Steve Rothgeb

Yahoo! Premier League

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Late Fitness Check - Week 19

Friday, December 27, 2013


Season's Greetings everyone! I would say "Happy Holidays" but that would be unnecessary, wouldn't it? Allow me to use logic to prove my point:

You are here because you love fantasy Premier League.

You love fantasy Premier League because you love the actual Premier League.

If you love the actual Premier League, then you love to be able to watch as many matches as you possibly can.

Ergo, you are happy because we are in the middle of an eleven day stretch that includes 4 gameweeks!  20% of the season played out in under a fortnight! We here at Rotoworld are working feverishly to cover all the bases...and we couldn't be more excited about it. Rotation is the order of the day as major players in fantasy will undoubtedly throw a wrench into your plans. Weekly scores that usually hover well into triple digits may struggle to hit the century mark, especially if Luis Suarez doesn't account for 80 of them by himself like we have grown accustomed to. Let's soak in the latest news for every matchup as we edge closer to yet another deadline.

 

Be sure to read Nik's Player Picks and the latest Team News all the way up to the deadline in what should make for a roller-coaster of a gameweek. 


Get all of your Premier League news at RotoWorld


West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion - For West Ham, James Collins limped off midweek with a calf issue which could see George McCartney start alongside James Tompkins at CB. Joey O'Brien got the start over Guy Demel last time out, but the latter may have only been rotated and could start again. Ravel Morrison may return tomorrow, either in a bench role or pushing Joe Cole back to the bench. Up front, Sam Allardyce has a choice between Carlton Cole, who scored midweek, or Modibo Maiga, should he want fresher legs. For West Brom, Keith Downing made seven changes midweek, applying rotation more than any other manager. Look for Stephane Sessegnon, Scott Sinclair, Chris Brunt, Shane Long and Youssouf Mulumbu to return for the Baggies. Victor Anichebe is still a doubt and Billy Jones is healthy but didn't make the squad at all midweek.


Aston Villa v Swansea City - For Villa, Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke are highly unlikely to return tomorrow, Nathan Baker and Libor Kozak respectively should maintain their spots. Ashley Westwood missed out previously due to suspension and looks poised to return to central midfield, perhaps unseating Karim El Ahmadi. For Swansea, Michu will be on the shelf for around 6 weeks, expect Jonjo Shelvey to play just behind the striker, which Michael Laudrup hopes will be Wifried Bony, who was rested midweek. Nathan Dyer and Michel Vorm are also facing long injury spells with Wayne Routledge and Gerhard Tremmel continuing to deputisize. Ben Davies, Chico, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan de Guzman were all rested against Chelsea midweek, and look set to return tomorrow.

 
Hull City v Fulham - For Hull, Steve Bruce rested no one midweek, but now has some injury concerns. Allan McGregor came off at halftime in the previous match with a knee problem. Steve Harper is set to fill in tomorrow should McGregor not make it. Avoid attempting to risk a budget choice here. Alex Bruce, Dave Meyler and Maynor Figueroa all picked up knocks midweek as well. Scans were planned for each, but no results have been publicized, so they should be disregarded for your XI as well. Robbie Brady continues to miss pitch time as he has never fully healed from his hernia procedure. For Fulham, Dimitar Berbatov remains a question mark as his groin injury lingers but he was close to making the squad midweek. Should he return tomorrow, Adel Taarabt's place in the XI will be in jeopardy. An ankle injury is expected to keep Maarten Stekelenburg from between the sticks again, David Stockdale will continue to fil in. The rest of Fulham's regulars who sat out midweek for rest are expected to retain their roles.


Manchester City v Crystal Palace -  For City, rotation didn't hit hard midweek so there is reason to fear Pellegrini's XI for tomorrow's match. Alvaro Negredo and David Silva could be sacrificed in an easier fixture, but Yaya Toure is an engine you should be able to rely on and Samir Nasri was subbed off early enough against Liverpool to suggest he can start again. Martin Demichelis has a hamstring issue that kept him out midweek and he is unlikely ready for the clash with Palace. Pablo Zabaleta made a surprise return midweek which sends a red flag that he will probably not be fit enough for two games in 48 hours. For Palace, Joel Ward may continue in midfield should Stuart O'Keefe and Kagisho Dikgacoi remain unavailable in this tough fixture. Marouane Chamakh is available after a 1 match ban and should go straight back into the XI.

 

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Norwich City v Manchester United - Norwich was one of two clubs to go with an unchanged XI midweek, so changes could be in the works tomorrow. Michael Turner will definitely be out, he is serving a 1 game suspension. Ryan Bennett is his most likely replacement. The midfield should continue as is, should Chris Hughton have any plans on a positive result against United. He may look to shake up the forward roles.  Gary Hooper seems safe because of form, but Ricky van Wolfswinkel is due for a return, perhaps supplanting Johan Elmander. For United, Antonio Valencia is banned from this match after picking up a midweek red card meaning Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young look safe as midfield options. Wayne Rooney should be the focal point of attack again, but David Moyes may consider Shinji Kagawa or Javier Hernandez to start over Danny Welbeck. In defense, RB is the major question mark as Rafael limped off midweek with a groin problem, Phil Jones remains a doubt, and Valencia's ban means he can't shift back there. 


Cardiff City v Sunderland - Cardiff will be hoping Gary Medel will be fit for tomorrow after missing out midweek with an illness. Craig Bellamy is ruled out again. Otherwise, Kim Bo-Kyung would be the only threat to unseat any of the Bluebirds attacking regulars. The defense is healthy.  For Sunderland, Wes Brown continues to serve his suspension, so Valentin Roberge is expected to keep his spot warm. John O'Shea missed out midweek with a bad shoulder but is expected to return to the back line. With Steven Fletcher getting the midweek start up top, Jozy Altidore could be set to come back in tomorrow to replace him should Gus Poyet keep the formation and retain last game's hero Sung-Yueng Ki


Everton v Southampton - Leighton Baines was thought to be fit enough for a midweek return, but didn't even make the bench.  Roberto Martinez will hope to have him back for Sunday, but there is no definitive word about it. If you are starting Bryan Oviedo, have a good bench option available. Ross Barkley was left out of the XI midweek, but played the entire 2nd half after Kevin Mirallas left with an illness.  Both Mirallas and Barkley should make the starting lineup against the Saints. Tim Howard and Gareth Barry are both suspended. Joel Robles is a budget keeper option this week only. For Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin will serve a one match ban here so James Ward-Prowse is likely to partner Jack Cork in central midfield. Dejan Lovren missed midweek with an illness but should return with Maya Yoshida making way. Pablo Osvaldo is nursing a leg injury making Ricky Lambert a likely starter.  Callum Chambers continues to fill in for Nathaniel Clyne at RB.


Newcastle United v Arsenal - For Newcastle, Cheick Tiote returns from suspension so depending on Alan Pardew's formation, it could mean the chop for Vurnon Anita or more importantly for fantasy, Hatem Ben Arfa. The Toons should have all their other big weapons ready, with perhaps the CB position the most likely to rotate as Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Steven Taylor are probably yearning for pitch time. For Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny is in a race to be fit meaning Thomas Vermaelen would likely give way. Jack Wilshere returns from suspension while Arsene Wenger's hint of rest for Mesut Ozil lingers. Lukas Podolski had a productive sub appearance and may give Wenger an opportunity to hand him a start over Olivier Giroud.


Chelsea v Liverpool - Both managers will want their best lineups for this mammoth fixture, but for Chelsea, you never know what Jose Mourinho considers that to be. Ramires is definitely out after picking up his 5th caution. Frank Lampard should be in the XI after being rested midweek and Oscar should be fresh after an early substitution. Ashley Cole did well in a rare start for him but is a risk to back on Sunday. For Liverpool, a hamstring injury saw Jon Flanagan miss out on Boxing Day and he appears to remain unavailable for the weekend. Aly Cissokho should deputize again. With Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge still sidelined, expect the rest of Brendan Rodgers' regulars to start here.


Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City - For Spurs, Aaron Lennon is in a race to be fit for Sunday as he recovers from an abdominal injury but it may be too soon. Paulinho has completed his ban and will look to retain his spot in central midfield, but Kyle Walker will miss out after picking up his 5th yellow. Kyle Naughton is the only logical replacement. Mousa Demele has been declared fit after missing midweek but may battle for a spot should Tim Sherwood go with a two-striker attack.  For Stoke City, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson are both unavailable after both were sent off midweek. Marc Muniesa and Wilson Palacios respectively are the likely replacements. Asmir Begovic suffered a broken finger which means Thomas Sorensen will mind the sticks. Marco Arnautovic and Stephen Ireland were on the bench last time out and may get starts here if rotation is implemented.



Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb



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