Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 17
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 17. This is brilliant, three game-weeks in a row mean that if you are a hit-merchant then your squad will likely look markedly different to what it did this time last week! Beautiful stuff. Well we go again this weekend and it’s pretty much back to reality – no quick turnaround to a midweek game-week (booooooo), but rather some 3-day action that should keep us fully satisfied. We have some corker games (see Man City vs Arsenal and Monday night’s Merseyside derby), we have some matches that should accrue us some well deserved fantasy points (see Chelsea at Palace and Spurs home to Burnley) and we have some matches that scream ‘sleeeeeeeep’ (see Bournemouth vs Southampton and Sunderland vs Watford). We begin with a London derby and end with the Merseyside clash – fingers crossed that those two matches and everything that goes inbetween produce FPL points aplenty and some good ol’ banter.
Now we have a special guest on Around the Grounds this week – Scrooge Mito has written some of the previews just in time before he spends next week dissing Christmas for millions.
First up, let’s go Around the Grounds to see if the managers will reveal some team news in what has been a busy week for them.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Sat 17 Dec 12.30)
We kick off the gameweek with what could turn out to be a shockingly good game. Wait, wait, wait, control your laughter and hear me out, yes on paper this looks like the big bad wolf about to eat grandma, but the Palace boys can complicate games for big teams in particular at Selhurst Park. Only losing by 2-1 margins to both teams from Manchester. Of course that was them and this is Chelsea. The Blues are on a 10 game winning streak and their big teeth are fully sharpened. So while my first inclination is to not bother with this affair, I will be glancing at it, just in case the Pardew disciples came to fight.
The Lord spent much of his presser bemoaning injuries to his squad and telling us that things are tough. Shame. The good news for the Eagles is the availability of Jason Puncheon who returns following suspension, but James Tomkins has been ruled out until the New Year and Mathieu Flamini has picked up a muscle strain. Andros Townsend may return to the starting XI after starting from the bench in the loss to Man Utd, while Joe Ledley impressed off the bench in midweek and could partner James McArthur in the middle of the park, relegating Yohan Cabaye to the bench. Keeper Steve Mandanda remains out so Wayne Hennessey will continue between the sticks and Pape Soaure and Connor Wickham continue to sit on the sidlelines.
Antonio Conte says that Eden Hazard ‘is fit and has trained today.’ He then went on to say that he hasn’t yet decided if Hazard would start. There may be some rotation as the manager says the team only returned from Sunderland at 4am on Thursday morning and ‘it’s difficult to play three games in six days.’ Oscar will of course not be one who features as he works out how to spend his millions on his way to China. There are no new injury concerns for the Blues.
Middlebrough vs Swansea (Sat 17 Dec 15.00)
Right, I can pretend a bit in the Palace vs Chelsea fixture, but I am not losing all credibility by recommending this one. A match-up of 17th vs 18th at the home of a team who has only managed six goals in eight games at their grounds. The Swans 2nd worst defence will surely be tested. I am however optimistic that they won’t fail us and let Boro score. Middlesbrough has won two of their last four at home and Swansea has only one win away from the “comforts” of Wales and that came back in gameweek 1. Recommendation is to skip this one, but if you needed me to tell you that…
Mixed news for Boro as they attempt to avoid three defeats on the trot – Stuani has been ruled out with an infected foot and Gaston Ramirez is a doubt and faces a late fitness test. However, the news is more positive in defence as Calum Chambers and George Friend have recovered from knocks and are available to face the Swans.
Bob Bradley remains confident in his men despite the disappointing midweek loss at West Brom. Modou Barrow could return after recovering from illness with Jefferson Montero dropping to the bench. Ki Sung-yeung and Federico Fernandez remain out with toe injuries.
Stoke vs Leicester (Sat 17 Dec 15.00)
12th place Stoke City welcome in the enigma that is Leicester City. The Foxes ran City off the field and were scoring for fun with Vardy notching a hat trick, that however was sandwiched between a pair of losses to Sunderland and Bournemouth. The Potters on the other hand have righted the ship after a terrible start. One thing that they have definitely done this season is beat up on teams below them in the table at home. Winning all three by a combined 7-1 margin. Leicester, while still being a mystery have been consistent in one thing. Being awful away from the safety of their ground. The champs have only managed one point from 8 fixtures so far. Don’t know about you, but the writing seems to be on the wall in this one. Leicester to win
The Potters will be without the suspended Marko Arnautovic after the attacking midfielder was sent off in midweek – he could be replaced by Mame Biram Diouf, Bojan Krkic or even Ramadan Sobhi. There is better news however as Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa are available despite suffering from minor niggles. Jack Butland, Geoff Cameron, Phil Bardsley, Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay all remain unavailable.
Kasper Schmeichel could finally return for the Foxes after Claudio Ranieri revealed the keeper ‘trained well’ on Thursday and will be checked after training today. Danny Drinkwater is another who will need to be assessed today, with Ranieri implying he is less likely to be available. Danny Simpson is available again after suspension, while Shinji Okazaki could be recalled to partner Jamie Vardy in place of Islam Slimani who was hauled off at half time in midweek.
Sunderland vs Watford (Sat 17 Dec 15.00)
Last place Sunderland receives Watford in another extra exciting fixture. The Black Cats have improved over the last six weeks. By improve, I mean they beat some teams that are not so great themselves. Doesn’t matter how you get the points though, when you are in a relegation scrap. Watford who sits in 11th place have lost three of their last four and will feel this is a good opportunity to get back to their October form where they didn’t lose. The Hornets took this encounter last season 1-0, with a goal from Ighalo. Remember that name? No, yeah me neither. Not sure about you guys, but I feel that this is a great opportunity to test the PiP mode on your tv. Put this game on simultaneously with the Boro vs Swans game and the afternoon is set.
Moyesie was very pleased with his team’s performance vs Chelsea in the week and is looking for a similar performance but a different outcome for the visit of Watford. Injuries however again conspire to work against our favourite redhead – Jan Kirchoff suffered a cartilage tear on Wednesday and misses out while Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe and Javier Manquillo all face late fitness tests and Jack Rodwell, Paddy McNair, Lee Cattermole and Lynden Goopch all remain missing. Didier Ndong is available after suspension.
Watford boss Walter Mazzarri revealed that Troy Deeney was benched at the Etihad to save him for this weekend’s encounter with Sunderland, so we know the big man will defo start. However, the Hornets will be without Roberto Pereyra and Stefano Okaka, but Daryl Janmaat and Younes Kaboul are both available, which could mean Watford resorting to a three-man defence with Janmaat and Jose Holebas playing as wing backs. Craig Cathcart continues to miss out.
West Ham vs Hull (Sat 17 Dec 15.00)
After struggling through the first four fixtures of this article, we are hit with this on the fifth one. Can we just skip Saturday? Perhaps you need to finish up your Christmas shopping or really want to visit some old friends. By all means take this day to do it, you won’t miss a thing. West Ham are slowly trying to sneak away from the relegation battle by spacing out their losses better. While Hull are going in full throttle in their quest to return to the Championship. One win for the Tigers since August and six straight losses when playing away. Long gone are the days when Hull City was sitting in first place after GW2 with six out of six points.
Slaven Bilic reports no new injuries from midweek and following the victory over Burnley, one would imagine the manager would be loathed to make many changes. The main dilemma would appear to be trying to guesstimate if Andy Carroll can start again and if so, how many minutes he can play. Andre Ayew and Ashley Fletcher stand in the wings if required, while James Collins remains a doubt with a hamstring injury.
No fresh injury concerns for Hull as they face another tough test in the capital. Striker Dieumerci Mbokani is available again after completing his suspension and could replace Adama Diomande up front as Mike Phelan looks to freshen things up in the search for a goal, a point, a win, a mince pie – anything. Moses Odubajo, Alex Bruce, Greg Luer, Abel Hernandez and Will Keane all remain out.
West Brom vs Man Utd (Sat 17 Dec 17.30)
Our evening fest comes from the Hawthorns as the inform Baggies take on the sort of inform / difficult to beat United. The two teams are separated by just one place and four points, which says much for their respective starts to the season as we approach halfway – the Brom has outperformed…or maybe they are just now producing the results they should do, while United have drawn too many matches they should really have won, hence them lying in 6th, way behind leaders Chelsea. West Brom have won their last three at home and in free scoring style to boot – wins of 4-0, 3-1 and 3-1 may be a shock but shows their attacking talents – then again those victories were against Burnley, Watford and Swansea. United meanwhile are unbeaten in seven and fought to a narrow and scrappy win at Palace on Wednesday evening.
The Baggies welcome back Craig Dawson from suspension but ex-United legend Jonny Evans remains a doubt with a calf injury. Jonas Olsson will likely be Evans’ replacement if required while Allan Nyom could move across to left-back to accommodate the returning Dawson. Salomon Rondon is confident after his midweek hatty vs Swansea and it was his goal that separated the teams in the corresponding fixture last season.
Some good news for United as Mourinho reports that Chris Smalling is in contention to face the Baggies, while Antonio Valencia is welcomed back from suspension and Eric Bailly’s injury is not as bad as first feared and the defender should be available for United over the Christmas period. Sadly, Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan miss out. Mourinho says of Ibrahimovic, ‘he will play on Saturday but he cannot play 60 matches a season. I must give him a rest. Now and again I find a way to.’
Bournemouth vs Southampton (Sun 18 Dec 13.30)
The New Forest derby it is called, although the rivalry is yet to really kick in, for Bournemouth have rarely been a threat to the Saints and indeed historically, Southampton have helped Bournemouth out, playing fund-raising friendlies when the Cherries were cash-strapped and loaning players. Supporters on both sides agree that the situation has always been akin to siblings – the big brother giving regular hand-me-downs – but now things have altered. The younger sibling has graduated and has joined the rat race of top flight life and after 16 matches the two are joined at the hip on 21pts. Last season the Cherries came out on top, winning 2-0 and with their impressive home form this season, one wouldn’t bet against them winning again, though they will have to break down a resolute Saints defence that has kept a clean sheet in four of their last five matches.
Eddie Howe says his squad came through midweek ok – the only slight issue is Callum Wilson. The striker took a blow to the head and was checked for concussion but he has been given the all clear to play, if selected. Ryan Fraser is waiting for the results of a scan and will likely miss out, while Andrew Surman, Junior Stanislas and Lewis Cook remain sidelined.
Claude Puel says he expects Cedric Soares to be fit for Sunday – the defender has missed the last two matches due to illness and in his place Cuco Martina has stepped in and helped the Saints keep two clean sheets. Apart from this little conundrum, Matty Targett has been ruled out for four months and Charlie Austin is due to have his surgery soon.
Man City vs Arsenal (Sun 18 Dec 16.00)
Tales of the Unexpected won’t be remembered by many of you kids, but for those of us old enough, it was a Sunday treat to be enjoyed just after Spitting Image. And if any one show sums up these two then it is this. Recent results for both has seen them go into the weekend in 3rd and 4th place, while Chelsea have pulled clear at the top. Tuesday’s defeat at Everton was just the second defeat of the season for the Gunners, but shows how vulnerable they are with the injuries mounting up in central defence. City meanwhile recovered from last weekend’s embarrassment at Leicester to see off Watford in the week, but neither side is playing the swashbuckling, fast-flowing football we saw from them both earlier in the season. Last season’s encounter ended 2-2 and given the deficiencies in both defences a similar outcome wouldn’t be the biggest shock.
City will be without injured trio Ilkay Gundogan, Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph as well as suspended pair Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho. Pep says Gundogan will be ‘out for a long time’. No mention of Kelechi I heanacho but Pep did talk up Yaya Toure: ‘When his physical condition is right, he can do everything.’ How about playing in defence?
No new injuries for the Gooners, but no-one to return either. Aaron Ramsey is the closest to a return and he may be back next week, while Danny Welbeck is a week away from a return to training. Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi both miss out again so Gabriel will partner Laurent Koscielny at the back. Mathieu Debuchy and Santi Cazorla remain long term absentees.
Spurs vs Burnley (Sun 18 Dec 16.00)
Spurs face their second easy fixture this week as Burnley come to town, though Harry Kane owners will be hopeful that he is more involved in the action than he was against Hull on Wednesday. Burnley were plucky losers at West Ham in the week and much is expected here on Sunday as the Spurs aim to continue their unbeaten run at home this season – they have scored eleven in their last three home matches. Burnley meanwhile are yet to win on the road and the only point they have collected on their travels was when they held Man Utd to a scoreless draw in GW10. Owners of Spurs defenders will be cheered to see that the Clarets have failed to find the net in any of their last four away matches. A sure home win me thinks.
Frustrating news for those FPL managers looking for news of Mousa Dembele – the midfielder, who appears to have a very positive impact on Harry Kane’s returns will be assessed on Saturday. Meanwhile manager Mauricio Pochettino says that Erik Lamela is training with the main group but is not ready, while Vincent Janssen is ‘improving by the day’, but like Dembele will face a late test. Not much else to report, unless Poch decides to rotate some of his men ahead of the Christmas period.
Burnley expect to be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson who is suffering with a hamstring injury. Sean Dyche however reports no new injuries, which is good news for them. Tom Heaton is fit – that’s all you really need to know, let’s be fair.
Everton vs Liverpool (Mon 19 Dec 20.00)
Monday night madness on Merseyside as Liverpool take the stroll across Stanley Park. The friendly derby some refer to it as – well I’m not sure it’s as friendly as all that but nonetheless it shouldn’t lack for atmosphere under the lights at Goodison. Tension, excitement and rivalry will be at the fore and the match will likely only be livened up by the choice of referee for the encounter – Mike Dean was born on the Wirral, hasn’t officiated a game involving either club for a decade and has awarded nine penalties and three red cards – more than any other referee in the Premier League this term. The last four meetings at Goodison have all ended in draws, but maybe more importantly it’s worth noting that the Blues haven’t won any of the last 12 derbies and they’ll need to recreate their performance and atmosphere from Tuesday’s win over Arsenal if they are to have any chance of a rare win over their free-scoring neighbours.
The Toffees go into the derby without experienced defender Phil Jagielka who was sent off late on in the win over the Gooners – Ramiro Funes Mori will come in alongside Tuesday’s hero Ashley Williams at the heart of the defence. Talking of experience, Gareth Barry returns to the squad after being rested in midweek, though a start is not guaranteed after the impressive performance of James McCarthy. Yannick Bolaise and Muhamed Besic are long term absentees.
Klopp says that Simon Mignolet will start in goal on Monday night – normally of course this would be good news for the oppo, but with the form of Loris Karius, maybe Everton won’t be too pleased. Daniel Sturridge is close to a comeback – Klopp says. ‘Sturridge is a maybe. He’s close to team training and he could train today or tomorrow.’ Defender Joel Matip remains a doubt with a painful ankle, but there is better news of Emre Can – Klopp says the midfielder will be involved on Monday if he can train today or tomorrow. Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings remain injured and unavailable.
Suspension Report for GW17
Any player who receives 5 yellow cards before 31st December will face a one-match suspension. There are a number of players on four yellow cards so we thought it prudent to detail those suspended and those nearing a suspension in case it affects your transfer decision.
Suspended for GW17:
Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Sergio Aguero (Man City)
Fernandinho (Man City)
Oriol Romeu (Southampton)
Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City)
One yellow card away from suspension:
Harry Arter (Bournemouth)
Dan Gosling (Bournemouth)
Matthew Lowton (Burnley)
Dean Marney (Burnley)
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
David Luiz (Chelsea)
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
James McArthur (Crystal Palace)
Sam Clucas (Hull)
Christian Fuchs (Leicester)
Robert Huth (Leicester)
Aleksandar Kolarov (Man City)
Antonio Barragan (Middlesbrough)
Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough)
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
Lynden Gooch (Sunderland)
Billy Jones (Sunderland)
Steven Pienaar (Sunderland)
Jodi Amat (Swansea)
Kyle Naughton (Swansea)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Victor Wanyama (Tottenham)
Troy Deeney (Watford)
Michail Antonio (West Ham)
Pedro Obiang (West Ham)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 17. This article was written by Cookie & Mito
Fixture Tracker – the next 6 games