Sunday's remaining fixture list for Game Week 23:
There was certainly no shortage of excitement yesterday, with Liverpool's crazy 5-4 victory at Norwich standing out with goals, goals, goals, including one by each team in stoppage time. Nine goals from 12 shots on target, now that's efficiency! (Or atrocious defense.) Anybody who picked Roberto Firmino, Wes Hoolahan, James Milner or a shirtless Adam Lallana for their fantasy teams surely was flashing a toothy grin, while those rolling with Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Declan Rudd or the like were all frowns. Was anybody bold enough to go with Steven Naismith who scored on his Canaries' debut after transferring from Everton?
After five successive times being shut out, Crystal Palace finally managed to score! Unfortunately, it came rather anticlimactically via a Spurs own goal. After that, it was only a matter of time for Tottenham to go ahead and pull away at Selhurst Park, peppering Wayne Hennessey's goal with 24 shots (11 on target) for the game and nabbing three second half scores, including a masterful goal of the year candidate from Dele Alli, who also contributed an assist. Harry Kane, meanwhile, scored for the second straight game (and the 12th time in his past 14 games), keeping plenty of owners happy.
Elsewhere, Jamie Vardy got back on track with his first goal following six straight scoreless efforts, while struggling Riyad Mahrez (at least there wasn't a penalty kick, right?) contributed an assist as Leicester City cruised to a 3-0 home win over listless Stoke City; all goals came after the injury exit of Ryan Shawcross. Kasper Schmeichel, Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson continued to deliver for their fantasy owners with the team's fourth clean sheet in the past five games. This comes after notching only three in their first 18 games.
Speaking of clean sheets, visiting Southampton notched its third straight (all with keeper Fraser Forster following his injury return) thanks to a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, which was shut out for the eighth time this season! These are decidedly not the mesmerizing Red Devils of years gone by with David Beckham, Andy Cole, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Not a bad time for Jose Mourinho to indicate interest in the job currently presided over by Louis Van Gaal. Speaking of heroics from new incoming transfers, was anybody bold enough to add Charlie Austin?
Like Vardy, Watford's Odion Ighalo scored after a goalless drought (five games), also contributing a slapdash assist for defender Craig Cathcart's game winner before Newcastle defender Jamaal Lescelles headed past Heurelho Gomes to make things interesting. My oh my, two out of three goals scored by defenders, pass me the vapors!
Meanwhile, Sunderland and Bourmenouth played to a tense, 1-1 draw. Artur Boruc and Vito Mannone were both busy making four saves each, but neither could manage a clean sheet as defender Patrick Van Aanholt and newcomer Benik Afobe each netted for the second straight game. Who had those players in their teams?
West Brom and Aston Villa both managed clean sheets thanks to a nil-nil snoozer. Displacing Boaz Myhill, Ben Foster played his first game since last March following a long injury layoff, while Mark Bunn has now allowed only one goal total in three games since replacing Brad Guzan. Of course, as for Bunn, it's generally fairly easy to record a clean sheet when you don't have to make any saves. Even Manchester United managed one shot on target for the dear home fans!
Joining Firmino, West Ham's Enner Valencia and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero notched braces in their 2-2 draw, with Joe Hart sporting a highlight-worthy save of Dimitri Payet's free kick that looked destined for the upper corner of the net. Things were quiet for fantasy favorites Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Yaya Toure, as Kun accounted for all three of the Citizens' SOTs and both goals were unassisted.
I don't know about you, but today is big for me. I've got four players going in my starting line-up for Official BPL fantasy (Bellerin, Ozil, Baines and captain Lukaku), two in Fantrax (Baines and Lukaku) and four in Togga Perfect XI (Baines, Barkley, Lukaku and Ozil). Obviously I'm looking for the Gunners to avenge the 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge (think the referees will have all eyes on Diego Costa?) and with Everton v. Swansea being my staff pick you know I am expecting to see plenty of goals there, especially for the Toffees.
Do you expect comfortable victories from the home sides or is there a surprise or two in the works? Will Arsenal regain first place from Leicester City or can Chelsea take the three points and climb up to...wait for it...13th place? Is Everton set to jump into the top half of the table or can Swansea add some distance for itself outside of the relegation zone? Will Lukaku follow the leads of Ighalo and Vardy by ending his three game goalless mini-drought, or will he instead don his Troll horns? Which players are you rooting for and against? Join in the discussion!