Aaaaand we’re back to a normal GameWeek. Champions League midweek fixtures are sure to cause some concern, and with a few players picking up niggles there will be a degree of uncertainty to the starting XI’s… but here’s my two cents worth!
Tottenham v Chelsea
Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Dembele, Sandro; Bale Dempsey Lennon: Defoe.
Adebayor played midweek, so Defoe should start… the rest is pretty predictable. Sigurdsson remains on the pine, while Lloris and Friedel will battle it out for the GK spot… who will get it nobody knows!
Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Oscar, Hazard, Mata; Torres.
Biggest battleground here is between Lampard and Ramires for the spot at CM. As a Chelsea fan I much prefer Ramires there as he protects the back four so so so much better. Ivanovic and Azpilicueta will surely start splitting the time at RB, but I don’t think that will start this match. Sturridge is still suffering from a hamstring complaint.
Fulham v Aston Villa
Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Richardson; Rodallega; Berbatov.
Richardson looks set to start after coming off the bench last week on his return from injury, while Ruiz is expected to miss. This simply means they swap positions, while Berbatov should start for his first game back since injury. Petric is also available and could potentially relegate Rodallega to the bench. Diarra is fit and will add a boost to the midfield physicality, with Baird making way.
Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett; Albrighton, Delph, El Ahmadi, Holman; Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Given‘s fall from grace has taken a lot of us by surprise, so Guzan should remain between the sticks. Albrighton and Holman will offer plenty of pace on the wings, while Bennett is a doubt after sustaining a nasty leg gash last fixture. Lichaj will be his obvious replacement. Bent might start, but he might not- it’s clear he has pissed off Lambert, and Benteke has been in solid form. Clark faces a late fitness test, a failure to come up could hand Baker or Lichaj a start.
Liverpool v Reading
Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Sahin, Gerrard, Allen; Suso, Suarez, Sterling.
Borini is missing three months. Ouch. That means Suso, Sterling, Cole and Downing are the only choices to play on the wing. Enjoy that all you LFC fans. Suarez remains the only CF option, while Wisdom should reclaim his RB spot with Johnson moving to the left as he has most of the year.
McCarthy; Cummings, Gorkss, Mariappa, Shorey; Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Hunt, Pogrebnyak.
Gunter, Pearce and Harte look set to miss in favour of Cummings, Mariappa and Shorey. Hunt has scored in his last two appearances, so looks like getting the nod in a 4-4-2 ahead of a 4-5-1 containing Guthrie in the hole.
Man United v Stoke City
Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Kagawa; Rooney, Van Persie.
I’m struggling to pick Man United’s formation- I think a 4-3-1-2 or a 4-5-1 suits their current predicament nicely, but nonetheless I’ll stick with a safe 4-4-2. Rooney will start, but where I don’t know. He has flourished in a CAM gig, where he feeds Van Persie all day long. Smalling is rumoured to be in contention, but I don’t think he’s worth the risk against a very physical Stoke outfit. Lindegaard and De Gea will continue their merry go round of playing and resting, but if you have either of those players you probably haven’t been paying much attention to your team.
Begovic; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Whelan, Adam, Nzonzi, Kightly; Walters; Crouch.
Wilkinson returns from his red card suspension which means Cameron will probably jump to the bench. Whelan is a doubt on the right flank, and if he doesn’t come up in time I expect Walters to jump into his position, Adam to fill the role in the hole, and Cameron to play a CM.
Swansea v Wigan
Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Ki, Michu, Britton; Routledge, Graham, Hernandez.
Danger game for Swansea here… I think Wigan are in with a good shout for what it’s worth. De Guzman hasn’t been in the good books lately, with Ki being preferred. Mail out of Swansea says that Dyer is struggling with a thigh strain, meaning Routledge and Hernandez will be preferred. My main worry here is Graham. He has only scored once this year, has looked out of touch, and Luke Moore looked good after coming on for him at half time…his inclusion could be a coach killer!
Al Habsi; Figueroa, Ramis, Caldwell; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Maloney; Kone, Di Santo.
Alcaraz is the only injury worry, the Paraguayan is battling a groin problem. I think Wigan could explode this game, Kone suitors watch out!
West Bromwich v Manchester City
Foster; Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Popov; Odemwingie, Mulumbu, Yacob, Dorrans; Morrison; Long.
Reid and Thomas remain injured so Tamas must fill in at RB. Mulumbu is rated a 50/50, while Lukaku is overcoming a niggle which kept him out of the Belgian game.
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Y Toure, Milner, Barry; Aguero, Tevez, Nasri.
So many international players here make the starting XI impossible to predict easily. Richards is fit, but Zabaleta could also take his spot. Kolarov played in the Serbian game midweek so I expect Clichy to be preferred. Silva is set to miss with an ankle knock, while Dzeko played two full games midweek for Bosnia… as did Aguero, but for Argentina. Tevez was rested so will certainly start, while Silva‘s injury will hand Nasri a start. Rodwell is unavailable so I expect Milner to fill that void.
West Ham v Southampton
Jaaskelainen; Tomkins, Reid, Collins, McCartney; Nolan, Noble, Diame; Maiga, Carroll, Jarvis.
A lot of injury doubts for the back four of West Ham, with Demel, Reid and O’Brien all fighting for fitness. Demel is expected to miss, so I reckon Tomkins will slot in at RB. Vaz Te is out for a lengthy period with that dislocated shoulder he suffered v Arsenal, handing Maiga a start on the right of Carroll.
Gazzaniga; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox; Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Davis, Lallana; Rodriguez; Lambert.
Hooiveld will be benched for Yoshida, who seems to have jumped him in the CB pecking order. Puncheon should start over Do Prado, while Rodriguez should continue his role in the hole, as Ramirez is set to miss again.
Norwich v Arsenal
Ruddy; Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington; Hoolahan; Holt.
All aboard the “who cares” wagon. Norwich should be smashed by Arsenal so I’m not going to even bother.
Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Cazorla, Ramsey, Arteta; Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski.
Jenkinson‘s days might be numbered, as Sagna played a full 90 minutes in a mid-week friendly against Chelsea at their Cobham training ground. Koscielny and Gibbs have been ruled out, meaning Mertesacker is nailed on, while Santos looks likely to fill in at LB. Walcott is guaranteed to miss, and with Giroud currently enjoying a slightly purple patch, Wenger will want him to keep that momentum going. I expect Ox to be benched in favour of Gervinho and Podolski on the wings.
Sunderland v Newcastle
Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Gardner will continue to fill in at RB while Bardsley remains injured. Aside from that, the Black Cats are at virtually at full strength, apart from Cattermole missing yet again through suspension.
Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, S Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Guitierrez; Ba, Cisse.
Krul trained successfully this week and is expected to start, but Harper will be on standby. Simpson looks set to return at RB, and with Taylor and Coloccini all returning, Newcastle will have a full strength XI.
QPR v Everton
Cesar; Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Traore; Wright Phillips, Mbia, Granero, Park; Taarabt; Zamora.
Mbia will be deployed in his CDM spot again, at the expense of Faurlin. No new injury worries for Mark Hughes mean he will have a full strength back four for the first time this year. Zamora should start over Cisse, but if a 4-4-2 is deployed at home, expect Wright Phillips or Park to be dropped.
Howard; Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines; Mirallas, Neville, Osman, Pienaar; Naismith; Jelavic.
Fellaini is out. Boom. Sucks because he’s only missing one week, if you can trade him before the price drop then do it, if not I’d hold him til he’s back next week (depending on who can cover of course). Naismith should slot in to the hole behind Jelavic in this case. Mirallas could also do the same thing.
So that just about does it. I cannot wait for Chelsea Tottenham to kick off tonight, and this week looks set to be a cracker! Make sure you all get your teams sorted early… Check Matty’s news wrap and Adz’s captain picks and lock it in!