Premier League Fixture Breakdown: Gameweek 34

Mikel Arteta of Arsenal marshalls Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on December 23, 2013 in London, England.

Tom Fenley, our PlayON Pro and last year’s official Fantasy Premier League winner, takes you through the Premier League fixtures for Gameweek 34.

Sat 25 Apr 2015 – Premier League

Southampton v Tottenham 12:45

The Premier League’s top six may be guaranteed European football next year, but both of these clubs are currently in danger of missing out. Southampton currently sit in seventh, just a single point behind Spurs, making this a high-stakes encounter for all concerned. One would expect a close game, and it’s usually sensible to side with caution when considering assets from teams that are evenly matched; the idea being that players have a lessened chance of the type of substantial points-hauls that can secure a win in PlayON.

Last gameweek, Southampton’s poor form away from home continued. The 2-1 loss at Stoke was their fourth consecutive away day without a win. However, they have delivered some solid performances in front of their home fans, winning their last three without conceding a goal. Tottenham recovered from the capitulation to Aston Villa to claim a routine 3-1 win at Newcastle courtesy of goals from Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane. Spurs have been inconsistent recently, but did narrowly beat Ronald Koeman’s side 1-0 in the reverse fixture.

Key Players: Morgan Schneiderlin, Harry Kane.

Burnley v Leicester 15:00

Burnley’s lenghty goal drought was extended last week at Everton. Sean Dyche’s team have now failed to find the net in six of their last seven outings, a run that has dropped them to the bottom of the table. This relegation six-pointer is a must win for the Clarets, but it’s difficult to see where the goals will come from against a Leicester side on the up. Burnley have the worst points-per-game record in the league against the bottom 13 sides and, though they’ve performed admirably against the top teams, it’s the sides around them they need to take points off. Their lack of edge in front of goal makes it unlikely they can alter the trend and rescue themselves from the drop.

Leicester, meanwhile, could pull off the great escape after managing three consecutive wins for the first time this campaign. Ten goals in four matches shows they have not had the problems in attack that their opponents have been suffering, but the Foxes have conceded at least twice in their last seven trips away. Manager Nigel Pearson will be focused on reducing these defensive lapses during the run-in.

 Key Players: George Boyd, Jamie Vardy.

Crystal Palace v Hull 15:00

Palace missed out on a fifth successive win when their seemingly unstoppable run came to a jarring halt against ex-manager Tony Pulis’ West Brom. The Baggies won 2-0 at Selhurst Park, but Alan Pardew’s side maintained their expansive play with nineteen shots on target, suggesting the result was perhaps an anomaly.Yannick Bolasie and Glenn Murray contributed the majority of those shots – with ten between them – and that level of threat indicates they are ready to deliver against a less defensively sound side.

Hull succumbed to a third straight defeat, losing 2-0 to Southampton. The Yorkshire side appear unable to muster much fight away from home with only two goals scored in seven trips and two points accrued in that run. It’s difficult to highlight any key players for the Tigers who have had no stand out performers of late, their poor form making the team easy to avoid in our PlayON teams.

Key Players: Glenn Murray, Dame N’Doye.

Newcastle v Swansea 15:00

Six straight defeats means that Newcastle find themselves rooted to the bottom of the form table. John Carver has had to deal with an accumulation of injuries and suspensions which has limited his ability to make changes to a team that have won only once in 2015. Jack Colback’s  goal in the 3-1 defeat to Tottenham means he has either scored or assisted eight of Newcastle’s last seventeen goals, making him the most viable option for those willing to take a risk with the Magpies.

Swansea also have an injury list that is restricting Garry Monk’s selection, especially in defence and up-front. This likely contributed to the Swans first defeat in four matches, 2-0 at Leicester, where they failed to score for only the second time in eleven away trips.

Key Players: Jack Colback, Ki Sung-Yeung.

QPR v West Ham 15:00

After picking up the majority of their points at Loftus Road earlier in the season, QPR have now lost their last six at home. However, five of those matches were against top seven teams, with a resurgent Everton being the other opponent.

Despite losing to Chelsea 1-0 in their last outing, Rangers have looked dangerous in front of goal recently. They found the net seven time in their previous two fixtures, a draw against Aston Villa and victory over West Brom. Striker Charlie Austin contributed to four of those, and he remains their likeliest performer. Chris Ramsey will be hopeful that West Ham continue their lacklustre form on the road; the Hammers have lost three games in a row and are without a win in nine away from Upton Park.

Key Players: Matty Phillips, Stewart Downing.

Stoke v Sunderland 15:00

Stoke recovered from going behind to secure their first victory in five in the 2-1 win over Southampton. Mame Diouf scored his ninth of the season to level the score before Charlie Adam netted a late winner. The midfielder has been influential of late with 15 attempts on goal and 12 chances created in his last six appearances. He also scored the Potters only goal when they suffered a 3-1 defeat against this week’s opponents earlier in the campaign.

After yet another Wear-Tyne derby triumph, the Black Cats were brought back to earth by a 4-1 rout at the hands of Crystal Palace. Dick Advocaat has had a fortnight to train his team in an effort to lift them away from the relegation zone, but their abysmal away form, absent a win in seven, suggests this could be another difficult trip. Conor Wickham managed a consolation goal against the Eagles but between he, Jermaine Defoe and Steven Fletcher the Sunderland strike-force have registered three goals away from home all season.

Key Players: Charlie Adam, Patrick Van Aanholt.

West Brom v Liverpool 15:00

The Baggies ended a three game losing streak with an unexpected 2-0 win at Selhurst Park, despite only having 32% of the possession. Tony Pulis’ side are unlikely to see much of the ball again here, but they have been uncharacteristically porous in their last two games at the Hawthorns – conceding seven goals to QPR and Leicester City.

The FA cup defeat to Aston Villa has left many wondering if Brendan Rodgers has a future at Liverpool, and he will be desperate for a win here to alleviate the pressure. A 2-0 win over Newcastle in their last league match was to be expected, yet the team still look unconvincing without Daniel Sturridge to lead the line. Jordan Henderson has served up two assists and four goals in his last six league games, and also notched a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over West Brom at Anfield.

Key Players: Boaz Myhill, Jordan Henderson.

Man City v Aston Villa 17:30

City continued their impressive home form with a fourth consecutive win, defeating West Ham 2-0 last Sunday. Sergio Aguero was once again on the scoreboard and it appears the Argentine has re-found his accuracy, with three in two games. Aston Villa should be wary, especially with David Silva recovering from a knock at West Ham and likely to be available for the weekend.

Villa have their own striker for opponents to worry about. Christian Benteke’s equaliser in the FA cup tie was his ninth goal in seven matches, making him the most in form forward in the league. Tim Sherwood has re-invigorated his new side and with a team high on confidence from the cup win they are unlikely to go down without a fight.

Key Players: Sergio Aguero, Christian Benteke.

Sun 26 Apr 2015 – Premier League

Everton v Man Utd 13:30

The Toffees are enjoying their best period of the season so far, unbeaten in five, with the narrow defeat of Burnley their fourth win of that run. Roberto Martinez’ back-line have been resilient, recording five shut-outs in six matches at home. They have a good recent record against United, who have left Goodison empty handed on their last two visits, failing to score in either game.

A shut-out here appears possible then. Louis Van Gaal’s side were kept out by a defensive minded Chelsea team in their last game, but that was only the second time in eleven away matches that United have not netted. The Dutchman’s team had over 70% possession, and managed fifteen attempts on goal at Stamford Bridge, but still couldn’t find a way through.

Key Players: Leighton Baines, Wayne Rooney.

Arsenal v Chelsea 16:00

Despite eight straight wins for the Gunners, their recent form against Chelsea, with only two goals scored in their last seven matches and none in the previous three league meetings, suggests they are likely to drop points.

Chelsea are unbeaten since New Year’s Day, Jose Mourinho employing effective defensive tactics at Stamford Bridge against Manchester United in the 1-0 win, a repeat of the strategy that Arsenal faced earlier in the season when the Gunners were restricted to no shots on target for the first time since September 2003. Doubts over the availability of Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba mean Chelsea will be relying on Eden Hazard once again. The Belgian has scored the opener in four of the Blues last six games and has found the net five times in seven.

Key Players: Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard.

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