Friday, 7 April 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 31

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 31

The 31st week of the Premier League action saw:

286 shots - most by Southampton = 25
31 goals - most by Hull City = 4
229 fouls - most by Everton = 18
37 bookings - most by Everton = 5
2 red cards - Miguel Britos for Watford, Ashley Williams for Everton
2 penalties - 1 scored (Ibrahimovic for Man United)

What a game! Hull came back and turned the game around against Middlesbrough in a cracking opening at the KCOM which saw four goals, a disallowed one and chances galore in just over half an hour. Oh, and an offside one that was given to make it 3-2 at half time. Crazy! Spurs did even better completing a sensational comeback with three goals in six minutes, two of them in stoppage time to deny Swansea a home win, a crucial result at both ends of the table.
Saints left it late to beat Palace, too, after Christian Benteke had given the visitors the lead at St Mary's. Bournemouth spoilt the show at Anfield in the dying minutes as well. It was goal madness in the last 5-10 minutes, the late dramas made my mobile overheat and me dizzy trying to track of all the updates on Wednesday night!

What a team! Old Trafford witnessed a rare embarrassment for David de Gea, Phil Jagielka cheekily netting an Everton corner off the outside of his eight boot, through the United keeper's legs to make it 0-1, nutmeg style. The Toffees keeper Joel Robles on the other hand(s) made some impressive saves keeping the Red Devils at bay before the break. Things heated up in the second half after Paul Pogba hit the crossbar and the home side looked more and more frustrated, all over the place. Zlatan Ibrahimović was denied an equaliser and correctly so as replays showed the Swede striker was offside.
Both sides had plenty of chances after that, Romelu Lukaku was better than at Anfield but not quite in his usual lethal form, wasting quite a few golden chances. And it ended up costing the visitors. The last-minute penalty and sending off of Ashley Williams for a blatant handball saved the match and point for the home side, Ibrahimovic converting the spot-kick gratefully in the last minute of added time! Classic United! Deserved? I'm sure both bosses José Mourinho and Ronald Koeman will not agree, the Portuguese boss continuing his record run of league draws (12, most since 1998-99 when they drew 13) and United's worst home record win percentage of 37.5% since 1973-4 (33%). Você pode ser orgulhoso!

What a man! Super-sub Marc Albrighton set up both Leicester goals in the second half against Sunderland, first sub Islam Slimani, then Jamie Vardy a few minutes later to complete the perfect win and run. The masterful changes made by Craig Shakespeare produced his sixth consecutive win in all competitions, fifth in the league, surely keeping the champions safe from the drop now, whilst Sunderland remain rock-bottom, having not scored in two months.
Both keepers did not have a very good night at Stamford Bridge, Willy Caballero letting Eden Hazard's shot in with not much of an effort to stretch and save, whilst Thibaut Courtois' clearance/pass back even made me cringe and I'm not a Chelsea fan, handing Sergio Agüero the equaliser after gloving away David Silva's attempt straight to the Argentine. Caballero tried to make up for it with a penalty save, but handed the ball straight back to Hazard who gratefully netted the rebound.
City had plenty of chances to spoil the Londoners' show after that, and keep the title race at list a little bit open, but just couldn't find the back of the net again, miss after miss, John Stones missing the easiest sitter late on. It was the first time Pep Guardiola has been beaten home and away in his managerial career. I'm sure Antonio Conte is very happy about just that. Not the fact that his side is seven points clear at the top with eight games remaining. Na. Not at all.

What a goal! M'Baye Niang's diagonal curling shot into the top right corner of the net that opened the scoring for Watford against West Brom was a sweet strike. Much in contrast to that was Georginio Wijnaldum's back pass into nowhere handing Benik Afobe an easy goal, Bournemouth's first at Anfield in nearly half a century, serving a very sour taste to Liverpool.
And it got even worse, after Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi both scored tasty goals and thought they had turned the game around for the Reds, for Joshua King to spoil the show with a dramatic late equaliser that left LFC manager Jürgen Klopp sick in the stomach. Mesut Özil was the very unusual hero at the Emirates, scoring and providing to make sure Arsenal downed the Hammers and muted the critics. Not that there were many, there were a lot of empty seats. Say no more.

What the hell?! I think this is the most I've ever written in this blog. And that's just scratching the surface! As mentioned above, so much happened! So many goals! So many incidents! So many ifs, buts and what the... Hows?! Unpredictably awesome. See what next week will bring, after just a couple of days off. No rest for the wicked, ey?! ⚽👊⚽👊⚽

My Predictions - Actual Results
Burnley 0:0 Stoke - 1:0
Leicester 2:0 Sunderland - 2:0
Watford 0:0 West Brom - 2:0
Man United 2:1 Everton - 1:1
Arsenal 1:2 West Ham - 3:0
Hull City 2:0 Middlesbrough - 4:2
Southampton 1:0 Crystal Palace - 3:1
Swansea 1:3 Tottenham - 1:3
Chelsea 1:1 Man City - 2:1
Liverpool 2:1 Bournemouth - 2:2

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

All stats and pictures are taken from MOTD and BBC match reports.

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