Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 24
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 24. In the words of the Pet Shop Boys, what have I done to deserve this?! Yep, another game-week begins just over 48 hours after the last one ended. But c’mon we love it really, two game-weeks in just a few days is one of the highlights of the season – well, it is when you’ve had the sort of season I’ve had! Last week was certainly a shocker for most, and full of surprises – Man City were the only winners in the top six, while Leicester were the only losers in the bottom six. Even Liverpool didn’t lose.
We move on and what a match to kick off with as mentally unstable Arsenal go west to take on high flying Chelsea at the Bridge Saturday lunchtime. Six 3pm matches follow – there’s a Big Sam relegation tussle between his Eagles and his old Black Cats, Everton host Bournemouth, Liverpool travel to Hull, Southampton entertain West Ham, Burnley try and improve their away record at Watford and West Brom’s defenders try and score vs Stoke. The evening match will see us huddled around our tv sets to see if our Spurs’ contingent can score vs Boro at the Lane. Sunday sees the final two matches of the game-week with the Mancs in action. First up City welcome Swansea to the Etihad, before United finish things up as they travel to Champions Leicester.
With the quick turnaround between game-weeks, injury news is more vital and time pressured than normal, so let’s go Around the Grounds to catch up on the latest team news.
Chelsea vs Arsenal (Sat 4 Feb 12.30)
Old Arsene resurrected the usual excuses after Watford’s win at the Emirates on Tuesday – “we were not mentally ready”, “Watford made it physical”. Bloody hell, it’s truly remarkable unless you praise the Frenchman for his unerring honesty. I fancy N’Golo Kante and co may make it physical at the Bridge on Saturday so Gooners’ fans will be hoping the overpaid fairies are mentally prepared. Then again, one look at the league table may make the Gooners shudder for they go into the weekend just the nine points behind Chelsea and let’s be honest, another season’s challenge looks to have faltered in another winter meltdown. Just in case things weren’t already bad enough, Arsenal have lost the last four at Chelsea, failing to even score in the previous three.
Antonio Conte reports that all of his squad are available for the visit of the Gunners, contrary to reports that David Luiz and Eden Hazard have been carrying injuries for a few weeks. So expect few changes from the team that drew at Liverpool, though Conte does say that September’s defeat to Arsenal is always on his mind and tomorrow’s match is a chance to show what a good shape the team is in.
Arsenal will give fitness tests to Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but Wenger expects them both to be ok for the short trip across the capital. Danny Welbeck is expected to return to the squad after being rested vs Watford – and how they missed him. Aaron Ramsey will miss three weeks with the calf injury he picked up in midweek, Granit Xhaka is suspended, Mohamed Elneny is still at AFCON and Santi Cazorla remains on the treatment table.
Crystal Palace vs Sunderland (Sat 4 Feb 15.00)
Big Sam welcomes one of his old teams to Selhurst with both sides feeling chirpier than they did before midweek. Palace won their first game under Sam, while Sunderland, probably even more surprisingly, held the Spurs to a goalless encounter. Both teams remain in the relegation zone but the gap with the stragglers above them is closing. A win for Palace would likely be enough to see them climb out of the bottom three but they have lost the last two at home to Sunderland and it’s a fixture that certainly favours the away side as Palace’s record at Sunderland is equally good. Jermain Defoe has scored three goals in his last three matches against Palace, while PvA will be looking to make his home debut vs the team he has just left. But maybe it’s Christian Benteke we shoule be concentrating on as he has scored more goals against Sunderland in the Premier League than versus any other opponent. Let’s end with Big Sam though and a crumb of comfort for Moyesie and the Black Cats for the the statistically most successful England manager ever has won just one of his last five games against clubs he’s previously managed in the Premier League.
Big Sam says he will have the same squad as per the midweek win at Bournemouth. Jeffrey Schlupp is still not available and Bakary Sako has returned from AFCON with a hamstring injury. Steve Mandanda has returned to training but will play for the U23s before he is considered for a return to the first team. Mamadou Sakho will only make the bench as he is lacking match sharpness, while new signing Luka Milivojevic is away sorting out his visa. When told that he was the highest spending manager in the January transfer window, Big Sam went all Shirley Bassey and suggested the press sing “Hey Big Spender” to him! Another win for Palace and Goldfinger will be well on his way to doing what he does best!
Moyesie says that Bryan Oviedo has received international clearance to play and is likely to come straight into the team on the left to replace PvA. Darron Gibson should also be in the squad, but the Black Cats continue to suffer from a catalogue of injuries with Jordan Pickford, Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore, Steven Pienaar, Jan Kirchoff, Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe still out and Papy Djilobodji suspended.
Everton vs Bournemouth (Sat 4 Feb 15.00)
If GW23 was disappointing for us, then it was doubly disappointing for the Toffees and the Cherries. Everton had their 3-game winning run brought to a halt at Stoke, while Bournemouth handed Big Sam a first win as Eagles boss. So both teams will be looking to get back on track especially Bournemouth who will be keen to get near the 40-point mark sooner rather than later. It was the Cherries who won the reverse fixture in September as they triumphed 1-0 courtesy of a Junior Stanislas goal – in fact young Junior has some good form vs Everton, scoring three times in two starts vs the Toffees. But the real form man here is Seamus Coleman – the Toffees defender has recorded a clean sheet, assist or goal in six of his last eight matches.
Everton have no new injuries for the weekend with manager Ronald Koeman saying he has a tough decision to make with Idrissa Gueye returning to the squad. Joel Robles will continue in goal as he is showing consistent form and Mo Besic should be ready to return to light training in a fortnight. The manager says he is pleased with the way the team is developing.
Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson has sadly been ruled out for the season with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Sad news for the striker. Benik Afobe appears to be the obvious beneficiary of Wilson’s absence, though Josh King will challenge his game time. Charlie Daniels will not be available as he is suffering with a hamstring injury.
Hull vs Liverpool (Sat 4 Feb 15.00)
Liverpool will be glad that January is out of the way for they won just once in nine matches and that solitary victory was the FA Cup replay at Plymouth – three draws and a loss out of four in the league sees Liverpool remain in the top four, just, but they are level on points with 5th placed Man City, who are looking ominously dangerous. It’s a trip to Hull for Klopp and co this weekend and while they will be hot favourites, it maybe won’t be the gimme it would of been a month or so ago. Man United couldn’t break down Hull’s resistance on Wednesday night and the Tigers, or whatever they are called now are certainly better organised under Marco Silva. Liverpool beat Hull 5-1 in September at Anfield, but interestingly Hull have won the last two meetings at the KCOM Stadium. James Milner has been directly involved in six goals in his last six Premier League games against Hull while if it’s save points you are after from your keeper then maybe Eldin Jakupovic is your man for only Sunderland have allowed their opponents more shots on target this season than Hull, while Liverpool have attempted more shots on target than anyone else.
Kamil Grosicki and Alfred N’Diaye are available for the Tigers tomorrow, while Marco Silva confirms that Dieumerci Mbokani will come back into the squad. Lazar Markovic is ineligible to face his parent club, while Curtis Davies, Ryan Mason, Markus Henriksen and Will Keane remain out injured and Ahmed Elmohamady is at AFCON.
Klopp says he watched Hull draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday and although he was impressed he is adamant he knows how to play against them. The manager reported no new injuries though he did say a couple of players were carrying small knocks but will be ok for the weekend – undoubtedly one of these is Daniel Sturridge. And the other is most probably Daniel Sturridge.
Southampton vs West Ham (Sat 4 Feb 15.00)
Defeats in midweek for these two and frankly, they should both be a little bit embarrassed. The Saints showed none of the form that saw them knock Liverpool out of the EFL Cup as they succumbed to lowly Swansea, while the Hammers were destroyed at home by City for the second time in three weeks. Toothless, brainless, useless are all descriptions of the Hammers’ display on Wednesday and Slaven Bilic will be angrily demanding some sort of positive reaction. West Ham have failed to score in their last three trips to St Mary’s and were also humbled 3-0 at home to the Saints in September. Jose Fonte makes a swift return to his old haunt and will no doubt be given a warm welcome just a fortnight after demanding a move from the club. Something has to give in the battle between Fraser Forster and Andy Carroll – Forster hasn’t conceded a Premier League goal against West Ham in 333 minutes of action, while Carroll has had a hand in six goals in his last nine away league matches.
Saints expect to be without Virgil van Dijk for 2-3 months, a huge blow for Claude Puel who will have to do with his current crop of defenders after admitting they could not find a good opportunity in the transfer window – Puel says he may consider using Ryan Bertrand at centre-back, which could see Sam McQueen come in at left back. With Charlie Austin still sidelined, the good news is that new signing Manila Gabbiadini could be ready to feature on Saturday but the manager admits the striker may not yet be a starter, so expect Shane Long to lead the line. James Ward-Prowse and Jay-Rod faces late fitness tests while Sofiane Boufal is available.
Hammers defender Sam Byram is struggling with a hamstring injury, no surprise there after being given the runaround by Jesus and Sane in the week – however Slaven Bilic is hopeful that his full back will be ok and will undergo a late test. Andre Ayew is still away at AFCON, but Robert Snodgrass will be pushing for a first start as a Hammer. Angelo Ogbonna, Alvaro Arbeloa, Havard Nordtveit, Arthur Masuaku, Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho remain sidelined,
Watford vs Burnley (Sat 4 Feb 15.00)
Watford boss Walter Mazzarri will be calling for more of the same after their surprise win at Arsenal in the week. It was the Hornets’ first win in nine matches and gives them some important breathing space from the dreaded zone, where it looked like they were heading. Burnley meanwhile did what they do best – beat average opposition at home, with Leicester the latest victims. It is of course on the road that has proved Burnley’s undoing and with five of their next six matches away from home, it is a problem that Sean Dyche will want to find a solution to asap. These two have only met once before in the top flight, in September at Burnley where of course the home side won! The previous four meetings, all in the Championship, ended in draws, probably a result that Dyche will take right now. Troy Deeney has scored in each of his three league appearances against Burnley at Vicarage Road.
Jose Holebas is available for Watford after his suspension and is likely to come straight back into the squad with Miguel Britos returning to the middle. Apart from that manager Mazzarri will be inclined to keep things the same. Costel Panitlimon and Roberto Pereyra remain out, while Christian Kabasele and Nordin Amrabat are both doubts.
Dyche confirms that new signings Robbie Brady and Ashley Westwood are in contention to face the Hornets, but Steven Defour is out after limping out of the win over Leicester with a groin injury, with the manager suggesting the midfielder could be missing for a few weeks.
West Brom vs Stoke (Sat 4 Feb 15.00)
Pulis old visits Pulis new in what could be an entertaining game. Which is quite weird, given Pulis’ influence on both teams. But it’s true! Stoke have scored in every away match this season, while the Baggies have about as much chance of keeping a clean sheet as President DJ Trump has of taking his family on holiday along with the Clintons to Cancun this summer. These two go into the weekend in 8th and 9th place in the league, separated by just four points and it’s the Baggies who have had the better of things in recent meetings for they have won three and drawn the other of the last four meetings. Back to Pulis and it’s interesting to note that our favourite baseball cap wearing boss has only been on the losing side as a manager once in 12 Premier League matches between West Brom and Stoke, while at the same time, Stoke haven’t won any of their last eleven matches vs a Pulis managed team. Cool – knew you’d like that. On we go.
Pulis didn’t really want to talk about Berahino but instead laid praise upon Berahino’s new strike partner Crouch: “I fear Crouchy, He’s a fantastic player and a good lad.” Lovely. Jonny Evans continues to miss out with his seemingly permanent calf injury. Pulis says, “we are really disappointed with how long it’s taking for him to get back” – no wonder Arsenal were linked with him in August. New arrival Marc Wilson is expected to be fit and come into the squad with the manager saying he can cover a number of positions.
Mark Hughes confirms reports that new signing Saido Berahino served an 8 week suspension for a failed drugs test while at West Brom. However, the manager said the issue is in the past and his new striker is looking forward to playing vs his old employers tomorrow. Whether Berahino starts is in doubt given the form of Peter Crouch, but clearly Berahino would love a crack at his old club even if it’s an appearance off the bench where he can utilise his speed. Xherdan Shaqiri and Glen Johnson have failed to recover from injury while Geoff Cameron and Jon Walters also remain out, with Hughes says both are making good progress and could return in a couple of weeks. Jack Butland remains sidelined, but Mame Diouf and Wilfried Bony are available after returning from AFCON.
Spurs vs Middlesbrough (Sat 4 Feb 17.30)
Tuesday’s disappointing draw at Sunderland was certainly two points dropped for Spurs, especially with Chelsea only drawing at Liverpool. Nine points is the gap between first and second and with Chelsea hosting Arsenal this week, Spurs will view this as a must win while hoping that their closest competitors take points off each other. Boro will have other ideas of course and will try and keep things tight for as long as possible, but with just one win on their travels so far it would be a surprise if Spurs’ attacking contingent were deprived for a second time in five days by relegation threatened opposition. Boro have scored just three goals in their last six games and have already lost to Spurs this season when a brace from Hueng-Min Son was enough to grab the three points at the Riverside in September.
Mauricio Pochettino confirmed reports that Danny Rose is out of the weekend after sustaining a knee injury at Sunderland. The defender had a scan on Thursday and will see a specialist on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Ben Davies will deputise at left back. Jan Vertonghen has returned to light training while Hugo Lloris, who missed Sunderland due to illness is available. Kieran Trippier, Erik Lamela and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou remain out.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka is expecting new signing Adlene Guedioura to be involved at Spurs, while there is positive news on Calum Chambers who has returned to training with the manager hoping he may be available. George Friend remains out with a calf injury as is Gaston Ramirez who should return to training next week.
Man City vs Swansea (Sun 5 Feb 13.30)
Inform Swansea go to the Etihad….hang on. “Inform Swansea??” Yes, inform Swansea. They have won their last two and have lifted themselves out of the drop zone. For now. Wins over Liverpool and Southampton have installed some self belief into Paul Clement’s flock. But one feels Sunday may be a slightly different proposition, for City looked pretty damned hot on Wednesday evening when they took the Hammers to the cleaners. In fairness the Hammers opened the door of the launderette but even so the clothes still needed washing and City completed the job in style with the front five of Jesus and his disciples particularly impressing. You will not be surprised to learn that City have a pretty impressive record over the Swans – they have won all five Premier League meetings at the Etihad by a combined score of 14-2, but before desperate Sergio Aguero owners get excited, take note – Kun scored two in the first meeting, failed to score in the next three and didn’t even play in the fifth victory over the Swans.
As expected, no clear indication from Pep as to whether Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus or indeed both will start vs Swansea. He did say that Aguero “remains one of the most important players in our squad”, insisted they can play together as Jesus can play on the left as he did in Brazil, showed his delight that he now has options up front, but his admiration for Jesus is clear: “The three games he has played showed a lot of things. Desire, helping us in our high pressing, his intensity, his movement.” So there you have it, please don’t ask me who will start, I don’t know! You now know what I know! There is little clarity at the back also with Pep saying he hasn’t yet made a decision on who will play in goal, though if Willy Caballero loses his spot he may as well hang up his gloves given that Bravo last saved a shot on his goal in the win over Burnley on the 2nd of January, and has since let in each of the six shots on targets he’s faced. There are no fresh injuries for City, leaving Ilkay Gundogan as the only definite absentee.
Clement says he is looking for his team to improve week after week to give them the best chance of survival. Accepting that the trip to City will be tough, Clement was quick to point out that Swansea went to Liverpool and won. Injury wise, Leon Britton is fit and has returned to training with Clement saying “everyone else is fine.” New signing Jordan Ayew is away at AFCON but Clement expects him to arrive back early next week.
Leicester vs Man Utd (Sun 5 Feb 16.00)
Our game-week is brought to an end by two of the dullest teams in the league right now. Our Champions who we all adored last season are going down quicker than a Kardashian in a reality show – the Foxes have lost their last three, sit just two points clear of the relegation zone in 16th place and are the only side in the top flight yet to score a goal in 2017. Talk of failing to score brings us nicely onto United who failed to break down the stiff Hull resistance on Wednesday evening. The same stiff resistance that last kept a clean sheet in GW2. Three draws on the spin have derailed United’s ambition for a top four slot and frankly, their inability to score vs numpty opposition means they will likely get what they deserve. So expect little excitement – this game may just be the perfect tonic for you to put your feet up and drop off in front of the tv after a sumptuous Sunday roast.
Smiling Ranieri says that Islam Slimani, Leonardo Ulloa and new signing Molla Wague will miss Sunday’s clash due to injury while Daniel Amartey is still at AFCON.
Phil Jones has failed to recover from the foot injury he picked up vs Hull and won’t be available for Sunday. There are no other injuries in the squad, leaving Mourinho plenty of options in most positions should he want to freshen up the squad. Eric Bailly or Chris Smalling will be expected to partner Marcos Rojo in the absence of Jonesy.
Suspension Report for GW24
Any player who receives 10 yellow cards before the second Sunday in April will face a two-match suspension.
Suspended for GW24:
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 24. This article was written by Cookie
Fixture Tracker – the next 6 games
If they are YELLOW in GW28 it means they definitely play that week.