Gameweek 33: Manchester Red, Pogba Hair Blue

Manchester City 2 – Man United 3

Etihad Stadium | Saturday, April 7th, 2018 | 12:30 PM EST

Sixteen points clear and needing just one win to clinch the Citizen’s third premier league title in three years meant this Manchester Derby had more significant than usual implications. It developed into perhaps one of the finest advertisements for the Premier League’s Elite and the league itself emerging as the most-watched Premier League match in U.S. broadcasting history. A tale of two halves, the first all Manchester City, while the second was the stage of a blistering comeback by the Red Devils. Captain Vincent Kompany opened up the scoring for City, reminding us of his heroics in 2012 when he opened up the scoring in the Manchester Derby in a win for the Sky Blues as they marched towards their first Premier League Title. Gundogan added another, smartly turning Matic before firing low into the corner of the goal. Man City would’ve been disappointed, however, as they could have made it five in the first half. Sterling notably missing two clear-cut chances. Man United came out of the tunnel for the second half full of ferocity, turning the game level through a pair of impressive goals from Paul Pogba before Chris Smalling sealed the game and ensured the champagne would remain on ice, at least for another week.

Paul Pogba (27) was the star man on the day. All the focus was on the Frenchman following the controversial comments made by City coach Pep Guardiola over the week. Pogba contributed finely with two goals in the second half, and although his hair may have been sky blue, his input ensured that Manchester would be red, at least for now. The Chilean, Alexis Sanchez (24) put in an excellent shift of his own, arguably his best game in the red of Manchester. The former Arsenal talisman contributed with two assists, assisting Chris Smalling (13.5) for the winner.

The sky blues failed to produce a standout performer in Fantasy this week. Manchester City started the game without mainstays Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker, beginning the game with Raheem Sterling (18) as their most forward player. Sterling assisted Ilkay Gundogan (14) but missed multiple opportunities to increase City’s lead.

 

AFC Bournemouth 2 – Crystal Palace 2

Vitality Stadium | Saturday, April 7th, 2018 | 10:00 AM EST

The rematch between Bournemouth and Crystal Palace featured two teams with vastly different ambitions for the last six matches of the season. Bournemouth is attempting to finish in the top half of the table for the second time in a row (not bad for a team promoted three years ago), and Crystal Palace is trying to avoid a relegation battle that is unbefitting for a team with as much talent as they have

Jermain Defoe started up top for the first time since December alongside Callum Wilson, Jordan Ibe missed out due to illness, and Pugh replaced the injured Junior Stanislas, who is out for the remainder of the season. Palace was without Christian Benteke, who is suffering from a groin injury, but they welcomed the return of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and James Tomkins who were both fit enough to start.

The game was lively throughout, both sides created chances, but it was Crystal Palace who will feel hard done after going ahead and then conceding twice. All four goals were scored in the second half, the last goal coming in the 89th minute in a heartbreaker for a Crystal Palace team that will do well to avoid the feeling of doubt moving forward after allowing another lead slip from their grasp.

Luka Milivojevic (17.5): Milivojevic has been a revelation this season amongst Palace’s woes, a spot-kick specialist who has scored the majority of his goals from dead ball situations. He came good again for the first goal of the game (47’, Cabaye assist), a bending, banana-like free kick that he calmly stroked home from right outside the box.

Wilfried Zaha (24) & Andros Townsend (21.5): Zaha and Townsend started up top in Crystal Palace’s 4-4-2 formation and were a handful to deal with all game long. On attack they looked to stretch Bournemouth’s backline, tending to drift out wide into space to receive the ball before engaging their defenders in a 1 on 1 duel. It didn’t always work, Zaha especially reminds you of a 13-year-old attempting to dribble through the entire team on FIFA Ultimate Team, but it sure did look great when it came off. Determination and a slick roulette put Zaha into position to score Palace’s second after Townsend did well to hold up possession after another incisive run (75’, Townsend assist).

Callum Wilson (4.5), Jermain Defoe (0): Defoe was missing in action for most of the game – his first touch was almost as dreadful as his passing. He only touched the ball 23 times in 90 minutes. Callum was pulled in the 61st minute after a similar display, his touch was off as was his finishing – none of his five shots bothered the keeper.

Joshua King (14), Lys Mousset (12.5): To make matters worse for Wilson and Defoe regarding selection order, Eddie Howe’s two substitute strikers both managed to score. The 22-year-old Frenchman Mousset scored his second Premier League goal, side-footing his shot past the keeper from a layoff at the top of the box (65’, Fraser assist). King was at the right place at the right time in the 89th minute, tapping one home after Steve Cook flicked a corner across the box. King (241 points for the season, 15.17 L3W) is a must-own in most leagues – he’ll be especially valuable to Callum Wilson owners, given Bournemouth’s lineup unpredictability.

 

Everton 0 – Liverpool 0

Goodison Park | Saturday, Aril 7th, 2018 | 7:30 AM EST

The last Merseyside Derby of the season will be forgotten almost as quickly as it occurred. A match that featured a Liverpool side that made six changes after their thrilling UCL win and an Everton side that lacked the determination to make an imprint on the game resulted in a dull performance that was only worth tuning in for the last 20 minutes as Everton did eventually put Liverpool on their heels.

Dominic Solanke (6.5), Danny Ings (5.5), Sadio Mane (6): Liverpool’s front three, which was missing 2 of the Fab Three, weren’t nonexistent but were content to take their chances as they appeared and didn’t chase the game. Solanke had the best chances of the three, misplacing a header and soon after a shot from six yards away that should have been buried. If Liverpool progress in the Champions League, as will likely be the case, Solanke and Ings may be worth a pickup if your roster has space.

Cenk Tosun (3), Theo Walcott (7), Wayne Rooney (1), Yannick Bolaise (2.5): The Everton forwards played directly into Liverpool’s hands – they didn’t put pressure on a makeshift Liverpool backline, and for most of the game, they were timid on the ball. Cenk Tosun who had been on a good run of form (14.5 L3W) missed some chances that he’ll regret. Theo Walcott was going against CB Ragnar Klavan on the right flank, but he refused to test him for the majority of the game. Bolaise almost replicated his stunning finish against Man City from last weekend, but other than that he was a black hole going forward, completing 6 of his 17 attempted passes. Wayne Rooney was equally substandard, slow and unimaginative on the ball. He was visually displeased after he was the first substitute of the game in the 57th minute. None of Everton’s attacking players gave an effort fantasy owners would like to see, but there is too much talent on this team to give up on them

Loris Karius (11), Ragnar Klavan (7), Virgil van Dijk (12), Dejan Lovren (17), Nathaniel Clyne (7.5)

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Jordan Pickford (16), Seamus Coleman (12.25), Michael Keane (15.5), Phil Jagielka (16.5), Leighton Baines (10.5): With Liverpool’s eyes on their UCL tie at Man City on Tuesday and Everton’s circumspect attack (by instruction), the defenders and keepers were the players to own for this match. The game resulted in only four shots on target, but Karius and Pickford both played their part at keeping it 0-0 as two of those attempts would have been goals if not for a spectacular save from each.

 

Arsenal 3 – Southampton 2

The Emirates | Sunday, April 8th, 2018 | 9:30 AM EST

This game had it all; end to end attacking football, defensive mishaps, premier league debuts, a late winner, and a double dose of red cards in extra time. Arsenal made seven changes to the side that beat CSKA Moscow at home last Thursday; notable introductions included inconsistent Alex Iwobi, recently fit Danny Welbeck, the often omitted Sead Kolasinac, Premier League debutant Reiss Nelson, and the cup-tied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Southampton arrived ready to defend – they started the game with 5 defenders, the most noticeable omission from the lineup being GK Fraser Forster who was on the bench while Alex McCarthy got the start.

Shane Long (17), Charlie Austin (15.5), Cedric (18.75): As soon NBC’s commentator mentioned Shane Long had scored one goal in his last 47 matches for club & country, seasoned Arsenal fans knew it was time to bet the house on him scoring. An unfortunate sequence of play from Kolasinac got it started as he first misplaced a pass and then got beat by the cross from Cedric which found its way across the box after some inexplicable defending from Mustafi (17’, Cedric assist). Long looked energetic throughout, winning an impressive 7 aerial duals despite his listed height at 5’10”. Charlie Austin scored the second goal from another cross by Cedric (73’, Cedric assist). The Southampton side looks reenergized with the introduction of Mark Hughes as manager, they tested Arsenal till the end. They have an easier schedule than the other teams around them in the relegation battle, so bringing in a Southampton attacking player may be tempting, except for their lineups are one of the more difficult ones to predict with the number of serviceable attacking players at their disposal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (18), Danny Welbeck (31.5), Alex Iwobi (21.5): PEA continued his brilliant run of form since joining Arsenal – he’s been involved in seven goals in the Premier League since his transfer (6 goals, 1 assist), the most of any Arsenal player in their first seven appearances. The Southampton backline held him in check for the first 20 minutes as they dropped deep to constrict space in behind. PEA responded by dropping deep to collect the ball and distribute, which worked perfectly as he initiated a passage of play culminating in a clever first-touch flick by Welbeck to send Aubameyang in on goal (28’, Welbeck assist). Welbeck scored 10 minutes later (38’) after cutting inside and ricocheting a shot off of Southampton defender that wrong-footed the keeper and found its way to the back of the net. Iwobi grew into the game, his decisive decision making and first touch were exactly what he needed to regain confidence after a series of low-quality performances. His pinpoint pass to Danny Welbeck (’81, Iwobi assist) after a sublime trap set Arsenal up to eventually take home the three points. Arsenal’s Europa League fixtures will keep both Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi in the mix, especially after Henrkh Mkhitaryan sustained a knee injury that could take 2-3 weeks to recover from, if not longer.

Jack Stephens (-2.75), Jack Wilshere (-1), Mohamed Elneny (3): Between Welbeck’s go-ahead goal and the final whistle, both Jack Stephens and Mohamed Elneny received red cards for hand to head contact, and Wilshere received a yellow for a professional foul on the Southampton defender. Elneny’s red card has since been rescinded, he’s likely to get a few more starts before the end of the season as Aaron Ramsey is saved for the Europa League and Wilshere hasn’t shown the stamina or presence to take hold of the central midfield.

 

Brighton Hove Albion 1 – Huddersfield Town 1

Amex Stadium | Saturday, April 7th, 2018 | 10:00 AM EST

With both teams still in the relegation danger zone, this was a pivotal matchup at the bottom. Both sides, following wins in February, hadn’t found the back of the net in some time, amassing over 600 minutes between them since the last time they scored. Jonas Lössl, unluckily, opened up the scoring for the visitors when Solly March’s low driven shot hit off the post, onto his outstretched hand and into the back of the net, one for the dubious goals committee. Huddersfield Town equalized three minutes later through their top scorer Steven Mounie, who capitalized on an uncharacteristically bad back pass from Albion totem Shane Duffy. The tide looked set to turn in favor of the visitors when Seagull midfielder Davy Propper received a red card for a reckless challenge in midfield. Following the dismissal, it was Brighton looking the more likely to score with the home side passing up two clear chances to take all three points. In the end, spoils shared, with Huddersfield playing three teams from the top six and Brighton playing four, both teams will be ruing their chances spurned.

No notable performances to report from the backline of Brighton. Shane Duffy (4.5) played a bad back pass, which directly resulted in Huddersfield’s goal. Out of character for a defender with the most effective clearances in the league.

Solly March (18) was the standout performer for Brighton. His shot lead to an own goal which he was credited an assist for. Pascal Gross (8) had a quiet game in the Brighton midfield.

Following a drought in front of goal for Huddersfield, Steve Mounie (13.5) capitalized on a poor Brighton back pass. The Beninese had eight dispossessions to subtract four from his total.

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