Your usual Late Fitness Check correspondent Ben Dinnery is on vacation soaking up the sun, and probably some sangria, in Spain so I’m dusting off a year or so of rust to bring you all the latest and greatest injury news for Week 27 in the Premier League. As I’m sure everyone is aware, four teams are off this weekend due to the League Cup final so Manchester City, Newcastle United, Liverpool and Everton are already on the “unavailable” list making potential injury and rotation replacement players even more attractive than usual in single ownership league formats.
West Ham United vs. Sunderland
The big news here is that Andy Carroll and Cheikhou Kouyate are both available for the Hammers. Carroll is back from his latest injury issue (a groin this time) while Kouyate had a red card overturned making him eligible again. Winston Reid, Diafra Sakho, Joey O’Brien, James Tomkins, and Enner Valencia are all out injured. That probably means Carroll gets the start at forward and youngster Sam Byram may well get another start at right back. Both could be interesting pick-ups for fantasy managers looking for a waiver wire pick-up against a bad opponent.
Leicester City vs. Norwich City
Danny Simpson is suspended after picking up that awful red card against Arsenal which will enforce one change in the Foxes starting group for the match against the Canaries. Liam Moore is the odds on favorite to take Simpson’s spot if you’re looking for a spot starter in defense with a strong chance of a clean sheet and at least some upside getting up the pitch and contributing at least a little to the attack.
The Canaries are struggling but at least they don’t have injury to blame. Andre Wisdom is their only significant absence. Expect Alex Neil to continue to tinker with his line-up as he looks to integrate new faces from the January window into his relegation threatened side.
Southampton vs. Chelsea
Southampton have only one absence in the form of the suspended Victor Wanyama. As usual with the Saints these days, the big questions are all about rotation with players like Dusan Tadic, Cedric Soares, Matt Targett, Sadio Mane, Charlie Austin and James Ward-Prowse having significant fantasy value if they start but just as high a risk of coming off the bench and having very little value.
The interesting play here is Baba Rahman. With John Terry and Kurt Zouma both out injured, Ivanovic is likely to continue playing centrally with Azpilicueta on the right and Rahman on the left. Rahman has looked very good going forward from the left back spot even if his defending has been only OK in a small sample. Who is in and who is out in the starting midfield continues to be an ongoing issue for fantasy managers but Cesc Fabregas and Willian seem to be the stalwarts with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Pedro coming in and out of the line-up.
Stoke City vs. Aston Villa
The Potters continue to struggle with defensive injuries with Geoff Cameron facing a late fitness check while Ryan Shawcross is definitely out against the Villans. Marc Muniesa, Marc Wilson and Glen Johnson are all definitely out as well leaving Mark Hughes’ side significantly weakened at the back. Could be a surprising result at the Britannia.
At the same time the Potters are struggling with injuries at the back their opponents are getting some attackers back from injury. Rudy Gestede is back from a hamstring injury and Gabby Agbonlahor is back from a spell of dizziness that he suffered last time out. Remi Garde’s men will be without Jack Grealish, Carlos Sanchez, Libor Kozak, Adama Traore, Jordan Ayew, and Jordan Amavi. Hard to recommend anyone from Villa as a fill-in even with the weakened Stoke City defense.
Watford vs. Bournemouth
Jose Jurado continues to have an injury-interrupted first season in the Premier League and will miss a third consecutive match with a calf injury. Otherwise the Hornets are healthy and are likely to put out what has become a fairly consistent starting line-up anchored by Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
Not too much to report from the Cherries with reserve Lewis Grabban the only real uncertainty and he was hardly likely to start even if fully healthy given how well Benik Afobe has been playing. Max Gradel, Callum Wilson and Tyrone Mings have all been out for most of the season and continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace
The Baggies are coming back into health at the back with Craig Dawson and Gareth McAuley both back in training with Jonny Evans potentially able to join them in the heart of the Albion defense. The only two significant known absences at this point are Callum McManaman and James Morrison whose hamstring issue continues to linger.
Alan Pardew’s squad is fairly healthy after a long stretch missing critical players. Jason Puncheon, James McArthur are definitely out injured and Pape Souare is out due to a suspension. Bakary Sako is questionable and shouldn’t be counted on to start even if he does make the traveling squad. Martin Kelly is likely to continue in place of Souare and could be a solid short term addition given the issues Albion have scoring. Look for Yannick Bolasie to get his first start since mid-December after coming on as a substitute against Spurs in the FA Cup.
Manchester United vs. Arsenal
No official word on Anthony Martial’s status for Sunday after he was a late scratch from United’s Europa League win on Thursday with a hamstring strain in pre-match warm-ups. On a positive note for the Red Devils, David De Gea is expected to return. The status of defenders Chris Smalling and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson is up in the air meaning that United could be fielding an even more makeshift line-up than usual for the clash with the Gunners.
Surprisingly, there isn’t much excitement on the injury front at Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out, possibly for the season, with knee and ankle injuries picked up in the loss to Barcelona. Gabriel is back with the team and will be assessed ahead of the match but is likely to be in nothing more than a reserve role regardless of his health. Only long-term absentees Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosickly join Oxlade-Chamberlain as definitely out for the trip to Manchester.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City
The injuries to key players are starting to mount at Spurs. Mousa Dembele joins Jan Vertonghen on the sidelines with a groin strain and a knee injury respectively. Harry Kane was out for the Europa League win on Thursday with a broken nose but may suck it up and play with a facemask on for Sunday’s match. Look for Ryan Mason to deputize for Dembele as he did against Fiorentina on Thursday, he could be a solid short term pick-up coming off a goal-scoring performance in mid-week.
The Swans have been off for two weeks and it shows. Francesco Guidolin’s team is fully healthy for their visit to North London.