Quite a sombre mood in the footballing community as we head into game week thirty-four. News broke late on Thursday afternoon that Tottenham Under-23 coach Ugo Ehiogu had been taken to hospital after collapsing at their training centre. "[He] received immediate treatment on site from our medical staff before being transferred to hospital by ambulance," the club confirmed. And it was with great sadness that his passing was announced just 16 hours later after suffering a cardiac arrest. #RIPUgo
The Professional Footballers Association [PFA] revealed its Premier League team of the year and as always there was much to debate…... Arsenal were left without a representative, as Player of the Year nominee Alexis Sanchez was overlooked by the powers that be. Eight of the 11 players came from London – Cahill / Luiz / Kante and Hazard [Chelsea] but while Mauricio Pochettino was happy that Walker, Alli, Rose and Kane were given their just rewards, he was slightly miffed that Toby Alderweireld did not get the recognition he felt the Belgian deserved.
Don’t forget Man United, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace all have a double game week. Plan accordingly, however, trying to second guess Jose Mourinho’s starting XI against Burnley could as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.
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AFC Bournemouth – vs – Middlesbrough
Eddie Howe will make a late call on the fitness of Gosling. The Cherries midfielder has missed the last three games due to a knee and calf complaint. “We’ll wait and see with Dan,” he said. “But we’ve been saying that for the last few weeks now. We can’t make any guarantees, as he hasn’t done a lot of training." Andrew Surman [knee] is still missing, and of course Jack Wilshere who suffered a hairline fracture of his fibula last weekend. Lewis Cook is one potential replacement: "I thought he did well when he came on against Spurs. He’s a talented player and we have really high hopes for him." His 34 minutes at White Hart Lane were his first in the Premier League since August. Tyrone Mings is pushing for a start following his return from suspension.
The knee injury sustained by Fabio on Monday is “not as bad as we first thought” and Steve Agnew will make a final check in training on Friday. Rudy Gestede was back with the group on Thursday after taking a kick to his heel, and all being well, the striker will be in contention. A “sore” hamstring will keep Grant Leadbitter out: “He’s the captain and leader of this team so of course he’s a miss. But when a player’s injured that gives an opportunity to another member of the squad.” That player could be Adam Forshaw who dropped to the bench against Arsenal. Victor Valdes [ribs] is out meaning Brad Guzan will continue to deputise and Calum Chambers is back after recovering from a stress fracture of the foot. It remains to be seen whether Agnew believes the defender is fit and sharp enough to start after missing the last two months.
Hull City – vs – Watford
Marco Silva confirms Omar Elabdellaoui is still struggling with a back injury and he is not available for Saturday: "He needs to do a little bit more work.” The Tigers boss is more than happy to use Harry Maguire at right-back but it’s more likely that Elmohamady will return. Evandro is pushing for a recall after dropping to the bench at Stoke.
Adrian Mariappa looks set to continue in the after impressing Walter Mazzarri since his return to the first-team: “For me, he's been one of the most positive things about the last few games. I know I can count on him and he can be in my first eleven.” Watford eked a narrow 1-0 win over Swansea last weekend to hit the magical 40-point mark, but the players have been warned about taking their foot off the gas. Miguel Britos returns after serving a two-match ban but Younes Kaboul [hamstring] and Craig Cathcart [knee] are expected to miss out – certainly the former who may not play again this season. Christian Kabasele is back in contention while Ben Watson faces a late fitness test.
Swansea City – vs – Stoke City
"The players haven't responded particularly well over the last five or six games when the pressure has been there,” Paul Clement said during Thursdays press-conference. The Swansea manager believes this is a “must-win” game and his side need “to give a good performance” to stand any chance of beating the drop. Wayne Routledge [hernia] is unavailable, and may not play again this season, which will should see Luciano Narsingh or Jordan Ayew play alongside Gylfi Sigurdsson. Saturday will come too soon for Jack Cork [ankle] "but he is rehabilitating well” and Clement must decide whether to continue with Jay Fulton or hand Tom Carroll a place in the XI.
Jack Butland will get some game time before the end of the season, but as Mark Hughes pointed out last weekend, Lee Grant has been in excellent form and there's no rush. The Potters boss is "hopeful" that Glenn Whelan [virus] and Joe Allen [hamstring] can play after the pair trained on Thursday. They "could be an option" but they will be the subject of a late fitness test. Jon Walters hasn’t been involved this week due to swelling around his knee, however, "He should be fine, we're just managing his weeks leading up to game."
West Ham United – vs – Everton
Winston Reid is back in contention following a recent groin problem "He is good. He’s one of our most important players. We will see if he is going to start." Sam Byram is missing following his red card at Sunderland which means James Collins could shuffle across to accommodate the New Zealand international. The Hammers are also without Andy Carroll who is struggling to shake-off an ongoing adductor problem, but “the rest of the squad is good." Slaven Bilic denies any rift with Diafra Sakho after he missed out at the Stadium of Light: "He is training today. If there was a row, I should know about that! There was no row." He could be in line for his first start since November with Antonio [hamstring] ruled out for the season. Fernandes will be looking to continue in a holding midfield role with Mark Noble suspended.
James McCarthy [hamstring] is still not working with the group and Ronald Koeman doesn't know if the midfielder will play again in 2016/17. Enner Valencia is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement, but, injury-wise Everton are pretty much as they were last weekend. Mo Besic "is close to being back" and he will play his second game for the Under-23s on Friday: "He is working hard."
Burnley – vs – Manchester United
Sam Vokes [tight hamstring] and Scott Arfield [knee] will be a late decision. The pair are rated as "touch and go" for the visit of Man United on Sunday – Andre Gray is expected to earn a recall after he was, surprisingly, named on the bench at Everton. Johann Gudmundsson is available after missing more than two months because of a knee ligament injury, however, a lack of match fitness is likely to ensure his involvement comes from the bench. Joey Barton is having his FA hearing on Friday [after accepting a betting charge] and Sean Dyche will "wait and see" before deciding on his team selection. On Michael Keane being linked with a move away from Turf Moor: “It's news to me," said the Clarets boss. "I got told via a TV screen. [As manager] I'm always a good source, I'm pretty reliable as well.”
How much will the extra-time win over Anderlecht in the Europa League influence Jose Mourinho’s team selection at Turf Moor? Of course, the big news, were the injuries sustained by Zlatan Ibrahimović and Marcos Rojo, and although they need to be assessed fully, the sight of both players being helped from the field did not look good - a sentiment shared by Mourinho who is “not optimistic” that this will be a short stay in the treatment room: "I don't think they are easy injuries, but I prefer to wait until all the tests are done. Then after tomorrow, I speak what I feel. The news is fairly negative I think." Others at risk of missing out on Sunday are Luke Shaw, who played the final 30 minutes while suffering from cramp, and Antonio Valencia, who will struggle to play games in quick succession according to Mourinho. A glimmer of a silver lining is the availability of captain Wayne Rooney who is over his recent ankle problem while Ander Herrera and Ashley Young “are fresh to play.”
Liverpool – vs – Crystal Palace
Adam Lallana is in a "good way," he’s on the training pitch, but with the rehab coach. The England midfielder is expected to return to full training next week, possibly Wednesday or Thursday, with a view to being in contention to face Watford. Danny Ings has started running outside, but he is "not even close to coming back." The news is not so good for captain Jordan Henderson, who, at this moment: “Cannot really train. He looks really healthy but he can't play football." Ragnar Klavan remains a doubt due to the knee injury which kept him out of the win over West Brom. Joel Matip and Lucas Leiva are also struggling with unspecified muscular injuries and the trio face a late fitness test: "[It’s] not 100 percent [that they'll miss out],” but none have trained. "We have to find a solution. It's not too cool." Joe Gomez has impressed in recent weeks for the Under-23s: “Maybe, we have to try this pair [Lovren]. We will see, I don’t know in the moment.”
The return of James Tomkins provides Sam Allardyce with a major boost as Mamadou Sakho can’t line-up against his parent club. Loic Remy returns to the match day squad. The Chelsea loanee has only started once in the league since his arrival and the best he can hope for is minutes from the bench as Palace look to manage their players with one eye on their midweek game against Tottenham. James McArthur has recovered from a back spasm to help boost numbers, and Patrick van Aanholt will be pushing Jeffrey Schlupp for a start following his 20-minute cameo seven days ago.