We’re almost at the halfway point, and the next three weeks could prove to be season-defining with the festive fixture schedule stuffed fuller than Santa’s sack! Remember, we’re not just here for Christmas, so keep following for all the latest, and breaking news from the Premier League.
Good luck in week seventeen!
Liverpool – vs – Watford
Dejan Lovren has been ruled out following a recurrence of the injury that forced him off at Bournemouth. "[He’ll be] back before my contract ends!" smiled Jurgen Klopp who has just signed a new deal until 2024. "[It’s a] muscle injury (hamstring); more serious than last time. We have problems [and] we don’t have a timeframe.” Joe Gomez is expected to come into the side. No update on Adam Lallana who missed out in the Champions League as a precaution; however, the midfielder was expected to rejoin the group on Thursday.
“We’ve got one or two players that we’ll have a look at [on Friday] to see if they’ll be available,” Nigel Pearson said during his first press conference. Craig Dawson returns after missing the last three games, but Roberto Pereyra is rated as "touch and go", and Adam Masina faces a late fitness test. José Holebas (ankle) is ruled out, and the status of Daryl Janmaat and Sebastian Prodl remains unclear. Of the long-term absentees, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are making "good progress" in their recovery from respective hamstring and heel injuries.
Burnley – vs – Newcastle United
Sean Dyche remains "hopeful" that Ashley Barnes and Ashley Westwood will be fit for this weekend after the pair returned to training on Thursday. Phil Bardsley is expected to work with the group ahead of the game "so we'll wait and see on that one." Charlie Taylor remains a doubt, and with the full-back rated as touch and go, the Burnley boss will "probably" err on the side of caution. Johann Berg Gudmundsson has had a "good week" in his recovery from a hamstring injury. "He's been on the grass. We'll enter him back into a games programme next week. He won't be ready immediately, but we'll get him playing." This weekend comes too soon for Kevin Long, but Chris Wood should recover from a "bit of a knock", and Jay Rodríguez will be okay despite breaking a bone in his little finger. “It was just an accident in training, but that should be okay. He’s got a special cast on it to protect it."
The injury problems are beginning to mount for Newcastle. "We’ve got a few [missing],” mused Steve Bruce. “Ciaran Clark, Matt Ritchie, Allan Saint-Maximin and Ki Sung-Yeung are all out.” There are also question marks over the fitness of Miguel Almirón (tight hamstring), Jetro Willems (knock) and Jonjo Shelvey (sore calf). Saint-Maximin is expected to miss around a month. “He pulled his hamstring doing 38.6 kilometres an hour in the 96th minute,” while Almiron and Shelvey are very doubtful. “I don’t think you can take that risk with muscle injuries. If they’re struggling with it and they pull up and are out for a month or six weeks, then we’ll all look stupid. We’ll err on the side of caution.” With Jamaal Lascelles (tibia) also sidelined, Florian Lejeune, will provide back-up from the bench.
Chelsea – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Fikayo Tomori (hip) has a "small strain", and Frank Lampard is hoping the defender can start training again from next week. Thankfully, Antonio Rüdiger came through 90 minutes in the Champions League on Tuesday without any problems, and he could make his second league start of the season. There was no update for Olivier Giroud (ankle), but Lampard believes it will be "more than weeks" for Ruben Loftus-Cheek as he continues his recovery from a ruptured Achilles. The Blues were unchanged last time out, but with fierce competition in midfield, there will be some rotation over the coming weeks.
Nathan Ake is sidelined due to a grade two hamstring tear, and the centre-back will not return until early 2020. “We are looking at six weeks, but that’s conservative. He could be back sooner.” Adam Smith (ankle) is likely to miss the remainder of the year, but there was better news on Josh King who has "got a chance" of making the game at Stamford Bridge. Callum Wilson is ruled out, although his hamstring injury is "not serious" and Eddie Howe is "hopeful he'll be back soon." Steve Cook is out until January following surgery on his wrist, and David Brooks underwent a second ankle operation in Qatar which will keep him out for a further three months at least. Lloyd Kelly is "progressing" although there has been nothing definitive on when the defender will come back into contention. Junior Stanislas is building load with a view to being back early next year.
Leicester City – vs – Norwich City
No fresh injury concerns for the Foxes. “We had a few boys inside, but nobody’s struggling.” Matty James (Achilles) is sidelined long-term, and the only confirmed absentee. Ben Chilwell appears to be over his recent hip problem.
"Everyone is available who was available for the last game (vs Sheffield United)," confirms Daniel Farke. "We have some good news with Grant [Hanley]. He was back in team training on Wednesday. The game this weekend comes a bit too early, but it’s good to have him back. It's good to know he’ll be available for the festive period.” Josip Drmic (hamstring) is still around four weeks away from a return.
Sheffield United – vs – Aston Villa
It’s as you were for Sheffield United who take on Aston Villa at Bramall Lane. Oliver Norwood was replaced at Carrow Road having picked up a yellow card, and Chris Wilder confirms that Lys Mousset "is okay" amid fears that he had picked up a knock. “There were a few tired bodies there on Sunday, it was a good shift second half," he said on the win at Norwich. "They’ve had plenty of recovery and rest, which is key."
Dean Smith reveals that Tyrone Mings has not trained this week. "Thankfully, for us, it's not in the belly of the hamstring. Hopefully, he'll be pain-free after this weekend and then can keep progressing, but each individual's different in terms of getting back to fitness." Matt Targett has returned to training following his withdrawal against Leicester. Jed Steer (Achilles) is due back around February/March while Keinan Davis (hamstring) should be available over Christmas.
Southampton – vs – West Ham United
Ralph Hasenhüttl provided an injury update as part of his media briefing on Thursday: "I think we should start with Yan Valery. He was out for [the] last two weeks, and I think he's out for longer; he has a viral infection. It takes time [to recover].” Stuart Armstrong was back on the training pitches this week. "He looks good; he is an option." Sofiane Boufal is still not able to work without injections. "He still has [a] big pain in his toe, and it takes time. It's not the perfect situation if you don't train through the week."
Jack Wilshere is struggling to overcome an ongoing pelvic problem, and Manuel Pellegrini reveals that he continues to feel "some pain" while training. Lukasz Fabianski (hip) has stepped up his recovery along with Manuel Lanzini (fractured collarbone) with the pair targeting a comeback later this month. Winston Reid is working without problems. No official word on Michail Antonio, who looked dead on his feet after 60 minutes on Monday, or Andriy Yarmolenko, who missed the game with Arsenal due to a back issue, although both players have been spotted in training. Aaron Cresswell looks to have recovered from a minor hamstring problem.
Manchester United – vs – Everton
Solskjaer reveals that he expects Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah to begin participating in full training with the first team from next week. The United boss is also "hopeful" that Jesse Lingard can recover from the knock he picked up in last weekends’ derby. Nemanja Matic is back in contention following his return in the Europa League, and Diogo Dalot is training but won’t be considered just yet.
Duncan Ferguson confirms Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott will be sidelined for two and three weeks respectively after suffering calf strains. There was better news regarding Lucas Digne, who looks to have recovered from a groin problem; the Frenchman trained as normal on Friday morning. Fabian Delph, Seamus Coleman and Yerry Mina are expected to miss out although they have taken part in some light work this week.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Having already qualified for the next phase of the Europa League, Nuno Espírito Santo made seven changes against Beşiktaş. That included dropping Diogo Jota, but the Portugal star was still able to steal the headlines with an 11-minute hat-trick following his introduction as Wolves eased past their Turkish counterparts 4-0. Ryan Bennett made his return after recovering from a persistent groin problem, but there was no Morgan Gibbs-White who continues to be hampered by a troublesome back complaint. Willy Boly is scheduled to return in the new year.
Ben Davies (ankle) is travelling to the Aspetar clinic, Qatar to continue his rehab. Hugo Lloris (elbow) is aiming for a return by mid-January while Michel Vorm (calf), Tanguy Ndombele (groin) and Erik Lamela (hamstring) could be back before the end of the year. Harry Winks looks to be over the ankle injury that he picked up at Old Trafford, and José Mourinho must decide on whether he feels the midfielder is ready to be included in the matchday 18.
Arsenal – vs – Manchester City
Héctor Bellerín complained of a tight hamstring while warming-up at West Ham, a problem which has kept him out of the last two. The Spaniard faces a late test. Pepe (bruised knee) will be assessed ahead of Sunday, but Dani Ceballos (hamstring), Kieran Tierney (dislocated shoulder) and Granit Xhaka (concussion) remain out.
John Stones (hamstring) will be sidelined for a "few weeks". There will be no Sergio Agüero either on Sunday as the Argentine is still not training with the squad. David Silva remains a doubt after the veteran midfielder took a "huge kick" in last weekends' derby which meant he wasn't risked in the Champions League. "Yesterday and today, he could not train. It’s not a big issue. [Saturday] we'll see [on his availability]." Ederson should be fine after pulling out of the squad midweek due to illness.
Crystal Palace – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion
Patrick Van Aanholt won’t be available on Monday night. "There’s no return date,” said Roy Hodgson. “He’s very keen to get back as soon as possible [but] I’ll have to wait and see how his rehabilitation progresses.” The club doctors are also reluctant to put a timeframe on Jeffery Schlupp (hip) who was injured in week 16. “It will keep him out for a period of time. There’s no question of him missing this game and then bouncing straight back. We’ll have to wait and see." Joel Ward could be another two months, and with Mamadou Sakho suspended, the Eagles are looking a little stretched at the back. Hodgson also indicated that there are one/two other issues, although he wasn’t prepared to divulge any further information. Max Meyer should return after missing the last three games through illness.
"Aaron Connolly is someone we'll be waiting on, and we will make a decision nearer the game,” said Graham Potter. It looks likely that Solly March won’t return until January while long-term absentee José Izquierdo (knee) could be back in February. The Seagulls will be forced into at least one change as Dale Stephens must sit this one out after collecting his fifth yellow of the season. No fresh injury concerns from the 2-2 draw with Wolves.