Game week 17 promises to be a logistical nightmare for fantasy managers. Most teams will be playing their third match in seven days and the risk of rotation will be very apparent, as it was for the midweek fixtures.
Only one manager, Mike Phelan, opted to stick with the same starting XI, but with their well-documented struggles due to injury and suspension you suspect his decision was made more out of necessity rather than choice. Even West Brom, unchanged in five previously, made two changes, albeit they were enforced as Jonny Evans [calf] and Craig Dawson [suspended] missed out.
No one enjoys change more than Pep Guardiola. Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, David Silva et al have all warmed the bench in recent weeks. The trend continued Wednesday, five in total, and don’t be surprised to see similar haul this weekend with the likes of Sagna, Iheanacho, Navas and Stones pushing for a recall. In fact, only Claudio Bravo seems immune.
Crystal Palace – vs – Chelsea
Alan Pardew says injuries "are putting a strain" on his squad. "We're comfortable at the moment, but wouldn't want to lose anyone else." Mathieu Flamini is added to the list after he was injured on Wednesday night. Jason Puncheon returns after serving a one-game ban but James Tomkins is "looking like mid-January" after he suffered a groin strain in training. Bakary Sako, Steve Mandanda and Chelsea loanee Loic Remy have all been ruled out until the new year.
Antonio Conte confirms "yes, I think Eden Hazard is fit" after the Belgium international missed the trip to the Stadium of Light due to a knee injury. He re-joined the group in training on Friday but a decision on whether he starts has not been made. Elsewhere, players will be assessed ahead of the early kick off: "It's difficult to play three games in six days." No fresh concerns but John Terry is still trying to recover from a "bad [gluteal] injury." Kurt Zouma is likely to be included in the match day squad.
Middlesbrough – vs – Swansea City
Cristhian Stuani [infected foot] has been ruled out while Gaston Ramirez faces a late fitness test. The Boro playmaker has been training but he isn't 100 percent: "It's an important decision to make because Gaston is an important player for us, I don't want to take a risk." Calum Chambers [shoulder] trained on Friday "so I think and I am positive he will be able to play." George Friend is also available.
No new additions to the Swansea treatment room, but while Federico Fernandez and Sung-Yeung Ki are progressing, neither will be ready for game week 17. Jefferson Montero was preferred to Modou Barrow midweek in the only change from the win over Sunderland but Bob Bradley may consider recalling Kyle Naughton and/or van der Hoorn as the Swans continue to ship goals.
Stoke City – vs – Leicester City
Mark Hughes says his players "are a little bit sore" after their midweek exertions "but thankfully we haven't lost anybody to injury." Erik Pieters "is feeling tight in his hamstrings" and Marc Muniesa opened his knee a little bit "but we expect them to be okay." Ibrahim Afellay will play in an U23s game on Friday: “Hopefully he will get 60 minutes under his belt, which would be huge." Marko Arnautovic begins a three-game ban: "We will miss him but we have good players who can come in and make a real impact. We look strong." Geoff Cameron and Phil Bardsley remain out - the pair have been pencilled in for a return around game week 18 or 19.
Kasper Schmeichel is expected to travel with the squad on Saturday: “He has trained very well [on Thursday]. I'll check tomorrow [but] he feels good [and] the hand is OK." Danny Drinkwater [knee] is struggling and training away from the main group [currently with the physio]. The midfielder is considered a doubt and Claudio Ranieri must decide whether to stick with Daniel Amartey and Andy King or recall Papys Mendy. Luis Hernandez could make way for the returning Danny Simpson.
Sunderland – vs – Watford
Another injury setback for Sunderland as Jan Kirchhoff is ruled out for indeterminate amount of time: "He suffered a cartilage tear in Wednesday's match,” confirmed David Moyes who went onto add that he would make late decisions on Victor Anichebe [thigh], Javi Manquillo [knock] and Steven Pienaar [calf]. All three missed the home defeat to Chelsea. No mention of Billy Jones, but I suspect the full-back is struggling after limping off with an apparent groin/hip problem. If Manquillo fails to recover, then Donald Love could make his third Premier League start. Jack Rodwell won’t be back until the end of the year.
Walter Mazzarri is prepared for the worst after Roberto Pereyra was sent for further tests on his knee: "We have to wait for the MRI and scans [but] for sure it won't be too short." The Argentine was forced off at the Etihad after twisting his knee and initial reports indicate Pereyra will be out for a minimum of 1-2 months. Stefano Okaka suffered a muscular strain in his man of the match performance against Everton and won’t be ready while defender Craig Cathcart is still recovering from groin surgery. Younes Kaboul and Isaac Success are closing in on a return to competitive action, the pair have been working hard in training following respective calf and hamstring injuries. Valon Behrami is expected to recover from the illness which kept him out midweek.
West Ham United – vs – Hull City
Good news for West Ham: "Our squad is all clear and all good after the game against Burnley,” said Slaven Bilic. “Everyone should be fit for Hull." Andy Carroll made his first start since recovering from a knee injury midweek, but it remains to be seen whether he can recover after more than three months out. Andre Ayew is waiting in the wings if they are any issues. No Simone Zaza [knee] while Gokhan Tore has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
No fresh injury concerns for Mike Phelan. Dieumerci Mbokani is available after his ban to help boost the Tigers attacking options. Expect changes from the side which lost at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. Ryan Mason and Markus Henriksen are pushing for a recall while Abel Hernandez [hernia] and Alex Bruce [Achilles] could return around Christmas.
West Bromwich Albion – vs – Manchester United
Tony Pulis will assess his players during a "light session" on Friday afternoon. "There's a couple who have little knocks" including Jonny Evans who missed the win over Swansea because of a calf issue. "We won't know until we train [if he's available]." Craig Dawson returns to the squad following his one-match ban.
Jose Mourinho confirms Eric Bailly is out "but his injury isn't as serious as we thought" and "hopes" to have the defender available for games during the Christmas period. Chris Smalling will return on Saturday after recovering from a broken toe. Henrikh Mkhitaryan [targeting a return on Boxing Day] and Luke Shaw remain on the sidelines. Antonio Valencia comes back into contention after collecting his fifth caution of the season last weekend. Zlatan Ibrahimović will start on Saturday: “It's impossible to leave him out him right now. He’s doing phenomenal but he cannot play 60 matches. I must give him a rest. Now and again I find a way to."
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Southampton
No fresh injury concerns for Bournemouth following their win over Leicester: "Everyone came through the game on Tuesday okay.” Callum Wilson took a whack to the head in time added on, but he was checked for concussion "and has been cleared" by the medical team. Ryan Fraser could miss out following a scan on his ankle: "We're waiting on him," confirmed Eddie Howe. Junior Stanislas and Andrew Surman remain in the Cherries treatment room with no definitive timeline on when they could return action.
Matt Targett had surgery on his hamstring and will be out for around four months while a specialist is assessing Charlie Austin [shoulder] who is expected to be side-lined for between 12-16 weeks. Alex McCarthy has returned to training after almost two months out and Cédric Soares, who was ill for the last game against Stoke, would “normally” come back into the reckoning.
Manchester City – vs – Arsenal
Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan are all out for Manchester City. "We should wait for a statement [but] Gundogan will be out for a long time," said Guardiola. "The doctors are the right people to tell you what it is." The club have since released a statement confirming the German star will have surgery after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. With Fernandinho also out [suspended], Pep may call upon Yaya Toure to fill the void: "When his physical condition is right, he can do everything." Aguero serves game three of his four match ban.
Arsenal have some "knocks and bruises" but Arsène Wenger expects the same squad as Tuesday night. Aaron Ramsey “is the closest to a return” but the trip to the Etihad will come too soon. Danny Welbeck is scheduled to re-join the main group in full training before Christmas which should see the England international back playing competitively in January.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Burnley
Mauricio Pochettino will assess Mousa Dembele in training on Saturday. The midfielder is “improving" after limping off at Old Trafford last week. Vincent Janssen could also come into the managers thinking after he trained with the group for the first time since early December: “We need to see how they are." Erik Lamela "is improving" but Sunday will come too soon.
Sean Dyche switched to a 4-4-2 at West Ham but despite a couple of guilt edged opportunities, the result was still the same and Burnley drew a blank. Steven Defour made way on Wednesday and the Belgian midfielder will be hoping he can force his way back into the starting XI. Johann Gudmundsson [hamstring] is the only expected injury absentee.
Everton – vs – Liverpool
Yannick Bolasie had his first knee operation on Thursday [meniscus]: "He now needs to wait 8-10 weeks to do surgery on his ACL." No fresh injury concerns for Ronald Koeman. Gareth Barry is back in contention after he was rested midweek: "We need to protect him a little, like [we did] versus Arsenal." Phil Jagielka [suspended] won't be available so Funes Mori will be recalled.
Simon Mignolet has the goalkeepers’ jersey on Monday night: "I don't want to change each week," Klopp revealed. Daniel Sturridge may not be ready but "he is closer to team training than last week." If he is available, then he will be make the match day squad. Emre Can [knee] is in a "pretty good way." If he can train today or Saturday, then he will be included. No decision on Joel Matip who is struggling with a painful ankle problem: "We have to see whether to try him [in the derby] or give him few more days." Divock Origi should be fine after picking up a minor knock during the win over Middlesbrough.