Week 31 was huge at both ends of the table. While Spurs and Arsenal were looking to put pressure on league-leading Leicester, Norwich, Newcastle, and Sunderland were all scrapping for a bit of fresh air above the relegation zone. A total of 23 goals were scored from 14 teams, while the last six were held goalless. Some tough match-ups lie ahead in Week 32, but let’s recap before we get too far ahead of ourselves.
Mixtape 31 offers a lot of variety, it starts with some classic rock, dives into R&B, and somehow ends up in 80’s English Punk. Flow with it here.
Everton 0, Arsenal 2; Bang A Gong (Get It On) by T. Rex
Héctor Bellerín, £6.3, 12 points
Alex Iwobi, £4.5, 8 points
This was probably the worst performance I’ve seen by Everton all season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Arsenal. You couldn’t have picked out Everton’s best player on the day, because honestly, there wasn’t one. The Gunners wasted no time unleashing Danny Welbeck, thanks to a slick pass from Alexis Sánchez, £10.8, in the seventh minute to take the lead. It was all Arsenal after that. A stat that sticks out is Everton’s 36 crosses, of which 5 were successful. Young gun Iwobi sealed the three points just before half when he connected with Bellerín to strike it once more past now full time #1 Joel Robles, £4.3. David Ospina, £4.7, was good enough in net for Arsenal, making two comfortable saves and made it two clean sheets in a row.
Chelsea 2, West Ham 2; All Or Nothing by Small Faces
Cesc Fàbregas, £8.4, 14 points
Manuel Lanzini, £4.9, 9 points
A proper London derby this one. And what would a derby be without a little controversy? Twice the Blues came back to bite Bilic’s boys in the butt. Lanzini’s solo effort gave his Hammers the lead 17 minutes in. Chelsea turned the pressure up a bit, and just before halftime won a free kick. Up stepped Cesc who smashed it home in the dying seconds of the first half (45+3 to be exact). Dimitri Payet, £8.3, tee’d up Andy Carroll, £6.3, in the 61st minute, and after that, looked to be leaving The Bridge with all three points. Then substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek, £4.6, was fouled and a penalty was given. Replays showed he was definitely fouled outside the box, but the benefit of the call went Chelsea’s way. Cesc stepped up once more, and it was daggers for the Hammers. They could have jumped into the top four with those two extra points, but methinks they have the talent to manage that come end of season anyway.
Crystal Palace 0, Leicester City 1; Back In The Night by Dr. Feelgood
Riyad Mahrez, £7.4, 9 points
Christian Fuchs, £5.0, 9 points
It was a tight, torturous, timid 90 minutes, but the Foxes pulled through. Mostly thanks to some stout defending, and a cool assist from Jamie Vardy, £7.9, and a clever run from Mahrez to snatch three points in London. Vardy collected the ball, ran into the box, and fired the ball across the penalty line to Mahrez, who had just ditched his run toward net to come-to, and it rocketed past an outstretched Wayne Hennessey, £4.2. For me though, the man of the match was Kasper Schmeichel, £4.8. Palace were very dangerous on the attack, and one save sticks out in my mind. It was pure reaction from Kasper. A shot deflected off a defender and changed direction on a diving Smeichel, he flicked his wrist, and just managed to swipe it away. I’ll take seven more of these “one – nil’s” to go please!
Watford 1, Stoke 2; Eleven + Eleven by Nine Below Zero
Jonathan Walters, £5.6, 12 points
Joselu, £5.5, 8 points
Statistically, this match was dead even. Each had nine shots, eight chances created, both even had exactly 73% passing completion. Watford out-tackled, out-intercepted, and even beat Stoke in aerial duels. Watford just left it too late in the end to edge out a point. A goal from old reliable Jon Walters helps a bit as well. His 18th-minute strike gave his Potters the edge going into halftime. Just after the second half got underway Joselu extended their lead with a crucial second goal. While Troy Deeney, £5.2, mopped up a late one to make things interesting, Stoke just now sit five points outside a spot in the Champions League. Which after typing it, seems a bit silly to think of, but there’s much darker magic at work this season than anyone ever expected.
West Bromwich Albion 0, Norwich City 1; Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by The Blockheads
Robbie Brady, £5.4, 10 points
Timm Klose, £4.2, 9 points
What a huge goal from Robbie Brady, and what a great three points to the Canaries. I hope they stay up, I really do. I quite enjoyed them under Chris Houghton and any club that’s part-owned by a cookery magnate is alright by me. Anyway… while it might not have been the most exciting of matches, it was still going to be a tough three points for either side to get. A tenner on a nil-nil probably would have won you $11 before the match started, but ex-West Ham winger Matt Jarvis, £4.6, came back for his second match in a big way. His assist moved his side two points clear of relegation although the trailing clubs do have a match in hand.
Swansea 1, Aston Villa 0; No More Heroes by The Stranglers
Federico Fernández, £4.8, 15 points
Ashley Williams, £5.0, 8 points
For the second week in a row, Villa looked half decent at soccer. They had another solid first half to build on, but it fell apart in the second half again. So in the end, it was the result we all expected, another tick in the L column. The super Icelander once again played provider for another goal for his squad. Gylfi Sigurdsson, £7.3, notched his ninth assist of the year when he played in Federico Fernández for the goal. It came just eight minutes into the second half and you could just see the Villa spirit get crushed once more. I don’t see there being a great escape this year, but with Palace sliding further and further down the table, there could be a four-dog fight to see who stays up and who goes down.
Newcastle 1, Sunderland 1; Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
Jermain Defoe, £5.2, 8 points
Georginio Wijnaldum, £6.8, 8 points
Another very entertaining derby. One second Aleksandar Mitrovic, £6.2, is scoring the equalizer and the next he’s out cold. I picked up Jermain Defoe for a one off and captained him as well, you’re all welcome for the solid advice, I’ll probably go o-for over the next few weeks now, but that’s the business we work in. Defoe struck twine just before halftime when the ball bounced off about 15 different limbs before falling straight to him. The second half was very back and forth, and by the 76th minute, Newcastle had used all three subs. Wijnaldum, who has been very quiet since week 22, showed up right when they needed him. He found Mitrovic and bang, it was 1-1. I don’t quite remember how Mitrovic got knocked out cold, but he was pissed when he was taken off. Get that man a bottle of vodka and a sippy cup!
Southampton 3, Liverpool 2; City Of Fun by The Only Ones
Graziano Pellè, £7.8, 15 points
Sadio Mané, £7.3, 10 points
Match of the week, hands down. Watch below.
Manchester City 0, Manchester United 1; One Chord Wonders by The Adverts
Matteo Darmian, £5.4, 9 points
Juan Mata, £8.1, 8 points
Of all the derbies this weekend, this was by far the most dull affair. Well, for everyone outside of City blue or United red anyway. There were cries of “He’s one of our own” as man of the hour Marcus Rashford, £4.5, sprinted into the legends book when he scored just 16 minutes into the match. He might have walked away the hero, but my man of the match went to Matteo Darmian. He just absolute dominated his wing. Nobody could get past him and he was always driving the attack. It probably didn’t help the match much when City were forced into making two early substitutions thanks to injuries, but in all fairness, they didn’t look up to the match anyway.
Tottenham Hotspur 3, Bournemouth 0
Harry Kane, £10.4, 16 points
Kyle Walker, £5.1, 11 points
I mean, come on Bournemouth. I at least hoped you’d put up a fight! Instead, the match was hardly a minute old when Harry Kane scored his first of two goals. His second came 15 minutes later. By then the match was done and dusted. Spurs just toyed with the Cherries, like a bully in a schoolyard, but there would be no happy ending. Instead Christian Eriksen, £8.7, figured he’d see what all the fuss was about and score to make it three-nil. While I’m hoping Liverpool manages a result against Spurs on Saturday, it won’t make it any easier of a match for the Foxes come early Sunday morning against Southampton.
I think a quick add-drop of Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, £5.3, would do you a favor this weekend. They play Aston Villa, who have just lost their manager, and have allowed 10 goals whilst scoring only one in their last four matches. Pickup the entire Chelsea roster if you can, but good luck figuring out which midfielder will score all the goals.
Canaries defender Timm Klose, £4.2, is coming off back-to-back clean sheets, and I expect a fully rested and motivated Norwich side to come out strong against Newcastle on Saturday. A third clean sheet would mean they’re nipping at Palace’s heels.
Go with Michail Antonio, £5.4, and swan dive into the amount of points he’ll get you. The Hammers midfielder has scored 33 points from his last three home games. They’re up against Palace, so your chances are pretty good he’ll at least be involved in one goal.
I have some sort of feeling everytime I look up Anthony Martial, £7.6, on the forwards list at the moment. I’m not sure if this pick will pan out, definitely more risky, but somebody has to feed Rashford.
Fresh off a 90-hour work week, I pass the rock to Stephen and his picks of the week.
Aston Villa 0, Chelsea 1
In terms of both clubs yearly form this should be a walk over for Chelsea, but only one team really has anything to play for here and it’s not Chelsea. That being said, edge to the Blues.
West Ham 2, Crystal Palace 1
Tough one to call here, but West Ham is hot and Crystal Palace certainly is not.
Bournemouth 2, Manchester City 1
Even though Bournemouth is at home, you’d expect many will be picking the Citizens here. Not me. I like the Cherries to buoy their hopes of staying in the big league next year while Manuel Pellegrini may soon realize he’s leaving the Etihad on a Europa League note.
Norwich 1, Newcastle 1
Tough to pick against the Canaries at home, but a draw will still go a long way here.
Stoke 1, Swansea 1
Swansea seem to be back and like many of the bottom half clubs a point here would be massive and that’s exactly what I expect to happen.
Arsenal 3, Watford 1
Can Arsenal gain some momentum for a final push? I think so, but I don’t think my preseason pick will reach the summit. 3 points at the Emirates this weekend though.
Sunderland 0, West Brom 0
Don’t watch this game.
Liverpool 0, Tottenham 1
This is where Mauricio Pochettino proves that he may be the best manager in the world right now. You read that right – THE WORLD.
Leicester 0, Southampton 0
The gap will get a little slimmer, but a point against Saints is no small feat.
Manchester United 0, Everton 0
Both teams are kind of winding down lack luster campaigns and on the heels of the international break, I wouldn’t be expecting goals.