We head into another international break on the conclusion of week eight, and the enforced stop in play provides an ideal opportunity for some early season reflection. Not so good from a personal standpoint (C-) with the ongoing Anthony Martial injury causing me many a sleepless night.
Good luck everyone!
Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Solly March, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Leon Balogun are all in contention for the early kick-off. Davy Propper is hoping to make the squad after missing out in week seven with a minor hamstring problem. Shane Duffy remains out, but his calf injury is not as bad as first feared, and the defender may be handed some minutes during the international break. Bernardo and Leandro Trossard are progressing well, and Graham Potter is hopeful of a return before the end of October.
Giovani Lo Celso (hip) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) are entering the final stages of their rehabilitation, and the pair should be available for selection within the near future. No fresh injury concerns, but Serge Aurier will serve a one-match ban following his dismissal against Southampton. Mauricio Pochettino hinted that Moussa Sissoko would be the player to deputise at right-back after impressing against Southampton for 60 minutes.
Burnley – vs – Everton
Following an awkward fall at Villa Park, a "minor" scapula fracture threatens to keep Jack Cork out of this weekends' game. The midfielder has only missed one Premier League fixture – due to an ankle injury – since joining the Clarets on a permanent basis over two years ago. “It’s not as bad as it sounds, a few weeks, so he won’t make Saturday. It’s settled down well." Danny Drinkwater is "still not there yet" in terms of his fitness, and the Chelsea loanee must bide his time after an altercation outside of a Manchester nightclub left him with damaged ankle ligaments. "He’s closer to getting back with us, and when [he is], we can look to get him a game.” Sean Dyche gave several players some game time in a 'bounce' match this week - Charlie Taylor, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Matej Vydra, Phil Bardsley and Ben Gibson were all involved. “We just wanted to make sure they topped up their fitness to keep them as sharp as we can.”
André Gomes (rib) started training at the beginning of the week, and after missing the previous four matches, the Portuguese midfielder comes back into Marco Silva's plans. Theo Walcott (concussion) is also available for the trip to Turf Moor after rejoining the group on Thursday. "They are good news for us." Jean-Philippe Gbamin has begun individual work outside - running on the pitches - as he steps up his recovery from a thigh strain. "Let's see the next few days how he reacts; now it's step-by-step." No other issues which means Bernard is in contention after an illness.
Liverpool – vs – Leicester City
Jurgen Klopp remained relatively tight-lipped on the possible return of Alisson Becker who trained with the team on Thursday for the first time in almost two months. "It's still [a] maybe, maybe not. He [has] looked really good. We will see." Joe Gomez is expected to deputise for Joel Matip after he failed to recover from the knock he picked up at Bramall Lane. Xherdan Shaqiri (calf) is also a non-starter, but the treatment room ‘should’ be almost completely clear heading towards week nine with only Nathaniel Clyne (ACL knee) unavailable.
James Maddison missed the rout over Newcastle, but he will return on Saturday, although it remains to be seen who former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will opt to replace. Ayoze Pérez looks favourite for the chop as he continues to struggle following his big-money move – Denis Praet could retain his place after impressing in only his second league start. Matty James (Achilles) remains a long-term absentee.
Norwich City – vs – Aston Villa
The Canaries injury ‘crisis’ continues, and Daniel Farke admits that in his eleven years as a manager, he has “never experienced” anything like this before. And, the situation has taken a turn for the worse over the past seven days with Norwich at risk of missing 12 first-team players for the visit of Villa. Veteran goalkeeper Michael McGovern, 35, is poised for his full Premier League debut after Ralf Fährmann (groin) and Tim Krul (back) were both ruled out. Grant Hanley has been managing a groin issue for the past month, and after suffering another setback, the defender will meet with a specialist next week. Sam Byram (ankle) was only fit enough for the bench at Selhurst Park, and the patched-up full-back will be confined to a place amongst the substitutes once again. Todd Cantwell complained of a hamstring issue this week, but he trained on Friday, and providing there’s no reaction, he will feature. "It looked alright today, but we hope to have him available for tomorrow." There was better news regarding Jamal Lewis, who is expected to play through the pain barrier on Saturday. There were fears that the defender had suffered an elbow fracture, but an x-ray and subsequent scans show ligament damage, and there is a "good chance" that he will be involved. Ben Godfrey has recovered from the cut above his eye, but he will head for surgery on Monday to remedy a niggling hernia, although he could be back for Bournemouth (GW9). "He's been struggling, but we didn't speak about it because we had so many injured players. We have no other centre-backs at the moment, so I'm thankful he's been willing to play."
For the visitors, Saturday will come too quick for Jonathan Kodjia who had a mask fitted this week. “He’s trained with us, but because of the nature of the facial injury, he’ll be available after the international break.” Henri Lansbury (ankle) and Tyrone Mings (shin) have worked normally, and Matt Targett re-joined the group on Wednesday after a scan on his hamstring came back clear. Dean Smith is happy with the progress of James Chester, although the skipper needs to build fitness and sharpness before being considered. "We will get some game-time into him.”
Watford – vs – Sheffield United
Quique Sanchez Flores reveals the Hornets have no fresh injury concerns heading into the game against Sheffield United. Will Hughes is hoping for a return to the matchday squad after missing out in week seven, but there was no update on Isaac Success who spent the second half of September recovering from a groin injury. Watford have struggled for goals this term, no one has scored fewer, but the news that Troy Deeney could return before the end of the month provides a welcome boost. “He’s really positive with his feelings, and I think in two or three weeks it will be okay.”
Billy Sharp will return to the squad at Vicarage Road. The striker was shown a straight red card against Southampton for his challenge on Stuart Armstrong last month which resulted in a three-match ban. “He’s worked hard, and he’ll be raring to go at the weekend." Saturday will come too soon for David McGoldrick, who has a groin problem. However, it isn’t too serious, and the striker could still join-up with the Republic of Ireland squad. “We’ll be sensible, and I know Mick – a top experienced manager – will be too. If he’s okay, I’m happy for him to go,” said Chris Wilder.
West Ham United – vs – Crystal Palace
Manuel Pellegrini revealed the Hammers will be without Fabianski for the remainder of 2019. "About Lukasz, the medical staff will decide today or tomorrow if he will have surgery, or if he will recover without surgery. Either way, it will be [no] less than three months he is out.” Spanish stopper Roberto, 33, signed from La Liga side Espanyol in the summer, will make his full league debut. “I trust a lot in him. I am confident he will have a good performance.” Winston Reid remains out after suffering another slight setback, but Manuel Lanzini has fully recovered from his foot injury. "Jack Wilshere is okay. He stopped for one day, but he's worked a complete week with us."
James McCarthy or Víctor Camarasa are both options for Roy Hodgson with Luka Milivojevic ruled out after collecting five bookings. "In the midfield area, we do have options. It will be quite a simple case of replacing him.” Mamadou Sakho is the only injury absentee following the return to fitness of Connor Wickham, and the centre-back is hoping to return in week nine.
Arsenal – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Kieran Tierney and Héctor Bellerín played 90 minutes in the Europa League on Thursday, but Unai Emery is unlikely to risk either player from the start with such a quick turnaround after long-term injuries. They could, however, make the bench. Alexandre Lacazette (ankle) continues with his rehab, and the Frenchman is expected to return-to-play later this month. Emile Smith Rowe is fine after playing for the U21s on Tuesday although the clubs’ website states that the midfielder is still “being monitored by the clubs' medical staff” following a clash of heads in the Carabao Cup 11 days ago.
Dan Gosling (hip) and Adam Smith (hamstring) "are not quite ready" but they’re getting close according to manager Eddie Howe. “They’re not there yet, but we’re hoping for them to be ready after the international break, but we’ll see. Other than that, I think we’re okay.” No mention of Ryan Fraser after he missed last weekends' 2-2 draw with West Ham due to illness. However, Steve Clarke has included the winger in the Scotland squad, and therefore, we must assume he is fully fit. Chris Mepham will miss out for Bournemouth and Wales because of a calf injury.
Manchester City – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Pep Guardiola says Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones are likely to return after the international break. De Bruyne injured his groin at Goodison Park forcing him to miss the Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb while Stones has been sidelined for the best part of two months with a thigh strain. “No, tomorrow Kevin is not in,” Guardiola said. “After [the] break, he will be ready. It’s not a big problem. Hopefully, after the international break, John Stones will be back, too.”
Wolves managed to grab a late, late winner in Turkey on Thursday to make it back-to-back wins. The victory over Watford took Wolves out of the Bottom Three, and another win could put them above Manchester United. Diogo Jota is expected to miss the game as he rests a toe injury which has been hampering him in recent games – the forward will not feature for Portugal in the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers in the hope that he can be ready for week nine. There are no other injury concerns.
Southampton – vs – Chelsea
Cedric Soares failed to complete last weekends’ warm-up, the calf injury, which forced his withdrawal at Spurs, will once again stop him from playing. "For sure not,” confirmed Ralph Hasenhüttl when asked if the 28-year-old would be fit. “He really tried to play against Tottenham, that was maybe not the best idea, but he really wanted to help the team. After a few minutes [of the warm-up] the problems he had were too big." Moussa Djenepo remains sidelined because of a tendon problem in his thigh.
Chelsea have no fresh injury concerns, but Frank Lampard will assess N'Golo Kanté after his return from a hamstring injury in the Champions League. Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud made the squad in France after illness, but Christian Pulisic was omitted altogether, and with no injury problem reported, the US star looks to be way down the pecking order.
Newcastle United – vs – Manchester United
Jonjo Shelvey returns sooner than anticipated, and with Isaac Hayden banned for three matches, Steve Bruce is likely to throw him straight back in. Matt Ritchie and Florian Lejeune are 'injured' while Dwight Gayle only returned to the training ground this week after more than two months out, and the striker lacks match fitness. DeAndre Yedlin is further ahead fitness-wise after his cameo at the King Power Stadium. Allan Saint-Maximin is in a position to be considered for a start.
National team boss Didier Deschamps believes Paul Pogba could be out for around three weeks after suffering a recurrence of the ankle injury which he damaged back in week four. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping his timeline will be closer to 10-14 days with Liverpool heading to Old Trafford after the break. United don’t expect to have any of their long-term absentees back for this one – Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial or Eric Bailly – while Jesse Lingard became the latest addition to the treatment room when he limped off at AZ with a hamstring injury. Aaron Wan-Bissaka stands the best chance, but a dose of tonsillitis threatens to rule him out for the third game running.