Gameweek 32: West Brom Get Burned; Top 4 A Bridge Too Far For Blues
West Brom 1 – Burnley 2
The Baggies were looking to continue their good record against Burnley by making it six unbeaten in the Premier League. West Brom’s abysmal form of eight defeats in a row in all competitions, however, meant that getting a result against seventh-place Burnley was to be more of the same. Sean Dyche’s men lined up with their preferred back four, pairing Ben Mee with Tarkowski in the fourth best defense in the league. The Clarets lead their attack through their two inform strikers, meaning starts and goals for Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, who made it four goals in four games by scoring a stunning volley against Pardew’s sinking ship. West Brom was able to get back into the game via their top scorer Solomon Rondon, with five goals in the Premier League, but finding an equalizer would be too challenging for a team that all too often struggles to find the back of the net. It would be Alan Pardew’s final game in charge of West Brom, who remains ten points away from safety with just six to play.
Mee (8.25) Lowton (6.75) Tarkowski (4.25) Ward (12) An average performance from Burnley defenders as they were denied a clean sheet by what is often the case of teams at the bottom fighting for survival. Fullbacks for Burnley continue to be useful inclusions while they continue to select their two inform strikers.
Ashley Barnes (10.5) & Chris Wood (14.5) Both strikers in a good run of form, scoring in eight of the last four matches between them. Selections in a ten man league would be warranted considering their upcoming fixtures.
It’s hard to justify inclusions of any attacking West Brom players, Craig Dawson (12.25) and Johnny Evans (13) may be the only exceptions but considering their terrible run of form and their potential resignation to relegation their inclusions in matchday squads may be ill-advised.
Solomon Rondon (16) The Venezuelan put his chance away nicely albeit in a bit of controversy as a Burnley player was down in his own box. For the starting striker of a team heading for the championship, five goals doesn’t seem like a terrible return. The striker has made the majority of his contributions through the aerials he has won, where he ranks fifth in the league for forwards.
Arsenal 3 – Stoke City 0
In what looked to be a performance representative of Arsenal’s season thus far, they were able to pull out a 3-0 win, scoring three goals in the final 20 minutes of the match. It was an unfair result for Stoke, who harassed a makeshift Arsenal team coming off of the international break. Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny, and Danny Welbeck received the rare Premier League start, but it was the introduction of Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan which invigorated the side and eventually propelled them to the win.
Nacho Monreal (21.25), Shkodran Mustafi (17.75), Calum Chambers (18.75): It was a strong showing from the Arsenal defense regarding fantasy points; Stoke pushed the issue but never scored their goal. Nacho and Mustafi are nailed on starters, and Calum is cementing himself as the third-choice Arsenal CB. He’s worth a look in 10 team leagues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29): PEA had a decent opportunity blocked late in the game by an in-form Butland, but it didn’t matter in the end as he buried one from the penalty spot (75’) before smashing home an opportunity from a corner (86’) that Stoke couldn’t clear. Fantasy owners won’t be as impressed with the team spirit shown by PEA as he forwent his hattrick opportunity to give Lacazette the last goal from the spot (89’).
Mesut Ozil (24.5): Ozil was his usual world-class self, winning the first penalty (albeit controversial) to get Arsenal rolling. He contributed with six chances created – a more clinical Arsenal side would have given him another assist.
Alexandre Lacazette (15): It was a ‘fake-out’ by the Frenchman; although he didn’t start, 15 points is always a strong performance, bolstered by Aubameyang’s generosity. It wasn’t underserved as he won the second penalty.
Jack Butland (10.25): Despite conceding three goals, Butland’s eight saves and a clearance netted him the double-digit gameweeks.
Shaqiri (6.5): Shaqiri, who was recently quoted in the Swedish press lamenting about the lack of quality around him, may have a point. The highlight of his match was hitting the far post from the corner-spot, which would have given Stoke a 1-0 lead and surely a greater lease on the game.
Kurt Zouma (0): An injury late in the week kept Zouma out of the squad – perhaps it was for the best, but it is reasonable to think Stoke’s stand-out CB would have made a difference in the match.
Chelsea 1 – Tottenham Hotspur 3
Chelsea and Tottenham squared up for what is likely the only remaining Champions League spot for the coming season. With Spurs in fourth and five points above The Blues in fifth, this was a must-win fixture for Chelsea if they were to mount any substantial challenge in the final seven weeks of the season. Chelsea lined up with the once red-hot Alvaro Morata leading the attack while Spurs were without their star man with Harry Kane starting on the bench, instead opting for Son Hueng-min to lead at the front. Chelsea began brightly and opened up the scoring through their Spanish striker before the tide turned following a mistake from Victor Moses, losing the ball in Chelsea’s own half leading to a ferociously deceiving strike from Christian Eriksen. A pair of Dele Ali goals in the second half, the final scored from calamitous defending from Chelsea, ensured that Tottenham Hotspur would collect their first three points at Stamford Bridge since 1990.
With The Blues tactically outdone at the Bridge there were few standout performers. Alvaro Morata (16) collected his goal but was unable to muster much else through the failings of their attacking players Eden Hazard (14.5), Willian (4.5) and Cesc Fabregas (9.5).
The blues backline failed to produce anything notably although the ever-reliant Cesar Azpilicueta (10) was able to provide a double-digit contribution despite not having any goals or assists to his name. Victor Moses (9.75) had a day to forget in the Blues backline, although he registered an assist for Morata to open his account back up for Chelsea.
A historical day for Spurs highlighted by star players Christian Eriksen (19.5) and Dele Alli (30.5) who would’ve made his fantasy owners proud by producing his highest fantasy return this season. A lot has been made of the 21-year-old’s performances this year, but a fantasy return of eight goals and twelve assists means the Russia-bound youngster is still a valuable asset for fantasy owners, even if his contributions have come in waves rather than consistent returns.
No notable returns from the Spurs backline, Trippier (2.75) earned the start over Serge Aurrier but didn’t produce anything worth mentioning, as it was the Spurs midfield doing all the work.
Everton 1 – Manchester City 3
It was a splendid away performance for one of the greatest teams in Premier League history; Manchester City scored quickly and scored often, the three points were wrapped up before the halftime whistle blew. Gabriel Jesus got the start up top after Aguero sustained an injury in training, one which will keep him out of the UCL clash against Liverpool midweek. Everton started bravely with five players who play/have played striker in their careers (Rooney, Walcott, DCL, Bolasie, and Tosun), but that decision quickly turned ludicrous after Man City scored twice in the first 15 minutes, making the remaining 75 nothing but a formality. For a team that held on to the ball 84% of the match, Man City looked lethal on the counter-attack, while looking nonchalant when they poked and prodded their way through the Everton defense.
David Silva (23), Gabriel Jesus (16), Raheem Sterling (13), Leroy Sane (21.5), Kevin De Bruyne (14): Man City’s attacking players were firing on all cylinders. Sane scored the first from a difficult volley in the box (4’, Silva assist), Jesus headed home an opportunity from point blank range (12’, KDB assist) 30 seconds after Bolasie missed a similar opportunity, and Sterling sealed the deal in the 37th minute (Silva assist). Everyone was on 8s and 9s, they shared the ball at will all game.
Cenk Tosun (1), Theo Walcott (5), DLC (12.5), Yannick Bolasie (14.25), Wayne Rooney (3.5): It was a tough day at the office for Everton attackers, as should be expected against a team that set the record for the most passes in a Premier League match. They struggled to get a grip on the game, but a slick shot from outside the box by Bolasie (63’, assist DCL) careened off both posts before the ball found its way into the back of the net.
Seamus Coleman (-4.5), Leighton Baines (2.5), Jordan Pickford (-4), Michael Keane (1.25), Phil Jagielka (-1.5): Given the prolific nature of Manchester City’s attack, you probably lost if you started any Everton defenders, and you probably deserved it.
Ederson (0), Otamendi (3.75), Kyle Walker (3.5), Laporte (3.25): Another clean sheet chance squandered by the Man City backline will drive fantasy owners bonkers.