It’s just a week before the World Cup begins, and I just can’t express how much I will miss the Premier League while domestic football is on pause. However, in the meantime FIFA has its own official World Cup fantasy game that we can use as a substitute; click here to join our mini-league.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; we still have Round 16 of the EPL to navigate. Midweek Carabao cup fixtures saw most teams rest star players in a bid to reduce workload ahead of the World Cup tournament. However, we still have a number of injuries and suspensions to contend with, so it is critical that you check out this overview before confirming your fantasy teams for the weekend.
Fantrax managers will have the rare luxury of a peek at Pep’s confirmed lineup before the transfer deadline expires, so be sure to be here in the countdown hour for that.
Man City v Brentford
Manchester City continues to put pressure on table-topping Arsenal as we get set for the World Cup break. The Citizens have won their last three league games, with victory secured against Fulham last week despite being a man down. Brentford is currently on a run of four games without victory, which has seen them fall into the bottom half of the table.
Man City welcome back Cancelo after he served his one-match suspension in the midweek League Cup encounter with Chelsea, while Kyle Walker is ruled out through injury. Erling Haaland is a doubt, with Pep being his usual cryptic self when asked about the Norwegian’s availability.
Brentford’s injury list is much more extensive, with Kristoffer Ajer, Pontus Jansson, Thomas Strakosha, Aaron Hickey, Chandon Baptiste, and Charlie Goode all ruled out. Vitaly Janelt remains a doubt.
Bournemouth v Everton.
This one’s a replay of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup fixture. Bournemouth got the better of Everton then, and Gary O’Neil will hope the Cherries can once again get the better of the Toffees this weekend. Bournemouth seems to have lost the early season momentum that saw them rise as high as 9th in the table, having now lost their last four. The Cherries now find themselves hovering over the relegation zone in 17th place.
Chris Mepham is suspended for Bournemouth, while Neto, Lloyd Kelly, and David Brooks are out through injury. On a brighter note, Jordan Zemura is set to feature after recovering from a knock.
Calvert Lewin is once again sidelined for the Toffees with three different injuries (the most serious of which is his knee). Andros Townsend is a long-term absentee, and Ben Godfrey is a serious doubt. Gana Gueye, Amadou Onana, and Mason Holgate are all set to return for this fixture.
Liverpool’s redemption story seems to be picking up pace after they got the better of Derby via penalties in the League Cup on Wednesday. The Reds have now won their last three games across all competitions, and will be eager to go into the World Cup break on a high by picking up a fourth.
Southampton on Monday parted ways with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl after almost four years in charge. The Saints were on a terrible run that saw them drop into the bottom three after winning just one of their last five league games. First-team coach Rubén Sellés took charge of the Carabao Cup clash against Sheffield Wednesday, but the club has now announced that former Luton manager Nathan Jones will takes the reins as permanent gaffer.
On the injury front for Liverpool, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota are out, while James Milner, Joel Matip, and Naby Keita are all doubts for this fixture.
For Southampton, Valentino Livramento and Kyle Walker-Peters are ruled out, while Juan Larios is set to face a late fitness test.
Nottingham Forest v Crystal Palace
Nottingham Forest seems to be unable to find its way out of the basement. The Tricky Trees have only lost once in their last four matches but still find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table. The Carabao Cup victory over Tottenham should give the team a shot of confidence when they come up against Crystal Palace this weekend.
Orel Mangala is suspended for Nottingham Forest, while Scott McKenna and Cheikhou Kouyate are doubts.
James McArthur and Nathan Ferguson remain out for Palace, while Josh Butland, Odsonne Edwards, and Edouard are doubts.
Tottenham v Leeds
Antonio Conte will be eager to see his side come out of a mini-slump that has seen them lose three out of four of their last Premier games. The Carabao Cup exit to struggling Nottingham Forest on Wednesday further highlighted the extent of the problems. On the other hand, Leeds is enjoying a mini-revival that has seen them win their last two, with the last match being a spirited come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Bournemouth.
Conte won’t be able to call upon Son, Sessegnon, or Romero, as all three remain ruled out through injury. Richarlison and Kulusevski have been training and will be assessed.
Leeds will have to make do without Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas, Fernando Sinisterra, Adam Forshaw, Mateusz Klich. Jack Harrison and Joe Gelhardt are doubts.
West Ham seems to have lost the momentum that saw them climb out of the bottom three; they have now lost three of their last four. Last week, a home loss to Crystal Palace was compounded by a spot-kick defeat to Newcastle in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. Three wins in their last four League games, and it finally seems like the Foxes have turned a corner. Recent results have seen Brendan Rodgers side rise to 14th on the log.
Ederson Palmieri is still being monitored after he broke his nose in the Hammers last match, while Cornet remains out.
James Justin is ruled out for the season after he ruptured his Achilles in Leicester’s Carabao Cup victory against Newport County, while Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand remain sidelined as well. Caglar Soyuncu is also a doubt with a hamstring injury.
Newcastle v Chelsea
High-flying Newcastle will be confident of getting the better of a Blues side that has struggled to grind out results in recent weeks. Led by the in-form Miguel Almiron, the Magpies have won their last four games in the league and currently sit third, trailing only Arsenal and Man City.
Chelsea manager Graham Potter has now lost three matches in a row. The last time the Blues had it this bad was under Jose Mourinho in 2015. Potter’s team was comprehensively out-thought, out-played, and out-classed against league-leaders Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ woes were further compounded by a two-nil Carabao Cup defeat to Man City on Wednesday.
Dummett, Isak, Krafth, and Ritchie remain unavailable for the Magpies, while Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson are doubts. Joelinton returns from suspension.
Graham Potter will be without James, Chilwell, Kepa, Kante and Fofana, but Jorginho “should be in the squad.”
Wolves v Arsenal
New Wolves manager Julien Lopetegui snatched his first win when his side bested Leeds in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. The victory halted a run of three games without victory, but they remain 19th on the Premier League table. First-place Arsenal will be eager to return to winning ways after losing their Carabao Cup clash against Brighton on Wednesday. A victory in this fixture will keep the Gunners atop the league going into the World Cup break.
Diego Costa remains suspended for Wolves, and Jonny remains out with a hamstring injury. Matheus Nunes and Nelson Semedo are set to return for this fixture.
Arsenal on the other hand, have no new injury problems. Emile Smith-Rowe remains sidelined, and Takehiro Tomiyasu is a doubt.
Brighton v Aston Villa
Brighton has turned a corner after a period of struggle following the departure of former manager Graham Potter. The Seagulls grabbed their first win under new manager Roberto De Zerbi against (Graham Potter’s) Chelsea, and have since won three in a row. Unai Emery’s Aston Villa couldn’t make it two wins in two games, as they fell to the Red Devils in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Brighton has no new injury problems, while Aston Villa will be without Philippe Coutinho and Diego Carlos, both out with injuries. Emi Martinez looks set to line up between the sticks despite Argentina’s pleas for Villa to release him for the World Cup.
Fulham v Man United
Marco Silva will be eager to see his Fulham side return to winning ways after failing to win either of their last two matches. Last week’s dying-minute defeat to Man City was surely a hard pill to swallow as the Citizens were a man down for over an hour.
Manchester United asserted immediate revenge on Aston Villa for Sunday’s league defeat by kicking the Villans out of the Carabao Cup on Thursday. The Red Devils played with purpose and zeal in the encounter, with youngster Ganarcho especially catching the eye with two assists.
Maro Silva has announced that star man Aleksandar Mitrovic will not be risked for this encounter. Harrison Reed is suspended due to the accumulation of five yellow cards, while Bobby De Cordova-Reid is set to return from a one-match suspension.
Diogo Dalot is out for Manchester United due to the accumulation of five yellow cards, and Raphael Varane remains unavailable. Cristiano Ronaldo, Antony, and Jadon Sancho are all doubts for this fixture.
What are your predictions? Which players are you buying and selling this week? Whom will you captain? Are you worried about the impact of the upcoming World Cup? Join us in the comments and share your thoughts!