Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 23
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 23. Here we are for some midweek fun, a chance to plan and then post a large game-week total before we go again on Saturday. GW23 sees seven matches this evening and the remaining three tomorrow. The all important deadline for this week is 18.45 tonight, so do not be caught out but also hope that some of your mini-league rivals are not as well informed! Tonight sees Watford hoping not be pushed arouynd by Arsene and his Gooners, Palace try and start their survival mission at Bournemouth, Tom Heaton this week attempts his one-man defence at home to Champs turned Chumps Leicester, the Baggies must have really upset someone for they have to go to Boro on a cold Tuesday night in January, Sunderland provide shooting practice for Spurs, the resurgent Swans host Southampton, before Chelsea go to Anfield. Wednesday sees West Ham host Man City while neighbours United entertain Hull and Stoke clash with Everton.
After a weekend that has seen most of our teams compete in the FA Cup, let’s go Around the Grounds for the latest team news.
Arsenal vs Watford (Tues 31 Jan 19.45)
They pushed, they fought, they thought they’d thrown it all away, but somehow the Gooners got out of jail vs Burnley last time out courtesy of Alexis’ injury time winner, lifting Wenger’s men into the heady heights of second. The Hornets meanwhile are seven games without a win, though their performance at Bournemouth was improved – however the Gooners have won every one of the seven Premier League meetings between the pair, with Alexis scoring in all three of the matches since Watford returned to the top flight. Since the last game-week, Watford suffered further pain by being knocked out of the Cup by Millwall, while the Gooners hammered Southampton 5-0 at St. Mary’s…..this doesn’t bode well for the Hornets.
Wenger says the players who were rested for the Cup win at Southampton are all available for the visit of Watford – these are Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. The players who featureD at the weekend need to be checked today, but Danny Welbeck, who impressed at St Marys will be treated with caution, with Wenger saying, “he is very sharp, but will still have to be cautious with him. We still have to manage him well. I think he will be a bit short” (of fitness). Expect therefore Giroud to return to the starting line-up.
Watford are likely to include new signing M’Baye Niang in the squad for the trip to the Emirates. The loannee joined last week and has only just received international clearance to play. Other new signing Mauro Zarate is suspended from a red card picked up in Italy but will be available for the weekend visit of Burnley. Jose Holebas is suspended after picking up ten yellow cards while reserve keeper Costel Pantilimon is likely to be sidelined for 3-4 weeks after suffering a leg injury at Millwall. It looks like Odion Ighalo is on his way to China after a price was agreed. Roberto Pereyra and Nordin Amrabat remain sidelined as Isaac Success is a doubt with a muscle injury.
Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace (Tues 31 Jan 19.45)
The Eagles visit Bournemouth still looking for their first win under Big Sam – what has happened to the Miracle Man? Maybe Sam has lost his touch, maybe he only works his magic in the North-East. Were Palace really this bad under the Lord? Ah we remember the Lord with affection – we miss him. Bournemouth’s policy of nicking the odd win is enough right now to keep them in mid-table, though with some difficult fixtures on the horizon, they will want to secure the three points here. These two have only met three times in the Premier League, with the Cherries winning once between two draws – now I know he is not going to appear in many Tips articles, but for a one-off bet don’t ignore Scott Dann for he has scored in the last two meetings between these two.
Head Cherry Eddie reports a clean bill of health from the last game. Marc Wilson will again miss out with a hamstring injury and Max Gradel is unlikely to feature after his return from AFCON – aside from a late return from Africa, Howe says there is a chance that Gradel may leave the club. Defender Simon Francis returns to the squad after serving his suspension.
Big Sam is delighted to reveal the signing of PvA from Sunderland. For 14mln. Yes, you read that correctly, 14mln. Sterling. Great British Pounds. The world has truly gone mad. Sam says he hopes PvA’s impact is instant – “we want him to defend well because we’re conceding too many goals.” Hmmmm, so you bought someone not known for his excellence in defending. For 14mln. Aside from PvA and other last minute Big Sam signings, Jeffrey Schlupp’s injury is not as bad as first feared and while he is not likely to make tonight’s match, he should be available to face Sunderland at the weekend. Bakary Sako should also be available after AFCON, though there was no mention of Wilfried Zaha. Scott Dann should be involved despite an ongoing hamstring problem, while keeper Steve Mandanda has returned to training. Big Sam ended by saying he’d be delighted with a 0-0 at Bournemouth. PvA may have other ideas….at both ends of the pitch!
Burnley vs Leicester (Tues 31 Jan 19.45)
It’s turning into a long hard season for our Champions who have now recorded the lowest points return to date of any defending Champion in the Premier League era. Just five victories thus far has led to the Ranieri smile appearing less and less and leaves the Foxes in 15th place – one of those five victories happened to be against Burnley in September, but that was at Leicester. Burnley we know are a different beast at home, they have won 25 of their 26pts on their own turf and will be confident of adding to that number tonight, despite the fact they have failed to win any of their last ten clashes with Leicester.
Burnley have no new injuries as they welcome Leicester. Dean Marney has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury, but he appears to be the only definite absentee, leaving manager Sean Dyche an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from. George Boyd was rested from the Cup tie last weekend and is expected to come back into the starting XI.
Claudio Ranieri says the aim for the Champions is to get to 40pts – how the mighty have fallen. The only injury problems for the Foxes are strikers Leonardo Ulloa and Islam Slimani – both are ruled out, while Daniel Amartey is still at AFCON. Riyad Mahrez is back from AFCON and featured from the bench in the Cup draw with Derby on Friday.
Middlesbrough vs West Brom (Tues 31 Jan 19.45)
No wins in their last five sees Boro down in 16th place, just four points from safety – fortunately for them Palace, Hull and Sunderland are much worse which is giving them some breathing space, but they will need to find some wins sooner rather than later. The high-flying Baggies come to town on the back of three wins out of four and like to beat up on those teams below them and with Boro already losing six at home this term, Pulis’ men will be keen to continue their good run. Fixture form favours the Baggies – previous to the goalless draw in August, West Brom had won the previous four meetings with Boro failing to score in any of the last five clashes.
Problems in defence for Boro as George Friend and Calum Chambers have both been ruled out of Tuesday’s match. Friend suffered a knock in the tight Cup win over Accrington Stanley while Chambers has suffered a stress fracture of his foot, which is likely to keep him out for a few weeks. Gaston Ramirez has returned to training but won’t be involved but there is some good news as Daniel Ayala returns from suspension and Antonio Barragan is fit.
Pulis has just one injury worry for the trip to Boro as Jonny Evans is again very unlikely to feature as he continues to struggle with a calf injury that has kept him out of the last two league matches. Saido Berahino has finally departed giving Pulis one less worry, though the manager ruled out signing Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, while Jake Livermore is reported to have settled in well but the manager warns it will take time for his new midfielder to “settle into the system.” On loan defender Brendan Galloway won’t be involved at Boro.
Sunderland vs Spurs (Tues 31 Jan 19.45)
Now this could get messy, very very messy. Spurs are again sniffing the title, they have already beaten the leaders, they recovered from two goals down to grab a point at the Etihad, they now travel to Sunderland. Bottom club Sunderland. No-Big Sam Sunderland. Moyesie’s Sunderland. Like a little defenceless lamb quivering as the wolf enters the field. There is nothing the lamb can do, except raise a little paw and try to deflect the wolf. That little paw is of course ex-Spur Jermain Defoe who has single handedly attempted to save the Black Cats this season, although the striker has scored just once in nine clashes vs his former club. From a Spurs point of view, Harry Kane has scored in the last two vs Sunderland, Christian Eriksen has five goals in his last six vs the Black Cats, it’s only Dele Alli who is letting the side down as he is still to score vs the Mackems. There is so little encouragement for the Black Cats here – they have failed to win any of the last thirteen vs Spurs, losing ten of those…..
Not content with the likes of Jack Rodwell, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe and Joleon Lescott, Moyesie has decided to add to the ex-Everton contingent at Sunderland by signing Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson. One of life’s great mysteries has to be how the hell Gibson passed a medical, maybe the requirements at Sunderland are less than elsewhere. Poor old Moyesie, maybe this is his last throw of the dice. Unless of course he tries to sign Tony Hibbert, Tim Cahill or how about Steven Naismith on deadline day? Yes Naismith, he’s the one Moyesie – please, please make it happen. There are some positives, well sort of – Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong have returned from AFCON ok and Lynden Gooch played a reserve game in the week. However, Papy Djilobodji is suspended, Anichebe is injured and could be missing for around 10 weeks or so and keeper Jordan Pickford is still a couple of weeks away.
Good news for Spurs as Mauricio Pochettino reveals that Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose are all available for the trip to Everton Mark II. The trio all suffered knocks in the draw at the Etihad but their extended break has given them extra time to recover. Kieran Trippier suffered a hip injury in the weekend Cup win over Wycombe and needs a few more days to recover while Jan Vertonghen is “progressing well but needs more time.”
Swansea vs Southampton (Tues 31 Jan 19.45)
Well, well, well, the Swans only went to Anfield and nicked the points. Apart from being most amusing and the highlight of GW22, the win also lifted the Welshies out of the drop zone and will make them believe that survival is yet achievable. Of course there is little point in winning away at a top 4 club if you cannot follow it up, so Paul Clement will be determined to ensure no complacency as Southampton cross the bridge. Southampton’s GW22 win over Leicester stopped a run of four successive defeats for Claude Puel’s team and fixture form favours the Saints who have won the last three at the Liberty. But Clement and his flock will have other ideas. The Saints suffered an embarrassing 5-0 reverse to Arsenal in the Cup at the weekend…at home….but to be fair, the team was largely made up of reserves, kids and Shane Long. The Southampton team in the league is a different proposition and their defence is well set up – only Chelsea has conceded more shots on target that the Saints.
Following the win at Anfield, Swans manager Paul Clement is looking for an uptick in the team’s form at the Liberty, starting vs the Saints. Neil Taylor won’t be a part of any survival mission however – the defender is lined up to join Villa as part of the deal that sees Jordan Ayew come to Swansea. Leon Britton should return to training next week, while Sung-yueng Ki and Luciano Narsingh come into the squad and Leroy Fer has been declared fit.
Southampton go to South Wales without the injured Virgil van Dijk with manager Claude Puel ruling his defender out “for at least a few weeks.” Puel laments his current injury list which is approaching double figures and explained the line-up he put out vs Arsenal at the weekend – those out with VVD are Alex McCarthy, Matt Targett, Jeremy Pied, Sofiane Boufal, Jake Hesketh and Charlie Austin. Expect the likes of Fraser Forster, Ryan Bertrand, Maya Yoshida, Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic to return to the line-up after being rested at the weekend, but the manager wouldn’t be drawn on the fitness of James Ward-Prowse or Jay-Rod.
Liverpool vs Chelsea (Tues 31 Jan 20.00)
Surely the match of the game-week. Memories abound of this fixture, but for the sake of our Liverpool contingent we will slip away and move on. Last week’s loss at home to Swansea shocked many, but will have angered Jurgen Klopp as his team lost more ground on tonight’s opposition. Chelsea have bounced back from the loss at Spurs with two comfortable wins, but tonight is expected to be anything but comfortable. Indeed Liverpool are unbeaten in the last four vs the Blues, winning two of those – however, both those wins came at the Bridge. The story is very different at Anfield where Chelsea are unbeaten in four, winning two of those. Another win for Chelsea will surely put an end to Liverpool’s title hopes for another season, which will see their season in tatters after last week’s double Cup exit. Don’t miss it!
Jurgen Klopp says that he will look Sadio Mane in the eye before deciding on whether or not he will play some part vs Chelsea. Adam Lallana has trained and looks set to play but Nathaniel Clyne still hasn’t trained and seems likely to miss the game, though he will be given as much time as possible. Klopp says his team are ready and have no issue with motivation and will be ready for the Blues, though admits it will still be difficult against the league leaders. Surprise, surprise Firmino is available to play after the court agreed to delay his appearance by 24 hours regarding a drink driving charge.
Chelsea have no new injuries as they attempt to see off Liverpool’s title challenge. So a fully fit squad for Conte to choose from though he was hesitant to talk too much about Branislav Ivanovic or Asmir Begovic, who are both heavily rumoured to be on the point of leaving the club.
West Ham vs Man City (Weds 1 Feb 19.45)
How we laughed as City dumped the Hammers out of the Cup 5-0. The Hammers’ heads dropped, the crowd ran off to the tube, the Payet saga became public. And BOOM… since then, from the depths of despair, the Hammers have recovered with two wins, six goals scored, three from Big Andy Carroll and the bounce is back. Oh and the snake has returned to Marseille. City’s reaction to that Cup win has been a 4-0 loss at Everton and losing a 2 goal lead at home to Spurs, though they impressively won 3-0 at Palace in the Cup at the weekend. Much may depend on Carroll vs the City defence – the big man loves to score vs City – he has scored more goals vs the Citizens than any other club.
Andy Carroll has been passed fit for tomorrow’s match despite seemingly being permanently yellow flagged on FPL. Bilic says that only Havard Nordveit has a fresh injury – the midfielder has a knock and will miss out. Jose Fonte is in line to make his debut with Angelo Ogbonna likely to miss the rest of the season, with other new signing Robert Snodgrass also likely to be paraded in the starting XI, with Bilic saying of his creative midfielder, “scoring goals and creating chances are his strengths. I expect him to be a great signing.” Expect Snoddy to be lofting that ball into the box for Carroll and Michail Antonio – should be a good test for Claudio Bravo’s keeping skills……Andre Ayew is still at AFCON, while Diafra Sakho is expected back in mid-March.
City welcome back Fernandinho after his four match ban – and how they have missed him for they have not won either league match he has missed and dropped to 5th in the table as a result. Even Pep says he is happy to have “our important” player back. Sergio Aguero owners can chill also – Pep says the Argentinian is fit and ready to return after he missed the Cup win at Palace with the knock he picked up vs Spurs. Nicolas Otamendi and Pablo Zabaleta were rested for the weekend so expect them to come back into the time, with Vincent Kompany likely not to be risked twice in such a short space of time.
Man Utd vs Hull (Weds 1 Feb 20.00)
The chance of a top four slot is United’s ambition now that the league has gone and so how Jose must have smiled when he looked at the schedule. Home to Hull is about as good as it gets this season, though Sunderland won’t be happy that their glory has been taken away from them. United are unbeaten in thirteen but too many draws have damaged their chances of Champions League qualification – however draws shouldn’t be on the agenda as United have won 8 out of 9 vs Hull in the Premier League, scoring either 3 or 4 goals in the four meetings at Old Trafford, though Hull did of course beat United 2-1 in the League Cup last week. Differing FA Cup fortunes at the weekend – United easily saw off Wigan while Hull were humbled at Fulham.
Mourinho said he will make changes to the Cup team that saw off Wigan with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Antonio Valencia all specifically named as those definitely returning. Ashley Young will also make the squad after Jose confirmed the winger will be staying at the club, with Eric Bailly is fine despite limping out of a reserve match after 58mins last night. United have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Hull have been rocked by the news that Curtis Davies has been ruled out for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury he picked up in the Cup defeat. Speculation of a fire sale by the owners has led to Burnley tabling a bid for defender Andrew Robertson, while Robert Snodgrass has of course already upped sticks to the East End. So much may change as Deadline Day progresses, safe to say trying to predict Hull’s team for tomorrow’s trip to Old Trafford is mission impossible – which kind of sums up Hull’s next few months. Ahmed Elmohamady is still at AFCON, while Moses Odubajo, Alex Bruce, Markus Henriksen, Will Keane and Greg Luer all remain out – as of course does Ryan Mason, though the good news for him is that the midfielder has been discharged from hospital and is recovering at home. The club has announced that they have signed Italian defender Andrea Ranocchia on loan until the end of the season.
Stoke vs Everton (Weds 1 Feb 20.00)
The end of our game-week, but don’t be too sad as we get to do it all over again in three days time! Both teams come into the game in decent form, Stoke have won two out of their last three and were leading Man United until the final minute last time out, while the Toffees have won three in a row, scoring eight and conceding none. It’s a difficult one to call for sure, but bear in mind that Everton has triumphed in the last two meetings, including last season’s convincing 3-0 victory at the Britannia.
Mark Hughes says that Saido Berahino will be in the squad to face Everton – a start is hugely unlikely but Hughes has been impressed saying, “he has trained every day and looks really sharp. We don’t envisage it being long before he can come through 90mins.” Bojan Krkic has left the club on loan for the rest of the season, while Geoff Cameron, Jon Walters, Jack Butland and Stephen Ireland remain on the sidelines.
Ronald Koeman says that Joel Robles has impressed in goal and therefore “there is no reason to change that.” Idrissa Gueye has returned safe and well from AFCON but won’t be involved vs Stoke. There are no new injuries, leaving longer term absentees Mo Besic and Yannick Bolasie as the only others sidelined.
Suspension Report for GW23
Any player who receives 10 yellow cards before the second Sunday in April will face a two-match suspension.
Suspended for GW23:
Jose Holebas (Watford)
Mauro Zarate (Watford)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 23. This article was written by Cookie
Fixture Tracker – the next 6 games