‘I used to manage Liverpool you know, Luis. Well, for a bit.’
With Luis Suarez having been voted the PFA Player of the Year and the title race entering the home straight, it’s certainly awards season in the Premier League.
But just who have been the best, worst, brightest and dimmest in the division? @Mark_Jones86 puts on his best tux and gets ready to dish out the gongs.
Best Game: There have been a couple of 6-3s, with Liverpool and Manchester City coming out as the victors of both, but for the best game you have to look at the meeting between the sides at Anfield earlier this month, which the Reds won 3-2.
It had everything. One of Liverpool’s trademark fast starts, City’s quality seeing them roar back into the game and then an error from the visiting captain which swung the match and title race in Liverpool’s favour, at least until a more recent mistake from the other captain saw it go back the other way.
Worst Game: Back in August no-one knew quite how bad Manchester United were going to be under David Moyes, and so Jose Mourinho thought he was being really, really ball-achingly clever when his Chelsea side turned up at Old Trafford, opted to play no forwards and bored his way to a goalless draw.
Best Player: During one four-game spell in December, Luis Suarez scored 10 goals. Ten in four. That’s ridiculous.
By far and away the best footballer in the Premier League, Suarez has been sensational this season. Ill-feeling and a morbid fascination in him may remain from some, but it’s called Player of the Year for a reason.
Best Young Player: How young is young? Eden Hazard and Daniel Sturridge were both brilliant but they are 23 and 24 respectively, so let’s go for Luke Shaw. Still only 18 and now considered good enough for one of those ridiculously over-priced transfers that English players specialise in.
Best Goal: A worthy late entry here from Jonjo Shelvey, and whilst Wayne Rooney’s goal at West Ham was truly special, the fact that goalkeeper Adrian was flapping around like a beached seal somewhat ruined it.
No, for sheer bloody-minded Jeeeeeesus Christ-ness its Norwich City’s Alex Tettey, with the type of goal that Norwich City’s Alex Tettey shouldn’t be scoring.
Luis Suarez’s best goal: Probably the third of his four against Norwich in December. The control, the flick, the unstoppable blast. Maybe that’s where Tettey got it from.
Best Own Goal: Nice try Everton, but John Terry was always going to clinch this award for his glancing header against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. It was the goal which ensured that Palace would improbably stay in the Premier League and that Chelsea probably wouldn’t win it.
Best Manager: Brendan Rodgers. Less soundbites, more scoring.
Worst Manager: Look Moyesy, you’ve won something! *waves* Sorry Pardew.
The bit where I state how well Tony Pulis did at Crystal Palace: Tony Pulis did incredibly well at Crystal Palace, and is finally getting the credit he deserved at Stoke. London bias?
Worst refereeing decision: Not so much Andre Marriner’s genuine error in mistaking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Kieran Gibbs as a sea of red and white shirted Arsenal players surrounded him at Chelsea, but more the fact that Marriner didn’t sprint down the Stamford Bridge tunnel, grab Gibbs, haul him back on and dismiss Chamberlain once he’d learned of his error.
Do you not know what people are like on Twitter, Andre?!
Alternative, uncool team of the season: David Marshall, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Joel Ward, Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, Jordan Henderson, Samir Nasri, Jason Puncheon, Wilfried Bony.
Best Signing: Romelu Lukaku was an unused Chelsea substitute in that aforementioned bore draw at Old Trafford, before Mourinho loaned him to Everton and then watched on as his forwards failed to hit several barn doors for much of the season. Meanwhile, the big Belgian was brilliant at Goodison.
Worst Signing: Roberto Soldado, Marouane Fellaini and Ricky van Wolfswinkel can rest easy, because we’re a little bit concerned that Tottenham might actually have killed the £30m Erik Lamela.
Actually lads, do you mind forming a search party? You’re not doing anything else.
Surprise of the season: Liverpool. Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool.
After years of in-fighting, grave off-field errors and mistakes at every turn, the Reds reinvented themselves as the Premier League’s great entertainers. Every match was an event. It might not be enough to secure league titles until they can back it up defensively, but it’s going to be fun watching them try.
Funniest Manchester United game: Loads to choose from here, but strangely we’re not even going to go for a defeat.
Fulham had barely ever scored a goal north of the Watford Gap until they went to Old Trafford in February, took the lead and then pinched a point through Darren Bent in stoppage time just as the ‘Moyes turns the corner’ headlines were being written.
He’d merely found another cul-de-sac.
The Arsene Wenger award for repeating the same season over and over again, although at least this time he’ll probably win the FA Cup, which will finally bring an end to that long trophy drought and give an admirably hard-working, respectable figure something to enjoy, although he must still have nightmares about the league collapse, I mean, they were top of the league before they went to Liverpool in early February and got battered 5-1, I hope he doesn’t leave though, because deep down I like him and wish him well: Arsene Wenger.
Yaya Toure rampaging run of the season: The one against Palace the other day? Or the one against, er… you know? And that other one. He does it every week. What a player.
Defining moment of the season: If Liverpool win the league then it’ll be Philippe Coutinho’s winner against Manchester City, but if, as now seems likely, they don’t then of course it is Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea which allowed Demba Ba to score.
It was a moment in time which ensures that, no matter how hard you work, how much you sacrifice, how much you long for success for your team, your fans and your city, you are still susceptible to the crazy storylines which run throughout football.
After the drama of last weekend, Liverpool’s title challenge rolls on to Norfolk this time around, and there’ll be at least one man who’ll be pleased it does.
Luis Suarez (£13.3m) has scored a staggering 11 goals in his last four matches against the Canaries, including hat-tricks on his only previous two visits to Carrow Road and four goals against the same opposition at Anfield in December.
The Uruguayan’s often jaw-dropping goalscoring rate might not be at the same level it has often been at the moment, with just one strike in his last four games, but as the Reds chase what would be a remarkable title success he is certain to be determined to fire them there.
You could argue that Suarez is fortunate to be facing Norwich at all after narrowly escaping a red card against Manchester City, but he could be coming up against them without his strike partner Daniel Sturridge (£10.4m) in tow after the forward limped off in the same game.
At the time of writing the extent of Sturridge’s injury isn’t known, but if he doesn’t play then that will only add extra attacking responsibility to the shoulders of Philippe Coutinho (£8.5m) and Raheem Sterling (£5.7m), but as both have shown in recent weeks they are more than capable of handling the pressure.
One man who definitely won’t be playing for Liverpool is the suspended Jordan Henderson (£6.5m), with his three-game ban for the red card picked up against City now ruling him out for until the final game of the season.
Speaking of City, they can’t be counted out of the title race at all just yet, especially now they’ve got Sergio Aguero (£12.2m) back from injury, a return which has soften the blow of losing the injured Yaya Toure (£10.5m) for a couple of games.
As they showed at Anfield though, the inspiration behind all of their good work at the moment is the brilliant David Silva (£9.9m), a player who has really found his form in the closing weeks of the season and one who should really have a higher Fantasy ownership percentage than 14%.
He’ll be vital as City host West Brom on Monday night in a match they simply have to win to stay in the title race, whilst Chelsea also face a similar must-win (and probably will win) match at home to Sunderland on Saturday.
As usual, the attention is on Chelsea’s forwards ahead of the contest, with that baton now passed to Demba Ba (£7.4m) following his crucial goals against Paris-Saint Germain and Swansea.
Elsewhere, perhaps the game of the weekend sees David Moyes return to Goodison Park with Manchester United, a match which Everton will fancy their chances in as they continue to chase the Champions League.
Young defender John Stones (£4.2m) has kept his place in the team despite the return to fitness of Phil Jagielka, whilst Steven Naismith (£4.7m) continues to make his presence felt upfront. United remain largely friendless in the Fantasy game, although at least Juan Mata (£9.1m) has started to shine.
Cardiff’s latest attempt at climbing out of trouble sees them host Stoke in what is simply a must-win game, and whilst Peter Odemwingie (£5.5m) will fancy getting one over the club he started the season at, the hosts will be looking to Jordon Mutch (£5.0m) to inspire them to a much-needed three points.
Fulham, another club in relegation trouble, may have picked up important points lately through the goals of Hugo Rodallega (£5.0m), but they face a tough visit to a Tottenham side who will be inspired by the recent performances of Christian Eriksen (£6.8m).
You’ll have had your eye on it for a while, but Gameweek 31 looks like one to separate the men and the women from the boys and the girls.
Ten teams face two matches over the next week, and the points on offer in them could be the difference between a strong finish to your season or petering out amongst the also-rans.
In honour of the Double Gameweek, we’ve taken a look at all 10 teams and highlighted players who you should consider for your teams.
Off we go:
Arsenal (Chelsea away, Swansea home)
The opening game is obviously the tougher one here, especially given Chelsea’s strong defensive record at home. Tomas Rosicky (£5.5m) impressed in the North London derby, but if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.6m) had sharpened up his finishing skills there the win could have been more emphatic. With the Gunners’ defence and attack set for a tough game at Stamford Bridge, the England man could be the way to go.
Swansea (Everton away, Arsenal away)
Undoubtedly dealt the toughest hand in Gameweek 31, Swansea’s players don’t really appeal at all. If you had to pick one, Michu (£8.4m) returned for 28 minutes in the West Brom game and should feature again.
Manchester United (West Ham away, Manchester City home)
After going from bad to worse against Liverpool, Manchester United face another tough couple of matches. No-one at the club is in any sort of form at all, and so with a daunting meeting with rivals City on the horizon not to mention a tough examination at West Ham, their players might be best avoided. Adnan Januzaj (£4.9m) remains the best value though.
Manchester City (Fulham home, Manchester United away)
The Fulham game certainly offers up the potential for another City scorefest, and to be honest the trip to Old Trafford does too. David Silva (£9.2m) got an all-too-rare goal at Hull, but Samir Nasri (£8.1m) is more likely to find the net, whilst Edin Dzeko (£6.7m) did so last weekend and could be the one to profit if Sergio Aguero’s lack of fitness and Alvaro Negredo’s poor form continues.
Newcastle (Crystal Palace home, Everton home)
It’s a pity that Loic Remy is injured as these games would have been perfect for him, but instead it looks like being Luuk de Jong (£5.9m) who’ll lead the line for the Magpies. Fabricio Coloccini (£4.8m) will be important as the hosts seek to keep things tight at St James’s Park, but the value could be with Moussa Sissoko (£5.8m) as he continues in a slightly more advanced midfield position to the one he adopted in the first half of the season.
Everton (Swansea home, Newcastle away)
Seamus Coleman (£6.7m) got his customary goal late on in the Cardiff win and the Irishman remains a must-pick for your team, even if Everton have shipped goals away lately. Kevin Mirallas (£7.5m) has gone off the boil recently and whilst Gerard Deulofeu (£5.4m) promises much he’s only completed 90 minutes once all season. All of which points emphatically to Romelu Lukaku (£8.5m).
West Ham (Manchester United home, Hull home)
Andy Carroll (£7.1m) scored his first goal of the season against Stoke last time out, and the forward is a great differential choice here. The former Newcastle and Liverpool forward knows that he’s in the last chance saloon with regards to selection for the World Cup, and he’ll be desperate to impress in front of the television cameras against a dodgy Manchester United defence on Saturday night. Then on Wednesday its Hull at home.
Hull (West Brom home, West Ham away)
Curtis Davies (£4.7m) has been in the goals recently and looks a good shout as a cheap defender for your team, but all of Hull’s power lies with the attack. The club as a whole might have on eye on their upcoming FA Cup semi-final, but both Shane Long (£5.7m) and Nikica Jelavic (£6.7m) are cup-tied for that fixture, and the latter should be backed to fire against West Brom at least.
Liverpool (Cardiff away, Sunderland home)
The team on everyone’s lips at the moment looks to be the ones to back here. Daniel Sturridge’s (£10.5m) emphatic scoring run may have stalled, but that only seems to have started another one for Luis Suarez (£13.1m). The Uruguayan should be your captain this Gameweek but also look out for useful midfield contributions from Jordan Henderson (£6.4m), Raheem Sterling (£5.9m) and of course Steven Gerrard (£9.2m).
Sunderland (Norwich away, Liverpool away)
Getting anything from Anfield will be tough, especially given that forward Fabio Borini (£6.2m) will be unable to face his parent club. The Norwich game could be a different matter though, and whilst Adam Johnson (£6.5m) excites as a potential addition, midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng (£4.3m) is surprisingly cheap and useful if you need someone to pad out the squad.
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