League Cup ties and pending CL ties will bombard our teams this week with rotation surely running amok. Let’s take another look at who should front up for their respective teams!
Arsenal v Chelsea
Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Podolski.
Mannone will continue in place of Szczesny , who remains sidelined for 2-3 more weeks. Koscielny might slip back to the bench in favour of in form pair Mertesacker and Vermaelen following the latter’s recovery from the sniffles last week. Although Ramsey started last week, Diaby should be favoured as Wenger will be very aware of Chelsea’s attacking potential through the middle. Gervinho will continue his prosperous role up front with Giroud and Walcott providing support from the bench.
Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Mata; Torres.
Azpilicueta, Moses and Oscar all featured midweek, so should be afforded bench roles for the trip to the Emirates. Oscar especially will be saved for the midweek tie in the CL, while the toothless duo of Mikel and Lampard will continue at CM. Terry will likely play while he considers appeal for his sentence of 4 matches handed down this week by the FA. Torres looks like continuing up forward, although Sturridge can’t be far away from a start.
Everton v Southampton
Howard; Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines; Mirallas, Osman, Neville, Pienaar; Fellaini; Jelavic.
Hibbert and Gibson are still out, while Heitinga looks to have reclaimed his CB spot over Distin. Whispers around the club are suggesting Coleman may not be fit, in which instance Heitinga or Neville will drop to RB, giving either Distin or Naismith being deployed. Jelavic will return at Anichebe‘s expense.
Gazzaniga; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Schneiderlin, Davis, Ramirez; Puncheon, Lambert, Lallana.
Gazzaniga has been favoured over Davis recently, while Hooiveld should return to the first team frame after a succesful return midweek- Yoshida will drop to the bench. The rest of the team should be as it has been for the majority of the year, with Rodriguez likely to be warming the bench after his important brace midweek. New boy Boruc, who has been signed to potentially take the gloves over Gazzaniga and Davis, may come into contention.
Fulham v Manchester City
Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic; Ruiz; Rodallega.
Anyone who has bet on Fulham…bad luck. Berbatov, their spark of creativity, has been ruled out for up to two weeks. Oh dear. This should see Rodallega take the mantle as a striker with Ruiz tucked in behind. Diarra has had surgery on that troublesome knee, and will be missed at CM, so the pairing of Sidwell and Baird looks likely to resume. Kacaniklic should start over Richardson who is lacking match fitness.
Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy; Milner, Y Toure, Garcia, Silva; Aguero, Dzeko.
Well. Maicon will be rested and Richards will still be out, so Zabaleta will be nailed on for RB, while Clichy should start, as Kolarov seems to be preferred for the CL ties. Milner will start as Nasri remains injured, while Rodwell‘s groin injury means Garcia will partner Toure. One must wonder how Gareth Barry will fit into this midfield when he is declared fit. Tevez played 120 minutes midweek…. and he will almost definitely not start. Aguero and Dzeko look both nailed on for a berth.
Norwich v Liverpool
Ruddy; Martin, Bassong, Barnett, Garrido, Garrido; Snodgross, Johnson, Howson, Pilkington; Jackson, Morison.
The big call here I am making is Holt won’t start. Hughton looks like he is fed up with the strikers returns so far, and considering he played 90 minutes midweek, you’d be a brave man to start him. Pilkington missed against the Toon last week, but should be fit to replace Surman. Bassong remains a major doubt, with Turner to come in to take his place should he not be fit.
Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique; Allen, Gerrard, Sahin; Borini, Suarez, Sterling.
Agger should miss after limping off v Man United, so Carragher is handed his first chance to impress. Kelly has done his ACL so rule him out, Enrique looks nailed on for a LOT of LB starts. Shelvey‘s 3 game ban for That red card hands Sahin another performance as a holding midfielder after his mid-week brace.
Reading v Newcastle
McCarthy; Gunter, Gorkss, Pearce, Shorey; Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak.
It’s a shame that Kebe is back in a way for Reading, because McCleary was really starting to shine, but will now be afforded a bench role as their captain McAnuff takes the other wing. Shorey and Harte will be an interesting one. With the former’s midweek goal and assist he looks like the most likely, but given he has played 90 minutes Harte may well get the gig.
Krul; Perch, Williamson, S Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Guitierrez; Cissè, Ba.
The trio of Simpson, Krul and R Taylor are all still out, so the makeshift back four remains the same as previous weeks. Tiote is over his injury and will start at the expense of Anita, while Cisse will look to build on his goal midweek v Man United.
Stoke City v Swansea
Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Whelan, Adam, N’Zonzi, Kightly; Walters, Crouch.
Much of the same for Pulis’ brigade, as Cameron continues to fill in for the suspended Wilkinson at RB. Whelan should start on the right, but should Pulis choose to attack at home (pffffft yeah righto Seags), Etherington may be played to add some width to the attack.
Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; De Guzman, Ki, Michu; Dyer, Graham, Routledge.
Chico is back to ease the CB pain of Swansea, while Britton looks more likely to make way to the bench after a 90 minute midweek clash. Dyer should start after serving his one game ban, as Hernandez will struggle to shake off a midweek knock. With Swansea looking almost back to full strength, they may just regain some of that early season form.
Sunderland v Wigan
Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Flethcer.
Gardner continues to fill in at RB, while Cuellar should be fit for this tie v Wigan. Johnson will also hopefully be fit, but if MON decides to start him on the bench (which is a real possibility), Larsson will jump back out right and Meyler will start at CM.
Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Boselli, Kone, Maloney.
Alcaraz has been ruled out, so those looking to captain him this week, DONT…. 😉 . Boselli may get his first start of the year as Di Santo is in huge doubt with injury. Alternatively Gomez, who top scored in FPL last year for Wigan, may start on the right of Kone.
Man United v Tottenham
Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Scholes, Kagawa; Welbeck, Van Persie.
Lindegaard and De Gea are hard to split, while Evans come in for the knobbly kneed Vidic. Valencia looks like missing through injury, so Nani or Welbeck could start on the right, while Young‘s injury means Kagawa will take the left flank. Rooney should feature from the bench, but if SAF opts to start with Welbeck on the right flank then Rooney will start alongside RVP.
Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton; Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey; Lennon, Defoe, Bale.
Friedel should fend off Lloris for another week, while if Naughton recovers from the injury that kept him out v QPR he will slot into left back. If he doesn’t come up in time, expect Vertonghen to jump over to the left and Caulker to start alongside Gallas. Dempsey and Sigurdsson are hard to split….both played 90 minutes midweek, but I’m tipping the Texan to pip the Icelandic international. Bale should return to the left flank after AVB realised he was a muppet for starting him at LB and wasting his potential.
Aston Villa v West Brom
Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj; Holman, Bannan, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor; Benteke, Bent.
Guzan starts over Given again, and Lichaj will hope to retain his spot given Bennett’s successful LB debut midweek v Man City. N’zogbia will vie for a start after a solid performance midweek, but the return of Holman will probably relegate him to the bench. Agbonlahor is back to start on the left, while new boy Benteke will battle it out with Weimann for that second striker spot. Ireland misses through injury, meaning Bannan plays as a CM.
Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov; Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Brunt; Morrison; Long.
Popov may make his first team debut over Ridgewell , but it really is a flip of the coin as both are fighting injuries sustained midweek. Dorrans could easily be replaced by Gera, while Morrison will return from a knee injury in time. As it is an away game, I’m tipping Clarke to favour his fast, play on the break striker in Long, which means Lukaku will be featuring from the pine.
QPR v West Ham
Cesar; Bosingwa, Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Dyer; Wright-Phillips, Granero, Faurlin, Park; Cisse, Zamora.
Full back concerns for Mark Hughes are apparent here, with Bosingwa, Traore and Fabio all ruled out. Mbia is also in contention to start at CB, but given his 90 minutes midweek, I’ve opted for the rested Hill. Faurlin has shaken off injury concerns, while I’m tipping a two man strikeforce to take it to the Hammers at Loftus Road, meaning Hoilett and Taarabt will have to wait.
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O’Brien; Vaz Te, Diame, Nolan, Noble, Jarvis; Cole.
Much of the same from the Hammers, as their back four that featured midweek will be overhauled, following statements from Allardyce claiming “we couldn’t have defended a fish supper.” If anyone has ever successfully defended a fish supper, please, let me know how it is done. The only candidate for inclusion would be Maiga following his strike midweek, who would either come in for Cole or more likely Jarvis, who played 90 minutes midweek.
That just about does it. Grand Final day is upon us so I doubt many of you will tinker with your sides until later tonight…But please, heed my warning.
Drink Trade, Bloody Idiot.