A few mid-week Champions League and Europa fixtures will mean rotation will play a greater role with this weeks sides. All the big four clubs are nearly unpredictable, but let’s have a crack!
Swansea v Everton
Vorm; Rangel, Tate, Williams, Davies; De Guzman, Michu, Ki; Dyer, Graham, Hernandez.
Plenty of news on the injury front from Swansea, with De Guzman, Britton and Graham all struggling with ankle injuries. While Graham is likely to play, the other two remain doubtful. Expect Ki to make his first full debut for the Swans, while Gower remains on standby. Chico remains suspended, and unsurprisingly Taylor‘s ankle is still in fourteen pieces, so Tate and Davies will continue to cover. Routledge‘s days are numbered with Hernandez breathing down his neck, so either are at risk of being benched. Luke Moore may start above Graham but I feel Graham will start and be subbed off on the 60 minute mark if he is at all restricted.
Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Mirallas, Osman, Fellaini, Pienaar; Naismith; Anichebe.
Jelavic has been ruled out, which means Anichebe might make his first start for the campaign. Hibbert is doubtful, which means a major reshuffle of the team is needed, where Neville returns to RB, Fellaini drops back to a CM and Naismith is brought on in the hole. Gibson remains injured so Osman is made to play a central role.
Chelsea v Stoke
Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Moses, Hazard, Mata; Torres.
Ivanovic should start against a physical team in Stoke, but Azpilicueta can’t be far from a debut. Cahill should maintain his spot in the back four for Chelsea’s PL games, but the biggest question mark is over Lampard‘s role. A 34 year old playing 90 minutes in a midweek tie has to be at risk of rotation- but the problem remains that without Meireles and Essien there is little depth. Romeu could start alongside Mikel, but that would leave Chelsea with a significant lack of midfield thrust. Ramires is the only other CM option. In the attacking trio, there is more confusion, with Marin almost fit, and Moses, Oscar, Hazard, Mata and Bertrand all vying for roles. Surely Hazard won’t be left out, with Mata and Moses the freshest of the picks to start. Torres is a sure thing, given Sturridge‘s hamstring complaint forcing him to withdraw.
Begovic; Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Kightly, Adam, Nzonzi, Whelan; Walters; Crouch.
Whitehead will remain on the bench, while Pennant is still the third choice winger. Shotton will replaced the suspended Wilkinson, who alternatively could be replaced by US international Geoff Cameron. Etherington looks set to miss out given a defensive minded approach that will be deployed for the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Southampton v Aston Villa
Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox; Lallana, Davis, Ward-Prowse; Puncheon, Lambert, Ramirez.
Schneiderlin may be dropped following a disappointing midfield display v Arsenal. Do Prado will be knocking down the door for a start, but Adkins has shown immense faith in Ward-Prowse this campaign. Ramirez looks nailed on up front alongside Lambert, while 6 million pound purchase Rodriguez is going to be warming the bench yet again.
Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj; Holman, Ireland, El Ahmadi, Bannan; Weimann, Bent.
Guzan looks to be favoured again between the sticks, while Lichaj should keep his starting spot over Bennett. Nzogbia is again bench fodder unfortunately, as Holman continues his good form. Weimann and Bent have been favoured up front and should continue to be so.
West Brom v Reading
Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Morrison; Long, Lukaku.
Odemwingie serves his first of three matches on the pine via suspension, while Reid is also a fitness doubt, Jones the beneficiary there. Lukaku looks to be handed a start over Fortune, while Clarke has admitted that Ridgewell is unlikely to be usurped by Popov for this week’s fixture.
McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; McCleary, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak.
McCarthy although looking shaky last week, is preferred to the Aussie lad Federici. Roberts is still out, while Guthrie looks unchallenged for the role in the hole. Harte may come under pressure from Shorey, after Lennon carved him a new a$$hole last week.
West Ham v Sunderland
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O’Brien; Diame, Noble, Nolan; Vaz Te, Cole, Jarvis.
Tomkins would have to be getting shitty now. He’s one of the brightest young home grown talents around, yet can’t crack the West Ham best XI. O’Brien has started over McCartney the last two weeks and looks like continuing that trend. Diarra could start, but given the form of Diame it’d be a big ask. Jarvis should start ahead of Taylor, while Maiga hasn’t seen much action recently and would be raring to go.
Mignolet; Gardner, Bramble, O’Shea, Rose; Larsson Colback Cattermole McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Gardner will continue at RB, while Bramble should fill in for the hamstrung Cuellar. Colback again gets a starting role in the midfield as Larsson shifts out wide to accommodate Johnson’s thigh injury.
Wigan v Fulham
Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Maloney, Beausejour; Kone, Di Santo.
The only injury concern remains as Alcaraz, who hasn’t played since his international match two weeks ago, so the back three of Ramis, Caldwell and Figueroa should start. Gomez will again warm the bench as Maloney is being favoured for Moses‘s position over he and Miyaichi.
Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Baird, Sidwell, Kacaniklic; Ruiz; Berbatov.
Lots of names missing for Martin Jol this week. Richardson, Senderos and Diarra are all potential first-teamers who are unavailable, so Baird will get his first start in the middle of the midfield, while young Swedish cheapie Kacaniklic should keep the left midfield spot for himself. Ruiz‘s return might force Petric out, unless he is employed in a left role instead of Kaca. Karagounis will debut in the coming weeks, but his match fitness is an issue for Fulham- if Jol thinks he is ready though expect him to be deployed instead of Baird.
Liverpool v Manchester United
Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly; Allen, Gerrard, Shelvey; Sterling, Borini, Suarez.
Enrique is suffering from a new manager hating him, so Kelly will start on the right and Johnson on the left. Shelvey came off the bench to score twice for the midweek Europa clash with Young Boys, while Sahin looks again set to miss after playing the full 90 minutes midweek. Sterling should keep his spot, with Assaidi breathing down his neck. Not too many rotation risks for their midweek game, after they played a second string side.
Lindegaard; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Welbeck; Kagawa, Van Persie.
Lindegaard is SAF’s pet at the moment, but given De Gea’s midweek blinder, he isn’t a sure started. Bloody hard to pick who will start here, but I’m tipping Buttner to make way for Evra, and Ferdinand to regain his spot at CB following Evans playing in the midweek CL game. Valencia should start, while Cleverley should feature over Scholes, given the latter’s midweek duties. Welbeck is a smokey to start on the wing, given Nani’s midweek “effort” and Young‘s injury. Either could start. Kagawa and Van Persie were substituted midweek, and you’d imagine that was to preserve them for the Anfield clash.
Newcastle v Norwich
Harper; Perch, Williamson, Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Guitierrez; Cisse, Ba.
Krul, Simpson and Coloccini are all missing again, so the same back four that drew with Everton should be deployed. Tiote is apparently pushing for selection, but if he isn’t fit then Anita will start. Cisse is also an injury worry, so Ameobi will be on standby for a start.
Ruddy; Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Johnson, Pilkington, Howson; Jackson, Holt.
Bassong and Barnett should continue what is blossoming into a super-effective partnership, while Jackson will again pip Morison for a start alongside Holt. Hoolahan will remain on the bench, and come January I think he will be moved on. Surely Paul Lambert will be interested given his love affair with the attacking midfielder. Pilkington missed the trip to Upton Park last week but should be ready to go at Surman‘s expense.
Man City v Arsenal
Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy; Milner, Toure, Garcia, Silva; Tevez, Aguero.
Zabaleta might take back his RB slot after Maicon featured against Real Madrid midweek. Clichy will also be favoured for a start over Kolarov for the same reason. Milner looks primed to take over from the injured Nasri, while Aguero is fit again and should start after Dzeko‘s midweek involvement.
Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Podolski.
Szczesny is injured, so Mannone gets another crack at taking the #1 role. Koscielny may start for Mertesacker following their Montpellier fixture, but I doubt Wenger wants to tinker with a well oiled back four. Giroud is a tough one, and given Gervinho‘s form, it would be harsh to include him at the Ivorian’s expense. The Ox looks like taking his spot on the right after missing the starting gig midweek.
Tottenham v QPR
Friedel; Walker, Vertonghen, Gallas, Naughton; Sandro, Sigurdsson, Dembele; Lennon, Defoe, Bale.
AVB fielded a nearly full strenth team for the midweek clash v Lazio, where Dempsey debuted. Sigurdsson appeared as a sub, so you’d assume he’d be right to play a 90 minutes this week. Dempsey may appear, but I’m unsure as to where. Midweek he was used in the left central midfield role, with his beloved forward roles being occupied by personnel who are in good touch (or in Bale‘s case, finally put the end product together.) Naughton will be there for about a month given Assou-Ekotto‘s knee injury. At 4.4…. jump aboard, although be wary rumours circulating an injured foot might be true. Adebayor will miss with a hamstring complaint.
Cesar; Bosingwa, Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill; Hoilett, Faurlin, Granero, Park; Wright-Phillips; Zamora.
Traore and Fabio are both injured, leaving Hill to fill the gap at LB (cha ching Lennon owners). Ferdinand is also out, leaving Onuoha at CB. Hoilett will battle it out with Mackie for the right spot, while Park, Wright-Phillips will retain starts. Taarabt remains a doubt, and I’m tipping Hughes to play with one striker as it is an away fixture, so Zamora again leads the line.
That just about does it. Just before I leave you for the weekend, if any of you out there are Chelsea fans, or just want to know my opinions on my beloved club, then head on over to my Chelsea Blog, The Blue Corner. (www.tseagrim.wordpress.com) I’ll see you all on Monday for the review, here’s to hoping that our Captain’s don’t get rotated amongst the flurry of movement, and that Sir Alex doesn’t bend us over with team selection.