Joe Allen will be "out for a while" according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, as the midfielder has to recover from a hamstring injury picked up last weekend.
Allen, along with Dejan Lovren, were removed early during the eventual draw with Sunderland in Week 25. The prognosis for both looked as though the injuries were minor and both would be available in a week's time. However, Lovren has been ruled out for at least the weekend clash with Aston Villa while it sounds as though Allen will be sidelined for even longer. The Reds will likely line up with Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and James Milner playing between the back four and the attacking three.
Jurgen Klopp revealed that Dejan Lovren will be left out of action this weekend when Liverpool travel to play Aston Villa.
Earlier in the week, Lovren's chances of being fit against Aston Villa were looking favorable, as Klopp had indicated that the center back was taken out of last weekend's match against Sunderland as a precaution. Unfortunately, the manager indicated that Lovren "has a strange feeling in his muscle" but hopes to have the Croatian available for the Reds next game. It looks like it will be a Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure partnership at center back once again on Sunday.
Max Gradel has returned to the club and is beginning the early stages of training as he looks to regain his fitness after a lengthy layoff following knee surgery.
Gradel was the big summer signing for the Cherries in their promotional season and was highly influential straight away, notching three assists in the first four matches of the season. It was in the fourth match that his knee was damaged though and has been sidelined ever since. Bournemouth have done well to stay above the relegation zone after losing Gradel and Callum Wilson so early in the season and now with Benik Afobe leading the line, having Gradel back could really improve the attack enough to stave off the drop. It will be a while before we see him starting again, but once he has match fitness, it is likely that he will jump ahead of Junior Stanislas and Marc Pugh in the pecking order.
Jack Colback has been training all week according to Steve McClaren and is available for selection when Newcastle United travel this weekend to take on Chelsea.
McClaren announced that Emmanuel Riviere is available as well, but the French striker is far behind the pecking order at Newcastle with Aleksandar Mitrovic, Seydou Doumbia and Ayoze Perez all ahead of him, though Perez can play elsewhere. The boost comes from Colback's return. While normally deployed in central defensive midfield, he may line up at left back, where he has experience. Rolando Aarons was the latest emergency fill-in at the position and to be fair the Magpies kept a clean sheet in the process. But that was West Brom without a true striker and this is Chelsea up next, so expect Colback to find himself in the back four this weekend.
Sunderland have terminated the contract of Adam Johnson after he plead guilty to two charges related to sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
Johnson has been at the center of a controversy surrounding this incident for some time. The club gave him ample time to exonerate himself but with news that he had plead guilty, they have moved to terminate his contract with immediate effect. Johnson scored the first goal in the Black Cats' late comeback against Liverpool on Saturday but that will apparently be his last contribution at the club.
West Ham has moved to ensure that their star man remains the headline attraction as the Hammers move into the Olympic Stadium starting next season.
There have at least been hints at rumors that bigger clubs like Manchester City might be casting eager eyes toward the Hammers' star signing from this past summer. In order to lock down the player (or at least lock in a bigger transfer fee should he leave), the Hammers have extended Payet's deal through the 2021 season. The only minor concern here is that will take him through his year 33 season which means he might start slipping off of his best over the final year or two of the deal.
Despite on-field frustrations, Bojan Krkic has signed a contract extension at Stoke City that will take him through the 2020 season.
Despite his name having been around at big clubs seemingly forever, Krkic is still only 25-years-old. From that point of view, the contract extension certainly makes sense for Stoke City. What is less clear is why they are doing it now given that Mark Hughes has left Bojan out of his starting line-up twice in Stoke City's past three Premier League matches. With the two parties married for the foreseeable future, we have to assume Bojan will get back to starting soon.
Arsene Wenger updated Santi Cazorla's status today indicating that the player is on a fitness program and that it will be weeks and not months until he is back playing.
The phrase "weeks not months" isn't exactly informative when it comes to estimating a return date. The implication, if you want to parse the words, is that it is less than two months which would line up with the original end of March/early April timeline that has been the prognosis for some time. Wenger certainly used language that could be interpreted as sooner than that but we'll wait until we hear about a specific match that is being targeted before we get too excited about an early return.