Four Premier League matches that were scheduled to take place in Gameweek 32 were today officially postponed due to the clash with the FA Cup semi-finals on the same weekend.
The fixtures are:
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion
Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion
Southampton v Crystal Palace
There doesn’t seem to be any danger of there being a Blank Gameweek, however – a free midweek that follows Gameweek 32 is simply expected to accommodate those postponed matches.
Two other Premier League games that had previously been called off – Aston Villa v Everton and Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton – remain without a date.
FA CUP QUARTER-FINAL SCOUT NOTES
Another game, another Ilkay Gundogan (£6.1m) goal from in or around the opposition six-yard box.
The German popped up to put Manchester City in front after 84 minutes of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton, reacting in now trademark opportunistic fashion to nod in the rebound after a marauding Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) had struck the hosts’ crossbar.
Reassuringly deployed as a more adventurous ‘number eight’ rather than further back in the double-pivot (as was the case in the match against Southampton in Gameweek 27), Gundogan did pop up in some threatening positions on Merseyside – although his goal was his only attempt of the match.
Wingers Phil Foden (£6.1m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) dominated the shot count as Pep Guardiola’s latest round of rotation saw Joao Cancelo (£6.1m), John Stones (£5.3m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) drop to the bench.
The Belgian emerged as a late substitute to double City’s lead, racing clear to put the tie to bed.
Everton saw little of the ball but arguably had the better chances, with the Toffees a threat from set plays and Richarlison (£8.0m) again seeing more opportunities than strike partner Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m).
Budget FPL goalkeeper Joao Virginia (£4.3m) was between the posts but Carlo Ancelotti expects both Robin Olsen (£4.5m) and Jordan Pickford (£4.8m), as well as winger James Rodriguez (£7.7m), to be fit after the international break.
Kelechi Iheanacho‘s (£5.7m) blistering form continued as he scored a brace in Leicester City’s 3-1 win over Manchester United.
The Nigerian showed predatory instincts to pounce on a Fred (£5.3m) error to break the deadlock before rounding off the scoring when nodding in a Marc Albrighton (£5.2m) free-kick.
Iheanacho also claimed the assist for Youri Tielemans‘ (£6.5m) effort and would have had another to his name had strike partner Jamie Vardy (£10.1m), who has scored just once in 2021, not spurned a one-on-one chance in the second half.
Brendan Rodgers said of his in-form forward, who now has nine goals in as many games:
You see his confidence now. He’s at the top of his game. It’s a different structure [up front]. Kelechi is probably best with someone up there with him. Those two are working very well.
James Maddison‘s (£7.1m) impending return needn’t be a worry for Iheanacho’s owners in FPL, as it’ll very likely be Ayoze Perez (£6.0m) making way in ‘the hole’ if Rodgers sticks with a 3-4-1-2.
How Harvey Barnes (£6.7m) is incorporated back into the side is another question, although the young winger is a little way off a comeback.
Anthony Martial (£8.6m) and Edinson Cavani (£7.8m) both returned from injury for the visitors but Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) missed out; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying after full-time that the striker will “maybe” be fit for England duty despite scans showing an injury.
Mason Greenwood (£7.0m) scored United’s solitary goal, with Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) and Luke Shaw (£5.2m) among the players rested for Sunday’s encounter and only thrown on in the final half an hour with the Red Devils chasing the match.
Chelsea made it seven clean sheets in their last seven games with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United; only once before in the club’s history have they managed a longer run of consecutive shut-outs.
Investment in the Blues’ in-form backline is hugely tempting ahead of Gameweek 30 but Thomas Tuchel keeps us guessing as to what his defence will look like on a week-on-week basis, with Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.8m) finally getting a breather and forgotten man Emerson Palmieri (£4.7m) drafted into the back three – although how much can be read into an FA Cup line-up is another question.
Sheffield United ought to have spoiled that clean sheet record, with David McGoldrick (£5.2m) missing the most glaring of the Blades’ chances, and Tuchel cited tiredness as a reason why the hosts looked atypically porous at the back:
After 14 consecutive matches, I could feel we were tired and we made many little faults. We were lucky to keep the clean sheet in the second half but I think it’s the first time in the 14 games we have looked tired. It’s important to go through in the cup and that was the target and we reached it.
Ben Chilwell (£5.8m) claimed the assists for both Oliver Norwood‘s (£4.5m) own-goal and Hakim Ziyech‘s (£7.9m) late clincher.
There was positive news for owners of Edouard Mendy (£5.1m), meanwhile, with Tuchel confirming after full-time that the goalkeeper wasn’t going away to represent Senegal over the international break in order to have dental surgery.
Southampton put their woeful league form to one side as they cruised past Championship side Bournemouth and into the last four.
Nathan Redmond (£6.4m) was again deployed ‘out of position’ alongside Che Adams (£5.8m) up front and played a starring role, scoring twice and setting up Moussa Djenepo‘s (£5.4m) opener with a slide-rule pass.
Danny Ings (£8.4m) is expected to be available after the international break, however, to muddy the waters in the Saints’ attack.
Fraser Forster (£4.0m) was, for the fourth time in five matches in all competitions, once again preferred to Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) between the posts.
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