Neal Thurman

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Late Fitness Check - Week 5

Friday, September 20, 2013


After looking carefully at the summary of Premier League Team News thoughtfully compiled by our friends at ESPNFC.com, I have to say that there isn't a great deal that had much of an impact on my fantasy thinking.  We'll go through the exercise and make sure you are feeling up to speed but the big questions for the weekend are all about rotation and all we can give you there are educated guesses.  So, here is what we know, what we think about what we know and some of those educated guesses about what to do in cases where rotation might be a major issue:

 

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Norwich City v Aston Villa - When the big news is that the mediocre away team is choosing between two potential center back replacements for a long term absentee, there just isn't much news out there about this match.   The key names are Jores Okore (out with an ACL) and Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker.  Please move along.

 

Liverpool v Southampton - Philippe Coutinho is the big news here, Liverpool's resurgence as an attacking force started last season when Coutinho started playing after his January transfer.  With the Brazilian out there are some secondary names - Raheem Sterling and Iago Aspas - who might get a substitute start but without Coutinho I have some serious doubts about Liverpool's ability to thrive. Daniel Agger should be back though.  If you're looking for points here the Liverpool defense seems to be your way forward. 

 

Newcastle United v Hull City - The news keeps getting better for Newcastle as Robert Koren and Maynor Figueroa are both out for Hull City which should improve the chances of both a Magpies win and a clean sheet. The only minor glitch is Steven Taylor being absent but Newcastle has looked good over the last two matches without him.   

 

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West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Shane Long and Matej Vydra are both still unlikely to boost the attack but Stephane Sessegnon has received all of his paperwork and will start against his former team.  I'm not optimistic about West Brom's attack - so much so that I'm not getting suckered in by yet another player-scoring-against-his-former-team situation.  Sunderland get Giaccherini back but you'd have to have a seriously strong feeling to overcome him playing for Sunderland and being on the road.  

 

West Ham United v Everton - West Ham are still a wreck with Andy Carroll, Joe Cole and Stuart Downing still missing which will contribute to the probability of a road clean sheet for Everton.  The big news from the Everton attack is that just about everyone with a chance of starting is healthy and eligible including Romelu Lukaku, Darron Gibson, and Arouna KoneSteven Pienaar is the only potential starter in any doubt. 

 

Chelsea v Fulham - If, for some reason, you were thinking about a Fulham attacker you'll be happy to know that Darren Bent is back in the squad and Dimitar Berbatov has at least a solid chance of playing after a late fitness check.  Chelsea's questions are all about rotation and while the linked article implies that Fernando Torres is likely to start all that does for me is make me feel even less good about either Torres or Eto'o.  Given the combination of form and rotation risk, I'm not sure that there is any Chelsea attacker that is a must-have regardless of the match-up.

 

Arsenal v Stoke City - Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal are in the position of having just barely enough fit first teamers to create a starting line-up.  Mikel Arteta is back in the squad but seems likely to be on the bench to start as he recovers full fitness.  Santi Cazorla is still out along with Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud both played in mid-week which should ease some concerns from early this week about Arsenal's ability to field a full first team this weekend.  Stoke are almost entirely healthy with the exception of Charlie Adam but even he seems likely to be fit.   There are two good things about this match for fantasy purposes: 1) the home team is the favorite; and 2) that home team/favorite's starting line-up is very easy to predict.

 

Crystal Palace v Swansea City - Ashley Williams and Pablo Hernandez are the two injury concerns for the Swans with Williams facing a late fitness check and Hernandez definitely out.  With Palace's attack modestly talented, I'm not inclined to change my opinion of Vorm as a strong goalkeeping candidate for this weekend.

 

Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur -  Spurs will be missing Aaron Lennon and Etienne Capoue for sure and have questions over Dembele and Danny Rose.  The only fantasy-relevant thing this likely does for you is improve the probability that Andros Townsend will come in and spray shots all over Selhurst Park.   The other Spurs players you are likely to want are all in fine health and just as likely to start (very) as before the Team News came out.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United - Vincent Kompany is back for City which is great news for the Citizens who will hope that his warm-up match in mid-week will a) have him pretty close to ready for a full-speed match and b) won't have taken too much out of him after his enforced layoff. In other important news for City, David Silva may return.  Given the magnitude of the match-up and the word "may" in that last sentence, I don't recommend buying him for this week but you want the best players on the field for this match and he's one of them so here's hoping he's fit.   Gael Clichy will be missing again making Kolarov a starter albeit a less attractive one than he was last weekend.

 

On the Manchester United side, Danny Welbeck, Rafael, and Phil Jones are all ruled out which means it is likely that United will start Vidic and Ferdinand in the middle and Fabio and Evra at the outside back positions.  The midfield is still a big question mark because this is David Moyes' first big match where he has a full compliment of players to choose from.  I'd like to see him continue with Fellaini, Kagawa, and Rooney as the wheelhouse with RvP leading the line and whichever two wingers he's happiest with flanking them but he may elect to be a bit more defensive-minded on the road against a top level opponent.  The only attackers I'd even consider for this one are Rooney and RvP.  If Kagawa gets another start then I'll definitely be looking at him on the Barn Door.



Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.
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