We’re back! It’s only two days since the last gameweek and we’re already preparing for another one! We are well and truly submerged into the hectic Christmas Period where there are 7 gameweeks in the space of 1 month! It’s very good for football & fantasy football fans but with the hectic schedule it always leaves the door open for injuries and players being rested. With the space between gameweek 13 & 14 so small there is always the possibility of rotation and of course injury – let’s assess the damage!
- In what has been a rather barren spell of late for Manchester United singing Angel Di Maria, the Argentine has unfortunately succumb to injury after being substituted after only 13 minutes against Hull on the weekend. The playmaker limped off with a suspected hamstring injury and has consequently been ruled out of United’s midweek game against Stoke. After scores of only 2, 2, 6, 5, 1 in his past 5 outings he really wasn’t producing the premium scores we all expect. This injury is actually seemingly a blessing in disguise for managers looking to offload the Red Devil, with this a great opportunity to part ways with him. The injury isn’t believed to be overly serious, however it is bad enough to rule him out of United’s midweek game against Stoke, with Van Gaal saying “Angel shall be out for Stoke City.” More news regarding the full extent to his injury will come later in the week.
- In the 11th hour last gameweek news emerged that Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul had suffered an ankle injury during training and was under an injury cloud heading into Newcastle’s game against West Ham. The severity wasn’t overly known but over the past 24-48 hours news has emerged that the Dutchman is expected to be sidelined until at least the New Year. This is good news for back-up keeper Rob Elliot who at just 4.0 all of a sudden becomes fantasy relevant. With Krul expected to be sidelined until the start-mid January, Elliot is in line to feature in 7 straight gameweeks for the Toon, meaning he will play against Burnley, Chelsea, Arsenal, Sunderland, Manchester United, Everton & Burnley again. Not the best fixtures but a starting keeper at 4.0 could be very handy to free up cash for elsewhere! Williamson, Haidara and Janmaat are also expected to miss Tuesday’s game against Burnley through injury, with Pardew saying “all the ones who are struggling, we could be without Williamson, Haidara and Janmaat on top of the injuries we already have.”
- Morgan Schneiderlin was substituted at Half Time in Southampton’s game against Manchester City on Sunday and it has since been revealed the Frenchman was struggling with a problem in his abductor. Koeman said that he will be unavailable for their trip to Arsenal and added, “he will have a scan on his injured abductor today.” Jack Cork was a surprise absentee from Southampton’s matchday squad but it was revealed the midfielder was struggling through illness. Koeman confirmed that he should be available for Southampton’s game on Wednesday after saying on Monday, “Jack I hope will be back, we need the players.”
- Brendan Rogers has confirmed that both Mario Balotelli and Mamadou Sakho will once again be unavailable for Liverpool. Rogers said on Monday, “the squad will be pretty much the same. Sakho trained yesterday with the team for the first time, but wont be match-ready yet. And Mario is still not fit.” Looks like a relatively similar starting XI for Rogers and Liverpool as they take on Leicester on Tuesday. Will he restore his faith back in Stevie G? Hmmm….
- It really wasn’t going to be too long before Diego Costa served his first suspension of his Premier League career, unfortunately it has come at a very inopportune time. His feisty and competitive attitude, not to mention his love for a rash challenge or two, makes him very susceptible to gaining a yellow card! During Chelsea’s stalemate at The Stadium of Light on Saturday Costa received his 5th yellow card of the season, which as we all know results in a one match suspension. As a result of his antics with John O’Shea and Wes Brown, the Spaniard will consequently miss Chelsea’s derby against Tottenham on Wednesday. Thankfully it is only the one match ban and he will be available to take on Newcastle come Saturday. With Costa’s recent run of injuries it’s probably not the worst thing in the world that he is unavailable for Chelsea’s midweek fixture. And besides, I’d rather know he’s not going to be available than have Mourinho spring a selection nightmare on us by resting him! Also regarding suspension, club and country teammate, Cesc Fabregas, is only 1 yellow card away form serving his one match ban as well. With 6 games until every players yellow card count is reset in January, the midfielder is going to have to be very careful with his challenges. Just be wary a stint on the sidelines could be just around the corner for Cesc as well.
- Sam Allardyce has confirmed that summer signing Enner Valencia will return for the Hammers on Tuesday as they prepare to face West Brom at The Hawthorns. He said to the media on Monday, “Valencia comes back into the squad and it’s about picking a team with the physical capabilities to come out again on a Tuesday.” In better news for The Hammers it is looking like Diafra Sakho is in line for a return to Premier League football after the striker has been struggling with a recent back injury. He has missed West Ham’s last two games after returning back from International Duty injured but looks like he has finally recovered. The latest news suggests he will be included in the matchday squad but there are conflicting opinions after Allardyce said in his Monday press conference, “It’s a disappointment as Sakho has been out for a while. If all goes well he could be back to face Swansea on Saturday.” This rather confuses the situation because the latest news suggests he will be available for their game on Tuesday despite what Big Sam is saying here. I think a spot on the bench is probably best case scenario with a full return against Swansea on Saturday the likely situation.
- Alan Pardew has hinted that Newcastle are set to see the return of injured trio Fabricio Colloccini, Rolando Aarons and Emmanuel Riviere for their game against Burnley on Tuesday. Pardew said on Monday, “We’ve got half coming back that will feature against Burnley. Riviere, even though he didn’t get on because of the injury to Daryl, is ready to play. Aarons should be around on Tuesday, and the same for Colloccini. That’s what Premier League squads are for.”
- Winston Reid will be available for West Ham’s game against West Brom on Tuesday after serving his one-match suspension for accumulating 5 yellow cards in their win over Newcastle last weekend. Should slot straight back into the starting XI.
- Kyle Naughton will be available for Spurs’ trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday should Pochettino see fit to pick him, after the right back has served his second suspension of the season. He has missed Spurs’ last two games against Hull and Everton after being sent off against Stoke in gameweek 11. With Walker still unavailable he might well come straight back in, especially if Vlad Chiriches is their only other option at right back.
Well that wraps up a quick assessment of all the injuries and team news ahead of a midweek fixture! Feel free to post any selection queries in the comments below. I’ll be back on Saturday for another edition – gotta love it! Cheers and good luck!