Loading scores...
Team News

Late Fitness Check GW33

by Ben Dinnery
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Claudio Ranieri continues to dismiss talk of a Premier League title despite being 7-points clear with only six games remaining: "I think the Europa (League) is done. Now is the Champions League. We are fighting for the Champions League now."

 

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger won’t let an eleven point gap rule his side out of the race: "As long as it is mathematically possible, there is a strong chance. Every game is tight." However, the Gunners face a tricky trip to West Ham who are unbeaten at home in 13 games.

 

None of the confirmed FA Cup semi-finalists have won a game since guaranteeing their place in the last four. Crystal Palace, Watford and Everton will all be hoping for a change in fortune to arrest an alarming slide.  

 

Norwich steal a march in the relegation run-in but with four home games still remaining Rafa Benitez believes Newcastle could still beat the drop. The hopes of Sunderland could hinge on a trip to Carrow Road in game week thirty-four.

 

 

West Ham United – vs – Arsenal


James Collins and Sam Byram returned to training on Friday but Slaven Bilic confirms: ‘It will be too early for them to be in Saturday's squad.’ Cheikhou Kouyate is available after his red card was rescinded by the Football Association. A ‘good and proper decision’ according to Bilic who said the midfielder ‘should never have got sent off in the first place.’ James Tomkins will be better placed after a week of full training. He could come in at right-back allowing Antonio to play in a more advanced role. Enner Valencia is pushing for a recall after the Ecuadorian lost out to Emenike – versus Palace - following his late return from international duty.

 

Jack Wilshere will play for the Under-21s against Newcastle on Friday but Wenger maintains that he must remain “cautious” with the injury plagued midfielder. “Let’s not rush him.” Tomas Rosicky will also feature for the development side. Aaron Ramsey “might” return to the squad after he re-joined the first team in training earlier this week. “He’s looked good,” said the boss who also confirmed Mathieu Flamini has been passed fit. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still working his way back to full fitness and the winger will train with Santi Cazorla for the next 2-3 weeks. Wenger could name an unchanged side although Petr Cech is hoping to oust David Ospina following his recovery from a calf strain.

 

 

Aston Villa – vs – AFC Bournemouth


Libor Kozak is available again after more than two months out due to a fractured ankle. Adama Traore and Jack Grealish – who came through an Under-21s game earlier this week – have been passed fit. A virus rules Gabby Agbonlahor out. Ciaran Clark has recovered from a minor calf strain and with Alan Hutton suspended, the 26-year-old could partner Joleon Lescott in the heart of defence with Micah Richards shuffling across onto the right. Another defeat could see Villa relegated to the Championship.

 

Callum Wilson “isn't far away” and Eddie Howe hopes the striker can play for the Under-21s soon. Adam Smith has been managing a Hernia problem for a few weeks but the defender has a chance of playing as long as the Cherries can “manage his load until the end of the season." Club captain Tommy Elphick is poised for a recall if the 24-year-old is not fit. Harry Arter continues to have ongoing issues with his Achilles and he will meet with a specialist on Monday. Benik Afobe and Junior Stanislas "are both improving" although neither will be involved. Lewis Grabban could start for only the second time in the Premier League since re-joining Bournemouth – he is likely to partner Josh King who has recovered from illness. Tyrone Mings suffered a slight setback this week and might miss the start of next season.

 

 

Swansea City – vs – Chelsea


Jordi Amat and Leon Britton are major doubts for Saturday. The Swansea pair are both struggling with back injuries and Francesco Guidolin is uncertain whether either will train ahead of the game. Kyle Bartley is a potential replacement for Amat on the bench while Jefferson Montero could earn his first Premier League start of 2016 after the Ecuadorian impressed during his 30 minute cameo at the Britannia. Neil Taylor is expected to replace Kyle Naughton at left-back after the Wales defender was named on the bench last time out. Andre Ayew (ankle) has been passed fit following a full week of training. Just one defeat in five (W3, D1) means Swansea are almost safe but the home side will have their work cut out against a Chelsea outfit which is unbeaten in the league since Hiddink took charge in December.

 

John Terry pushed himself too hard this week and the captain must rest a niggling Achilles problem – he could be back before the end of April. Nemanja Matic suffered heavy bruising to his lower leg in training and the midfielder is expected to miss between 7-10 days. A groin injury sidelines Loic Remy and the striker may play again this season. Diego Costa is suspended so Alexandre Pato could make his first start following his man-of-the-match performance at Villa. No Eden Hazard who is struggling to shake off a hip complaint and Gary Cahill will face a late test after returning from England duty with a “tendon problem.” Guus Hiddink has promised to "bring in some youngsters." Reuben Loftus-Cheek is one of those who will benefit.

 

 

Watford – vs – Everton


Valon Behrami has recovered from the bout of illness which kept him out of the defeat to Arsenal and the Swiss midfielder will be pushing for a recall. Etienne Capoue was hauled off within 41 minutes at the Emirates but Quique Flores confirmed his substitution was tactical with the summer acquisition struggling with his new role on the left. Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban have been involved for the Under-21s but neither is expected to play this season – contract talks have stalled and Ekstrand could move in the summer while Hoban will use the remaining weeks to build fitness following several setbacks after hip / groin surgery. Watford are on the slide – just a solitary win against Newcastle – since Christmas (L9, D3) – only Palace have picked up fewer points in the calendar year.  

 

Leon Osman will face a late fitness test after he picked up a knock prior to the game at Old Trafford. Steven Pienaar re-joined the group on Thursday and he could make the squad. Gareth Barry is available again after suspension: "He is a player who knows what the team needs at certain points in games," said Roberto Martinez. Gerard Deulofeu could be the player to make way. The Toffees are going through their own sticky patch and arrive at Vicarage Road with just one win in five which includes four losses. Funes Mori dropped out of the line-up against Man United and the Argentine will compete with John Stones for place in the starting XI.  

 

 

Southampton – vs – Newcastle United


Steven Davies "is not fit" after taking a knock against Leicester. Ronald Koeman says "normally" for an ankle injury it’s between 2-3 weeks. "I don't know if he's available" to face Everton in game week thirty-four. Shane Long "is back in for the weekend" following his recovery from a patellar tendon problem and Matty Targett has been passed fit. No other concerns for the Saints. Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez are pushing for game time following their return at Leicester, however, Southampton won’t be making wholesale changes. Despite the loss, they played well and were unlucky not to take at least a point.

 

Fabricio Coloccini looks to have lost his race to be fit for this one despite a return to training. However, Rafa Benitez did confirm Paul Dummett would be available to fill in at left-back with Jack Colback still suspended. Rob Elliot successfully underwent reconstructive knee surgery this week ruling him out for between 6-9 months – Karl Darlow will be tasked with trying to save the club from dropping out of the Premier League. Newcastle are at risk of being cut adrift and can’t afford too many slip-ups after the last-gasp loss at Norwich. 

 

 

Crystal Palace – vs – Norwich City


Alan Pardew confirms: “Good news on the injury front, apart from James McArthur and Brede Hangeland. We’re all fit.” Emmanuel Adebayor however, will face a late fitness test after picking up an injury while on international duty. If he does miss out, then the 32-year-old is "likely" to be available for Wednesday. Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham have been passed fit but the latter is expected to start on the bench due to concerns over his fitness – striking responsibilities will be handed to Dwight Gayle who impressed from the bench at West Ham. Palace have fallen from the dizzy heights of fifth - at Christmas - and now find themselves just three points above their visitors in 16th.   

 

Russell Martin “should be fine” after the skipper returned to training. His availability gives Alex Neil a selection headache after his replacement - Andre Wisdom – impressed against Newcastle. Nathan Redmond made a surprise appearance last Saturday – despite lacking fitness – but after a full week of training the winger is “back to normal.” Seven points from the last three games have given Norwich a fighting chance plus a nice four point cushion over Sunderland in 18th place.  

 


Manchester City – vs – West Brom Albion


David Silva is ruled out: "He has a problem with his ankle," revealed Pellegrini but Yaya Toure is back. “He started working with the squad on Thursday.” Raheem Sterling is still a “couple of weeks” away and Vincent Kompany “is improving” although he’s not working with the squad yet. Joe Hart and Fabian Delph returned to face Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday evening.

 

West Brom are said to have “one or two knocks” so Tony Pulis will decide who is ready to play on Saturday “at a later stage." Callum McManaman was hoping to force his way into the Baggies squad but could miss out after he was sent off for the Under-21s – two cautions for simulation. James Morrison is closing in on a return - hamstring surgery – but the Scottish international lacks fitness after missing nearly three months. Chris Brunt is sidelined after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. Stephane Sessegnon will come back into contention after missing the Sunderland game. Pulis said he was: “Lost in space” following a very late return from representing Benin.

 

 

Sunderland – vs – Leicester City


Lee Cattermole was preferred to Jack Rodwell against West Brom but the Black Cats could only draw after an inspired Ben Foster display in goal. Younes Kaboul is keeping John O’Shea out of the starting XI and the former Tottenham defender has formed an excellent partnership with January signing Lamine Kone. No fresh injury concerns. Duncan Watmore – ankle ligaments – is the only definite absentee but Jeremain Lens will be checked having recently undergone surgery to remedy a Hernia problem.

 

‘Everybody is well,’ confirms Claudio Ranieri whose side could – if results go their way – win the Premier League next weekend. Jeffrey Schlupp has recovered from the knee injury which kept him sidelined at Southampton and Andy King is over his recent hamstring problem. Wes Morgan was Johnny on the spot at the King Power as the captain led by example with a man-of-the-match performance. No fresh injury concerns - Matty James is the only doubt due to his lack of fitness.

 

 

Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Manchester United


Erik Lamela has been passed fit. The Argentine missed last weekend’s draw at Anfield after he suffered a minor calf strain on international duty. Jan Vertonghen and Clinton N’Jie are closing in on a return. The pair will face a late fitness test and could be included in the match day squad. Harry Kane has scored 20 league goals for the second successive season and the striker is hoping to add to his tally to maintain the Tottenham title charge.

 

Daley Blind is expected to recover from the minor knock which forced him off during the narrow win over Everton. The Dutch defender has played every Premier League minute since October and Van Gaal suggested his withdrawal was due to fatigue. Phil Jones and Ashley Young stepped up there fitness for the Under-21s on Monday, but while the latter impressed throughout the 90 minutes, Jones struggled and is unlikely to feature at White Hart Lane. Wayne Rooney resumed training this week but the skipper lacks fitness and will play for the development side against Middlesbrough. A hamstring injury will keep Adnan Januzaj on the sidelines. Luke Shaw is back on the training pitches but is still some way off a return.

 

 

Liverpool – vs – Stoke City


Emre Can begins a two game domestic ban which could see Joe Allen return to the starting line-up. Divock Origi grabbed the opening goal in Dortmund on Thursday and the forward will be hoping to retain his place ahead of Daniel Sturridge. Jordan Henderson is also missing after the captain picked up a serious looking knee injury in Germany. Lucas Leiva is closing in on full fitness and the Brazilian may be rushed back due to a lack of alternatives. Roberto Firmino will return to the squad after missing the last two Premier League games but a knee ligament injury threatens to end Christian Benteke’s campaign early. The Belgium will miss at least a month.

 

Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri gave Mark Hughes an unexpected boost this week when the pair returned to training. Shaqiri will be included in the match day squad but the Potters boss must decide if the defender is fit enough for the Premier League.  Jakob Haugaard is set to keep his place in the starting XI: ‘His general work was good and he wasn't at fault for the goals,’ Hughes said speaking ahead of Sunday’s game. Glenn Whelan is hoping to recover from a back spasm but there is a doubt over the availability of Marko Arnautovic who has a slight problem: "He twisted his knee last weekend. Maybe Sunday's game will be too soon. We'll make a decision closer to kick-off.” Marc Wilson has made good progress and trained with the group: "He isn't ready to play though." Jack Butland and Jon Walters are ruled out having both undergone surgery – ankle and knee respectively.