We’ve barely had time to pause for breath. As the last remaining match of game week 19 was being played on Sunday, managers were already preparing their players for the next round of fixtures less than 24 hours later.
No press conferences ahead of the six Premier League games on Monday but relevant updates will added for those sides facing each other on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Middlesbrough – vs – Leicester City
Aitor Karanka made five changes from the 1-0 loss at Turf Moor. Grant Leadbitter came in for his first Premier League start of the season, and it was his goal on 67 minutes, which almost took the win back to Teeside before the late Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba show: "We have to learn - when you're on level terms you have to see the game out rather than conceding straight away." Barragan is available again following his ban while Fabio, Gaston Ramirez, Adam Clayton and Cristhian Stuani will be hoping for a recall.
Claudio Ranieri kept faith in left-back Ben Chilwell despite the return of Christian Fuchs who had to settle for a place on the bench. Robert Huth was recalled while Riyad Mahrez came into the XI after being rested against Everton. Saturday also saw Danny Drinkwater return to help the Foxes secure only their second win in 10. “Grit, determination, everything – we showed it in abundance today and we need to build on this result in the new year,” said midfielder Marc Albrighton. Jamie Vardy serves the final game of his three-match ban.
Everton – vs – Southampton
Ronald Koeman made three changes at the KCOM, plus a slight formational tweak, but Everton were poor and they might revert to the side which won 2-0 at the King Power in game week 18. Joel Robles is likely to continue in goal as Maarten Stekelenburg struggles to shake off the dead leg he picked up colliding with Leighton Baines in the Merseyside derby. James McCarthy is back in light training but Monday will come too soon.
Following the heavy defeat to Tottenham, Claude Puel made a host of changes, but ultimately the outcome was the same. Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand and Jay Rodriguez are expected to earn recall. Maya Yoshida could keep his place after Virgil van Dijk was sent off for two cautions. Jordy Clasie [groin] won’t be ready.
Manchester City – vs – Burnley
Sergio Aguero was back for the Liverpool game and having missed the four previous matches and I fully expect the Argentine to lead the City attack once again. Pep doesn’t need an excuse to rotate, but with less than 48 hours between fixtures he’ll want to freshen his side. Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna are poised while Nolito, Jesus Navas and Fernando are options for Guardiola. No fresh injury concerns from Anfield. Leroy Sane is expected to miss out - Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan remain long-term absentees.
Dean Marney [suspended] has been ruled out but Sean Dyche will be able call upon the services of Jeff Hendrick who missed the 4-1 win over Sunderland. Andre Gray is brimming with confidence after becoming the first ever Burnley player to score a top-flight hat-trick: “It’s something I have dreamed of."
Sunderland – vs – Liverpool
Jason Denayer and Victor Anichebe [both hamstring] have been added to an already extensive injury list. Lamine Kone is struggling after he was replaced during the first half on Saturday after colliding with advertising hoardings. Didier Ndong is likely to come into the back four alongside Donald Love who will replace the suspended Billy Jones. Steven Pienaar and Jack Rodwell returned to the bench at Turf Moor but by Moyes own admission, neither was ready “but we wanted to include them and get them ready for the games coming up."
Liverpool will be without Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip who have failed to recover from their respective ankle injuries. Jordan Henderson is a major doubt, but the good news, his injury is a not a recurrence of heel issue which hampered the captains progress during the early part of 2015/16. Adam Lallana could drop a little deeper with either Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge coming into a front three.
West Bromwich Albion – vs – Hull City
Salomon Rondon was rested at Southampton: “He has been a little bit tired so we decided, with the game on Monday, this will be a good chance for Hal,” confirmed Tony Pulis. Robson-Kanu responded in kind with a goal and an assist to give his manager a selection headache.
David Meyler and Adama Diomande came into the side on Friday night at the expense of Sam Clucas and Tom Huddlestone who were named on the bench. Ryan Mason has been waiting patiently in the wings and is an option if Mike Phelan wants to freshen his starting XI. Alan McGregor is back in full training but won’t be ready just yet and Abel Hernandez is around 7-10 days away from a return to action.
West Ham United – vs – Manchester United
Despite a 1-0 defeat, Slaven Bilic is unlikely to make wholesale changes following an encouraging performance at Leicester which had everything apart from “that finishing touch.” Mark Noble is a major doubt after Daniel Amartey decided to rake his studs down the West Ham captains knee. Pedro Obiang is favourite to return, alternatively, Manuel Lanzini is a more attacking option.
Phil Jones and/or Marcos Rojo will come back into the United line-up. Eric Bailly is leaving to join his Ivory Coast teammates as they prepare for the upcoming African Cup of Nations [AFCoN]. Anthony Martial deservedly took the plaudits from the win over Middlesbrough which should ensure his place is safe but Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling are at risk of missing out. Wayne Rooney [thigh] has a "small chance" but Michael Carrick [illness] "has a bigger chance."
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Arsenal
The Cherries “made a couple of changes to freshen the side up” at Swansea and cruised to victory against their hapless counterparts. Adam Smith missing out was the big surprise, but he should return, possibly in an advanced midfield role as Jack Wilshere is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement. Apart from Marc Pugh, minor hamstring strain, only Lewis Cook is out through injury.
Mesut Özil [illness] was one of the players Arsene Wenger alluded to on Friday, however, he should recover in time. Aaron Ramsey was also feeling under the weather but the Wales international was fit enough for the bench. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mustafi returned to the match day squad and both will be looking for more in terms of minutes. Theo Walcott [calf] and Kieran Gibbs [knee] remain doubts given the quick turnaround between fixtures. Francis Coquelin could replace Mo Elneny who has now left for the AFCoN. Danny Welbeck is training with the first team and Wenger could use the England international with the Under-23s as he builds fitness.
Crystal Palace – vs – Swansea City
Damien Delaney returns for the Eagles and Sam Allardyce must decide if the defender is worthy of an instant recall. Joe Ledley and James McArthur [both calf] failed a fitness test and both have a chance of returning on Tuesday. Zeki Fryers was a late withdrawal at the Emirates and his involvement in game week 20 is considered a doubt. Loic Remy is targeting a return in the FA Cup next weekend. "We're a bit thin on the ground with injuries [and] we've been dealt the blow of not having enough recovery time."
There were seven changes from interim boss Alan Curtis but after a bright start, Swansea confidence crumbled, and the home team were swept aside. Nathan Dyer came in for his first start of the season while Wayne Routledge was replaced moments before kick off because of a mouth abscess. Leroy Fer came into the line-up but he was replaced during the first half with no obvious sign of injury. Jordi Amat [suspended] is out and Llorente will be checked over the next 24 hours after picking up an ankle injury.
Stoke City – vs – Watford
Jon Walters could recover from a niggling knee problem but it remains to be seen whether Mark Hughes keeps faith in Peter Crouch who has started the last two. Ibrahim Afellay looks set for a more prominent role during the second half of the season, but after missing the last 8 months, Tuesday could come too soon for the 30-year-old who will be feeling the effects of starting his first game of the campaign. Marc Muniesa is improving and Geoff Cameron is said to be targeting a return in GW21. Stoke hope complete a permanent deal for Lee Grant over the coming days.
Injury problems continue to mount for Walter Mazzarri. Following on the back of Daryl Janmaat and Valon Behrami, Zúñiga and Amrabat join their teammates in the Watford treatment room – both will be lucky to make this one. Craig Cathcart is still feeling discomfort from [hernia] surgery [in October], but given a lack of options, the defender started and played 90 minutes on Sunday. Miguel Britos is back and could replace the Irishman at the Bet365 Stadium. With no-one else expected to recover, the Hornets might name youngsters Mason, Stewart and Rowan on the bench again. “We have 50 per cent less time to prepare than Stoke. They had more rest than us. It will be very difficult but I guarantee we will do everything possible to defend the badge.”
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Chelsea
Kyle Walker returns but Kieran Trippier proved to be a more than able replacement providing two pinpoint assists for Harry Kane. Jan Vertonghen is expected to replace Kevin Wimmer and partner Toby Alderweireld in the heart of the Tottenham defence. That should see Spurs revert to a back four with Mousa Dembele starting in a holding midfield role with Eric Dier at risk of missing out. Pochettino replaced Danny Rose and Dele Alli with one eye on this game which promises to be a cracker.
Antonio Conte recalled Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante after their recent suspension and must decide if Pedro deserves the same treatment after missing the win over Stoke. The performance of Willian was key, scoring twice to help Chelsea make it 14 wins in a row, while choosing Cesc Fabregas ahead of Nemanja Matic was justified following another outstanding display. Marcos Alonso will be checked after picking up an ankle injury.