Fans of four squads — Brighton, Chelsea, Everton, and Manchester City — face boredom this weekend. Fantasy managers are up against a more difficult time, trying to fill those holes in their teams and put together a full XI. What’s the latest news to aid that tricky endeavor?
Will Any of the Recent High-Profile Transfers Get a First Start?
Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron, Crystal Palace’s Michy Batshuayi, and Arsenal’s Denis Suarez have each made appearances from the bench. They’re now pushing for spots in their respective XIs after enjoying plenty of practice time with their new squads. Batshuayi started in the 2-0 FA Cup win over Doncaster Rovers as Wilfried Zaha missed via suspension, but the Chelsea loan failed to get a goal or assist.
Saints Might March in for Southampton
Forward Danny Ings seems likely to miss out again through injury, but forward Michael Obafemi, attacking midfielder Stuart Armstrong, and defensive midfielder Mario Lemina are expected to be available. The Saints have generally performed well lately in their absence, but are coming off a 2-1 loss to Cardiff, leaving fantasy managers holding James Ward-Prowse in midfield, or those planning on making a short-term play with Shane Long up front, a bit concerned that Ralph Hasenhuttl may want to tinker with the XI.
Arsenal Injury Woes in Back
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but there is injury news regarding Arsenal’s back line. This time it’s Laurent Koscielny (again), who was withdrawn early in the second half of Thursday’s 3-0 Europa League victory over BATE Borisov. According to Football London, Unai Emery is hopeful that Koscielny will pass fit for the weekend, but the game comes Sunday so fantasy managers will be faced with a tough decision. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Nacho Monreal and Skhodran Mustafi were among those who made the XI, while Denis Suarez made a substitute appearance, and Bernd Leno, Sead Kolasinac, Aaron Ramsey, and Aaron Lacazette were rested entirely. Mesut Ozil earned a rare start, but a repeat of that occurrence will not be likely this weekend.
Attacking Relief for Tottenham and West Ham
Recent absences from star forward Harry Kane and influential attacking midfielder Dele Alli have not hurt Tottenham in the EPL table or in their Champions League ambitions, but it has been a different story for fantasy managers. Spurs have enjoyed plenty of time to rest since the 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund, and while Alli remains on the shelf, Kane has returned to training, leaving the big question: Will Kane start at Turf Moor or settle for a spot on the bench? And if the Tottenham talisman is on the bench, will Lucas Moura or Fernando Llorente be the focal point up front? Much is unsettled in defense, but that is also nothing new; Danny Rose is recovering from illness, but Ben Davies has returned to training. Pochettino’s presser left all of that up in the air.
The Hammers have endured no shortage of injuries this season, particularly on the offensive end. The almost constantly balky Marko Arnautovic seems to be fit enough to start, Samir Nasri should be able to make the team after missing out recently, and long-term absentee Manuel Lanzini might see an appearance from the bench. (Source: BBC)
Liverpool Line-Up Quandaries in the Engine Room
Virgil Van Dijk missed the scoreless draw with Baynern Munich due to suspension. Fabinho filled in at central defense alongside Joel Matip who continued in Dejan Lovren’s stead. Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, and Giorginio Wijnaldum started in midfield. With VVD certain to return to the XI against Manchester United, and with the front three never in doubt, the big questions for Jurgen Klopp come in the crowded midfield, where Fabinho would certainly love to earn a start in his preferred position, as would James Milner who subbed on for the Champions League affair.
Manchester United Offensive Questions
Attackers Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were injured in the 2-0 Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain, but the Red Devils coped and won convincingly 2-0 over Chelsea in the subsequent FA Cup tie where Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata earned starts. Martial and Lingard are expected to miss out again unfortunately. The defense also seems to be in flux, but I’m not sure how many fantasy managers will be brave enough to go that route against lively Liverpool anyway.
Wolves’ Stars in Doubt
Wing defender Matt Doherty and attacking midfielder Dioga Jota have enjoyed strong spells for Wolves this season, but Jota has been on the shelf recently, and Doherty came off injured in the second half of the 1-0 FA Cup win over Bristol City. As of yet, it is unclear whether either or both will be able to pass fit, although according to Birmingham Mail, there is hope regarding Doherty.
Friday (both with pre-deadline lineups in Fantrax)
- Burnley v. Tottenham (early game)
- Bournemouth v. Wolves
- Newcastle v. Huddersfield
- Leicester v. Crystal Palace (late game)
- Arsenal v. Southampton
- Manchester United v. Liverpool
Which injury doubts and other managerial line-up decisions are you sweating over? If you hear any further updates, please share the latest news in the comments below. Then of course be sure to join in the live chat as the games take place!