Gameweek 27 Round-up
For the second week running Gareth Bale grabbed the headlines in the previous round of Premier League fixtures, picking up the best WhoScored rating (a perfect 10) following another match winning brace against West Ham. The likes of Cazorla, who also netted twice, Rafael, Hangeland, Figueroa and Silva also picked up a rating in excess of 9.
Bale, once again, had the most shots in the last gameweek (10), with 6 on target representing a record in a single game in the league this season. Meanwhile, David Silva’s tally of 8 key passes was the most of the weekend, pipping Bale this time, who, along with Beausejour, registered 6.
Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon ended a run of 11 games without a goal and also completed a league high for the week of 6 successful dribbles against West Brom, leading a young English trio of Wilshere, Townsend and Lowton on 4. Meanwhile, in a more defensive sense, while last week’s tip Sissoko continued to steal the limelight at St. James’ Park, compatriot Mathieu Debuchy completed a gameweek high of 7 tackles.
Gameweek 28 Suggested XI
The meeting between Sunderland and Fulham may not be a classic this weekend, with 3 of the last 6 ending in 0-0 draws, including two of their last three encounters at the Stadium of Light. The visitors have only scored 3 goals in their last 6 away games, and none in their last two, while Simon Mignolet has kept 4 clean sheets in his last 6 home games.
Although Southampton may well have leaked goals under Pochettino in recent weeks they host a QPR side that have been dire in front of goal this season. After an initial flurry of 5 goals in 3 games shortly after Redknapp took over, Rangers have scored just 4 in their last 10 league matches. Summer signing Clyne has 3 assists this season, with only 4 defenders able to beat that figure.
Picking United players may well be somewhat of a gamble this week with Ferguson likely to rotate against Norwich with Tuesday's second leg against Real Madrid in mind. The chances are that Ferdinand and Evans will keep their places in Europe, meaning they may be rested and Smalling could be in with a chance. United have the best defensive record in the last 6 games (3 conceded), with Norwich only netting 3 themselves in that time.
Everton will be strong favourites to bounce back from defeat last weekend when they host Reading on Saturday, with the Royals without first choice striker Pavel Pogrebnyak. No side have lost fewer home games than the Toffees (1), while McDermott's men have the worst away record in the league (5 points). If they can ensure that they don't crumble late on in this one, the hosts should be comfortable.
City will be very confident of a result when they travel to Villa and won't fear the hosts attack too much having conceded just once in their last 4 league matches against the Midlands outfit. The home side haven't scored a league goal in open play at Villa Park since November and young Serbian Nastasic continues to impress, even in the absence of Vincent Kompany.
There is another element of risk about this choice from United but were Nani to start against Norwich, as he did against QPR last time out, the game may well play into his hands. The WhoScored match forecast suggests that the hosts will score from a wing play situation and a piece of individual skill, and the Portuguese will hope to add to his tally of goals (1) and assists (2) to play himself into contention for midweek.
The Spaniard isn't as glamourous as the rest of the midfield here but has been chosen due to the fact that Man City are likely to score from a set piece situation at Villa Park. Of Premier League players to feature at least 10 times this season Garcia ranks 13th for headed attempts per game (0.56) - the most of any City player - and has two goals from such efforts already thus far.
Again looking to the WhoScored match forecast for inspiration, we've chosen Chelsea's Juan Mata with the Blues deemed 'very likely' to score from a direct free-kick. Only Robert Snodgrass has more than Mata's two in that regard and the Chelsea man has scored in 3 of his last 4 Premier League starts. If one man can relieve the pressure on Benitez this weekend it may be his compatriot.
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to who will win the North London derby, goals can generally be assured. With that in mind it is almost impossible to overlook Gareth Bale right now, particularly as Spurs are tipped to score from a fast break in the match forecast. The Welshman has 11 goals in his last 10 games in all competitions and could be the decider come Sunday.
The Saints will go into the game this weekend knowing that victory may take them a huge step closer to safety, with the 3 sides below them other than QPR facing Liverpool, City and Everton. They’ll be looking to in-form talisman Rickie Lambert to seal the win with the striker having netted in 6 of his last 10 league matches, and the Saints are tipped to score through individual skill and an opposition error.
Completing our XI this week is Liverpool’s star man Luis Suarez, whose side make the trip to Wigan on Saturday. It’s fair to say that you never really know what you’re going to get from the Latics, but the same can be said for the Uruguayan, who sparkled against Swansea last time out. The striker has 3 goals in his last 2 games against Wigan, and with Liverpool backed to score via a piece of individual skill and a long shot, one need look no further.