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Week 9 - Team, Injury & Suspension News

Ramires walks off the pitch during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge
Ramires walks off the pitch during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge

As if often the case after a midweek of Champions League and Europa League football, we have a lot of injury fall-out thrown on top of the injuries and suspensions picked up last weekend, so let's waste no further time ... this is what you need to know as we approach the Week 9 deadline.

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Carl Jenkinson is "very unlikely" to be ready to play for Arsenal against Stoke City this weekend, while Kieran Gibbs will be out for another 10-14 days due to the stomach muscle problem he picked up in the Sunderland game. That will mean Johan Djorou filling in at right-back and he's a handy replacement at 5.84 if you had Jenkinson in your team. Andre Santos will continue at left-back & Aaron Ramsey should be ready to start after coming off the bench to score a vital winner in the Champions League in mid-week and Robin Van Persie will look to continue his scoring streak supported by 2 from 3 of Gervinho, Theo Walcott and/or Andrei Arshavin.

Villas-Boas has confirmed that Ramires is out of Chelsea's trip to Queens Park Rangers after failing to recover from the injury he picked up against Everton, so Mikel should come in. Fernando Torres serves the final game of his suspension which should mean Didier Drogba leads the line, supported by Daniel Sturridge & Juan Mata after all 3 were rested in midweek. It's less clear what will happen in a right-back. David Luiz continues to push for a league start after impressing against Genk but that would require Jose Bosingwa or Branislav Ivanovic to drop to the bench, which seems unlikely.


Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will be without the suspended Lucas (5 bookings) and has to decide whether he sticks with Martin Kelly at right-back or bring in the returning Glen Johnson. My hope is that he continues with the youngster, who I feel is already a better defender than Johnson will ever be. Jordan Henderson will surely come in for Lucas after an impressive cameo against Manchester United and it'll be Andy Carroll vs Dirk Kuyt in the race to partner Luis Suarez (if that was a fight I'd be cheering on Dirk all the way).

Nice and straight-forward if you're looking to add any Bolton players this weekend as Owen Coyle revealed no new injuries to his squad and suggests he won't change a winning team after 3 vital points at Wigan last weekend. That would mean a line-up of Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Cahill, Boyata, Wheater, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Pratley, Petrov, Davies, Ngog. Easy.

It's a similar story at St James' Park where Newcastle manager Alan Pardew must be tempted to continue with the side that started against Tottenham. I'd imagine the only possible changes would be Ben Arfa coming in (possibly for Gabriel Obertan), and perhaps Shola Ameobi for Leon Best, although these really are my own guesses because both did well when entering that match as substitutes. If he keepers things the same it would be: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, R Taylor, S Taylor, Gutierrez, Cabaye, Tiote, Obertan, Ba, Best.

Tottenham have a bit of defensive crisis, with their 3 first choice centre backs - Michael Dawson, Ledley King & William Gallas - out injured. That should mean Younes Kaboul is partnered by the rather affordable Sebastien Bassong, and the players rested in the Europa League (Emmanuel Adebayor, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale & Scott Parker) should return. Jermain Defoe will also pushing for a place after his goal last weekend, as will Sandro, with Jake Livermore possibly dropping to the bench.

I don't think there's any chance of Sir Alex Ferguson fielding a weakened team for the big-show down between Manchester United & Manchester City this weekend. Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez should lead the line with Nani & Ashley Young back on the flanks. I'd imagine he'll opt for the experience of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, which would mean Chris Smalling and Phil Jones fighting out for the right-back spot.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is fit to start so Roberto Mancini has to decide if he partners him with Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko or fields a five man midfield with David Silva supporting Aguero. I think it would be good if  City went for it with a proper 4-4-2 and I'd like to see Balotelli given the chance to show what he can do on the big stage, but Mancini is keeping his cards close to his chest - and has close to a fully fit squad to choose from - so we don't know for sure at this stage.

Aston Villa are one side almost certain to return to a 4-4-2 formation at home to West Brom after being forced to change things against a far superior City side last weekend. I mentioned it my Player Picks, and I'll repeat that I expect this see the return of Barry Bannan in midfield, with Gabby Agbonlahor & Darren Bent set to be the partners up front. James Collins is back from injury so Clark will drop to the bench.

Wolves' Steven Fletcher is out for a couple of weeks so Mick McCarthy must decide whether to risk Sylvain Ebanks-Blake alongside Kevin Doyle or go 4-5-1 with Jamie O'Hara, Milijas, Stephen Ward or Stephen Hunt pushed up in support of the big Irishman.

Connor Wickham could get the nod to start upfront alongside the returning Nicklas Bendtner for Sunderland's massive game at Bolton. Sebastian Larsson is suspended after picking up 5 yellow cards (4 in the league and 1 in the Carling Cup against Brighton) no he's not. Stephane Sessegnon may need to drop back in to midfield to keep his place if Wickham is given a chance.

I'll leave the news there for now but I'll be checking Sky Sports News / online sources again later tonight, so I'll add anything else relevant I come across. If there's anything you think I've missed at this stage then please add it to the comments section below (or use a FanPost / FanShot!)

I have been so busy with work, the Blog Cup and researching for this post that I haven't had a chance to look at my team yet, so again I'll get round to that tonight. This is "where I was at" when I wrote my Player Picks on Wednesday and it all still applies.

De Gea, Brown, Boyata, Santos, Bannan, Silva, Gerrard, Lampard, Adebayor, Sturridge, Suarez (2.63 in the bank)

I'm still considering bringing Van Persie back in (at 25 after accidentally dropping him last weekend) for one of my front 3 (though I'm unsure who to drop), but to free up the funds for that move I'd need to downgrade Lampard, maybe to Eagles or Petrov. Alternatively, I could look to bring in Van Der Vaart in midfield, but I'm not sure how that would work yet. De Gea, Brown, Boyata, Santos, Bannan (if set to come back in) & Gerrard are all likely to stay barring injuries.

Please let me know how your Week 9 team is shaping up. Did you make it through to the 3rd Round of The Blog Cup?

Cheers, Nik