Player ownership from Tottenham and Manchester United is expected to sky rocket ahead of the double game week, although who to select, will be the cause of much concern as managers look to maximise their points.
Mauricio Pochettino loves to rotate his full-backs, but following the news that Danny Rose had suffered a calf injury, Ben Davies seemed destined for starts in both matches….. That was until the Tottenham boss hinted that Rose could recover in time for Tuesday. Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez look to be the safest options in defence.
Buoyed on by their dramatic derby turnaround, United are sitting pretty in second, and with Liverpool and Spurs all but guaranteed a Champions League qualification place, Jose Mourinho could rotate with a fully fit squad to choose from. Only Sergio Romero is officially ruled out meaning Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are all vying for a place in the starting XI.
In-form Burnley are attracting a lot of interest and there will be no let-up as the Clarets look to secure a Europa League qualification spot. Lots have been asking about the chances of Johann Berg Gudmundsson following his recovery from a minor calf strain. Although I had concerns initially, an injury to Georges-Kevin N’koudou may force Sean Dyche’s hand.
Southampton – vs – Chelsea
Steven Davis is the Saints' only expected injury absentee. The midfielder had been pencilled in to return at Arsenal last weekend but suffered a setback [Achilles] on the eve of the contest. Jack Stephens begins his three-game suspension and Mark Hughes must decide whether to retain a back-four or switch to three - Jan Bednarek is an option in defence. Shane Long [ankle] and Mario Lemina [illness] have been passed fit.
No fresh injury concerns ahead of the early kick-off. David Luiz [knee] and Ethan Ampadu [ankle] are still out. Antonio Conte says Danny Drinkwater is having "an unlucky season" due to injuries. The midfielder started the campaign with a calf complaint and has continued to struggle throughout. On dropping Andreas Christensen last weekend, the Chelsea boss said: "He is a still a young player who is playing at this level for the first time. It's understandable that he could be tired. I have this opportunity to make rotations, especially in the defensive line."
Burnley – vs – Leicester City
Ben Mee is at risk of missing the rest of the campaign: “It could possibly be a number of weeks to let [his shin injury] settle down, which is a shame as he’s had such a good season. It’s basically a deep bone bruise." Saturday comes too soon for Scott Arfield [calf] and Jon Walters [knee] who are not fit enough to be included, but winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson has a chance: "He’s been on the grass since Monday, which is a good sign, so we’ll see how he goes." Georges-Kevin N’koudou faces a late fitness test after complaining of a tight hamstring.
Claude Puel confirms Iborra will not feature again in 2017/18 due to the hamstring problem he picked up against Newcastle. "He will not be available until the end of the season. We are unlucky about our midfielders at this moment, with Vicente, James and Ndidi." Daniel Amartey [hamstring] is recovering slowly and he may not return until the Foxes face Crystal Palace. Under-23s captain Hamza Choudhury is in line for a start: "It will be a good opportunity for him. He is a good player and is confident with all his team-mates." Wilfried Ndidi completes his ban on Saturday meaning he will be in contention to face Southampton.
Crystal Palace – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion
Roy Hodgson has a decision to make after Alexander Sørloth [hamstring] trained fully for the first time on Thursday; Christian Benteke [groin] also joined in for part of the session: "We'll know tomorrow, but we hope they'll be available." Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend were excellent at Bournemouth and the pair could start up front on Saturday. Jeffrey Schlupp [ankle] is progressing quicker than initially anticipated: "Hopefully he will be back in contention in the next couple of weeks." Joel Ward is available.
Anthony Knockaert returns after missing five weeks through suspension: "It's a big boost for us because of the ability he has,” said Chris Hughton. “It's been frustrating for him, and for us, but he's trained hard in this period.” As one player returns, another makes way. Davy Propper begins a three-match suspension for his red card challenge on Jonathan Hogg. Apart from long-term absentee Steve Sidwell: "Everyone else available."
Huddersfield Town – vs – Watford
Jonathan Hogg returned to full training on Wednesday and the Terriers midfielder will be considered after limping off during the 1-1 draw at Brighton. Elias Kachunga and Danny Williams [both ankle] are ruled out for the season. This weekend will come too soon for Michael Hefele [knee] but Jon Gorenc Stankovic is available.
Younès Kaboul is training with the first-team again but he is not yet ready for a return to competitive action. Fellow defender, Christian Kabasele, is a lot closer to making his comeback. Nathaniel Chalobah and Gerard Deulofeu are "progressing well" away from the main group. Tom Cleverley and Tommie Hoban are also working individually, although they are further behind in terms of their recovery. Javi Gracia is pleased to see the Watford treatment room emptying: "There were a lot of injured players when I arrived and now I have more options to choose from, and I think it’s the best news for the team because every player competes to play in the next game.”
Swansea City – vs – Everton
Angel Rangel is working normally "so no problem [and] his physical condition is improving." Van der Hoorn [shoulder] trained with some limitations on Wednesday but is now back with the group. Sam Clucas is receiving treatment after taking a knock and has been rested as a precaution, although he should be fine, "we must wait to see." Carlos Carvalhal confirms Renato Sanches did not return to the club as planned. The Portuguese star had a [hamstring] scan on Monday and the medical team at Bayern said he should remain in Munich for one more week "because he has not fully recovered." More tests are scheduled for Monday / Tuesday, and if it's clear, then he will be back ahead of GW35. The Swansea boss calls Jordan Ayew "one of the best attackers" in the Premier League and is relieved to see the forward back from suspension.
Idrissa Gueye will be fit to face Swansea after coming through his 30-minute cameo in the derby unscathed. Phil Jagielka has been receiving treatment all week, but the centre-back should be okay. Sam Allardyce says: "It'll be touch and go whether or not Gylfi Sigurdsson gets a game before the end of the season." The Toffees boss insists "there is no problem" with Wayne Rooney who was clearly unhappy following his withdrawal against Liverpool. "There is no problem with Yannick Bolasie. There is no problem with Tom Davies. I substituted all three of those." Maarten Stekelenburg, Mason Holgate, James McCarthy and Eliaquim Mangala remain on the sidelines.
Liverpool – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Jürgen Klopp confirms Klavan and Nathaniel Clyne are ruled out of Liverpool's clash with Bournemouth due to injury. Roberto Firmino is expected to be available after the striker felt discomfort during the win over Manchester City: "Unfortunately, I think, not 100 per cent sure, that Ragnar felt a little [something] muscle-wise. And Clyney [is], probably, out. [He felt an injury] in training the day after the game. Bobby had a little [issue] with his neck but should be OK." Emre Can is unlikely to play for Liverpool again in 2017/18... unless they reach the Champions League final. Lallana is in a similar position. "It will be close [if] he can come back again, no rush [because] it makes no sense, but if Adam is available then we will see. I don’t want to close the door for the season, how can I?"
Jordon Ibe returns after illness, but Saturday is too soon for Smith who has a knee ligament injury. “Adam will definitely miss out, as will Stanislas,” Eddie Howe revealed in his pre-match press conference. “We’re obviously missing Junior for the remainder of the season. Adam is making good progress and we’re continuing to monitor him to see where he’s at.” Tyrone Mings is back in full training and has featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly, but the defender won't be rushed.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Manchester City
Danny Rose has picked up a calf injury ruling him out of the Manchester City fixture, but he could be available on Tuesday - it depends on how he responds to treatment over the coming days. Kyle Walker-Peters [hamstring] remains on the sidelines while Harry Winks continues his ankle rehabilitation at the world-renowned Aspetar clinic in Doha: "We hope after that period he can come back and try again to be in the group training. Of course, we are a little bit concerned about his situation,” said Pochettino amid fears that the 22-year-old may need surgery to remedy the problem. Kieran Trippier returns to the matchday squad after he was rested last time out due to fatigue. "He was overloaded and was a little bit tired. He's okay, he's fit.” Toby Alderweireld will play before the end of the season, but the defender will need to bide his time: "He is doing well, training, he just needs to wait for his opportunity." The Belgium international has been sidelined through injury and has been linked with a move away from Spurs in the summer.
“Aguero is injured,” Guardiola confirmed. “He was injured before the game [against Liverpool] but tried to help us. That's why he could not play from the beginning. He was not ready. I don’t know [when he will be back].” His knee injury was aggravated by Ashley Young’s challenge which somehow went unpunished last weekend. “I don't if he will be ready for Swansea. Hopefully for the last games we can have him.” John stones [adductor] is not ready and Fernandinho begins a two-match ban following his 10th caution of the season. Benjamin Mendy is out.
Newcastle United – vs – Arsenal
Wenger suggests Henrikh Mkhitaryan will play again this season: "He has a medial ligament strain, he should be out for two more weeks," the Arsenal boss revealed following the draw in Moscow. "Do not be too worried. We have a very good medical staff and he is very serious in his rehab." Granit Xhaka [illness] did not feature in Russia, but the midfielder is hoping to recovery in time for the trip to Tyneside. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to start after missing out in the Europa League [ineligible] while Ainsley Maitland-Niles should be close. Aaron Ramsey will be checked after needing staples in a deep shin laceration, the Wales international completed 90 minutes although he was struggling towards the end. Petr Cech will continue in goal as David Ospina continues his recovery from an ankle sprain.
Newcastle boast a clean bill of health: "Everybody has been training, so it’s good news. It’s always important to have competition, but then you have to leave some players out of the squad.” Benitez said the arrival of Kenedy and Dúbravka in January “was a key factor" in United's recent upturn in fortune. Islam Slimani is likely to start on the bench as Rafa wants to keep changes to a minimum to help continue his sides unbeaten run.
Manchester United – vs – West Bromwich Albion
Sergio Romero [knee] is the only expected injury absentee for Manchester United leaving Jose Mourinho with a full complement of players to choose from. The United boss says there is "nothing he can do" to keep the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford happy: “Someone has to miss out every week. We cannot have 11 players, it would be amazing economically for the football clubs to have only 11 and play with the same 11, no injuries, suspension, fatigue, it would be better for everyone to have only 11 but is not impossible. Only 11 can start, it’s as simple as that.”
Nacer Chadli [thigh] and Sam Field [calf] played for the U23s on Monday evening while Daniel Sturridge [hamstring] has returned to training. "All three are quality players. They could all be part of the squad." Hal Robson-Kanu [concussion] should be back "in the mix" next weekend while Jonny Evans continues to make progress from the knee injury which kept him out of the Swansea game. Gareth Barry underwent knee surgery earlier this week and is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign along with teammate James Morrison who has been unable shake off a persistent Achilles problem.
West Ham United – vs – Stoke City
Manuel Lanzini [knee] and James Collins [hamstring] manage some training on Friday: "I'm hoping there is a good chance they'll be involved on Monday," said David Moyes. Carroll could be included in the matchday squad after re-joining the group. The injury-plagued striker might make the bench. "He's not played for eleven weeks. We'll monitor him and see how he is. Getting Andy back will be a big plus for us because we all know what he can do. Is he going to be ready? I'm not sure." No mention of Aaron Cresswell who took a whack on the knee at Chelsea, so presumably the full-back is in contention but Winston Reid, Pedro Obiang, Sam Byram and Michail Antonio are out.
Paul Lambert straight bats questions regarding Saido Berahino and Jese after reports this week suggest that the pair have fallen foul of his strict training regime: "Sorry, but today I only want to talk about players in my squad. The group at the minute is playing really well, the supporters are right behind us and that is what’s important to me." Charlie Adam will miss the game week double-header through suspension while Choupo-Moting [groin] is still not ready. Stafylidis [ribs] and Lee Grant [wrist] are expected to miss out again for the Potters.