With another round of fixtures following quickly on the heels of game week twenty-three, be sure to stack your bench deep with managers’ likely to rotate. Watford face the prospect of up to four games in ten days while those sides not on FA Cup duty can enjoy an extended mid-season break.
Watford – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Will Hughes has been involved in “modified training” so the midfielder won't be considered for the early kick-off. Saturday also comes too soon for Kiko Femenía although the Spaniard is making “really good progress” from the hamstring strain he suffered on New Year’s Day. Danny Welbeck continues to train “very well” and is on schedule to return in early February, but Nigel Pearson says it will be some time before Sebastian Prödl and Daryl Janmaat are available again. Tom Cleverley “will be out on the grass” from next week as he steps up his recovery from a tear in his Achilles.
Hugo Lloris is back in training, but José Mourinho is refusing to give a possible return date although early February is realistic. "Things are going well, getting his confidence back, he’s training so I’d say he’s one of our new players.” Christian Eriksen will feature despite ongoing speculation over a potential move to Serie A side Inter Milan, and loan signing Gedson Fernandes will be included on Saturday. Ben Davies (ankle) and Tanguy Ndombele (hip) have entered the final phase of their rehab, and Moussa Sissoko has travelled to France to undergo the early stages of recovery from knee surgery. Harry Kane is recovering from hamstring surgery amid fears that he will miss this summers' Euro 2020 Championships.
Arsenal – vs – Sheffield United
Héctor Bellerín has been training for the past few days, but the right-back “needs a chunk of sessions” before he is ready to compete. Lucas Torreira and Sead Kolasinac have been working with the group, but neither is 100 per cent, and Mikel Arteta will “have to wait and see” if they can recover sufficiently. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang begins his three-match ban while Kieran Tierney (shoulder) and Calum Chambers (ACL knee) remain out long-term.
Chris Wilder confirms he has a full squad to choose from this weekend which means Michael Verrips or Simon Moore should return to the bench following their recoveries from respective head and groin injuries.
Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Aston Villa
Graham Potter confirms that Shane Duffy, Adam Webster and Ali Jahanbakhsh missed training earlier in the week "with little bumps and bruises”, but they are available after a return on Thursday. Aaron Mooy is back in contention having been sidelined in GW22 due to a knee problem. "Dan Burn and José Izquierdo are the only two [players] missing."
Jonathan Kodjia will be absent again leaving Villa without a recognised forward for the third consecutive game. The 30-year-old fell ill on the eve of the Carabao Cup tie at Leicester ten days ago. "He hasn't trained with us this week, so he won't be involved on Saturday." Tom Heaton, Wesley, Jed Steer and John McGinn remain sidelined long-term. Keinan Davis (hamstring) is working his way to full fitness following a minor setback, but Matt Targett is in contention after missing the last four games.
Manchester City – vs – Crystal Palace
Leroy Sané is back on the training pitches, although he continues to work on an individualised recovery plan. “Everything is going really well,” confirmed Guardiola. Aymeric Laporte has another week of work under his belt, but Pep isn’t putting a timescale on their return. “Everyone else is more or less fit, yeah.”
Roy Hodgson was “hoping” that Max Meyer could recover from the ankle injury he suffered in a challenge which earned Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a three-match ban. However, the game comes a little soon “so we’re one further player down.” The Eagles welcome Joel Ward back after missing an extended period, and the defender returns alongside Scott Dann who was named on the bench last time out. “There are still a lot of players from the intended first-team down.” Christian Benteke, Patrick Van Aanholt, Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp are all injured while Luka Milivojevic serves the second game of his ban.
Norwich City – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Daniel Farke confirms Teemu Pukki is “ready to go” after missing the previous two games with a hamstring strain. Ben Godfrey was also on the training pitches this week, but he may not be 100 per cent fit and ready, and with other options available, he could sit this one out. One of those being Grant Hanley who has recovered from illness. Josip Drmic (hamstring) returns after missing over two months while new signings Ondrej Duda and Lukas Rupp come into the managers’ thoughts this weekend. “It’s good to have them around, and we have more options now. Of course, it’s tricky in the January window. It’s not so easy to settle in. But the guys have trained hard all week.”
Aaron Ramsdale (hamstring) has only been involved in light training this week, and Saturday could come too soon. Lloyd Kelly (thigh) is not far away but lacks sharpness after more than two months out. Junior Stanislas (calf) remains sidelined, and Arnaut Danjuma (foot) is being treated in his homeland. Eddie Howe insists that he won't hide behind his squads' current injury crisis. "The team I picked against Watford was strong. That's why I can't look at it and use it as an excuse". Joshua King and Jack Stacey (both hamstring) are still a few weeks away based on their initial timeline. "Nathan [Ake] come through [last weekend] okay and has trained well." Jefferson Lerma took a knock to the knee, but he should be fine, and Chris Mepham could be sidelined for around three months following knee surgery.
Southampton – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Ralph Hasenhüttl confirms there are no fresh injury concerns for the Saints. Yan Valery has been sidelined due to a viral infection since the beginning of December, and the defender is the only expected absentee. “He is still a little bit ill, but I think it looks good, much better now, maybe at the end of January he can step in the [training] session again. The rest are fit."
Ruben Vinagre was scheduled for a scan on Friday after pulling up with a suspected hamstring strain at Old Trafford. "He was running, high speed running, and he felt something." Although there is no timeframe currently, Nuno expects the wingback to be out for a significant period. There was better news regarding Adama Traoré who also pulled up on Wednesday, the Wolves manager was quick to play down concerns and said he was “OK” when asked about his fitness. Diogo Jota will look to return to the pitches next week having been out since picking up a calf injury on January 1st. Morgan Gibbs-White will be included in the squad, but the winger needs to improve his fitness after missing the best part of three months.
West Ham United – vs – Everton
Darren Randolph has trained following his arrival from Middlesbrough, and the goalkeeper comes into David Moyes' thinking for Saturday with Lukasz Fabianski (hip) ruled out. Arthur Masuaku has had fluid drained from his knee, and a late decision will be made. "We're seeing how it is," while Felipe Anderson (ribs) remains a doubt following an awkward fall at Bramall Lane. Michail Antonio (hamstring) could miss out despite taking part in some of Thursdays’ session. "I'm hoping we get him back, but we couldn't be sure if it's this weekend." Andriy Yarmolenko, Ryan Fredericks and Jack Wilshere are among those sure to miss out.
Carlo Ancelotti confirmed he would be without Richarlison at the London Stadium due to a twisted knee while Gylfi Sigurdsson is sidelined with a groin complaint. Neither is believed to be serious, and the Brazilian could return for the visit of Newcastle on Tuesday. Yerry Mina has been passed fit despite a knock ruling him out of training during the early part of the week. André Gomes is back at Finch Farm, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin took part in his first session on Friday having spent close to five months recovering from a thigh injury.
Newcastle United – vs – Chelsea
“We’ve still got a few [injured players], but we’ve got a few coming back, which is good," Steve Bruce said on Friday morning. “Particularly Allan Saint-Maxim [who has] trained for the past two weeks; we hope he’s going to be OK [for Saturday].” Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey were all handed minutes in the FA Cup midweek, and Fabian Schär has been cleared to play. Dwight Gayle could be missing for up to six weeks while Paul Dummett (hamstring) looks to have suffered a “nasty one" and will go for a second opinion amid fears of a lengthy absence. Javier Manquillo, Jack Colback, Ki Sung-Yeung, DeAndre Yedlin and Muto are all out; Andy Carroll faces a late fitness test.
Frank Lampard expects Christian Pulisic to be out for around two weeks with a potential return after the winter break. The US international suffered a “nasty” groin injury ahead of the FA Cup third-round tie versus Nottingham Forest, and speaking the ESPN midweek, Pulisic told reporters. “I'm doing my best to be back in the next couple of weeks. I don't think it should be too long." Ruben Loftus-Cheek is training with the Under-16s and will progress through the Academy (U18s, U23s) before rejoining the first-team. “The sooner he can be back training with us, the better, but we train with real intensity.” N’Golo Kante (hamstring) missed the win over Burnley as a precaution, and the Frenchman should be back although there was no word from the Blues boss. The same can be said of Marcos Alonso who hasn’t featured since the win at Tottenham before Christmas.
Burnley – vs – Leicester City
Sean Dyche confirmed that Jay Rodríguez (illness), Robbie Brady (calf) and Chris Wood (nose) are all available, but a hamstring injury will keep Johann Berg Gudmundsson sidelined. Ashley Barnes had surgery on Friday to repair a hernia; there is no timescale on his absence at this moment. “Hopefully he will have a smooth recovery,” said Dyche. “You don’t like losing good players but, equally, it allows other players to come in and perform, and that’s what we’ll be looking for them to do.”
Brendan Rodgers said that midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has made "great progress" since undergoing knee surgery. “He’s out on training pitch working, which is great news for us, but he won’t be available for the weekend. We’ll see after that.” Wes Morgan is in contention following his recovery from a groin injury. “He’s been back on the training field, so we’ll assess him tomorrow to see if he’s okay for the weekend.” Matty James is building fitness, and Daniel Amartey is recovering from ankle surgery. “Apart from that, the squad is good.”
Liverpool – vs – Manchester United
Fabinho and Joel Matip are on course to make Sundays’ clash with north-west rivals Manchester United. The pair have worked successfully this week after recovering from respective ankle and knee injuries. “They trained completely normally yesterday and the day before. So that means they are likely to be in the squad,” confirmed Jurgen Klopp. Naby Keita and James Milner are ruled out, and the Liverpool boss does not know “exactly” when they will return; Dejan Lovren should be involved in full training from Monday.
Marcus Rashford is the main talking point for the visitors after his brief cameo in the cup ended in disaster, a decision which Solskjaer admitted backfired. “I can’t tell you now [if he’s going to be available], we're [going to] give him the absolute amount of time to find out. We’ll do some more checks and treatment with him today,” Ole said on Friday. “I would probably think he wouldn’t be ready, but let’s see [in] 48 hours.” Marcos Rojo and Scott McTominay remain on the sidelines. Paul Pogba is not due back until next month having undergone ankle surgery, and Axel Tuanzebe is on the mend after hamstring troubles. Luke Shaw is a doubt, and Eric Bailly has been building fitness with the U23s and could make the squad after playing in a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday.