Matchweek 31 provided a little bonus EPL action as half the league played catch-up in the matches played column. Hopefully you were able to take full advantage of the double matchweek for these clubs as there were plenty of points to go around. A week worthy of using transfers or a wild card to take full advantage. Without further delay, let’s dive right into a recap of the 5 matches played.
Newcastle United 0-3 Everton
Everton went into St. James Park and pretty much made their road victory look quite easy. The highlight of this match came in the 22nd minute when Everton midfielder Ross Barkley carried the ball 70 yards down field to net the ball into the top shelf, capping an excellent fantasy week with 20 points. Everton’s defense played an extremely solid match, blocking many of Newcastle’s attempts on goal en route to a clean sheet result. Defender John Stones took a knock on a header and needed 10 stitches during the halftime to close the gash, but came back on to play the full 90. Forward Romelu Lukaku also rewarded the 19.3% that selected him with a goal and an assist to bring his matchweek point total to 18 points. He nearly had another goal scored in the 16th minute when Leon Osman, who netted a goal of his own in the match, played the striker through for a great chance on goal that forced Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul to come up with a huge save. Everton defenders Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Stones and Sylvain Distin as well as goalkeeper Tim Howard all benefited from the clean sheet and a full 90 minutes played. Unfortunately not much to speak of for the home side in this one as no Newcastle player scored more than two points in this match. Everton has displayed excellent recent form and is making a push to grab the final Champions League spot from a stumbling Arsenal. Something to keep an eye on as the season winds down, besides the obvious title race of course.
Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City
The 150th Manchester Derby turned out to be all City, even so right from the 1st minute of the match when striker Edin Džeko quickly put City up 1-0 only 43 seconds after kick off. Džeko added his second of the match early into the second half to give the visitors a 2-0 cushion off a well placed corner service from teammate Samir Nasri, who had two assists in the match. The story of the week here is City’s midfielder Yaya Toure who scored yet again in this match to bring his points total for the matchweek to a mind blowing 31 points for the 45% of owners who selected him. Well worth the second highest price tag at the position. He’s been scorching hot lately with 4 goals in the last two matches. Goalkeeper Joe Hart was rewarded with his second clean sheet of the matchweek for his efforts, bringing his point total to a cool 13 points, good enough for your top goalkeeper performance for the week. United boss David Moyes elected to go with a three central midfielder set to start out the match, but the results from the position were more of the disappointing same on the season. Juan Mata had a chance to level at one before the half, but was unsuccessful. United goalkeeper David De Gea made some impressive saves, but gained nothing from a fantasy aspect for his owners as he finished with just one point on the day. A lot like our first match discussed here, not much came from the home side as the visitors did all of the scoring.
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Arsenal 2-2 Swansea City
The visiting side jumped out to an early lead in this one when Swansea striker Wilfried Bony scored on a header off a cross from Neil Taylor in the 11th minute. The goal was good for Bony’s second of the matchweek to bring his point total to 14. Taylor’s assist gave him six points for the match, but was selected in only 0.2% of fantasy squads. This was a match that Arsenal needed badly and they responded nicely in the second half with two goals only one minute apart. Lukas Podolski came on in a substitution and turned the match around for The Gunners. He equalized the match at 1-1 with a bit of an acrobatic finish as he reacted quickly to get his foot on the ball for the finish. Podolski then sparked Arsenal’s second goal from the left side of the pitch as he crossed to forward Olivier Giroud for the go ahead goal. Podolski earned 1.3% of fantasy owners 11 points in only 34 minutes of pitch time while Giroud’s goal brought eight points for his 22.5%. The Gunners looked to be on their way to a crucial three points in the table to keep their Premier League title hopes alive, but took an unfortunate draw for a result when the ball deflected off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny only to find it’s was into the net off of midfielder Mathieu Flamini for a deflating own goal in the 90th minute. A case of wrong place at the wrong time as there was nothing Flamini could do. As Arsenal’s title hopes have diminished, they still sit in the final Champions League spot with a six point cushion on Everton. The club will need better results down the stretch as the Toffees have been in stellar form lately, winning their last four matches in an effort to steal that four spot away.
West Ham United 2-1 Hull City
Thanks to an own goal from Hull City’s James Chester, the Hammers took home three points and gave themselves a bit more breathing room on the relegation zone. The match saw some confusion in the first half when West Ham United midfielder Mohamed Diame burst through on goal and collided with Hull goalkeeper Alan McGregor in the attempt on goal. Play went on briefly only to be stopped shortly thereafter and the result culminated in McGregor earning a send off for the collision, also awarding a penalty to West Ham. It was his second red card of the season. Midfielder Mark Noble finished from the spot to give the home squad a 26th minute 1-0 lead in the resulting penalty kick. Suffering from a spell of poor form, the home team was booed off the field at the half despite the 1-0 lead and eventually again at fulltime despite the 2-1 finish. Hull picked up their only goal, for the moment the equalizer, of the match in the 49th minute when midfielder Tom Huddlestone’s free kick deflected off striker Nikica Jelavic and into the net. Huddlestone and Jelavic earned a seviceable nine points each on the match.
Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland
Liverpool held on despite a strong second half surge from the visiting Sunderland club to earn their seventh straight result and now only sit one point behind table toppers Chelsea. Early action saw few shots from both sides, but none on goal. The first one on target came from more magical dead ball play from captain Steven Gerrard on a perfectly placed free kick. Gerrard curled the shot over the wall and into the upper right corner of the net, past Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone who gave his best efforts on the save but had no chance at keeping it out. The snipe gave the 14.1% who selected Gerrard 10 points on the day. Liverpool seemed on their way to a comfortable result when they grabbed another goal early in the second half while forward Daniel Sturridge picked up his 20th goal in 23 matches played on the season. The twosome of Luis Suarez (25 matchweek points) and Sturridge (18) continue to reward their owners on the regular and the 50.5% and 35.0% selection rates respectively show that plenty of owners are reaping the rewards. Sunderland did provide the Anfield crowd a bit of a scare after Sunderland midfielder Ki Sung-Yong came on as a second half substitute and headed home a corner when he found himself unmarked in the box. Although the Liverpool defense has played a bit better as of late, it has been the one question mark in the title quest for The Reds. There is no question that Liverpool can continue to put up goals as they are the only team to have two players with 20 or more on the season, but will their defense be able to hold up against the teams at the top of the table? And for Sunderland, another poor result while they carry on with some of the poorest recent form in the PL. Even though they still have two matches in hand due to Cup play, the threat of relegation grows ever more real as they sit at 18th in the table.
Note: All percentage selected and prices taken from Fantasy Premier League
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