Ben Dinnery

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Late Fitness Check GW15

Friday, December 1, 2017


Jurgen Klopp was at it again midweek, six changes for the trip to Stoke which included the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Mo Salah dropping to the bench, although the latter saved many a manager’s blushes with a two-goal haul during his 25-minute cameo.

 

Expect more of the same as teams play for the third time.

 

Whether injury or otherwise, game week 15 is guaranteed to deliver some good old fashioned blunt force trauma. Failure to prepare is not an option if you want to stay ahead in this game….

 

Fortunately, the Rotoworld Premier League team is on hand to do most of the hard work, so you don’t have to: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag | Ben | Nik

 

 

Chelsea – vs – Newcastle United


Antonio Conte was keen to stress the importance of resting players during such a busy period and was pleased with their response against Swansea – Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and Bakayoko all started on the bench while Cesc Fabregas dropped out last weekend for Danny Drinkwater. Not much movement in the Chelsea treatment room. Charly Musonda continues to be hampered by a knee problem while Batshuayi [ankle] and Kenedy [muscle] "have just started to work with us." The pair need more time to get up-to speed. David Luiz is receiving treatment for knee inflammation, but Conte is reluctant to put a time frame on when the defender will be ready to return.

 

Rafa Benitez says Rob Elliot "has been training well" since the Republic of Ireland stopper was surprisingly dropped for Karl Darlow at West Brom, however, he won't reveal his No.1 ahead of the early kick-off at Stamford Bridge. "The competition is crucial for us." Christian Atsu, Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett are all "very close" to a return, but none will feature. "Other players are doing well and it makes no sense to take any risks."

 

 

Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Liverpool


Steve Sidwell [back] is the only expected injury absentee for Brighton. Chris Hughton reveals there are no fresh concerns ahead of the Liverpool game. Gaetan Bong is back in contention after he was rested [vs Palace] due to a niggling knee issue. Beram Kayal will have to bide his time following his recovery from a broken leg – the midfielder has been an unused sub in the two previous matches. Meanwhile, striker Sam Baldock is yet to feature following calf surgery in July.

 

Jurgen Klopp is expected to make changes after eleven alterations in the Reds’ last two outings. "Medical staff give me info and I have to accept it.” Mo Salah and Philippe Coutinho are poised for a recall. "It looks like Joel Matip is out. After the game, he had a problem, he felt something muscle-wise,” which is likely to mean Ragnar Klavan is back alongside Dejan Lovren. The defender has recovered from illness, although a final decision won’t be made until after Fridays’ session. Adam Lallana - who is still building fitness after more than three months out - is expected to be named on the bench.

 

 

Everton – vs – Huddersfield Town


Following a midweek hat-trick in David Unsworth’s final game in charge, Sam Allardyce says it doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to work out where the former England international will be playing. A calf injury keeps Leighton Baines on the sidelines, but Michael Keane can be called upon after recovering from a knock to the head. Oumar Niasse comes back into contention after serving his two-game ban for diving but Ross Barkley, Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, Funes Mori and James McCarthy remain out.

 

No fresh injury concerns for Huddersfield. Michael Hefele and Jon Stanković should be back at some point this month while the Terriers will need to wait until January before Philip Billing is available again. David Wagner insists he has no qualms about playing three games in a week. “My players are top fit and top professionals.” Steve Mounié will be hoping to build upon his first start since September after a “very good training week” while Wagner will make a late decision on Kasey Palmer. Rajiv van La Parra serves the second game of his ban.

 


Leicester City – vs – Burnley


No new injuries for Leicester who should be brimming with confidence after their 2-1 win over Tottenham. Robert Huth [foot] and Matty James [Achilles] remain in the Foxes treatment room but Christian Fuchs will challenge Ben Chilwell for the left-back spot after missing to attend the birth of his daughter. Kelechi Iheanacho was a late withdrawal due to illness on Tuesday but the striker is back in contention.

 

Steven Defour is expected to be fit despite coming off in the win at Bournemouth with a knock to the knee. Phil Bardsley is likely to continue at right-back as Matt Lowton struggles with a minor medial ligament injury. “I doubt it,” said Sean Dyche when asked if the defender would feature. “He went into a big challenge last weekend but managed to finish the game. It flared up on Tuesday, so we will have to keep an eye on that one.” Tom Heaton [shoulder] continues to work in the gym while Jon Walters has re-joined the main group in training - the forward will need game time with the development side before a return to the first-team.

 

 

Stoke City – vs – Swansea City


“We don’t anticipate having any issues to be perfectly honest, there are one or two bumps and bruises but nothing significant,” Mark Hughes said. Maxim Choupo-Moting took a whack on his ankle late-on versus Liverpool “but we don’t [think] it will compromise him at all, so we will be strong.” Lee Grant will deputise for the injured Jack Butland [broken finger] and Stephen Ireland continues to work his way back from a double leg fracture. No mention of Geoff Cameron who has missed the previous month after suffering concussion, however, he has stepped up his training ahead of the game.

 

Abraham is available again and Paul Clement says he will consider pairing the Chelsea loanee with Bony: “Tammy is going to be fresh [after recovering from a back problem], while I want to see how Wilfried is after playing 90 minutes twice in a week. When you are not creating that much, you must think about getting your best attacking players on the pitch, so it’s something I am considering.” Swansea were the only Premier League side to stick with the same XI midweek and the Swans boss insists he won’t be making wholesale changes. Clement also came out in support of Renato Sanches who is struggling both in terms of confidence and his performances of late. "We believe in him, I know, and European football knows he is a good player. We have not seen him near his best, but we are working very hard to try and help him do that." Frederico Fernandez is not due back until after the Stoke game - the Argentine defender returned home following the news that his father had passed away. Kyle Bartley is only injury absentee as he works his way back from a knee ligament problem.

 

 

Watford – vs – Tottenham Hotspur


Will Hughes could be missing for at least the next two games after suffering a hamstring injury. "It will be really difficult for him for tomorrow and maybe for the next match as well," reported Silva. Miguel Britos faces a late check on his recovery from the lower leg injury he sustained at Newcastle. However, on the plus side, Isaac Success is progressing well, and the forward could be involved in full training from next week. Silva also reported that José Holebas, having missed the last three games, is fully fit, but Marvin Zeegelaar has been the preferred option of late for tactical reasons.

 

Erik Lamela will be looking to have more influence after his return against Leicester. Midfielder Harry Winks is back in contention having recovered from a bout of illness. Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama remain sidelined. Tottenham have fallen to seventh in the table and Pochettino dismisses any suggestion that fatigue is to blame for their current slump: "Christian Eriksen, maybe can be a little bit tired," he said. "But mentally more than physically because in the last international duty he played two amazing games [Denmark World Cup qualifiers]. After every game the stats are unbelievable. The other players I think no, because Dele Alli was not involved in the first three Champions League games, we manage the rotation. This is not the reason the team has struggled."

 

 

West Bromwich Albion – vs – Crystal Palace


Alan Pardew was impressed with the performances under Gary Megson and the new boss isn’t expected to make major changes. That said, he could be forced into two, as Matty Phillips [hamstring] and Kieran Gibbs [thigh] are both struggling. The club doctor rates the pair as “touch and go” and they’ll face a fitness test ahead of the game.

 

Roy Hodgson confirms his players are still being checked following the 0-0 draw with Brighton on Tuesday evening. "We'll have to wait to know about injuries. It was another short turn around, so there's a few players we'll need to assess." Scott Dann, Jeffrey Schlupp, Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic all failed to train on Thursday but it's too soon to tell if any are "massive" concerns. Christian Benteke came through 90 minutes unscathed: "He's fit and ready to play, that's for sure” and Mamadou Sakho is pencilled in to skipper the side. "A captain needs that status within the group. Jason Puncheon, Scott Dann and Mamadou all have that, along with a few others who could be brought in if needed."

 

 

Arsenal – vs – Manchester United


There’s no point in eulogizing over the Huddersfield win if Arsenal don’t pick up three-points when it really matters. Mesut Ozil rightly took the plaudits, but the German international needs to deliver in the big games and Saturday will provide the perfect opportunity to silence his critics. No press conference on Friday, instead we’re left with Arsène Wenger’s immediate post-match offering from Wednesday. Alexandre Lacazette [groin] has been ruled out, which begs the question, who will start in the late kick-off? Olivier Giroud done his chances no harm with a timely double from the bench, while Danny Welbeck is champing at the bit following his recovery from injury. It does look to be a two-horse race, although I’d like to see Jack Wilshere start his first league game with Alexis Sanchez leading the frontline. That is, of course, if the Chilean can overcome a “little hamstring problem."

 

Mourinho maintains his focus will be on Arsenal and not the upcoming European tie versus CSKA Moscow. "I would always try to play the best possible team, even if the Champions League match was a must-win. I would go one [game] at a time and I would go for the most important game, which is the next one. It's difficult enough, so you must be focused and not thinking about other things." Jose said that Nemanja Matic will travel with the squad, but he doesn't know if he can play against Arsenal after pulling up with a muscle problem at Watford. Phil Jones is still injured and fellow defender Eric Bailly is also unavailable. A knee injury rules Marouane Fellaini out. Michael Carrick is working his way back to full fitness after tests reveal an abnormal heart rhythm which has now been corrected.

 

 

AFC Bournemouth – vs – Southampton


Eddie Howe rates Junior Stanislas as "50/50" for the Sundays game. The winger has trained with the squad, but lacks conditioning having been sidelined for the past five weeks. "We'll make a late decision, he might come into the matchday squad.” A place on the bench seems likely. Jermain Defoe is available – and I’d like to see the England international paired with Callum Wilson - with Josh King in behind but Howe maybe reluctant following a run of decent results. "Making changes is a difficult one, we've been in good form and been pretty stable throughout that run. Do we change things off one result, it's our third game in a week and I also have to have that in mind?" Tyrone Mings [back] is edging closer to a return, although there is no definitive timeline on when that will be. Brad Smith and Adam Federici remain out long-term.

 

Mauricio Pellegrino reveals Shane Long is a doubt after suffering a calf injury at the Etihad. "Maybe tomorrow we'll review, and we'll decide how he is. The doctor will check, but today he couldn't train, it is a little bit sore.” Regardless, Charlie Austin is primed for a starting berth after scoring twice against Everton.  Cedric Soares has a minor hamstring problem which keeps him out of the game.

 

 

Manchester City – vs – West Ham United


Leroy Sane is back with the group after missing the win over Saints because of a fever. City train again on Saturday and Pep will check on Vincent Kompany [no specific issues, but given his injury problems, he wants to make sure the skipper is okay after playing 170 minutes this week] and Fernandinho who has featured heavily this season. Guardiola says, “he is worried" about those City players who are one booking away from a ban – ahead of next weekend’s Manchester derby - and that may influence his line-up.

 

Sunday will come too soon for Andy Carroll and Chicharito who are nursing knee and hamstring injuries respectively. David Moyes will run a late check on Winston Reid who limped off at Everton. Jose Fonte is a long-term absentee and Sam Byram is taking longer than his initial five-week timeline. Adrian looks set to be given his first Premier League appearance of the season with Joe Hart unavailable against parent club. 



Ben Dinnery is a leading expert on Premier League injuries and the Founder of Premier Injuries. He is the man behind the PL Injury Table at PhysioRoom.com as well as a contributor of injury commentary to The Huffington Post UK, ESPNFC.com, @MetroUK, @EurosportCom_EN, Fantasy Football Pundits, talkSPORT and @bbc5live. He can be found on Twitter @BenDinnery.
Email :Ben Dinnery



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