Super 8 Fantasy News

[EPL] MatchWeek 31 – Five Gamechangers

Just five matches due to FA Cup commitments, but title hopefuls Liverpool and top-four chasers Chelsea will still be in action. Half the matches in MW31 of the Premier League have been postponed and Liverpool have an opportunity to return to the top of the table on Sunday if they come away from Fulham with a win. With leaders Manchester City in FA Cup action this weekend, the Reds would go two points clear again in their to-and-fro tussle at the top.

The Everton Chelsea game is probably the highlight, but the likes of Newcastle United, Leicester City and West Ham United will be in action on Saturday before that. 

In breaking news, speculation about Eden Hazard’s future at Stamford Bridge increased over the last 24 hours as his hero Zinedine Zidane returned to Real Madrid to take over as manager at the Bernabeu for the second time.

Hazard, still to sign the £300,000 a week contract that Chelsea offered him last year, has made no secret of his desire to go to Real, and has said he has made his mind up about his future.

The chance that Jose Mourinho might return to Real to take over as manager after the sacking of Santiago Solari on Monday, was vetoed as the Spanish giant’s players rejected the idea of the Special One, according to former president Ramon Calderon.

If there was any doubt regarding Hazard’s importance to the Blues, the Belgian reminded everyone with an excellent solo goal that salvaged a late draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers in MW30.

That strike took his total production tally up to a career-best in the Premier League, highlighting how good he’s been this season.

Liverpool’s Sunday visit to Fulham falls in between key contests against Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur, and if Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is smart, he’ll use the opportunity to rest his starters for the season’s stretch run.

The Reds trail Manchester City by a single point in the standings.

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Points Table 

MatchWeek 30: What we learned
Newcastle United match feat last achieved in 2013 plus other must-know stats from the weekend matches

Crystal Palace 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Anthony Knockaert’s goal was Brighton’s first from outside the box in the Premier League this season
Cardiff City 2-0 West Ham United
Cardiff secured their first PL win over West Ham and the two-goal margin was the fourth in a row in this fixture
Huddersfield Town 0-1 AFC Bournemouth
Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have combined for nine Premier League goals this season, the highest combination in this season’s Premier League
Leicester City vs Fulham
Three of James Maddison’s last four Premier League assists have been provided to Jamie Vardy
Newcastle United 3-2 Everton
Newcastle United came from two goals down to win a Premier League match for the first time since October 2003 v Fulham
Southampton 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Only Matt Le Tissier, with seven, has more direct free-kick goals for Southampton in the Premier League than James Ward-Prowse’s four
Manchester City 3-1 Watford
Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick in 13 minutes and 12 seconds is the fastest in the Premier League since Romelu Lukaku scored one for Everton v Sunderland in 11 minutes and 37 seconds in September 2016
Liverpool 4-2 Burnley
Liverpool’s tally of 73 points from their opening 30 league matches this season is their joint-best ever total at this stage of a league campaign
Chelsea 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Eden Hazard’s goal was his 50th in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea, making him the third player to reach that mark after Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba
Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United
Arsenal have won their last nine Premier League home matches, their joint-longest winning run at Emirates Stadium within a single season, along with 2014-15

MatchWeek31 Stats: Hazard to break Goodison hoodoo?
Chelsea playmaker hoping it will be seventh time lucky at Everton, plus all the key stats from MatchWeek 31

AFC Bournemouth vs Newcastle
Only against Swansea City has Salomon Rondon scored more PL goals than he has against the Cherries, who have conceded three times to the Venezuelan striker

Burnley vs Crystal Palace
Ashley Barnes has scored in each of his last three PL home matches. No Burnley player has ever scored in four in a row at Turf Moor

West Ham vs Huddersfield
West Ham United are looking to win a third consecutive PL match at London Stadium for the first time.

Fulham vs Liverpool
Mohamed Salah has had a hand in 12 goals in his last eight PL appearances against promoted sides, producing six goals and six assists

Everton vs Chelsea
At no ground has Chelsea’s Eden Hazard played more PL matches without scoring than at Goodison Park, where he is seeking his first goal at the seventh attempt on Sunday  Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review
Bournemouth vs Newcastle
The Cherries snapped a worrying losing streak against the 20th-placed Huddersfield last week and are offered a great opportunity to go on with the job when they host Newcastle. Having lost to West Ham, Newcastle did what they do best and beat a team that is better than them (Everton) last weekend.

Burnley vs Leicester
Not exactly an inspiring start to the matchday, but we’re probably set for a competitive meeting between Burnley and Leicester? The Foxes recorded a much-needed win last weekend, but beating Fulham is the sort of form that stands up. In saying that, Burnley have fallen less than a win above the drop zone and are faced with the prospect of four-consecutive losses.

West Ham vs Huddersfield
Typically, West Ham could not be trusted when they travelled to Cardiff last week and that puts a massive question mark over their ability to beat another cellar dweller this week. Huddersfield Town’s 1-0 win for the ages over Wolves is now a distant memory and foam domes of Carling are surely the only thing that they are thinking about. They’ve got a Championship side to build and a win over West Ham could secure contracts! They will not be winning.

Fulham vs Liverpool
Liverpool’s choke continues when they travel to London to take on Fulham. Jokes aside, imagine if this match was where the nail was actually drilled into their coffin? The scenes on both sides would be so good. Fulham have struggled to convert their chances all season and it’s tough imaging them worrying the league’s sturdiest defence.

Everton vs Chelsea
This is set to be the match of the half-strength round and there is plenty of value around both clubs in the market. They scraped past Fulham and drew with Wolves and that would tend to suggest that Chelsea would need to improve noticeably to see off Everton at Goodison Park, but the Toffees’ job is pretty much done after holding Liverpool to a draw and robbing them of top spot.

Chelsea can crank up the heat in the Premier League’s top four race with Maurizio Sarri’s revived side having turned a corner with back-to-back wins against London rivals Tottenham and Fulham.

But they nearly came unstuck in a big way against Wolves at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, needing an injury time goal from Eden Hazard to salvage a point.

With Manchester United in FA Cup action and Arsenal putting their feet up, however, the Blues will go level on points with the fourth-placed Gunners if they can snaffle all three points on Merseyside.

Everton could be forgiven for wishing this season was done and dusted already. A thoroughly inconsistent campaign has left them mired in mid-table.

And the Toffees will really have felt like clocking off until August last weekend after passing up a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Newcastle.

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