Premier League Fixture Breakdown: Gameweek 31

Tom Fenley, our PlayON Pro and last year’s official Fantasy Premier League winner, takes you through the Premier League fixtures for Gameweek 31.

Sat 4 Apr 2015 – Premier League

Arsenal v Liverpool 12:45

Arsenal managed a sixth successive league win at Newcastle, a third consecutive 2-1 on the road. The Gunners faced a difficult second period, conceding just after the break, but held out to maintain their impressive record. Liverpool will need to keep Olivier Giroud quiet, the Frenchman has been in the form of his career with six goals in five league games, including a first-half brace in the Newcastle win.

Liverpool’s defeat to Man Utd has dented their Champion’s League hopes, so a point or more here for Brendan Rodgers’ side could be crucial in the race for a top four finish. Both teams are attack-minded, demonstrated by the 16 goals between them in their last four league meetings. Arsenal have kept the only clean sheet in those four fixtures, in a 2-0 victory the last time theses sides met at the Emirates in the league.

Key Players: Olivier Giroud, Daniel Sturridge.

Everton v Southampton 15:00

Everton’s 2-1 win at QPR gave them back-to-back wins in the league for only the second time this season. Roberto Martinez’s side are now well clear of any relegation fears and no longer have the distraction of the Europa League. On loan Aaron Lennon scored the winner at Loftus Road, and with an assist in the previous match, is establishing himself as a key player for the run-in. Seamus Coleman also scored against QPR and set up the other for Lennon, reminding us of the right-back’s attacking potential.

Wins against Burnley and Crystal Palace, either side of a draw at Stamford Bridge, indicate that the Saints have rediscovered some form. Clean sheets in both those victories further confirm the resilience that Ronald Koeman’s well-organised back-line has displayed this season. Shane Long scored a first goal since returning from injury against Burnley. This, as well as Graziano Pelle’s strike against England, suggests that the Saints’ front men could perhaps start to contribute more after a barren spell.

Key Players: Aaron Lennon, Shane Long.

Leicester v West Ham 15:00

Leicester’s 4-3 defeat at White Hart Lane was a thrilling match, but Nigel Pearson will be ruing the lack of concentration in defense with only two points picked up from eight matches. It was, however, only the second time the Foxes have scored more than twice in a match this season and goals will be needed if they are to cover the 7 point gap to safety. Jamie Vardy has been involved in four of their last five goals, scoring once and creating three for the bottom-placed side.

West Ham were without a win in seven games before Diafra Sakho’s late winner secured three points over Sunderland.
The Senegalese’s ninth goal of the season was the Hammers first goal in three matches. Sam Allardyce’s side won the reverse fixture 2-0 at Upton Park, but are win-less on the road in seven matches, and have failed to score in four of those fixtures.

Key Players: Jamie Vardy, Diafra Sakho.

Man Utd v Aston Villa 15:00

After an important victory at Anfield, United will be expecting to put more pressure on Liverpool and Arsenal, with one of the rivals guaranteed to drop points earlier in the afternoon. It was the Red Devils fourth successive victory and Daniel Sturridge’s consolation goal was the first time they have conceded in that run. Juan Mata’s two goals on Merseyside perhaps make the Spaniard an option once again, while Marouane Fellaini’s current form also merits consideration for a place in our PlayON squads.

After victories over West Brom and Sunderland, Villa slipped up against Swansea by conceding a late goal, leaving Tim Sherwood’s side three points above the drop zone. Christian Benteke failed to continue the form that saw him net three goals and serve up an assist in those previous two wins. The Belgian should offer a threat again having scored in the reverse fixture at Villa Park in December – a 1-1 draw. Notably, that was the first time the Villans have avoided defeat against United in eight league meetings.

Key Players: Wayne Rooney, Christian Benteke.

Swansea v Hull 15:00

Swansea bounced back from two successive defeats with a late winner from Bafetimbi Gomis – only his third of the season – securing all three points at Villa Park. That win followed narrow defeats to Liverpool at home and Spurs away, indicating that Gary Monk’s side are playing well but lacking a cutting edge. Gomis finding the net is therefore a promising sign. The Swans, whilst inconsistent, are still a tough side to visit and have not lost two home games in a row at the Liberty Stadium since January 2014.

The 2-3 defeat to Chelsea means Hull are without a win in four games. That said, two goals against a difficult Chelsea defense at the KC Stadium is double their tally from the previous 3 games – suggesting some improvement for Steve Bruce’s side. The Tigers have not won an away match since Boxing Day, and with only 95 shots on the road this season – the lowest in the division – it’s clear that they need to create more chances for Abel Hernandez and Dame N’Doye, Nikica Jelavic being side-lined through injury.

Key Players: Batefembi Gomis, Dame N’Doye

West Brom v QPR 15:00

A 3-0 defeat to Man City was the heaviest loss so far in Tony Pulis’ time at West Brom, four clean sheets in their last six however, shows it was a deviation from the standard, especially given the opponents. The Baggies are especially resilient at the Hawthorns, with seven shut-outs in eight games in all competitions at home under Pulis. They will however, be apprehensive of Charlie Austin, having conceded a hat-trick to the striker in a 3-2 defeat at Loftus Road earlier in the campaign.

QPR have lost all but one of their away matches this season but have scored at least once in their last seven on the road. Chris Ramsey appears to have instilled an attacking philosophy at QPR since taking over but the side remain porous at the back, conceding 15 goals in the eight games since he’s been in charge and twice or more in 12 of their 14 away matches overall.

Key Players: Saido Berahino, Charlie Austin.

Chelsea v Stoke 17:30

After three draws in six games, the 2-3 win at Hull will have been re-assuring for Jose Mourinho as his side rediscovered some ruthlessness in front of goal. Chelsea had scored just seven goals in those previous six matches, only hitting the net twice against Aston Villa, resulting in precious points being needlessly dropped by such a dominating squad. Goals appear to be back on the agenda however ahead of Stoke’s visit and Diego Costa’s second goal in two matches, alongside an assist, are an ominous sign for the Potters.

Stoke suffered a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at the Brittania and have now lost back-to-back matches for the first time since early December. Mame Biram Diouf opened the scoring against Crystal Palace – his third in six games and ninth of the season – before Mark Hughes’ team conceded twice before half-time to relinquish the points. Not the best form to head to Stamford Bridge in, especially as they have failed to score in six of the last seven league games with Chelsea.

Key Players: Diego Costa, Mame Diouf.

Sun 5 Apr 2015 – Premier League

Burnley v Tottenham 13:30

Burnley failed to build on the unexpected win over Man City, losing 2-0 at Southampton, a sixth loss in nine for the Clarets. Home comforts will, however, offer Sean Dyche’s side hope that the City result can be repeated, four of their five wins this campaign have arrived at Turf Moor.

Before the international break Tottenham scraped to a third win in four, outscoring Leicester City 4-3 at White Hart Lane. Spurs have not had a problem finding the net, with youngster Harry Kane maintaining his remarkable form with a hat-trick against the Foxes, bringing his total to eleven goals in eight games. At the back however, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have been poor, no clean sheet in seven with 15 goals conceded in that unfavourable run.

Key Players: George Boyd, Harry Kane.

Sunderland v Newcastle 16:00

Sunderland host Newcastle in the Wear-Tyne derby without a victory in seven matches. The Black Cats have scored just twice in that period and Dick Advocaat has a lot of work to do after the 1-0 defeat at West Ham. Sunderland only conceded late to the Hammers, and a narrow away defeat suggests some progress following the 4-0 loss to Villa in their last home game.

Newcastle will see Sunderland’s dire performances as the perfect opportunity to record a first derby win in seven meetings; the Magpies have lost their last four to the Black Cats, only scoring once in those defeats. However, John Carver’s side also head into the fixture on the back of some insipid form. Three consecutive defeats and a single goal will not inspire confidence for the Newcastle faithful, though a spirited second-half performance against Arsenal in their last match shows the team remains capable of upsetting opponents.

Key Players: Costel Pantillimon, Remy Cabella.

Mon 6 Apr 2015 – Premier League

Crystal Palace v Man City 20:00

Palace recovered from an early Stoke goal at the Britannia to snatch a third win in four matches. The Eagles have scored eight goals in those four games and look to have found an attacking verve under Alan Pardew that should give them a chance against City. Glen Murray and Wilfried Zaha both scored at the Brittania, while Zaha also scored in the previous match with QPR and bagged an assist. Murray now has four in as many appearances and with Yannick Bolasie providing three assists in two, Palace have plenty of threat on offer in the final third.

Man City enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 over West Brom in their last outing after the Baggies went down to 10-men early on. This would usually be considered a routine win for City, but with such inconsistent form in recent weeks – including the 1-0 defeat to Burnley the previous gameweek – it will have been a relief for Manuel Pellegrini to be given such an early advantage. A first goal for Wilfried Bony brings him onto our PlayON watch list, while David Silva continued his fine form with another goal. However, concerns over the form of main man Sergio Aguero persist as he once again drew a blank, despite having 9 attempts on goal.

Key Players: Glenn Murray, David Silva.

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