And you thought you could get some rest... nope, sorry! Let’s get right to it, then. What should we be wary of as the Tuesday deadline approaches?
Possible Rotation for the Blues, Saints & Sky Blues?
Manchester City beat Chelsea in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, a game that — annoyingly for fantasy managers — went 120 minutes before being settled via penalty kicks. Many players ran their legs off for the entire game, with seven doing the trick for City (Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Oleksandar Zinchenko, and Ederson) and eight doing so for Chelsea (Eden Hazard, N’golo Kante, Jorginho, David Luiz, Emerson, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Kepa Arrizabalaga).
Meanwhile, Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho left due to injury, replaced by Vincent Kompany and Danilo, respectively. The two have been ruled out for a couple/few weeks. The Citizens play Wednesday and Saturday, while the Blues go on Wednesday and Sunday. With exhausted sides, Pep Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri may look to rest some of their stars and rotate deputies into the XI. Guardiola could be boosted if forward Gabriel Jesus, wing-back Benjamin Mendy, and/or central defender John Stones can pass fit enough to start.
As for Chelsea, there is the big question of whether Sarri will bench goalkeeper Kepa in favor of Willy Caballero following the bizarre substitution drama preceding the cup final PKs; BT Sport reported that Kepa was fined by the club after he apologized, and signs point to him being forgiven, but just how forgotten the issue will be remains in doubt.
All four of the teams that played in a mere 90 minutes of Premier League action on Sunday — Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton — get a fair amount of rest until playing Wednesday. However, three of those teams — Arsenal, Manchester United, and Southampton — play again on Saturday, while Liverpool gets to wait until Sunday. With three games in less than a week, Unai Emery, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Ralph Hasenhuttl will surely have a mind to freshening their line-ups. That goes double for Manchester United, which joins Tottenham as the two Premier League teams playing in Champions League games next week.
Manchester United Injury Woes
Unfortunately, even if Solskjaer wants to rotate his squad, doing so could prove difficult. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were both doubtful with injury coming into the Liverpool game. Then disaster struck, as Ander Herrera and Juan Mata both suffered early problems and came off. Solskjaer chose to bring on Lingard as one of the fill-in players, but he was unable to last long, forcing the entry of Alexis Sanchez to replace a replacement before halftime.
Meanwhile, a hobbled Marcus Rashford played the full game as the Red Devils had used up all of their allotted subs, and now according to The Sport Review it seems that Rashford will most likely miss the midweek trip to Selhurst Park along with Herrera and Mata. The Red Devils enjoy tremendous depth, and they are really going to have to put all of it to use now, highlighted by the fact that little-used Andreas Pereira subbed in for Herrera, acquitting himself fairly well. Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic has been ruled out for several weeks, leaving Scott McTominay to deputize again. Anthony Martial, who was unable to feature against Liverpool, remains doubtful for Palace. It will be interesting to see of OGS turns to the summer’s big offensive acquisition, Fred, or if the Brazilian remains an afterthought.
Can Firmino Make it Back?
A key cog in Liverpool’s attacking trio, Roberto Firmino, also came off injured in the first half at Old Trafford, replaced by Daniel Sturridge. Can Firmino recover? Is Sturridge in line for another start? Or might Jurgen Klopp instead turn to Divock Origi or Xherdan Shaqiri? The Liverpool Echo reports that Firmino’s status is still up in the air.
Arsenal Rotation at Forward and Injury Situation
Fantasy managers far and wide fumed when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed to start against Southampton, coming on for only 15 minutes as a late sub. Is Alexandre Lacazette now a more reliable starter than Auba? Will they both pair together as usual? Or will Unai Emery instead choose to rest Lacazette while featuring PEA? In other Arsenal news, defender Laurent Koscielny came on for the final 34 minutes, replacing injured Stephan Lichtsteiner, and the Frenchman will be expected to start midweek. Denis Suarez not only failed to start against the Saints, he did not play a single minute; the midfielder has played a total of just 38’ in three games since his January loan from Barcelona. After coming off hurt against Southampton, Alex Iwobi is an injury doubt, leaving the possibility that Suarez or even Mesut Ozil could poach a start.
Leicester in the Post-Puel Era
Claude Puel was unceremoniously sacked from 12th place Leicester after a run of poor performance — five losses in the past six league contests, and four straight home defeats — which surely turned off hordes of fantasy managers from the Foxes as players such as Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira have disappointed of late. Will caretaker managers Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler keep faith in the same XI, or feature anybody new? And might it make an impact, or would that have to wait at least until a permanent manager is appointed? Rumors from outlets including The Guardian have Brendan Rodgers as the team’s top target.
As per the Official FA website, Bournemouth defensive midfielder Jefferson Lerma, Everton central defender Kurt Zouma, Huddersfield wing defender Tommy Smith, and Watford wing defender Jose Holebas are currently suspended. It’s difficult to imagine any fantasy manager shopping for a defensive midfielder or in the Huddersfield defense aisle, so let’s focus on Zouma and Holebas. Marco Silva’s presser made it seem that Phil Jagielka will be Zouma’s most likely replacement, with Yerry Mina an outside chance if he can pass fit. Meanwhile, Adam Masina is expected to continue filling in for Holebas.
(all four games will have starting line-ups available before the Fantrax deadline)
Leicester v. Brighton
Arsenal v. Bournemouth
Southampton v. Fulham
Chelsea v. Tottenham
Crystal Palace v. Manchester United
Liverpool v. Watford
Manchester City v. West Ham
Let us know if you have any further questions, and please share any late-breaking news ahead of the deadline! Then go ahead and join in the live chat as the action unfolds.