Hello and welcome to the first edition of the News Wrap for the 2014/15 season. It’s been a massive pre-season but an enjoyable nonetheless. For those new or have forgotten from last year, the News Wrap is a weekly article that covers the latest Injuries and Team News ahead of every gameweek. With the World Cup just gone a lot of players heavily involved will miss for their respective clubs, meaning analysis is important to get off to a good start. Let’s get into it!
- In shocking news before the start of the season, Everton youngster Ross Barkley has been ruled out for around 6 weeks after injuring his leg during training. He will have scans over the weekend to determine the full extent but it’s looking likely that he will miss around the 4-6 weeks. Big news for Everton on the eve of the season opener!
- Luke Shaw will miss around a month of football after scans revealed the full back has damaged his hamstring. It would have been interesting to see if he played against Swansea in the first week after Van Gaal publically disclosed his unhappiness towards his fitness levels. I reckon there is a pretty strong link between his unhappiness and Shaw’s hamstring injury – someone doing extras much?
- Leicester City winger Marc Alrighton was substituted prematurely in their final pre-season hit out with a groin injury. He is extremely doubtful to face Everton so I would be looking at different options for that 4.5m bench coverage. If he does miss as planned, he is hopeful of a return next weekend against Chelsea.
- After missing the vast majority of last season with a ruptured Achilles, Christian Benteke is travelling ahead of schedule and is now on track for a return in September. He could be a nice POD at 8.0m once he returns
- Daniel Agger will once again miss more football, this time through injury however. The centre half has been battling a knee injury since Liverpool’s pre-season camp in the United States, with Rogers saying “Dan is getting some work done on his knee. He’s been unfortunate since the US, he’s still getting treatment.” Looks like a Agger/Lovren partnership for GW1
- Didier Drogba unfortunately suffered an ankle injury in Chelsea’s last pre-season game against Real Sociedad. The Ivorian is expected to miss around 2 weeks but at 36 years of age I imagine it will be highly unlikely that any risk will be taken with his fitness, especially with a red hot Diego Costa chomping at the bit to kick start his Premier League tally.
- LVG has confirmed that Valencia, Shaw, Evans and Welbeck all remain injured and are therefore going to miss out on the game against Swansea this Saturday. One thing we know is that Hernandez and Rooney will start up front!
- Alvaro Negredo suffered a big injury to his foot during pre-season and thus will miss the first 2 months of the season. This does however, pave way for pre-season starlet Stevan Jovetic to start the season with Edin Dzeko up front. Once Sergio Aguero returns to full fitness one of the two will be preferred up front, so it’s a matter of who’s performing the best, an interesting one to watch!
- Cheik Tiote will miss the opening game of the season against last years champions Manchester City as Alan Pardew confirmed yesterday that both he and teammates, Siem de Jong, Papiss Cisse and Davide Santon, were all out of action this weekend. Pardew said, “They’re massive players, but Cheik, for sure, I don’t think is going to make it.”
- Last years defensive sensation Seamus Coleman is in doubt for the season opener against Leicester after the Irish international suffered a setback during pre-season. He still hasn’t recovered and is now expected to miss out on selection this weekend. Is targeting a return against Arsenal next week however. Teammates Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku are also lack match fitness after returning from the World Cup late. There are rumours surrounding the fact that Lukaku may well feature despite not being fully fit, will have to wait and see though as to the extent of these allegations.
- After missing practically the entirety of last season, Everton’s Arouna Kone is returning to full fitness well. Roberto Martinez has been happy with his progression, saying “Kone is training well. We’re very positive about Arouna being able to play some sort of competitive football in the next 4-5 weeks.” I’d say it will be longer than that until he returns to full fitness as he will be lacking match practice after a year off. Looking likely to return fully in 6-7 weeks I’d say.
- Giaccherini will miss the opening 2-3 games of the season as he battles ongoing tightness. Poyet said regarding his midfielder, “Giaccherini is going to be a few weeks. It’s just tightness, a stretch.”
- Joleon Lescott is battling with fitness after making his move to West Brom over the summer. New gaffer Alan Irvine said when asked whether Lescott will feature against Sunderland, saying “All I can do is take timescales from the medical people; at the moment they haven’t given me one.”
- Liverpool summer signing Lazar Markovic is targeting a debut in the Premier League this weekend against Southampton. The winger missed Liverpool’s friendly against Borussia Dortmund and is still under some doubt as to whether he will play. Rogers said during the week “Markovic will hopefully make the Southampton game but if not then he certainly will for the next game. He’s looking very strong.” Don’t like his prospects just yet as a worthy FPL player but wait until he acclimatises to the Premier League, a good young talent.
- Thibaut Courtois was in some doubt over whether he will be in contention to make his Premier League debut against Burnley this weekend. The Belgium has shrugged off concerns by playing the full 90 minutes against Real Sociedad in Chelsea’s last pre-season friendly. Jose Mourinho said during the week that he knows who will start against Burnley but will wait until Sunday to tell the players. I have an inkling it may well be Thibaut.
- After a big world cup Arsene Wenger has publically announced that his German Gooners, Mertesacker, Podolski and Ozil will all miss the first game of the season. This is often the case when a season falls after a World Cup as players really feel the effects of fatigue. This will most likely mean that summer signing Calum Chambers will get a start in at centre half, a position Wenger has been grooming him in over the summer. All are targeting a return against Everton next weekend.
- Like the German’s at Arsenal, Robin Van Persie will also miss the start of the season as he hasn’t played any part whatsoever in United’s pre-season campaign. Van Gaal said when asked about his chances for playing Swansea, saying “No chance. He has to train”. This means than Hernandez will get the nod alongside new skipper Wayne Rooney due to Welbeck’s slight injury.
- Another two players playing a huge part in the World Cup was the City striker from Argentia, Sergio Aguero, and fullback Pablo The pair both played a crucial role for Argentina so both are expected to miss the opening game of the season. One thing we know from last year is that Sergio really struggled with injury, as a result will be taking a lot more of a cautious approach this time around. This means that with the injury to Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko will start the season up front, until of course Aguero returns. As for a Zabaleta replacement, summer signing Bacary Sagna could be in line to start the season off.
- Ramies will miss the last game of the season due to a carry over suspension from last year. The ban is only for the opening game against Burnley meaning he will be available to face Leicester the following week. This makes Mourinho’s selection in midfield somewhat easier meaning he will likely go with the partnership of Fabregas and Matic, only time will tell as to what exact role he has in store for Fabregas….
- After announcing that he has signed with Manchester City during the wek, Eliaquim Mangala has admitted he won’t be fit for the game against Newcastle, saying “I will need a bit of time in order to be 100%”. This means that skipper Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis will kick start things off like last season. However once Mangala does return to fitness it’d mean goodbye to Demichelis’ starting spot. At 6.0m he is a very tasty option into City’s defence, once of course he returns that is. A transfer after the Chelsea game (GW5) looks on the cards as City’s fixtures start to clear up nicely after that – lock it in Eddie.
- Swansea are boosted by the return of Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge after the pair missed their final pre-season friendly last weekend. Dyer was absent due to personal reasons while Routledge missed out due to having an injection to fix a foot problem, both being available for this weekend’s trip to Manchester though.
- After having an extremely strange pre-season, Loic Remy seemed destined to become a Liverpool player. After failing a medical he was then rumoured to be linked with a number of Premier League clubs, only to be looking like staying at Premier League newbies QPR. Remy hasn’t featured much at all during pre-season but is still in contention to face Hull City this weekend, with Harry saying “Hopefully he’ll be ready to play against Hull this weekend”. Another wait-and-see prospect that will be determined when the team sheets are released on Saturday! Harry did confirm however, that Adel Taarabt will not play a part against Hull, saying “Adel isn’t fit, he hasn’t done one days training since we got back in pre-season”.
- New Everton loanee, Christian Atsu will be in contention for selection sooner than expected due to keeping himself in good condition over his break. Martinez said when asked about his prospects, “We should see Christian playing very soon because he’s been keeping himself very fit, he’s been training well in the last few weeks”. At 6.0m he may well be a solid candidate in our teams, another very good talent.
- Big Sam said in his press conference that he is ‘still waiting’ for Enner Valencia to reach full fitness but admitted ‘that’s a situation that’s developing quite nicely’. With Andy Carroll sidelined with a serious ankle injury Enner will be intrusted to lead the Hammers. Allardyce confirmed that Matt Jarvis will miss the game against Tottenham this weekend through a knock he received during pre-season.
- Arsenal new boy David Ospina is still struggling with a thigh injury he sustained in the World Cup meaning he will miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season. Wenger also confirmed that both Walcott and Miyachi were unavailable against Crystal Palace this weekend but are expected to return to training within the next two weeks, exciting news – especially over Walcott.
- New Spurs boss has said that Chiriches, Dawson and Walker are all a chance of making the squad for the West Ham game despite ongoing concerns they’re battling with fitness issues.
As the transfer window is still open it’s time to analyse possible transfers into and out of the Premier League, lets have a look at the bigger rumours spreading around and some already completed deals ahead of the season opener.
- A deal that has already been completed is Shane Long’s move from Hull City to Southampton. After only spending 8 months at Hull, Long has decided Southampton is his next destination after the club was left in turmoil thanks to the max exodus to Liverpool. The relevance to this move means that the main striker role at Southampton, previously locked in by summer signing Pelle, is now under some doubt. This basically means that we cannot safely pick these two strikers until we get a look at how they’re lining up. I’d be avoiding both for the time being…
- Southampton made another signing with the small fortune that Liverpool funded them over the summer, brining in a desperately needed centre half. Florin Gardos made his move to Southampton, which unfortunately means that potential FPL bargain, Yoshida, will get relegated to the bench once Gardos is fully fit. He has been ruled out for the opening game against Liverpool which means Yoshida will get a crack but after that it’s looking bleak for the Japanese defender.
- Martin Kelly has left boyhood club Liverpool and joined the recently manager-less Crystal Palace. Kelly signed on for £5m and said when he arrived that he was looking forward to working under Tony Pulis… Well how’s that working out for you Martin? At 4.5m he represents great value in FPL as Palace are in desperate need of one more solid defender. However with Pulis leaving by mutual consent we are unsure how they will perform defensively this campaign, therefore making it near impossible to select any of their defenders with any confidence. A pass for me.
- After a fantastic World Cup Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado is rumoured to be linked to Manchester United in a sensational switch from Firoentina to the Red Devils. Adding fuel to the rumours, Cuadrado has been left out of the squad to face Real Madrid this weekend meaning a possible move could be on the cards. He would be fantastic at United and represents good value in FPL as well!
- After leaving Chelsea at the end of last season, seasoned veteran Samuel Eto’o is linked to possible moves back to the Premier League to either Everton or Liverpool. In what would be astonishing circumstances I couldn’t see him being value in FPL with the likes of Lukaku, Sturridge and Lambert all ahead of him in the pecking order. Speaking of Liverpool, they are also linked with the likes of Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao. They will apparently ‘chase star strikers until deadline day’ in the hope to improve their strike partnership of Sturridge and Liverpool proved last year that they like to play two strikers up front which means it would either be Cavani/Falcao and Sturridge up front, a deadly partnership in any circumstances. Don’t see this deal coming to fruition but would be amazing for both EPL and FPL if it does!
Well that’s the first wrap of all the latest news and injuries ahead of a big opening gameweek! I hope you’re all as excited as I am, it’s finally here! Cheers!