinho scored the winner with a cracking finish and finally repaid some of his long-suffering FPL supporters. The day was somewhat soured by Daniel Sturridge limping off with a tight hamstring, though Rodgers said it was precautionary and a red card late on to Jordan Henderson for a bad and high tackle on Samir Nasri – Henderson will miss the next three games as a result, with the likely scenario being Gerrard moving further forward. Suarez was always involved, but could easily have been sent off for numerous dives after being booked early on. However, it was Liverpool’s day and it’s Norwich next for them – but the one everyone is now really looking forward to is the crucial visit of Chelsea in a fortnight’s time.
Man City: It was a frustrating day for City, who were undone by events in the first 25mins when Liverpool stormed into a two-goal lead and Yaya Toure limped off injured. It took City time to regroup, but they did that in the second half with David Silva and Nasri linking magnificently, but strangely enough, it was the introduction of James Milner for Jesus Navas that brought City back into it. Milner crossed for Silva to prod home the equaliser and the Spaniard’s cross was turned into his own net by Glen Johnson. Sergio Aguero was introduced midway through the 2nd half, but in all honesty he looked rusty – he did however almost create the winner for Silva who was just unable to get on the end of Aguero’s pass. Liverpool’s winner was helped by Vincent Kompany’s sliced clearance – the City captain had looked uncertain all afternoon due to the knee injury he had picked up in training on Saturday and was clearly not 100% fit. We await more news on Yaya’s injury – City has denied the midfielder is out for the season, but confirm he is a doubt for Wednesday’s match vs Sunderland – for anyone looking to sell Yaya then the obvious names from a City point of view would be Silva or Nasri, while Gerrard, Coutinho or Sterling could also come into the equation for you.
Swansea 0-1 Chelsea
Bonus points: Cahill (3), Ivanovic (2), Ba (2) & Terry (2)
Swansea: The Swans’ relegation fears grew following a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea despite their brave performance with ten men for the majority of this game. Swansea’s hopes were severely dented by Chico Flores’ dismissal after just 16 minutes, with referee Phil Dowd showing him his second yellow card following a foul on Andre Schurrle. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Swans remained on level terms going into the break, with Wilfried Bony and Nathan Dyer forcing keeper Petr Cech into good saves. The Swans were pinned down in the second half and rarely threatened. Michu didn’t even make the squad.
Chelsea: Chelsea laboured to this win and Demba Ba proved to be the hero again as the Blues continue to put pressure on Liverpool. The win against a Swansea side who played most of the game with 10 men was not as straight forward as manager Jose Mourinho would have wanted. A handful of chances were missed by his side and although Cech was required to make three good saves Ba’s strike was enough to secure three important points in South Wales. Despite having the extra man, Chelsea struggled to break down the relegation threatened Swansea. Willian and Mohamed Salah both fired over the crossbar and with his side desperately needing a goal and a victory Mourinho made two changes at the break, sending on Oscar and Samuel Eto’o in place of Ramires and Schurrle. Mourinho switched Chelsea’s formation to a more conventional 4-4-2 and this tactical change would prove fruitful. The Blues should have scored more but Eto’o missed two clear cut chances. The victory means Chelsea remain two points behind leaders Liverpool with a trip to Anfield to come on April 27. .
Thanks for reading Gameweek 34 Reviews, the story so far…, this article was written by Eddy, Migs and Mito