We review all the action from Gameweek 17 of the Barclay’s Premier League with our Premier League recap.
Manchester City 3-0 Crystal Palace
City were forced to take to the field without a recognised centre-forward in the absence of the injured Dzeko, Jovetic, Aguero and Pozo- it worked to surprising great effect. James Milner fulfilled a false nine role to allow David Silva to capitalise and bag a fine brace. As well as the system worked here, Manuel Pellegrini feels uneasy with employing it again, but may be forced to do so with Pozo struggling for full fitness going into Gameweek 18. Crystal Palace would have never really expected to take much from this fixture so will refocus their attentions on the visit of Southampton on Friday.
PlayON MoM: Silva- 2,770 pts
Key Stat: Six in a row. Manchester City enjoy a six game domestic winning streak.
Aston Villa 1-1 Man United
Radamel Falcao showed his scoring touch but United were lucky to muster a draw against their perennial whipping boys Aston Villa. It appears that when Louis Van Gaal tries to combine all his major players on field at the same time, United suffer in terms of fluidity and balance. Even after Agbonlahor’s unfair dismissal for the hosts, United were incapable of creating the sufficient opportunities to capitalise on the game. A dropped two points certainly, but more so a wake-up call for the would-be title contenders.
PlayON MoM: Benteke- 1,850 pts
Key Stat: At 85.8%, United top the charts in terms of pass completion. Pass masters.
Hull City 0-1 Swansea City
One of the most affable men in English football may soon find that goodwill will only get you so far in the job, even during the holiday season. Between injuries, suspensions, underperformers, unruly players and abject performances, Steve Bruce has had much to contend with. Swansea were never really under sufficient pressure in this fixture, as they managed a comfortable 1-0 victory, with Ki grabbing the early goal. Swansea look well placed to navigate the demands of the Christmas fixture list, Hull are a long way off the mark.
PlayON MoM: Ki – 2,225 pts
Key Stat: This was the first game in five where Bony didn’t contribute with a goal or assist.
QPR 3-2 West Brom
Charlie Austin has been one of the veritable success stories of this campaign. A Premier League Rocky, he was released by Reading before climbing the ranks of Kintbury Rangers, Hungerford Town, Poole Town, Swindon, Burnley and now QPR to reach the Premier League summit. He netted a hat-trick here and was ultimately the difference between the sides. West Brom have cause for hope however, with the combination of Varela, Sessegnon and Ideye looking extremely promising. Varela, now fully fit, can expect to play a big part in the Baggies push for survival. With some favourable fixtures in the coming weeks, he could prove a welcome addition to any PlayON side.
PlayON MoM: Charlie Austin- 4,675 pts
Key Stat: Austin has been directly involved in 65% of all of QPR’s goals this season.
Southampton 3-0 Everton
Southampton have fired themselves back into winning ways after four straight league defeats. Everton meanwhile sink further into a winter depression. The Toffees are far from the streamlined prospect many envisaged at the start of the season. Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley in particular failed to live up to billing in this fixture, with the former scoring at the wrong end to top it off. Hosting Stoke in Gameweek 18, Roberto Martinez will be hoping for an appropriate response from all concerned.
PlayON MoM: Yoshida- 2,220 pts
Key Stat: Seven of Pelle’s eight goals this season have been scored at home.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Burnley
Burnley proved once more that they are no slouches when squaring up against the big boys, but ultimately they’ll have to take heart in this narrow defeat. It took a thunderbolt strike from Erik Lamela to snatch the victory for the hosts and Mauricio Pochettino will be looking for more of the same from his countryman in the coming games. Spurs are still struggling for consistency at times but will expect nothing less than a comprehensive victory against Leicester on Boxing Day.
PlayON MoM: Lamela- 2,350 pts
Key Stat: Burnley have conceded the most headed goals in the league with ten in total.
West Ham 2-0 Leicester
Leicester remain rooted to the foot of the table at the most dreaded time of year. Everybody knows the omens, the question is can Leicester trump the impending doom of relegation as we move into the new year. On this showing it would appear unlikely. West Ham dominated the game and it was no surprise that form men Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing were central to the result. If West Ham belong at the top end of the Premier League, they’ll have to prove it against Chelsea and Arsenal in the coming two fixtures. A tough ask.
PlayON MoM: Carroll- 1,850 pts
Key Stat: With 27 deliveries per game, West Ham are the most cross-happy team in the league.
Newcastle 0-1 Sunderland
The spoils of the Tyne-Wear derby ultimately went to Gus Poyet’s side as Adam Johnson snatched the winner at the eleventh hour. The game served as yet another example of Sunderland’s newfound solidity at the back. Even with a re-jigged backline and John O’Shea shunted to left-back, they kept the oddly blunt Newcastle attack at bay. Newcastle have a decidedly harder upcoming fixture list when compared to their closest rivals. With Manchester United and Everton due at St. James’ Park over Christmas, Newcastle have it all to do.
PlayON MoM: Johnson- 1,750 pts
Key Stat: Pantilimon has the best shots to save ratio in the league with 82%.
Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal
This was a haphazard display from both teams, who were at times very evenly matched in their ineptitude. Liverpool’s failure to convert chances appears to be the recurring theme as Daniel Sturridge remains sidelined. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s top performers in recent weeks -Sanchez and Cazorla- were strangely ineffective for large portions of the game, though the latter eventually did turn provider. Liverpool can take confidence from the combination of Coutinho, Markovic, Lallana and Sterling, if they remain as the preferred front four, they could prove extremely effective.
PlayON MoM: Coutinho- 2,150 pts
Key Stat: Olivier Giroud was the most picked player by PlayON users, with 48.4% selecting him.
Stoke 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea sit top of the tree at Christmas following an impressive display against a talented but heavy handed Stoke side. The primary concern going forward will be the fitness of starman, Eden Hazard. The Belgian was excellent throughout but was cut out of the game by Jonathon Walters. He now looks almost certain to miss the clash with West Ham in Gameweek 18. It is fitting however, that Chelsea’s goals were scored by Cesc Fabregas and John Terry, two players who have been absolute rocks for the Blues this season.
PlayON MoM: Fabregas- 2,525 pts
Key Stat: Eden Hazard has completed more successful dribbles than any other player in the league.