After a flurry of recent activity, here’s where the rubber meets the road in a fun weekend headlined by the North London and Merseyside derbies. Let’s go over the injury, rotation and other news (or speculation) that likely concerns some of your big decisions.
Manchester United Injury Fears Easing Just a Bit?
Marcus Rashford missed out against Crystal Palace, but Romelu Lukaku filled in quite nicely with a brace, plus Alexis Sanchez and Fred also earned rare starts. At his presser, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer announced plans to start Rashford at the weekend, which could see Lukaku, Alexis or Fred return to the bench. Paul Pogba is suspended for the second leg of Champions League Round of 16 against PSG, so he will be certain to feature against Southampton. However, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic, and Juan Mata remain on the spectrum from extremely unlikely to officially unavailable.
Continued Manchester City Rotation Concerns?
Pep Guardiola would love to rest Sergio Aguero, and the City skipper reported at his presser that Gabriel Jesus has passed fit, so the Brazilian will be expected to replace the Argentine up front. Alternately, if he does bench Kun but Jesus is not thought ready for starter’s minutes, Pep could choose to use Raheem Sterling or David Silva in a “False 9” role. There are a couple of key players still out — Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte — but Fabian Delph and John Stones have returned to training, joining Benjamin Mendy who made the bench but did not play against West Ham. After coming on as subs midweek against West Ham, Sterling and Bernardo Silva are fairly certain to rotate back into the XI at the weekend, so Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and/or Riyad Mahrez may have to make way.
Arsenal Offensive Headache
In each of the past three games, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have failed to start together. Unai Emery threw a further wrench into planning in midweek by starting Mesut Ozil, and the German playmaker delivered a goal plus an assist in the 5-1 thrashing of Bournemouth. With Alex Iwobi fit, Emery will be expected to turn back to the youngster over the veteran. I have a feeling that he will start both PEA and Laca up front together for the big North London derby at Spurs, but nothing would surprise me.
Tottenham Injuries Piling Up Again
With Dele Alli and Eric Dier ruled out and Jan Vertonghen questionable, Harry Winks reportedly joined the latter category ahead of the Wembley clash, as per HITC.
An Ever-Annoying Arnautovic
The will-he-or-won’t-he-play saga of Marko Arnautovic is surely wearing thinner than Peter Crouch for fantasy managers. Most of the season, the Arno uncertainty has arisen from injury or a rumored transfer to China, but the Hammers’ star missed Wednesday’s trip to the Etihad due to illness. He should start against Newcastle, but SHOULD and WILL are all too often two entirely different things with “Annoyovic.”
Chelsea Set to Give Fantasy Managers the Blues?
Chelsea “travels” just over a mile to Fulham for West London Derby, an appetizing fixture for fantasy managers thanks to the Cottagers’ atrocious defense. However, Maurizio Sarri said in his presser that he wants to make a few changes to the XI due to player fatigue following the extended Carabao Cup final loss on Sunday and the home victory over Spurs on Wednesday. One of those swaps could be the reinstatement of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for Willy Caballero, but just who may sit is speculative, as Sarri was short on specifics. Those hoping for big performances from Gonzalo Higuaín and Eden Hazard may have some pacing to do.
- Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and midfielder David Brooks have returned to training following injury layoffs, but may have to settle for places on the bench against Manchester City.
- Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross will miss the attractive home fixture against Huddersfield with injury.
- Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka has passed fit and should start at Burnley.
- At Nuno Espirito Santo’s presser, the Wolves manager announced that John Ruddy will fill in for usual keeper Rui Patricio in order to get some game action ahead of the FA Cup quarterfinal.
- Two managers — Brendan Rodgers at Leicester, and caretaker Scott Parker at Fulham — make their starts in charge. It is unclear if any changes to recent XIs are planned.
- Tottenham v. Arsenal (early game; XIs available before Fantrax deadline)
- Brighton v. Huddersfield
- Bournemouth v. Manchester City
- Burnley v. Crystal Palace
- Manchester United v. Southampton
- Wolves v. Cardiff
- West Ham v. Newcastle (late game)
What speculation has you biting your nails? Please be sure to share any late-breaking news in the comments section. Then join us for the live chat as the action unfolds as well!