Yaya Toure grabs a goal and assist upon his return from a groin injury as City end Palace’s winning run. A much-changed Chelsea blow the title race wide open with a resilient rearguard display at Anfield, whilst Connor Wickham bags a brace as Sunderland sweep aside Cardiff to climb out of the bottom three:
Toure Back in the Points
The Ivorian played a part in both City’s goals as Manuel Pellegrini’s side eased past Palace at Selhurst Park. Sold by over 500, 000 Fantasy Premier League managers after limping out of the first match of City’s double Gameweek 34, Toure’s immediate impact in yesterday’s vital win is set to get the bandwagon back underway ahead of next week’s pair of fixtures. Now down to 10.1, he faces Everton and Villa before a final day home encounter with West Ham, and with City’s bid for the title now firmly back in their own hands, we can expect Pellegrini to go on the attack as he looks to overhaul Liverpool at the summit.
Samir Nasri also chipped in with an assist to keep his tally ticking over. The Frenchman now has two goals and four assists in his last eight, but despite his consistent displays, some owners may still be eyeing up a swap for Toure – the latter’s 31-point haul in double Gameweek 31 is a reminder of his capabilities, whilst Nasri, by comparison, has managed just two sets of double figures all season.
Pellegrini Keeps Faith in a 4-4-2
Manuel Pellegrini continued with a two-man frontline for the trip to Selhurst Park as City ended the hosts’ five-match winning run. Edin Dzeko was handed the chance to partner Sergio Aguero once again, and whilst the latter drew a rare blank before being withdrawn on 78 minutes, the Bosnian justified his manager’s decision by scoring for the first time in four appearances. With Alvaro Negredo still struggling for form, Dzeko has now started each of the last two alongside Aguero and seems likely to retain his start for the double – priced at just 7.1, his 15% of owners may be persuaded to hold after yesterday’s impressive showing, though there’s no doubt Aguero and Toure will be the two main names on shopping lists this week.
Wickham the Black Cats’ Talisman
A brace from Connor Wickham took his tally to five goals in the last three Gameweeks as Sunderland’s great escape picked up pace. With an assist and maximum bonus also accrued in the 4-0 win over Cardiff, Wickham has now delivered 37 points in his last trio of appearances, and with a price tag of just 4.6, his exploits look certain to earn him plenty of new owners before next weekend’s double Gameweek deadline. Granted, the weekend trip to United is far from straightforward, but with a midweek home clash against West Brom and a Stadium of Light showdown against Swansea on the final day of the season, Wickham looks likely to play a major part in the last few fixtures for Gus Poyet’s side.
Borini and Giaccherini also in the Points
The Italian duo both chipped in with a goal and assist apiece in the rout. Borini benefitted from penalty duties for the second match in succession, having also slotted home a spot-kick in the win at Chelsea – priced at 6.2 and fielded on the left, though, he remains less likely to pick up new owners due to Wickham’s cheaper price tag and central role. Giaccherini’s contribution off the bench may be somewhat disconcerting for Adam Johnson owners ahead of the double, however. The latter served up a fifth successive blank yesterday, whilst Giacherrini has now produced a goal and three assists in three brief sub appearances – his displays may just persuade Poyet he is worthy of a starting berth, given Johnson’s comparative lack of form.
Bardsley on the Bench
Suspended for the previous two matches, the Black Cats full-back seems to have fallen down the pecking order after being handed a spot on the bench yesterday. Poyet opted for an unchanged defence and retained Santiago Vergini on the right of the back-four as Sunderland earned a first clean sheet since Gameweek 30. With an average of 4.6 points per game, Vito Mannone remains the best bet for those looking to invest in the Black Cats’ backline ahead of the double, though Marcos Alonso’s attacking threat is also an option – the 4.5-priced Spaniard looks the likeliest defender to deliver the points in light of Bardsley’s omission.
Jose Rings the Changes as Blues Shock Anfield
Earlier in the week, the Chelsea boss threatened to make sweeping changes to his starting XI for yesterday’s clash, and he was true to his word. With the second leg of the Champions League semi-final clash against Atletico Madrid now only two days away, Jose Mourinho made seven alterations to his line-up, drafting in previously peripheral figures such as Tomas Kalas, John Obi-Mikel and Ashley Cole in a 4-3-3 formation. Despite the loss of Petr Cech and John Terry to injury, Mourinho dropped Gary Cahill to the bench yet still managed to defy the odds with a counter-attacking masterclass as Chelsea served up their seventeenth shut-out of the season. Those holding the Blues main assets will be somewhat worried by yesterday’s line-up, though – if the London club progress to the Champions League Final, Mourinho – whose side now see out the season with games against Norwich and Cardiff – could well be set to continue with his rotation policy in light of yesterday’s success.
Liverpool Stutter as Sturridge Returns
The Reds’ 11-match winning streak came crashing to an end as Luis Suarez and co failed to break down the Chelsea defensive wall. Cahill’s late introduction saw Mourinho switch to a five-man backline, and with no way through, Liverpool’s title chances were dealt a huge blow as Demba Ba and former Brendan Rodgers target Willian grabbed the goals. Daniel Sturridge was fit enough only for a second-half sub role after a recovering from a recent hamstring problem and the England star looks likely to return to the starting line-up for next weekend’s crucial trip to Selhurst Park – a move to the midfield diamond looks on the cards as the Merseysiders attempt to re-establish their position at the summit after yesterday’s morale-sapping display.