Hello and welcome to this weeks addition of the News Wrap. Firstly, apologies for being out of action for the past two game weeks, I was away from home for a few days which was unfortunately during the most important time for Fantasy Premier League managers. Anyway, I’m back and we have been handed a late Christmas present – a wildcard! It’s very important as to when you use your wildcard as it can literally make or break the remainder of your season. If you haven’t checked out Matt’s Transfer Talk Wildcard Special, I thoroughly recommend you do so, especially if you’ve played your wildcard this game week. We’ve had a nice break from Premier League action over the past week and a half but League Cup and FA Cup games still proceeded and some massive injuries were sustained to key FPL players, lets analyse it!
- For those unaware, arguably one of the most valuable Fantasy Premier League players, when in full swing, sustained a season ending knee injury against Tottenham midweek. Theo Walcott tragically has had his season cut short due to rupturing his ACL in a rather inconspicuous challenge. The Englishman will not only miss the remainder of the season but is looking more and more likely to miss the World Cup as well. After being in a fantastic run of form since returning from another injury, Walcott is going to be sorely missed by all of his managers’ but we must move on. The likes of David Silva, Steven Gerrard, Ozil, Cazorla and Toure all pose as handy replacements.
- In what seems to be a massive week for premium Fantasy Premier League players going down with injury, Wayne Rooney is joining the list. Wayne hasn’t been 100% recently and has shown with his scoring output. The Englishmen was rested for both of United’s midweek fixtures against Swansea and Sunderland respectively and will miss again this weekend. Moyes said “His groin hasn’t quite recovered. He‘s away with his family and the coach. Hopefully we can get him fit to face Chelsea”. Massive news for Manchester United in what is seemingly a crucial game! With RVP only likely to make the bench (at best) Welbeck could be a very good replacement, even despite playing both the games during the week. He’s scored 5 goals in 5 games in the Premier League!
- Leighton Baines having just returned from injury is once again under an injury cloud. Although Roberto Martinez was quick to comment on the issue and has seemingly downplayed it. He said “Baines was just a back spasm, he is recovering well as we expected. I would say he will be back in training on Thursday”. Should be fine for the Norwich game.
- Yaya Toure suffered an ankle injury in Manchester City’s triumph in the League Cup over West Ham midweek. Mr. Consistent is expected to be fine for the trip to Newcastle but is still under that slight injury cloud. Will face a late fitness test but I’d presume he’ll be fine.
- Daniel Agger suffered a calf injury in Liverpool’s third-round win over Oldham in the FA Cup last weekend. The defender will miss around four weeks after scans revealed the full extent of his calf injury.
- Ross Barkley is also under an injury cloud heading into this weekends game against Norwich. The young midfielder has a swollen toe but is still expected to play on the weekend. Martinez said “Ross had a knock on the toe in his right foot. It’s a bit swollen but we are hoping that he is going to be fine for the weekend”.
- Rio Ferdinand suffered a knee injury in Manchester United’s narrow 2-1 defeat at home to Swansea last weekend and consequently will be out of action for around two weeks. Scans revealed heavy brusing rather than damage to the ligaments or tendons which is slightly better news for United and Rio. Although he has grown out of favour with David Moyes and game time in the Premier League isn’t as it once was. Team mate Evans would be a better choice if you’re after a United defender, for whatever reason…
- Soldado is currently a 50/50 chance to make this weekends game against Crystal Palace after the Spanish striker suffered a knock to his calf. Will face a very late fitness test and is touch and go at the moment. Although there shouldn’t be anyone stressing over his fitness as he is seemingly only relying on penalties to generate points. I would be more interested in his new and improved rejuvenated team mate, Emmanuel Adebayor, who looks to have a new lease on life and is loving playing under Tim Sherwood.
- Branislov Ivanovic suffered a knee injury before Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Southampton two weeks ago and is now set to miss the whole of January. Azpilicueta has been in fantastic form at right back and is now someone to seriously consider now he is getting regular game time. He will hold down that right back position while Ivanovic is out and may even take the number one spot at left back depending on how Ashley Cole is with Jose Mourinho, one of those ‘we’ll have to wait and see’ moments. Team mate and legend, Frank Lampard will also miss the remainder of January after suffering an injury around the same time as Ivanovic. Is expected to return late January/early February.
- Libor Kozak has been in somewhat unexpected form recently and was filling the void left by a out-of-form Christian Benteke. Unfortunately for Villa, the Czech Republic striker suffered a broken leg in a training match during the week. According to witnesses it was a rather innocuous incident and was seemingly a fair challenge. Hopefully there is some good to come out of this and Benteke finally recaptures his dominant form from last year.
- At the start of the year Liverpool were the lucky owners of the most destructive partnership in the Premier League, the SAS. Unfortunately this lethal attack was broken due to an injury to Daniel Sturridge but boy did Suarez keep the foot on the accelerator. Sturridge is going to return against Stoke on Sunday after recovering from that ankle injury that has seen him sidelined for well over a month. People that are questioning Suarez’s scoring output with Sturridge there shouldn’t even think about it. They work together exceptionally well as a unit and if one scores, the other is usually providing the assist. So definitely don’t be afraid of reuniting the partnership in your fantasy team after a few games.
- After returning from injury against Hull last gameweek, Captain Fantastic Steven Gerrard is a lock to start against Stoke on Sunday and will be looking to continue his fantastic form pre-injury. Gerrard had 5 assists and 1 goal in 5 gameweeks before his injury and was really asking questions of FPL managers. Priced at a measly 8.7 Gerrard is seriously underpriced and will be looking to recapture that magnificent form. Considering he is on penalty duties he looks set to be a fantastic pick, especially with only 5.1% ownership.
- Mesut Ozil made his return from a shoulder injury against Tottenham midweek and looks set to make his return to the Premier League this weekend as well. The German playmaker missed games against Newcastle and Cardiff but currently looks set to return against Aston Villa this weekend. After dropping originally down to 9.9 this week, Ozil is now priced at an even 10.0 and looks to be a great replacement for Theo Walcott especially considering he was once priced at 10.8 back in gameweek 10!
- Sergio Aguero is nearing a return after being sidelined since Manchester City’s 6-3 triumph over Arsenal. The Argentine has been working hard on his rehab and will hopefully come back bigger and better than ever. Pellegrini said “Sergio is working normally but I think he has at least one or two weeks more to go, probably two”.
- Ramsey has been making good progress since his injury and a return within the next week is looking likely. An away trip to Aston Villa will come to early but the following week at home against Fulham is becoming a real possibility. Since his injury he has become somewhat of a forgotten man after his dominate start to the season. With similar midpricers like Eriksen and Cabaye filling his boots while he has been out it will be a tough choice as to whether you bring him in straight away. Personally I will be giving him 1-2 games to show his worth and then making a decision. Like Matt said, he could be in a similar boat as Felliani was when he returned from injury last year and as a result his scoring output took a horrendous turn for the worst. Gibbs has a “small chance” according to Wenger. If he doesn’t come up Monreal should continue to hold it down at Left Back.
- Liverpool centre half, Sakho, has a good chance to return for the game against Stoke on the weekend. He only had a minor problem but still was enough to keep him out of Liverpool’s win over Hull in gameweek 20. With Agger sustaining a calf injury he should slot straight back into the first XI. Also nearing a return, is defensive team mate Jose Enrique after missing around two months with an ankle injury. He is expected to return in around two weeks so don’t go brining him in yet. In fact, Liverpool have been extremely frustrating in terms of clean sheets so unless a massive change occurs I wouldn’t be looking to bring him in at all.
- Tim Krul suffered a very minor shoulder problem and subsequently was not risked in Newcastle’s FA Cup game on Saturday. The Dutchman should be fine to return in a massive game against Manchester City at the Toon this weekend.
- Yohan Cabaye was a major doubt for this weekends massive clash against Newcastle but has been passed fit to play. The Frenchman was struggling with an Achilles injury and was touch and go as to whether he would have made it. Pardew commented on the issue saying “The diagnosis on Yohan is that he isn’t going to train until Friday, so we’ll have to wait and see on him”. He did end up training yesterday and has been passed fit. Eriksen looks fantastic value against Crystal Palace at home if you’re worried he wont play though.
- The king of forgotten men, Robin Van Persie, returned to light training last week and is in serious considerations for a spot on the bench against Swansea this weekend. A starting XI role is seemingly ludicrous at this stage but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he makes the bench. If he doesn’t then next weeks trip to Chelsea could see the return of Robin. At his price though I’d rather have a Suarez, Rooney or Aguero though to be honest.
- Oxlade-Chamberlain made his long awaited return for Arsenals under21’s team against Fulham midweek and got through unscaved. He played 45 minutes on Thursday night and has been out for an eternity with a knee injury and will be looking to fight for a starting XI spot, especially with the recent injury to Theo Walcott.
- Both Ricky Lambert and Gaston Ramirez were forced off due to injury in Southamptons midweek win against Burnley. But Southampton have since confirmed that the duo will be right to face West Brom this weekend.
- At the start of the year there were serious considerations of giving Andy Carroll a starting XI spot in our Fantasy Premier League teams. But due to injury keeping the big man out he has become somewhat of a forgotten man. Big Andy has returned to training the past couple of weeks and from all reports has had a monstrous rehab and is looking fit than ever before. He has a massive point to prove after his previous hefty transfer fee, but he is ready to put that behind him and hopefully help the Hammers avoid relegation. Allardyce said “Andy is training today and hopefully we’ll see him on the bench in the next week or so”. With Carlton Cole arguably their best striker at the moment Carroll should walk straight into their starting XI and could potentially be a great POD. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
- After missing Everton’s 1-1 draw with Stoke in gameweek 20 with a hamstring injury, Sylvian Distin is nearing a return this weekend against Norwich. He will face a late fitness test before the game and is currently a 50/50 chance of playing. Touch and go at the moment, more likely to miss than play.
- After missing Arsenal’s home game against Cardiff in gameweek 20, Giroud was given a well deserved rest against Tottenham midweek and now is fit and available against Aston Villa this weekend. With Bendtner going down with injury, Giroud will once again play the lone striker role with Podolski giving him the occasional chop out. Although recently his form hasn’t been up to scratch especially considering the plethora of options we are blessed with up front this year. I wouldn’t be considering him to be honest.
- Jesus Navas suffered a knock to the knee midweek and as a result missed Manchester City’s 6-0 battering against West Ham. It is seemingly just a precaution but you never really know these days so we’ll have to wait and see the team news this weekend. However with City’s squad strength and depth I couldn’t consider him as a viable option I’m afraid.
If you guys remember back to the start of the News Wrap articles you would remember a section on the latest Transfer Rumours. Well now that the January Transfer Window has opened this segment has returned! I will anaylse any possible additons/departures to the Premier League and evaluate their worth to your FPL team. Lets get stuck into it!
- There has been constant speculation surrounding the lack of depth up front for Arsenal which has caused the club to be linked with many strikers around the world. Alvaro Morata is the latest striker linked with Arsenal after the 21-year-old is reportedly after a loan spell at the London club. The Spanish Striker has found it difficult to break into the Real Madrid starting XI this year (who wouldn’t?) and is now after some experience elsewhere. If this move does end up happening I don’t believe that it would be a beneficial one to FPL managers. His lack of experience and the fact that he is on loan means he will find it difficult to get regular starts at such a big club. Pass for me.
- Belgium young gun, Kevin De Bruyne, has been constantly amid speculation regarding his future at Chelsea after a very slow start this year. The Belgian has found it difficult to adapt to the Premier League and to such a big club in Chelsea and has only started twice for the club. A move to Wolfsburg looks like a real possibility with the club prepared to pay £18m. Although Chelsea are reportedly asking for around £25m in what seems like a lot of negotiating still needs to be done.
- What does the first thing a manager does when his side is underperforming? Look to buy. And that’s exactly what David Moyes is looking to do this transfer window, or that’s what reports suggest at least. Manchester United have been linked with a number of top class players with the majority just speculation so far. Although over the past couple of days Ilkay Gundogan has been heavily linked with a move to the Red Devils. Borussia Dortmund aren’t going to let him do easy though and are reportedly planning to offer the German star a new contract. Would be a fantastic addition to the Premier League but at the moment is looking unlikely to happen. Will have to wait and see how things progress over the coming days.
- Jermain Defoe has left Tottenham and the Premier League after a serious lack of action this year has frustrated the former star. Defoe has confirmed a move to MLS club, Toronto, but Harry Redknapp is willing to get Defoe on loan before the MLS season starts in March. He has been a fantastic servant for Tottenham and the Premier League and thoroughly deserves to chase game time.
- Nikica Jelavic has been granted permission to speak to Hull City after Everton has accepted a fee from the newly promoted side. This would be a fantastic move personally for Jelavic as he has seen very limited game time for Everton this season with the addition of Lukaku. He was in fantastic pre-season form and was on peoples radars so if he recaptures that form at Hull he could be a very good pick up. Definitely one to watch if the deal follows through.
Well that’s the latest addition of all the Injury and Team news with a little bit of Transfer Rumours as well. What an addition this was. Once again I am sorry for my absences over the last two game weeks but am back and raring to go! Good luck this weekend and I hope if you played your wildcard it worked out well for you! Cheers.