Congratulations if you were one of the lucky few to avoid the midweek minefield. Some of this season’s Big Hitters – Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte, Andrew Robertson and Mohamed Salah to name but a few - were all spared starting spots with one eye on the upcoming fixtures.
Team news on Tuesday was fairly sedate, in terms of changes, compared to 24 hours later where there were almost double the amount on average per team [2.25 vs 4.2]. The loss of Marko Arnautovic hit fantasy managers the hardest, but for Liverpool, Bournemouth and Arsenal, serious injuries soured their nights work.
A three-game week can be a cruel mistress, so don’t expect any favours. Follow the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter to help navigate another tricky round of matches: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag | Ben | Galin | Nik
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Liverpool
Eddie Howe hints at change versus Liverpool: “Rotation at this stage of the season is important. We’ve got a good squad and it’s at these kinds of moments when we’ll need to make full use of that." Dan Gosling remains on the sidelines "We're waiting for a diagnosis on his knee problem, so he'll definitely miss the weekend's game." Meanwhile, Lewis Cook will not play again in 2018/19 after tests confirm the 21-year-old ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against Huddersfield Town. He is scheduled for surgery this weekend. “The first step for Lewis is to get the operation out of the way. We, of course, will be with him every step of the way and wish him well as he begins his journey back.” Adam Smith is also ruled out until early next year after going under the knife to repair a cartilage tear in his knee.
Dejan Lovren will not be risked in the early kick-off, the defender is still suffering from the after-effects of a clash of heads in training. "He got a knock last week and [suffered] concussion. He is still not able to play." Nathaniel Clyne remains on the sidelines. "It's nothing serious but he is not in training and not available." Solanke (groin) is nearing a return and he could rejoin the squad this weekend. "Dom is close. I really hope he will be in team training again from Sunday. But we have to see." Andrew Robertson [hip] trained as normal on Thursday/Friday but Sadio Mane "is trying to run today" for the first time. “That doesn’t sound like he will be ready for tomorrow. Hopefully he can finish the programme we did for him." Gini Wijnaldum is fine. Liverpool confirm Joe Gomez sustained a fracture to the lower left leg during the 3-1 win at Burnley. Initial indications suggest the defender is facing a spell of up to six weeks out of action, although this is dependent on how his treatment and rehab progresses.
Arsenal – vs – Huddersfield Town
The Gunners confirm Rob Holding ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament at Old Trafford and the rehabilitation process is expected to take between six to nine months. Laurent Koscielny has had two games for the development side and he could line-up in the Europa League next week. "Our plan is that he can maybe be with us in the 18 on Saturday [then] maybe he can play against Qarabag." Mesut Ozil is a major doubt and could miss out. "He had backache and now he's working with the physio on the pitch, running and touching the ball. Tomorrow will be the decision." Granit Xhaka returns after missing the 2-2 draw with Manchester United.
Abdelhamid Sabiri suffered a broken collar bone midweek. The Moroccan midfielder will have surgery and could be sidelined for up-to two months. "He is very, very unlucky and I really feel for him. We will give him all the support to recover quickly.” Terence Kongolo has trained and is available after picking up a minor knock. Chris Lowe [shoulder] has been working all week and comes into contention. Everyone else, apart from the suspensions (Steve Mounié and Philip Billing), are ready.
Burnley – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion
Sean Dyche was pleased with his side despite the loss to Liverpool. “Although we didn’t get a result, there were clear signs of an improvement in the performance, both individually and collectively,” he said. The Burnley boss made five changes to his starting line-up in an attempt to halt their recent downturn in form. No fresh injury concerns - a clean bill of health for those players involved midweek - Steven Defour [knee] is still under assessment.
Murray faces a late fitness test: "We'll assess Glenn in the morning [Friday] - today it wasn't as bad as we thought - we'll give him every opportunity to be fit. He went over on his shoulder, but it's not dislocated - it's a bit sore but better than what it could have been." There was also a positive update on José Izquierdo who limped off versus Palace after taking a whack on the knee. "He is the same - he should train, and we'll go from there." If Murray fails to recover, then Andone is likely to start. "Florin has come in and got two goals in his first two starts - we're really pleased for him because he's put a lot of work - we have good competition there now." Leon Balogun could replace Shane Duffy who begins a three-match ban. "He proved on Tuesday that he's more than capable of stepping into the side." Dale Stephens is back, but Chris Hughton believes Alireza Jahanbakhsh [hamstring] is likely to return for Chelsea's visit to the Amex Stadium next weekend.
Cardiff City – vs – Southampton
Problems in attack for the Bluebirds who will look to make it four wins from 5 at the Cardiff City Stadium. "Gary Madine has had a problem,” mused Neil Warnock. “Danny Ward is injured, and Ken Zohore has [only] had one day’s training. We’ve still got Jazz [Richards] unavailable." Greg Cunningham managed some light work earlier in the week and has an outside chance of making the squad.
Ralph Hasenhüttl says he will closely monitor the Academy players and he won't be afraid to put them in. The new Saints boss prefers to line-up in a 4-2-2-2 but could switch between a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 system. No player updates, however, ahead of GW15, Kelvin Davis said they were "hopeful" that Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand could recover, which suggests the pair have a chance. Mario Lemina is available after suspension and Matt Targett has recovered from a head injury. Michael Obafemi [hamstring] could sit this one out.
Manchester United – vs – Fulham
José Mourinho remained coy on whether his injured players would return this weekend. "I don't know. The training session is at 11am - that will give us some answers.” Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Eric Bailly are all considered doubts while Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sánchez are still several weeks away from a return. "We don't even speak about them." Ashley Young is back in contention after missing the Arsenal match. The 33-year-old has served a one game ban having accumulated five yellow cards. "For sure we are going to play with players who are not in the maximum of their potential. But players will put themselves available for the team."
Opponents Fulham are clear of any major concerns, Claudio Ranieri confirmed: "Everyone is in good condition," following the 1-1 draw with Leicester City. Andre-Frank Anguissa and Andre Schurrle returned to the matchday squad on Wednesday as unused substitutes while Kevin McDonald [hamstring] is working his way back to full fitness. Floyd Ayite [groin] will be checked.
West Ham United – vs – Crystal Palace
Jack Wilshere has a "small [ankle] problem" and won't be risked at home to Crystal Palace. The Hammers expect Marko Arnautovic [hamstring] to return in January. "We have a lot of players injured. Marko has a muscle injury. He will probably be out for around one month." Lucas Pérez impressed Pellegrini after scoring [twice] from the bench against Cardiff. "I'm pleased because he's a player I brought into this team. We know he's a good striker and the important thing is, when he has a chance, he takes it." Aaron Cresswell could also return to the squad in time for the game on 15 December, after coming off against Newcastle with a hamstring strain.
Roy Hodgson was the only manager to name an unchanged side midweek: "We're lucky that we don't have any new injuries to report. We have the same squad of players to choose from as we have done for the last two, barring anything happening tomorrow." Scott Dann and Connor Wickham are waiting in the wings following their recovery from long-term injuries.
Chelsea – vs – Manchester City
Maurizio Sarri started by reporting that Chelsea have no serious injuries and every player - including Ross Barkley and Victor Moses – will be available. However, he insisted. “There is still one more training session to go." The Blues boss played down speculation that Marcos Alonso is looking tired. "He has only played league games this season." Before going to add that the left-back was better in the first half at Wolves but "had difficulties in the second half." He will make a decision on selection after training [Friday].
Pep confirms Sergio Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne will not feature at Stamford Bridge. "They cannot play [but] both will be back [soon]." Oleksandr Zinchenko could return to the matchday squad after missing the win at Watford due to a broken nose, but Benjamin Mendy won’t return until the new year.
Leicester City – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Claude Puel issued a mixed injury update in his press conference. “Harry [Maguire] has come back in the training sessions this week. I think he’ll be in the squad on Saturday.” Rachid Ghezzal and Jonny Evans have also overcome minor injuries and will be available for the visit of Spurs. However, Jamie Vardy has been ruled out. The Leicester striker is still recovering from a minor groin complaint but Puel hopes to have him back for the trip to Crystal Palace. "We will see. I don’t want to push him too much. We have a lot of games and we need to be careful." The good news though - he does not require surgery. "I have confidence with Iheanacho and the other players.”
Kieran Trippier (groin) will miss out. The full-back is being assessed to determine the extent of his injury. "He cannot cope with 90 minutes and that’s why we cannot make another mistake in this busy fixture [period]." Juan Foyth (hamstring) becomes the latest addition to the Tottenham treatment room. "It's not a big issue. For sure Saturday he is out. Tuesday he cannot play [ineligible] and then I am sure he is going to be ready for the next game." Otherwise, it's as you were – Mousa Dembele, Davinson Sánchez, Erik Lamela and Victor Wanyama remain unavailable.
Newcastle United – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Kenedy is well-placed to face Wolves following a minor toe injury. "He is fine, he has been training... hopefully he can train tomorrow, and then he will be available.” Paul Dummett is in a similar position, if there is no reaction then the left-back becomes "another option." Newcastle switched to a back five at Everton on Wednesday, a formation that served them well at Turf Moor [GW13], and with Fabian Schär suspended, Ciaran Clark could be handed a recall. Matt Ritchie is available again after his ban.
No fresh injury concerns for Wolves who travel to Newcastle on Sunday brimming with confidence after their come-from-behind win over Chelsea. Ruben Neves returns following his ban, but Nuno Espírito Santo can name an unchanged side. Jonny [MCL knee] remains in the treatment room.
Everton – vs – Watford
The Toffees will be disappointed that they could only draw with Newcastle on Wednesday. Ademola Lookman was handed his chance to shine, one of three changes made by Marco Silva, but the young winger was at fault when he was caught in possession, a mistake which led to Salomon Rondon’s opener. Jordan Pickford bounced back from his clanger in the derby. Michael Keane will return to the side, but it remains to be seen whether he is paired with Kurt Zouma or Yerry Mina. Morgan Schneiderlin should recover from a minor knock, although the Frenchman is way down the pecking order.
Javi Gracia will have a full complement of players to choose from ahead of the trip to Goodison Park. The Head Coach anticipates a clean bill of health which suggests Will Hughes has managed to overcome the knock which forced him off against Manchester City. Adalberto Peñaranda has recovered from a foot problem, but the South American is not match ready and the best he can hope for is a place on the bench. Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley lack conditioning and could miss out due to the competition for places. Etienne Capoue serves the second-game of his ban and Nathaniel Chalobah could deputise once again.