Welcome to Week 14 where we won't have Steve Bruce to kick around any more but remarkable still DO have Steve Kean to kick around. The big matches in the real world are NUFC vs. Chelsea at the top and Wolves vs. Sunderland at the bottom. In our little fantasy world, we are all looking for that last bit of information that will help us figure out who will be rotated, who will fail their late fitness tests, and who will replace them.
Here is a comprehensive summary of team news from Soccernet. After the jump, you will find our analysis of that team news and how it might impact your team selections.
NUFC vs. Chelsea - Tiote and Gutierrez are both out (injury and suspension respectively) which will test Newcastle's resolve as they combine to make the Magpies midfield a difficult one to get through. On the Chelsea side there really isn't much worth commenting on. Overall, the NUFC absences increase Chelsea's chances slightly but not enough that I'm making any roster decisions based on it.
Rovers vs. Swansea - For Rovers, a bunch of defenders (Salgado, Olsson, and Samba) are uncertain, Nzonzi is suspended and their best attacking player, Junior Hoilett is doubtful. Not good news for a team that isn't that great at full strength. For Swansea, the biggest news found here is that the excellently nicknamed Ashley "Jazz" Richards (priced 3.06) will likely start for the even-better-named Angel Rangel. Buyer beware though, Richards managed a yellow card and negative points in his sub appearance last weekend.
Manchester City vs. Norwich City - Nothing important from the Norwich side and nothing that really helps from the Manchester City side of things. The team news makes the same speculation that we did yesterday (Aguero a strong possibility to be rested) but don't seem to have any evidence to indicate that they are doing anything other than speculating.
QPR vs. WBA - Modestly-priced SWP is a doubt which rules him out of your plans if ever he was in them. An interesting name might be Simon Cox who is priced very affordably at 4.87 and seems to be the most likely candidate to replace the injured Zoltan Gera. Not a bad price since Loftus Road isn't exactly Old Trafford (although Old Trafford hasn't really been Old Trafford recently, has it?).
Tottenham vs. Bolton - The husband of our favorite hottie seems to be on speaking terms with his hamstring this week which likely means he'll partner K2 and push Defoe to the bench (my assumption). A reminder that David Wheater is suspended if you were thinking he might be a good cheap option - Boyata is your man if you need an enabler from Bolton's defense (not that I'm recommending it).
Wigan vs. Arsenal - Nothing important to see here. You know about the long-term absences (Wilshere, Gibbs, etc) and there's nothing given or even speculated at related to possible rotations for Arsenal (e.g., will RvP start against weak opposition? did the Ox earn another start?). We're all left to our own intuition here.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester United - A few fairly unimportant United injuries - Rafael, Fabio, Welbeck, Anderson, Berbs, etc. I don't think any of them (other than long-term absentee Cleverley) would have started anyway so really nothing to see here.
Everton vs. Stoke City - Really not much here other than the suggestion that Velios is "pushing for a start" which doesn't tell us much and isn't backed up by anything definitive from David Moyes. The statement regarding Rodwell, Neville, and Distin is among the more obtuse statements I've ever read in a Team News report. It says that he was hoping they'd be available LAST WEEK but gives no indication of their status for THIS WEEK. Very odd but depending on what you make of it, it could impact your interest in Heitinga.
Wolverhampton vs. Sunderland - Wolves get a bunch of players (Hunt, O'Hara, Doyle, and Steerman) back as we discussed in TWA yesterday. They are missing Karl Henry which may impact their defense but I hope you weren't betting on a Wolves clean sheet so it shouldn't impact your team selection. Nothing too exciting from the Sunderland side other than reminders about some of their longer-term absentees.
Fulham vs. Liverpool - It looks like Duff and Dembele are out or at least doubtful which will hurt the attack. Liverpool will be happy to hear this since Henderson and Spearing are the two names mentioned as potential replacements for the injured Lucas. I don't think of Henderson as a holding option and Spearing has only ever been on the fringes of the Liverpool squad. This is perhaps the most interesting match-up of the weekend but nothing I'm going to get too excited about for fantasy purposes.
After a few weeks of sporadic service, I'll be back tomorrow to be heavily involved in our Live Chat (you can decide if you think that's a good thing or a bad thing). Good luck with your selections.