Week 16 brings the start of an insanely crowded Premier League schedule through early January, but of course the five teams in Champions League and two more in Europa League didn’t get a week off. Some were able to give their starters some rest, while others instead went full bore. With that in mind on top of the usual injury and suspension concerns, let’s take a look at where things stand with respect to the status of key players for the upcoming weekend.
West Ham v. Chelsea (early game)
Much to Santiago’s chagrin, Argh Joe Hart Argh is ineligible to play against his parent club, although David Moyes may have selected Adrian anyway. Andy Carroll, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Winston Reid have all recovered from injury, though of course it is up in the air who among them could immediately slot into the starting XI.
Chelsea started a nearly full-strength team of regulars in Tuesday’s 1-1 Champions League affair hosting Atletico Madrid, as only Marcos Alonso, Danny Drinkwater, Pedro, Antonio Rudiger and Willian were among big name Blues who got any sort of rest. Drinkwater (illness) and David Luiz (injury) remain out. If you have any other Chelsea stars in your team, you should be worried about rotation, which Antonio Conte has mysteriously hinted at, with Alvaro Morata’s status in particular being a bit murky. Those with bench cover and an open slot at forward might consider Michy as a one-week enabler.
Swansea v. West Brom
There are no fresh worries for Swansea, with Federico Fernandez (compassionate leave) expected to miss out again.
Chris Brunt and Matt Phillips have recovered from injury for the visitors, while Gareth Barry will be out following injury last weekend.
Tottenham v. Stoke
With first place already secured in Spurs’ Champions League group, Mauricio Pocchetino could afford to rest many of the regulars (or shorten their minutes) in Wednesday’s 3-0 “home” win over APOEL Nicosia. He started only Deli Alli (subbed off after 88 minutes), Son Heung-Min (65 minutes), Danny Rose (injury at 70 minutes), Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez and Moussa Sissoko (full games). Mousa Dembele came on for about the last half-hour. Rose picked up a knock in the contest, but has recovered. Sanchez will now begin serving his three game suspension for the straight red card he earned last weekend (adding to woes in central defense as Toby Alderweireld remains out with long-term injury).
Stoke’s Bruno Martins Indi is out after suffering a serious injury last weekend, while Jese (family leave) will miss as well. Geoff Cameron has recovered from injury.
Crystal Palace v. Bournemouth
The Eagles get plenty of good news as Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann, Wayne Hennessey and James MacArthur return from injury or illness. However, it is possible that Julian Speroni will retain his spot in the net, which would let Hennessey advance only as far as the bench. Joel Ward remains a doubt and looks to face the dreaded game-time fitness test.
Adam Smith serves a one game suspension for yellow card accumulation, with Steve Cook expected to fill in.
Burnley v. Watford
The Clarets suffered a massive injury blow last week, Robbie Brady blowing out a knee and likely out for the season. Scott Arfield is expected to replace him in midfield. In defense, Matt Lowton and Ben Mee are doubtful, with Mee seeming the more likely to pass fit.
Things are better for the Hornets, as defender Miguel Britos is on the verge of a return from injury, though it is unclear whether this weekend will be too soon.
Huddersfield v. Brighton
Rajiv van la Parra finishes up his three game suspension for Huddersfield, while there is no news for Brighton.
Newcastle v. Leicester (late game)
Christian Atsu and Jammall Lascelles are both fit following injury for the home side, while Leicester looks to keep on keepin’ on.
Southampton v. Arsenal (early game)
Wing back Cedric Soares misses out again for the Saints, with Jeremy Peid likely to continue in his absence.
Arsenal’s second team was able to roll over BATE Borisol 6-0 at the Emirates in Thursday’s Europa League action, leaving virtually all of the Gunners’ top tier rested and ready. Danny Welbeck (subbed at 77 minutes) was the only Gunner used who has started more than three times in the Premier League this season. Skhrodan Mustafi will be absent following last weekend’s injury, with the prolific yet (in most formats) cheap-as-dirt Per Mertesacker expected to fill in.
Liverpool v. Everton (the Merseyside derby!!!)
Hindsight is 20/20, but many will surely want Jurgen Klopp’s vision tested as he started a full complement of offensive talent — Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum — in the blistering 7-0 (WOW!!!) Champions League win over Spartak Moscow at Anfield on Wednesday. Moreover, Firmino was the only one of the lot who was subbed out (in the 72nd minute). Daniel Sturridge came on for a cameo, while Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were rested entirely. Defenders Joel Matip and Alberto Moreno are out injured for the derby, so there will be plenty of shuffling in the back.
Everton traveled to Apollon Limassol (gesundheit!) on Thursday and emerged with a 3-0 victory in Europa League action. Like Arsenal, the Toffees rested their regular starters, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Kevin Mirallas the only noteworthy names to start. Defenders Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka are back to health following injury, giving Sam Allardyce plenty of options.
Manchester United v. Manchester City (late game)
Hip hop hooray, it’s the Manchester derby! Both teams played midweek Champions League affairs, but United started no shortage of regulars on Tuesday (Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia) to win the group, emerging 2-1 victors at home against CSKA Moscow. Pogba had good reason to start, as he will now begin his three game domestic suspension for the straight red he earned last weekend. Meanwhile, Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic are fit following injury. Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make the squad, but an appearance from the bench would seem to be the best case scenario for either.
City, meanwhile, had previously locked the top spot in their group, so they rested most of their key players and lost Wednesday’s inconsequential (for them) game 2-1 away against Shakhtar Dontesk. Pep Guardiola started Ederson, Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane, with only Ederson and Jesus playing the full match. Replacing Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero came on for a cameo in the 70th minute and netted a penalty kick goal, while Sane was removed in the 62nd minute. David Silva and Fabian Delph have passed fit for the derby, but Vincent Kompany (muscle injury) remains doubtful.
Do you have any big injury worries, or are you more concerned about your players being rested? Please be sure to share any fresh injury or line-up news ahead of the deadline!