With Sergio Aguero’s red card suspension (cough...again), plenty of fantasy managers have been left scrambling. Which other players should you be worried about and who is coming back into the picture to offer relief?
Watford v. Everton
Hornets defenders Daryl Janmaat and Younes Kaboul have passed fit from last weekend’s injuries while defender Miguel Britos midfielder Valon Behrami return from suspension. Midfielder Roberto Pereyra will be out with suspension, albeit a reduced ban (from three games to one).
For the Toffees, defender Seamus Coleman is fine following last weekend’s knock, but midfielder Yannick Bolasie will be out for the season after suffering serious injury in the same game. There’s a flurry of rumors surrounding the acquisition of a replacement for Bolasie in January, but at present Ross Barkley would be expected to regain a spot in the starting line-up, although Enner Valencia or Gerard Deulofeu offer alternate options after coming in as subs last weekend while Barkley remained on the bench.
Swansea City v. Sunderland
Swans’ defender Federico Fernandez and midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung remain out with injury.
For the visiting Black Cats, Duncan Watmore has been ruled out for the season following last weekend’s injury and David Moyes has plenty of options from Sebastian Larsson, Wahbi Kazri or Adnan Januzaj. Fabio Borini could return from injury, but it would likely come as a substitute. After coming in off the bench last week, Jan Kirchhoff could earn a starting spot, perhaps displacing Jason Denayer.
Burnley v. Bournemouth
The Clarets’ Tom Heaton is expected to return to the net after two weeks of injury layoff.
The Cherries’ Junior Stanislas is out following last weekend’s injury, with Ryan Fraser expected to take advantage as he did from the bench, only this time as a starter. Defender Charlie Daniels could return from injury, putting Nathan Ake’s starting status in doubt, while midfielder Andrew Surman remains out.
Arsenal v. Stoke City
The Gunners’ striker Lucas Perez announced his health with a midweek hat trick in Champions League play, but is unlikely to upend the starting 11. Following several weeks out, defender Hector Bellerin faces a game time fitness test and would likely regain his starting spot from Gabriel if able.
Defender Ryan Shawcross remains out for the visiting Potters, allowing Marc Muniesa to continue in his stead, while fellow defender Bruno Martins Indi is good to go after suffering a facial blow last weekend and it’s the same for Marko Arnautovic who was removed early amidst injury fears. Lee Grant remains in goal after Jack Butland had a minor setback in his recovery efforts.
Hull City v. Crystal Palace
Dieumerci Mbokani will be in the middle of his three-match ban for the Tigers, while midfielder Shaun Maloney will be available following a long injury absence but will likely have to settle for an easing in from the bench.
Yohan Cabaye returns following his one match suspension, but Alan Pardew may not wish to upset the starting line-up that delivered a stunning 3-0 rebuke of Southampton in the Frenchman’s absence. Keeper Steve Mandanda underwent surgery following recent injury, cementing Wayne Hennessey’s place.
Leicester City v. Manchester City
Keeper Kasper Schmeichel will be a game time decision following several weeks out with injury, leaving Ron-Bob Zieler owners sweating in their boots...that is, if they hadn’t already dropped the net minder given his uninspiring results thus far combined with the difficult fixture at hand. Midfielder Danny Drinkwater serves the end of his three-game suspension, with Andy King expected to remain the beneficiary.
As for the Citizens, it’s all about the trio of suspensions for Sergio Aguero (red card) Fernandinho (ditto) and Nicolas Otamendi (yellow card accumulation) arising from last weekend’s loss to Chelsea. Kelechi Iheanacho is expected to resume his usual role as Kun replacement up front, while Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph offer options in midfield following their injury recoveries. With Vincent Kompany still out, John Stones should cover for Otamendi in central defense.
Chelsea v. West Bromwich Albion
While Diego Costa and Pedro are expected to pass fit after suffering knocks against Manchester City, Defender David Luiz is a more serious injury doubt as a result of Sergio Aguero’s crazy karate kick flurry last weekend; a game time fitness test leaves Branislav Ivanovic available to jump in if needed since John Terry and John Obi Mikel remain absent with their own injuries. Defensive midfield maestro Nemanja Matic has recovered from injury and could push Cesc Fabregas back to the bench.
For the visitors, defender Gareth McAuley and midfielder James Morrison are doubtful, with Jonas Olsson and Nacer Chadli, respectively, expected to feature instead, although James McClean offers another option in midfield.
Southamption v. Middlesbrough
Charlie Austin is out for an unknown period of time following a shoulder separation in the Saints’ midweek Europa League tie, leaving many fantasy managers distraught. (Sadly, I am part of that group, having him feature in both my Official BPL and Fantrax teams for weeks.) Shane Long will likely take his spot. Otherwise, midfielder Dusan Tadic is expected to start following several weeks out with injury, leaving Pierre Hojbjerg fearful of a return to the bench.
Manchester United v. Tottenham
Defenders Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling remain out injured, but fellow back-liner Eric Bailly could very well feature following a midweek Europa League appearance that ended his injury absence; Marcos Rojo or Phil Jones will worry about having to settle for the bench.
Similarly to Bailly, Spurs central defender Toby Alderweireld returned midweek in Champions League play to break an injury spell and will be expected to regain his starting spot from Eric Dier. Fellow defender Ben Davies also returns from injury, but only as cover. Erik Lamela and Vincent Janssen remain short-term injury absentees, but following the 5-0 shellacking of Swansea, any Tottenham changes aside from star Alderweireld would seem the opposite of automatic.
Liverpool v. West Ham
Reds’ offensive injury concerns continue with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge remaining out for this weekend’s clash. But relief comes in the form of midfielder Adam Lallana along with defender Joel Matip who have recovered from injury; Matip will likely send oft-injured Lucas Leiva back to the bench, while Emre Can, Divock Origi or Georginio Wijnaldum could make way for Lallana depending on how Jurgen Klopp sees things.
West Ham also has a pair of injury returnees in the form of everywhere man Michael Antonio and defender Aaron Cresswell. Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate has not yet recovered from injury and defender James Collins is doubtful. Antonio should push Emildson Fernandes to the bench, while the likely insertion of Cresswell and absence of Collins will have Alvaro Arbeloa and Angelo Ogbonna unsure of who gets the remaining wing back spot. With Slaven Bilic’s job on the line, it would be no surprise to see more minutes and no shock at a start from impactful striker Andy Carroll who managed a substitute appearance last weekend following a lengthy injury absence as Ashley Fletcher could be forced to sit. After all, Carroll would surely love nothing more than to stick it to his old squad.
As more news comes in ahead of the deadline, please share in the comments to help your fellow fantasy managers. Good luck everybody!