With no early game, everybody can sleep in, or at least those with painful time zones such as myself on the U.S. West Coast. That also means that the deadline is later than usual, so relax and take it easy... as much as you can. After all, a late start can’t change the usual assortment of injury-related and other line-up doubt.
Pascal Gross remains unavailable. Glenn Murray was taken off the pitch on a stretcher last weekend, going to hospital with a head injury, and will be a game time decision. If Murray cannot make it, Jurgen Locadia will likely be called into action. Chris Hughton replaced Anthony Knockaert in the XI with Jose Izquierdo last week while also utilizing Alireza Jahanbakhsk, so how he plans to choose his wings remains up in the air.
It’s been nine weeks without injury for Wolves, and nine weeks with the exact same XI. For the most part this season, things have been working out, but with last week’s surprising 2-0 home loss to Watford, might Nuno Espirito Santo shake things up a bit? Substitutes Ivan Cavaleiro, Adama Traore and Ruben Vinagre would certainly love to provide an immediate spark to the offense.
Much of Fulham’s news this week focused on Craven Cottage, as redevelopment was promised in the wake of a Wembley Stadium deal falling through. In staying put, the team will not have to change its moniker from Cottagers to Wembleyers (or Wembleyans?), which is nice.
Captain and midfielder Tom Cairney makes his injury return, but he’s expected to do so from the bench. That leaves wing back Joe Bryan as the only unavailable player, welcome news for what has been an injury-ravaged team for much of the season. Slavisa Jokanovic will be tempted to make changes to the historically horrible defense, but are there really any answers? And as a fantasy manager, are any of you willing to try one anyway? Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle are fine, and they’re probably all you care about.
Eddie Howe has claimed a fit squad for the trip to London, meaning that forward Joshua King and defender Charlie Daniels have passed fit. But as all of us know, counting on Daniels or Diego Rico to start is often foolhardy, so you may want to wait until you see lineups first.
Defensive midfielder Fabinho earned his first start of the season alongside Georginio Wijnaldum in the mid-week Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade, while Xherdan Shaqiri was in the XI at attacking midfield for the second straight game, even with Sadio Mane’s return. Though midfielders Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson remain out with injury, James Milner is pushing to return to the starting XI following injury, giving Jurgen Klopp several options on offense including Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana.
Andrew Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk seem to be the safest starters in defense, leaving a pick of two from the trio of Trent Alexander-Arnold (who started against Belgrade after sitting the previous two league affairs), Joe Gomez, and Dejan Lovren (who was rested mid-week) to round out the back line. If it’s any hint: Last season, Klopp tended to play TAA consistently in CL but rarely in EPL. Fantrax will see the lineup shortly before deadline, so be here!
Attacking midfielder Josh Murphy, who has two goals in the past three games for a Cardiff side that has scored only eight times all season, is an injury doubt along with fellow midfielder Harry Arter. Defender Lee Peltier and attacking midfielder Danny Ward have been ruled out. And for some reason Neil Warnock has been lamenting that it would take a miracle for the Bluebirds to beat Liverpool at Anfield. Well sure, with an attitude like that!
Defensive midfielder Mario Lemina is good to go for Mark Hughes’ home side, so if you’re banking on a clean sheet, don't worry too much. (Aside from general worry about ever banking on Southampton for anything.)
Striker Salomon Rondon and defenders Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett have passed fit for the visitors, leaving a fit squad aside from defender Florian Lejeune. Rafa Benitez has been unable to find an answer yet, so if you know what he’s thinking and expect it to work, bully for you!
Defenders Jose Holebas and Christian Kabasele return from suspension, but the Hornets won 2-0 last weekend at Wolves without them, so will Javi Gracia put them back in the XI? Yeah, probably, that’s usually how these things work, right? Forward Troy Deeney and defensive midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah face the dreaded game-time fitness test, leaving either Isaac Success or Gerard Deulofeu as the possible beneficiary should Deeney fail to make it.
David Wagner seems set to hand Ramadan Sobhi a start after recovering from injury. Do you care? At Watford? Or anywhere? For Huddersfield? I don’t. Tommy Smith and Terence Kongolo have returned to training... yada yada yada... it’s Huddersfield.
The talons are out for Claude Puel, so let’s see if he can calm the anger with a big win. One problem: Puel left Vardy out of the team after missing training through illness, but Vardy claims he’s well enough to start. So, um, that’s not ideal. Matty James is also out, while Demarai Gray is a doubt. Midfielder Marc Albrighton could earn a start in the offense, as could defender Saglar Soyunco if he is preferred to Wes Morgan returning from suspension, but that’s a lot of coulds, isn’t it?
For West Ham, Andriy Yarmolenko’s season-ending injury is the biggest and saddest news. Manuel Pellegrini has talked up youngster Grady Diangara, but it is unclear whether he can crack the XI or will have to settle for a spot on the bench behind Michail Antonio.
Winger Aaron Lennon and defender Ben Gibson have been ruled out, but midfield play-maker Robbie Brady is finally available for Burnley after a long injury layoff, though it is unclear whether he will slot back into Sean Dyche’s XI or merely be an option from the bench.
The biggest question mark is Blues’ superstar Eden Hazard, who seems destined to face a game-time decision due to his back injury. There is, of course, no replacement for Hazard, but Pedro would seem the likely deputy. Otherwise, Mauricio Sarri faces his usual selection between Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata up front.
Roy Hodgson laments the continued absences of forward Christian Benteke and defender Joel Ward, but Max Meyer and Alexander Sorloth are available. Additionally, Connor Wickham could be in line for more minutes after featuring as a late sub, but that would likely mean merely as a less late sub.
Things have been going swimmingly for Arsenal, except of course for the contract squabble with Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil’s grumbling about where he’s being utilized positionally. Returning to full fitness, Petr Cech would love to unseat Bernd Leno in the keeper spot, but Unai Emery has kept that decision close to his vest. Up front, the big question is whether Danny Welbeck or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will pair with Alexandre Lacazette.
Manchester United lost 1-0 to Juventus at Old Trafford mid-week. That could normally be forgiven except for the manner in which it happened. Sure, Paul Pogba hit the post, which theoretically could have tied it 1-1, but really it didn’t FEEL like it was as close as 1-0, rather it may well have been 2-0 or 3-1 (or even worse). Thus, the clouds of speculation swirl around Jose Mourinho’s job security drama like a hurricane for the Red Devils. If you do care about the players though, Antonio Valencia, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay look to be game time decisions, but Diogo Dalot, Marouane Fellaini and Alexis Sanchez remain out.
Marco Silva’s Everton have been on an upswing, but the Richarlison-as-forward lineup has not exactly excelled, leaving last weekend’s substitute scorer Cenk Tosun hoping for a recall up front. That could leave Theo Walcott and Bernard fighting over a spot on the wing.
Following injury recovery, midfield maestro Christian Eriksen played the full 90 midweek in the Champions League disintegration, so we expect him to start again in this important fixture. Unfortunately, midfielder Dele Alli plus defenders Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen remain out. Mauricio Pochettino’s biggest decision for the XI is between Son Heung-Min (who started at PSV Eindhoven) and Erik Lamela (who came off the bench) as the fourth offensive player alongside Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Eriksen. Given the two major defensive injuries, there are not any changes expected at the back.
Ilkay Gundogan is the only important injury absence for the visiting Citizens, but with the team nearly at full health and boasting such a wealth of talent, he wouldn’t have been expected to crack the XI anyway. After playing 69 minutes against Shakhtar Donetsk in Tuesday’s romp, Kevin De Bruyne should return to his prominent starting role in the league, which will likely push Bernardo Silva to the bench. Raheem Sterling was rested for last weekend’s Burnley victory, but may get back into the XI, possibly replacing Riyad Mahrez. After resting midweek, Sergio Aguero will surely start, with Gabriel Jesus making way.
What deadline decisions are you contemplating? What are your final rosters in each fantasy format? What late-breaking news do you see? What questions do you have as the seconds tick away?! Please tell us in the comments below!