It’s certainly not unusual for players to be banged up at the end of the season, but ahead of the Sunday finale, there are certainly more question marks than we’d like surrounding a bevy of star players. Let’s take a look at the squads to help you with the last-minute decision-making process.
Brighton v. Manchester City
Chris Hughton will be expected to go with pretty much the same XI as put forth in recent weeks. Defender and captain Bruno has announced his retirement, so Hughton will want to reward his stellar career with a send-off start, but that will not change the lineup from the way it looked for the 1-1 draw at Arsenal.
Manchester City has next Saturday’s FA Cup Final in the future, but will not be looking past Sunday’s chance to don a repeat league title crown. According to the Official Manchester City site, Fernandinho has been ruled out with injury, but Kevin De Bruyne is “available” following his recovery. It is probably more likely that KDB makes an appearance as a sub than starting, which could point to Bernardo Silva or Ilkay Gundogan moving back and being utilized in the defensive midfield role. David Silva will be expected to earn a start, leaving a choice perhaps between Phil Foden and Leroy Sane to fill out the attack alongside Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.
Burnley v. Arsenal
Sean Dyche announced no new injury concerns as reported by Lancs Live, but central defender James Tarkowski is a doubt after missing training due to a family matter. Kevin Long will likely be set to deputize if needed.
In Thursday’s Europa League semifinal victory at Valencia, several players played the full 90’: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Granit Xhaka, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny, and Petr Cech. With the Gunners having only the most infinitesimal of chances to secure a top four domestic spot, Unai Emery will surely be of a mind to rest some of those weary players. Wing defender Sead Kolasinac was removed injured in the second half, and is a doubt along with Maitland-Niles, while Aaron Ramsey and Denis Suarez are unavailable as per The Sports Bank.
Crystal Palace v. Bournemouth
With their contracts expiring as per the Palace official website, Keeper Julian Speroni and attacking midfielder Jason Puncheon will have a chance to play their final games at Selhurst Park, and there is an outside possibility of being given send-off starts by Roy Hodgson. Central defender Scott Dann seems set to face the dreaded late fitness test, and Mad About EPL reports that Sam Wood could see a first start because James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho remain ruled out.
For the visitors, the big question mark seems to be at keeper. With Artur Boruc missing last weekend due to a family issue, young Mark Travers earned his first EPL start and acquitted himself very nicely in the 1-0 win over Tottenham. There is every reason for Travers to continue, but it is unknown whether Eddie Howe will try to see what he’s got in the newcomer or instead restore Boruc to his place.
Fulham v. Newcastle
There is little news from Fulham, and it would make sense for Scott Parker to keep the same line-up that has resulted in momentum toward the end of the season as well as his earning the full-time job, in a turn of events somewhat reminiscent of Darren Moore at West Brom last year (and possibly coming back next).
In Rafa Benitez’s presser, he stressed the importance of trying to win the game, making it seem like he will field a strong side, which would seem to indicate little in the way of changes.
Leicester v. Chelsea
With no new injury concerns, Brendan Rodgers is expected to keep going with his regulars for the home finale.
Chelsea’s Europa League semifinal victory at Stamford Bridge over Eintracht Frankfurt went the full 120 minutes plus penalties, and a top four finish is already settled ensuring participation in next season’s Champions League even if the Blues do not beat Arsenal in the Europa final, so Maurizio Sarri can afford to rest any among those who toiled so hard. Eden Hazard, Mateo Kovacic, Jorghinho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Emerson Palmeiri, David Luiz and Kepa Arrizabalaga were those who went the distance. Forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, midfielder N’Golo Kante, and defender Antonio Rudiger are unavailable.
Liverpool v. Wolves
Liverpool have plenty on the line, needing a victory for any hope at winning the league title, but unfortunately also have plenty in the way of injury concerns. Thankfully, most of them seem to be turning in the right direction. Forward Roberto Firmino has been ruled out, but Divock Origi has passed fit to continue in his stead. The Official Liverpool site reports that Jordan Klopp is “hopeful” for winger Mo Salah, midfielder Jordan Henderson and left back Andy Robertson being able to feature. Also helpfully, the Champions League semifinal victory over Barcelona was at home, plus there has been plenty of time to rest since Wednesday.
Nuno Espirito Santo seldom makes changes to his XI, and will be unlikely to change that credo with such an important game, even though Wolves are locked in 7th place.
Manchester United v. Cardiff
Romelu Lukaku remains absent through injury, and Alexis Sanchez was also not included in the provisional squad as per Manchester Evening News, but otherwise Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a full roster to choose from. Several of the youngsters appear set to be blooded in the finale, but for that would seem to be more likely from the bench rather than the XI.
If you have any fantasy interest in Cardiff City, I really hope that is in Fantrax rather than FPL, and for Fantrax you can see the line-ups ahead of the deadline.
Southampton v. Huddersfield
As reported by Ben Dinnery, defenders Jannik Vestergaard and Maya Yoshida remain ruled out. Ralph Hasenhuttl announced in his presser that otherwise he will turn back to his preferred XI following a slew of changes last weekend, with Angus Gunn taking back for Fraser Forster in goal mentioned particularly, as per Fans Network.
As for Huddersfield Town, they’re in the same category as Cardiff City as far as I’m concerned. Next!
Tottenham v. Everton
Spurs have had plenty of time to come down following Tuesday’s euphoric last-minute victory at Ajax, and the hope is that Spurs will want to give the fans something to remember in the season finale before the trip to Madrid for the CL finale. On top of that, Spurs could possibly overtake Chelsea for third place and make next season’s Champions League a bit more relaxing. Harry Kane remains injured and Son Heung-min is suspended following his red card at Bournemouth, but Erik Lamela has returned to fitness, even making a substitute appearance midweek. Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to turn to Lucas Moura, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen again, while he has a choice for the fourth spot in the offense between forward Fernando Llorente and midfielder Erik Lamela. Juan Foyth is also suspended for his red at Bournemouth, while according to Football London, defensive midfielder Harry Winks and defenders Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen have been ruled out with injury. Midfielder Victory Wanyama and defender Danny Rose are doubtful, meaning that Poch may have to turn to Kyle Walker-Peters.
Richarlison remains out with injury for the visitors, while right wing back Seamus Coleman seems set to face a late fitness test, with Jonjoe Kenny the most likely replacement. Otherwise, Andre Gomes returns from suspension, giving Marco Silva an option in midfield.
Watford v. West Ham
With a draw and loss in their past two games, Watford will surely want to get some momentum going with a strong performance ahead of next Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City. Etienne Capoue’s status seems a bit up in the air according to Four Four Two, but otherwise Javi Gracia should be able to field his preferred XI.
Midfielder Robert Snodgrass returns from suspension, while fellow midfielder Felipe Anderson and defender Declan Rice have gotten over illness, making a trio of changes possible by Manuel Pellegrini despite success in last weekend’s victory over Southampton. Additionally, there is chatter that Jack Wilshere could nip a start, perhaps at the expense of Manuel Lanzini. [Source: Claret & Hugh]
What decisions are you still fretting over for your fantasy line-ups? Please be sure to share any late-breaking news in the comments, and join us for lineup announcements and a mad Fantrax deadline scramble followed by NMA’s Sunday season finale live chat!