The Premier League schedule makers sure love making our jobs difficult, don’t they? Another Friday game, are you kidding me? And the games are spread out through Tuesday??? Well, no matter the craziness, it’s the same for everybody, so it’s impossible to complain... too much.
- Tottenham v. Huddersfield
- Brighton v. Bournemouth
- Burnley v. Cardiff
- Fulham v. Everton
- Southampton v. Wolves
- Manchester United v. West Ham United
- Brighton v. Cardiff (2nd game for each)
Let’s start with a look at the teams who are in the midst of fixture congestion.
Liverpool won its Tuesday Champions League Quarterfinal first leg against Porto, 2-0, home at Anfield. Most of the usual suspects started, although Dejan Lovren replaced Joel Matip, and it is unclear who will partner Virgil van Dijk in central defense. James Milner deputized for the CL-suspended Andy Robertson at left wing back, while Fabinho, Naby Keita, and Jordan Henderson manned the midfield.
Following this Sunday’s Premier League fixture, the second leg in Portugal will come on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Cardiff next Sunday. Most of the regulars will likely start again, but Jurgen Klopp may have his mind on rotation in some areas; midfield, of course, is usually where that happens.
Tottenham came out on top against Manchester City, 1-0, in the first leg of Champions League on Tuesday at “New Stadium”. But disaster struck in the form of another ankle injury to talisman Harry Kane, who is feared out for the season, imperiling Spurs’ quest for a top four finish. Dele Alli came off injured (hand), but unlike Kane, it will not keep Alli out of action this weekend. [Source: spurs-web.com]
[See comments for an update on Dele Alli.]
Lucas Moura came on to replace Kane, and he may get the call again on Saturday, although true forward Fernando Llorente is another option for Mauricio Pochettino. Saturday’s game is the second of six in a 19-day period for Spurs, so Poch will surely be thinking about rotation, although his options are even more limited with the absences of Kane, Serge Aurier, Eric Dier, and Erik Lamela. [Source: thesportsbank.net ]
There were no surprises in the XI against City midweek, but it would not be a shock to see a player or two among Victor Wanyama, Ben Davies, Juan Foyth, and/or Davinson Sanchez earn a start.
While Pochettino went with a conventional line-up, Pep Guardiola’s XI was much less expected. Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, and Fabian Delph all earned starts, but Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Leroy Sane were left out.
The Citizens’ calendar has been busy enough already, but Sunday’s game marks the first of another five in a 15-day span. It’s understandable why Guardiola tinkered with his XI, and surely there will be more to come. It would not be a shock to see Gabriel Jesus, KDB, Sane and/or Benjamin Mendy play from the whistle this time around, as Mahrez, Gundogan, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and/or Delph could feature from the bench. Bernardo Silva missed the Champions League tilt through injury, and it appears unlikely that he will pass fit for the weekend as Pep mentioned next week as the target date for his return. [Source: www.101greatgoals.com ]
Manchester United lost on Wednesday, 1-0, to visiting Barcelona. Most of whom you’d expect to start did so, aside from Fred and Diogo Dalot, as Nemanja Matic missed out. Meanwhile, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard made substitute appearances along with Andreas Pereira. Phil Jones and Juan Mata languished on the bench.
The Red Devils don’t have much downtime separating the Wednesday / Saturday / Tuesday crunch, but they get a bit of rest between the trip to Barcelona and next Sunday. With Champions League advancement unlikely — though I know, it was unlikely against Paris Saint-Germain, too! — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will likely want to field a very strong XI this weekend to prioritizing the domestic top-four race. Alexis Sanchez has passed fit following his injury absence [source: www.football.london], but is more likely to appear from the bench rather than as a starter. Wing-backs Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are both suspended, which could see Dalot and/or Marcos Rojo go into action there, unless OGS chooses to go with a three-man back.
Arsenal emerged victorious at the Emirates in the Europa League quarterfinal first leg, 2-0 over Napoli. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey, and Mesut Ozil started in attack while Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi came off the bench.
There is plenty of time to rest before Monday’s game, but that marks the start of four games in ten days, so Unai Emery will have rotation in the back of his noggin. Seeing only one of PEA and Lacazette start, with perhaps Ramsey or Ozil also hitting the bench for the trip to Watford, would not be a surprise. The Gunners will likely field a top team for the second leg in Italy with an eye to nicking an away goal and securing a semifinal place. Sokratis is suspended, but Laurent Koscielny should return after missing two games with injury.
Chelsea emerged victorious at Slavia Prague in the first leg of Europa quarters on Thursday, and will feel that they’re favored to go through in next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge. Olivier Giroud, Ross Barkley, Mateo Kovacic, Willian, and Pedro manned the offense, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante coming on as subs. Gonzalo Higuain, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hazard, Kante and RLC will surely be in Maurizio Sarri’s thoughts to start at Liverpool on Sunday, along with David Luiz, who was rested in favor of Andreas Christensen. Willian played the entire game, so perhaps Pedro will be more likely to start on the wing opposite Hazard.
Many of you will have your eyes on Brighton and Cardiff, due to their double game week status. With Cardiff being away twice while Brighton is at home twice let’s focus on Brighton!
Following injury issues, both Solly March and Pascal Gross returned to training during the week, so either or both could start or feature from the bench on Saturday. [Source: www.theargus.co.uk] With Gross’ problem being more long-term, though, he may be more likely to be saved for a start on Tuesday.
Be sure to share any late-breaking news in the comments section, then join us for the live action over the long, long “weekend”!