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Late Fitness Check: Injury and Suspension Analysis for Match Week 32

We had a long injury list in mid-week so how does it look now that teams have had their Friday press conferences and released their injury news? How does all that impact your fantasy selections? Let's see...

What are Spurs without their wing speed? We'll likely find out this weekend
What are Spurs without their wing speed? We'll likely find out this weekend
Julian Finney

It was a big week for injuries and injury news and it got even bigger yesterday when Gareth Bale went down with an ankle injury in Europa Cup action. It appears that he will miss at least this weekend's match with Everton. Aaron Lennon is also questionable for the match with the Toffees after suffering a knee issue against Basle. Throw in the injury to Jermain Defoe (out for the next three weeks) and all of a sudden Spurs goes from a team with speed to burn all across the attack to one whose attacking strength is almost entirely up the middle with Moussa Dembele, K2, Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Dempsey has played a wide role for the US at times but even his "wide" play tends to be far less so than a traditional winger. My impression (albeit based on far fewer viewings) is that Holtby is similar to Dempsey in his natural tendency to play toward the middle even if nominally stationed in a wide role. The other major difference is obviously the lack of replacements with similar top-end speed to frighten the bejeezus out of the defense.

If the opponent this weekend were bottom-half fodder this might not be such a big deal as Spurs are still a talented group even without Bale/Lennon/Defoe but Everton are a better-than-average opponent. The decision to "go for it" in the Europa League and play Bale vs. conserving him for the stretch run for 3rd/4th could end up being a big deal.

For fantasy purposes, it seems possible that all five of Dembele, Holtby, Siggy, Deuce and K2 will get starts with Dempsey (down to 9.66 due to his reserve role catching up to him in the Yahoo pricing system) and Holtby (almost free at 1.47) being particularly interesting options.

In other news (you can find all the news compiled in one place at SoccerNet):

Reading vs. Southampton - Not much of interest from Reading unless you were interested in their goalkeeper position where it appears to be a three way battle between Adam Federici, Alex McCarthy and Stuart Taylor which means you shouldn't pick any of them. The Saints have more interesting news with Adam Lallana potentially back but note the use of the word "could" in the news release. Given the unpredictability of his presence recently, I'd pass unless "could" becomes "will".

Norwich vs. Swansea - Mark Bunn is back with his 4.01 price but I'm dubious about the Canaries' ability to keep the Swans off the board. For the Swans, Chico and Angel Rangel are both back but are both likely too expensive to represent value in an away match.

Stoke vs. Aston Villa - Not much of interest here other than the fact that Stoke's only mildly productive midfielder - Matt Etherington - is a doubt. I don't think you were really considering him but in case you were, stop it.

West Brom vs. Arsenal - James Morrison seems likely to replace the suspended Mulumbu but unless you think this is the weekend Morrison turns back the clock to October when he was killing it then this isn't big news. For the Gunners the big questions revolve around Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott who have an "outside chance" of being involved which doesn't make you feel good about spending roster spots on either. Nor should you feel particularly good about Gervinho or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott's presumed replacements) on the off chance TW14 does play a part. There is also talk of whether Wenger should recall Thomas Vermaelen but there's no real evidence behind that statement and Arsenal have been playing well with their captain on the bench. The other good news here is that there's no news of Nacho Monreal missing out so for those who kept him after he went out of last weekend's match, it looks like you'll be rewarded.

Liverpool vs. West Ham - No significant injuries to speak of here with Andy Carroll's ineligibility to face his parent club being the only item of note. Presumably Carlton Cole will get the start and could be an interesting option at 5.41 if you're looking for an enabler at forward.

Tottenham vs. Everton - See the intro for the news on Spurs. On the other side of the pitch, Everton are (big surprise) worried about Kevin Mirallas' fitness. How exactly Mirallas didn't end up as an Arsenal player is beyond me. Talented - check. A "tweener" between forward and winger - check. Injured as often as healthy - check. It's like he's off the Wenger Assembly Line but he signed on the wrong dotted line over the summer. Everton also balances out Spurs missing stars with Fellaini and Pienaar who will both miss out from suspension.

Chelsea vs. Sunderland - Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill are the big absentees for this one. Presumably Ryan Bertrand will get the start for Cole (and he's a strong bargain). Cahill's replacement is less obvious. Hard to know if John Terry will be able to play his third match in a week. More likely Branislav Ivanovic - rested on Thursday - will return to the line-up with David Luiz as his partner with Terry available off the bench if things get dire.

Newcastle vs. Fulham - Issues abound across the Newcastle back line with Mathieu Debuchy, Massaido Haidara, Cheick Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini all at various levels of doubt. Newcastle have been giving up goals at a pretty high rate (one clean sheet since the beginning of 2013) so the lack of definitive recuperation by the defense leads me to believe Tim Krul might be a bad choice regardless of his price.

QPR vs. Wigan - Not much of note here - just the decision as to who you think might have the upper hand in this critical battle at the foot of the table. I'm still leaning Wigan but I wouldn't try to talk people taking the opposition position out of it.

Manchester United vs. Manchester City - Wayne Rooney and Rafael are both back which will help United's cause but Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans are both uncertain meaning that unless you have one at a huge discount (like I do with Vidic) then I'd stay away from investing in either United CB. The blue half of Manchester doesn't feature any injuries of note at this point meaning that we're all left to figure out Mancini's thinking on rotation. As I said in The Week Ahead, I tend not to invest heavily in matches where the teams are evenly matched and nothing in this news has changed my mind or shown me any surprising potential sources of value. I'm going to ignore the derby for fantasy purposes and just enjoy watching what should be an entertaining match.