The Champions League (proper) is about to kick off and the consequences could, potentially, impact managers massively in week five.
Navigating your squad effectively into the next phase European competition, while maintaining league form, can be a fine balancing act – just ask Sean Dyche – so don’t be surprised to see a curve ball (or two). Liverpool have maintained a fairly settled XI since the opening weekend – just a single change – but Jurgen Klopp may choose Saturday to involve a few of his fringe players with Paris Saint-Germain heading to Merseyside on Tuesday evening.
Mauricio Pochettino maybe thinking along the same lines with a trip to Milan coming up, although his hand will be forced in certain areas of the pitch due to injury and/or fatigue. Headaches in recent times are typically caused by his rotation at full-back, so be aware that Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies, Danny Rose and Serge Aurier are unlikely to feature heavily in both.
United and City are afforded the luxury of an additional recovery day, and to an extent, games against lesser opposition, although good luck in guessing Pep’s line-up with the wealth of talent at his disposal.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Liverpool
A thigh injury is expected to keep Hugo Lloris out for "several weeks" while Dele Alli will also miss the early kick-off due to the hamstring problem he picked up playing for England. Moussa Sissoko will be back in full training ahead of game week six. Victor Wanyama has continued to work throughout the break despite missing out for Kenya due to the knee problem which has kept him side-lined since late-July. Erik Lamela comes back into contention. Forgotten man - Vincent Janssen - won't be available again until later this year following surgery to remedy a foot problem. Pochettino dismisses any suggestion that Harry Kane should be rested: "We know him well and have worked with him for more than four years. I think it is a situation that is under control, but we respect all opinion and maybe some opinions are different to us. We try to take the best decision for the player." Heung-Min Son is back after his involvement at the Asian Games, but he may not feature. “He's travelled a lot, and yes, I hope that for the weekend he'll be available to play or be on the bench. If not, we're not going to take a risk because he missed a lot of games and we have a lot to play. It's not a moment to take risks now."
Dejan Lovren [pelvis] is ruled out but Jurgen Klopp is "pretty sure" he will return within the coming weeks. Simon Mignolet has overcome a minor finger injury. "He's fine," while Adam Lallana [groin] is in a "good way," but will miss out on Saturday and in the Champions League. Klopp maintains that Fabinho still has a part to play even though the Brazilian has only made the matchday squad once. “The plan was, and is still, that he will make us better. That’s what we are working on. That sometimes needs more time, sometimes a bit less. From my point of view, it’s all fine. I know the situation is not like maybe a few people would have expected but sorry, I cannot change that.”
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Leicester City
Ryan Fraser is a major doubt after picking up a hamstring injury during the international break. "He has been working with our medical team since he returned." Josh King played for Norway and came through two games without any problems. Charlie Daniels, who missed the defeat to Chelsea last time out remains on the side-lines due to a knee complaint – Diego Rico is likely to deputise. Stanislas has stepped up his recovery this week. "Junior is still working his way back to fitness,” Eddie Howe said. “He won’t be ready for this weekend, but we’re pleased with his progress." The winger is expected to play for the under-23s to improve his sharpness before returning to the first-team.
Summer signing Soyuncu is in contention following his recent hamstring injury. The Turkish defender played for the development side before the break and is pushing to make the matchday 18. “Now there’s competition. The most important thing is to have a strong squad. I’m happy about his training sessions and we will see when he can start with the team.” Matty James [Achilles] went under the knife again. Puel is hoping the hapless midfielder will be back with the squad soon. No other injury concerns. “The internationals have come back with a smile. We had 13 international players away and they came back with a good mentality.” Jamie Vardy returns after serving a three-match ban.
Chelsea – vs – Cardiff City
Cesc Fabregas is close after re-joining the team this week. "Now, he has to improve his physical condition. He can be available for the bench, but I want to speak to him because I think he may be better with two days of training." Ruben Loftus-Cheek suffered an injury playing for England on Tuesday - right tibia – and the Blues boss is "not sure" if he's available. Emerson and Davide Zappacosta are doubts after they "picked up sore throats."
Josh Murphy has returned to training following a minor hamstring problem, but Neil Warnock doesn't know whether the winger will be involved. “He wants [play] but with Mendez-Laing out for a long time we’ll have to be careful.” Aron Gunnarsson [knee] may not be risked. "We haven’t got to rush him back because we’ll need him for Arter’s suspension! He could be involved at the weekend if I wanted him to, but I’m not sure. We’ve got to build that knee up.” Zohore slips down the pecking order after Warnock confirms his "best strike force" is Danny Ward and Bobby Reid. “They’ve been improving in training and they’re relishing it. They’ve both stepped up."
Huddersfield Town – vs – Crystal Palace
The Terriers have "two small injury problems" heading into the game with Crystal Palace. Juninho Bacuna and Colin Quaner are struggling after picking up knocks on Wednesday while playing for the development side. Adama Diakhaby had a slight problem but he should be able to train [on Friday]. Other than those mentioned, there are no further doubts according to David Wagner which should mean Ramadan Sobhi and Ben Hamer are pushing for a recall. International players returned unscathed and are available. Jonathan Hogg serves the final game of his ban.
Roy remains coy on the availability of Zaha: "[His return] is quicker than we might have expected with the prognosis. It was nice to see him out there [in training]. We will have to see how [Friday] pans out before we decide how we play on Saturday." James Tomkins [calf] also took part in full training, if he doesn't suffer a reaction, then he should be okay for the trip to Huddersfield. However, Christian Benteke is ruled out: "He has a niggling knee injury and that is an ongoing issue. There is no timescale on that at the moment." Better news regarding Wan-Bissaka who is in contention. "Aaron played the first [England] U21s match, but the coach made a lot of changes for the second one. A lot of those players from the first game were rested in the second. He's fine, he came back today." Connor Wickham is struggling to overcome a calf problem. "He is making some progress, but he hasn’t trained with the team for about a month. He may return to training in a week or two. But he has had injuries and he is not someone I am used to seeing on the training ground."
Manchester City – vs – Fulham
Raheem Sterling is fit for Saturday after recovering from the back injury which ruled him out of the England internationals. Danilo [ankle] is pushing to be involved after a return to full training. Kevin de Bruyne is "going well" as he continues to work his way back from a knee ligament injury. The Belgium star should be back within his initial time frame of around 10-12 weeks.
Slavisa Jokanovic reveals Neeskens Kebano and Tom Cairney [both ankle] are ruled out along with Tim Ream [thigh]. "The rest will be available for the game," suggesting Floyd Ayite could make his first appearance of the season. "We are still assessing these players and I cannot give you clear information, but we expect they will be available soon."
Newcastle United – vs – Arsenal
Jonjo Shelvey [thigh] and Matt Ritchie [knee] return to the matchday squad. "There are no big issues – everyone was training. We have to decide now who can play." Salomon Rondon and DeAndre Yedlin re-joined the group on Friday morning following their international involvement. "They are fine but, always after these trips, you have to be careful." Striking duties could fall to Joselu who has two Premier League goals already this term.
No fresh injury concerns for Arsenal. "All players [who] have returned [so far] are in good health and available for selection." Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Danny Welbeck are still be checked. "I hope that they come back well and prepare for the match in Newcastle," said Unai Emery. Lucas Torreira, who was withdrawn as a precaution due to a calf problem for Uruguay, has been cleared. Maitland-Niles is progressing ahead of schedule and is now aiming for a return to full training in early October. Laurent Koscielny could be back with the group by November, but Alex Iwobi is fine after missing the Cardiff game due to illness.
Watford – vs – Manchester United
Javi Gracia has close to a full-strength squad with only two players missing through injury. Long-term absentee Tom Cleverley [Achilles] remains out while Gerard Deulofeu suffered a minor setback in training this week. “Gerard has a little pain, but it is better to wait one week more because we are in September and we have time. It is better to recover the players well and when they come back they will be ready to play and train without pain. I am not concerned about his situation.”
Jose Mourinho said Luke Shaw "could" feature against Watford on Saturday, although the United full-back was not spotted with the travelling group heading to London. "We still have a training session [but] by the protocol point of view [six days clear] and according to our doctor, he will be free to play." An ankle injury rules Ander Herrera out of the late kick-off while Marouane Fellaini [back] faces a late fitness test. Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot will feature for the under-23s on Friday evening. "If they play the 90 minutes, like we expect, then it will be the end of their recovery process and we will consider them ready to be back next week for full competition." Marcus Rashford begins his ban.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – vs – Burnley
Nuno reports that his players came back "healthy" from international duty which includes Raul Jimenez [muscular] who was pictured in training on Friday. No fresh injury concerns. Only Ivan Cavaleiro is expected to miss the game as he battles to overcome a persistent back problem.
Defender Ben Gibson will see a specialist to help resolve ongoing groin pain. "We'll find out more on that one next week,” Sean Dyche revealed. Steven Defour is "looking and feeling well" and he'll start a games programme before the end of the month. "He's midway through a pre-season really." Robbie Brady is back on the training pitches “but only a couple of days in [and] he's slightly behind Steven." Johann Berg Gudmundsson "is clear" and Stephen Ward has been declared fit. Nick Pope is targeting a return before Christmas. "I'm looking at December hopefully. Everything since the surgery has gone really well."
Everton – vs – West Ham United
Injury concerns are beginning to ease for the Toffees who had up-to 12 players at risk of missing out this weekend. James McCarthy [double leg fracture] is closing in on a return while summer signing Yerry Mina [foot] trained for the first time with his new team-mates on Friday. "Mina is getting fit and then he will be ready to be in the squad.” Dominic Calvert-Lewin [ankle] is fine and the England under-21 has been passed fit along with Theo Walcott, Bernard and Idrissa Gueye. Unfortunately, Seamus Coleman [stress fracture foot] is ruled out, but the prognosis is a lot better than expected. "He will [miss] maybe one or two weeks, nothing more," confirmed Marco Silva. Phil Jagielka and Andre Gomes remain on the side-lines. Michael Keane is undertaking “specific work on the training pitch” and will be with the team from next week. Richarlison must serve the final game of his ban.
Manuel Pellegrini says there is "no chance" Jack Wilshere will play after feeling pain in his ankle earlier in the week. "We'll see how he is on Tuesday after he has had a medical review." Javier Hernandez is a major doubt. "He is sick and has had a virus for the last ten days, so he's at home." Yarmolenko hasn’t been named in a league XI yet and the winger must bide his time: "I think Andriy needs time to know the Premier League and its high pace. He is a winger and he's always attacking, he's improving a lot, so we'll see when he can start a game." Arthur Masuaku comes back into contention and will pressure Aaron Cresswell for a start. Andy Carroll stepped up his recovery from ankle surgery. He could return slightly ahead of schedule, but that won't be for a while yet.
Southampton – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion
The Saints may have a clean bill of health for the visit of Brighton on Monday. "Touch wood, [no injuries from the internationals] as far as we know." Jan Bednarek is managing a [minor] foot problem, but that won't rule him out. Danny Ings looks to be over the worst of his recent foot injury. “He had a bad blister. He tore a chunk of skin off his foot against Everton and he was taking painkillers to stop the pain. He’s not having injections anymore and he’s back in training, so we’re hoping there are no more problems with that.” Charlie Austin [hamstring] and Shane Long [toe] should re-join the group over the weekend. "Both injuries have settled down. We are hoping they will be back [on] Saturday or Sunday."
No fresh injury concerns for Brighton. Florin Andone [groin] is pencilled in to play for the development side on Friday against West Ham. “He'll probably play 45 minutes, possibly more," revealed Chris Hughton. The Seagulls squad is in "good shape" although some players are closer to a return - Bruno Saltor [hamstring], Jose Izquierdo [knee] and Pascal Gross [ankle] - than others, but "they're all training."