Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 25
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 25. Things are getting interesting guys – blank game-weeks approaching, subsequent double game-weeks to be announced, mini leagues hotting up, careful planning is required. And talking of hotting up, it’s all kicking off in the Premier League – Arsenal losing twice in a row, Klopp raging at his Scouse flops, Champions Leicester heading for the trap door to the Championship, from hero to zero for Sergio Aguero and has Big Sam lost his Midas touch? All that and more to look forward to as we go into GW25. Our week kicks off at the Emirates where a rejuvenated Hull look to make it three losses on the spin for the Gooners. Six 3pm matches follow as Man United host Watford, goal-hungry Everton go to goal-shy Boro, Palace escape their fear of Selhurst as they go to Stoke, Sunderland welcome Southampton and the snakeless Hammers host the snakeless Baggies. The evening match sees struggling Liverpool host second-placed Spurs. Sunday sees two matches – first up sees Chelsea take the tough trip to Burnley before Swansea attempt to pile more misery on the Champions. And finally Monday night sees if City’s new hero can do it on a cold night in Bournemouth.
Let’s get this show on the road and go Around the Grounds for the latest team news.
Arsenal vs Hull (Sat 11 Feb 12.30)
Home comforts are a wonderful thing – it is generally the place one feels safe and secure, there is a sense of peace and happiness. So Arsenal should of course feel safe, secure, peaceful and happy. Not because they’re playing at the Emirates you fools, because they now sit in their favoured fourth placed position. Happy and content. Hull arrive this week but not the Hull we saw under Mick Phelan, no sir. A re-energised Hull, an organised and well-drilled Hull. A Hull side who were unlucky to lose at Chelsea, that held United at Old Trafford and then beat Liverpool last weekend. The pressure will of course be on the home side to break down their guests and this is where the Gooners generally struggle – will they be able to get through a defence that has conceded just 2 goals vs Chelsea, United and Liverpool? Well, two defeats in a row won’t have helped confidence for Arsene Wenger’s men – they were thoroughly outplayed by Chelsea last week and will need a positive and early reaction on Saturday if the crowd are not to get on their backs. Hull actually won on their first ever visit in the Premier League at Arsenal but haven’t won one since, losing seven out of eight and drawing the other. Alexis Sanchez loves playing Hull – he has scored five in three starts vs the Tigers and will be a popular captain this week.
Wenger says that Hector Bellerin is a doubt for Saturday – the defender suffered concussion at Chelsea last weekend, is being tested every day but the manager will rely on doctor’s advice before making a decision on the full back. If he is ruled out, expect Gabriel to fill in. Mohamed Elneny has returned from the AFCON and is available, but Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla remain out while Granit Xhaka misses out through suspension. Wenger refused to answer speculation that Petr Cech may be dropped at the weekend, but did say in response to rumours linking Arsenal to Joe Hart that he has “three world class keepers which I am happy with.” Ok.
Hull go the Emirates without centre halves Michael Dawson and Curtis Davies – Dawson pulled out of the warm up last weekend with a calf injury which is likely to keep him out for a couple of weeks, while Davies is recovering from a hamstring injury. Andrea Ranocchia could replace Dawson. Ahmed Elmohamady is available after the AFCON and Lazar Markovic is available after being ineligible to face Liverpool last week. Striker Abel Hernandez has suffered a small hamstring tear and has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks, while Moses Odubajo, Alex Bruce, Ryan Mason, Markus Henriksen, Will Keane and Greg Luer all remain sidelined. Dieumerci Mbokani has missed training this week through illness and remains a doubt but will be given as much time as possible to make the game. Manager Marco Silva does have experience of leading a side to victory at the Emirates – he led Olympiacos to a 3-2 Champions League victory over the Gunners in 2015……..
Man Utd vs Watford (Sat 11 Feb 15.00)
The Hornets are buzzing and go to United on the back of two straight wins and unbeaten in four, a run which sees them sit in 10th position on 30 points – another couple of wins and safety will be virtually assured. Sadly for Watford they have never beaten United at Old Trafford in the Premier League – in fact they have lost four out of four, conceding 13 goals in the process. However, Watford did beat United at Vicarage Road in September – but United are unbeaten in 15 league matches now – last week’s comfortable win at Leicester stopped a run of three draws and they are now breathing down the necks of Liverpool and Arsenal above them.
United will be desperate for the three points as the club remembers the 59th anniversary of Munich. They will also be desperate due to their recent poor run of results that has included draws vs Hull, Liverpool and Stoke. Phil Jones has again been ruled out with a foot injury, but Wayne Rooney has recovered from illness and Marcos Rojo has shrugged off the knock that forced him off at Leicester
Walter Mazzarri will be tempted to name an unchanged team as his in-form Hornets go to United. First he must check on Valon Nehrami and Miguel Britos who have missed some training this week with knocks. Costel Pantilimon and Roberto Pereyra remain out but Nordin Amrabat has returned to training, but this weekend is likely to come too soon for him to be included, while Christian Kabasele and Juan Camilo Zuniga have also resumed training and could come into contention for a place on the bench.
Middlesbrough vs Everton (Sat 11 Feb 15.00)
The Toffees travel to Boro on the back of last week’s rampant 6 goal rout of Bournemouth, but the chances of a repeat performance appear to be slim for their hosts are the opposite of Bournemouth. While the Cherries compromise their free scoring with generosity at the back, Boro are somewhat circumspect, at both ends of the pitch. Aitor Karanaka’s men have conceded just 27 goals thus far, the same as Everton and less than Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Now while that is impressive, their record going forward can only be described as woeful – Boro are the league’s lowest scorers with just 19 goals scored, three less than the next worst, Hull. So what to expect this week – a typical Boro bore-off or an excitement-filled, action-packed match? The encounter at Goodison in September ended 3-1 to the Toffees with Romelu Lukaku scoring and assisting – the only other meeting in recent times ended in a 2-0 win for Everton with Lukaku scoring again. Following his four goal fun last week, Lukaku will be confident and the league’s highest scorer will be hungry to add to his tally, but will he be able to penetrate the Boro wall?
Boro welcome back Gatson Ramirez who has recovered from a knee injury that has kept him out of action for five weeks. However, there are more defensive problems for Karanka as Antonio Barragan has joined George Friend on the treatment table.
Little in the way of team news for the Toffees as Ronald Koeman spent much of the presser answering questions on Lukaku’s contract. All very boring, but boring is good, it means there is little to worry about. Only Mo Besic and Yannick Bolasie are sidelined with Koeman expecting a tough match against a “well organised side” – but with Everton keeping clean sheets in three of their last four visits to the Riverside and Lukaku in such four-midable form the blue half of Merseyside will be quietly confident of another positive result.
Stoke vs Crystal Palace (Sat 11 Feb 15.00)
Oh dear, maybe life with the Lord wasn’t so bad after all. Last week’s home defeat to Sunderland saw the players confronted by fans on the pitch, cries of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt”, the Chairman laying into the players after the final whistle and the players being hauled into training at 7am on Sunday by Big Sam where they watched a video of the defeat. Sam says the players have a fear of Selhurst Park. That’s understandable – I mean, have you ever been there? It’s not great. Palace have lost four out of four at home since Big Sam was brought in so maybe they will have to rely on their slightly better form on the road if they are to survive. The Eagles go to Stoke this week and while the Potters have shown glimpses of form this season and are unbeaten in their last six at home, they have drawn four of these so there is a crumb of comfort for Palace there. And there is more for Palace who have won four and drawn the other of the last five meetings with Stoke including wins in the last two at Stoke. So maybe, just maybe……
Mark Hughes is a wary man – he says Palace’s crushing defeat last week is the worst result for his side as Big Sam will have the Eagles determined to react and put things right. For Stoke, Hughes is keen for his team to start another unbeaten run after last week’s loss at the Hawthorns. Despite coming off the bench for the last two weeks, Sparky says Saido Berahino is “still not where he needs to be in terms of match fitness”. Xherdan Shaqiri and Glen Johnson will likely miss out again though Johnson has a very slight chance while Geoff Cameron could resume training next week. Jack Butland, Stephen Ireland and Jon Walters remain sidelined, but Ramadan Sobhi is in contention to feature after returning from the AFCON.
Poor old Big Sam. He really is marmite. And I love marmite. Part of me feels for him as he has clearly inherited a squad that has had its confidence destroyed. Probably by the Lord. He’s my scapegoat for this. Obviously. Big Sam says, “I keep preaching the same thing: if you can’t win, don’t lose. But we keep losing!” Sorry, that made me laugh. BS says that all four of his new signings are available – Jeffrey Schlupp has recovered from injury while Luka Milivojevic has received international clearance to play – he probably wished he hadn’t given last week’s performance by his new team mates. Scott Dann misses out with a hamstring injury. My mate BS says, “we have to be tactically efficient, like what Hull and Swansea are doing – particularly against Liverpool.” Hahaha great line!!!! (Kop reckons Big Sam is a prick!!)
Sunderland vs Southampton (Sat 11 Feb 15.00)
Despite being bottom of the league, the gap is closing – just two points separate the bottom six and Sunderland have form. Yep, you heard that right, Sunderland have form. Of course we are quite used to the Black Cats finding enough in the tank to escape relegation season after season, but we were sceptical this season with Moyesie in charge. Last week’s romp at Palace will have increased confidence, that’s two clean sheets in a row and this week Southampton come to town. The Saints seem to drop further by the week – they have lost six of their last seven league matches and look bereft of the form that has seen them through to the League Cup final. The last two meetings between the two have both ended in 1-1 draws with Jermain Defoe scoring in both – with the heart being ripped out of the Saints’ defence it will be of no surprise to see the Black Cats end that sequence while Defoe will be confident of continuing his run.
Moyesie says that Adnan Januzaj and John O’Shea have trained and is hopeful that both will be available. However, the Black Cats newly appointed good luck charm, Jack Rodwell, picked up a hamstring injury at Palace that will keep him out for another few weeks. I know it’s a shock, but it’s true, poor old Jack. Jordan Pickford has trained this week but Moyesie says the medical team want him to complete the time the surgeon said for his recovery so Vito Mannone continues in goal for now. Papy Djilobodji misses out through suspension and the usual bunch of long term absentees that no-one cares about are still hobbling about picking up their wages.
Saints boss Claude Puel has ruled out Sofiane Boufal for the trip to Sunderland as the midfielder is suffering with an ankle injury. The manager says his squad is angry with recent results and has welcomed the chance to prepare for the game for a whole week with no midweek matches. Virgil van Dijk, Matt Targett, Jeremy Pied and Charlie Austin all remain sidelined.
West Ham vs West Brom (Sat 11 Feb 15.00)
The ghosts of Payet and Berahino have been exorcised and both teams seem happier now the snakes have been cast aside and gotten rid of. So close are the teams in fact that not only do they share the same Christian name, but they sit next to each other in the league and have both scored 32 goals this season. Incredible stuff I find. Since the Payet story was made public by Slaven Bilic, the Hammers have won three out of four, the only blot was when City came to town – well aside from that small blot, West Ham have put three past Palace, Boro and Southampton with Andy Carroll scoring four in those three matches. West Brom meanwhile truck on but do tend to struggle somewhat on the road where they have won just one of their last six. Five of the last six meetings between the two at West Ham have ended in draws.
Carroll has missed training this week after lasting just 55mins at Southampton before being removed “as a precaution” after feeling something in his groin. The lucky bastard… Bilic calmed fears by suggesting that it is not a huge problem that his in-form striker has missed training as he is match fit regardless and does sometimes miss training sessions, though the manager said a late decision will be made after training today. The same scenario applies for Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate, though there is better news of Sam Byram and Havard Nordveit who have trained all week and should return to the squad for the weekend.
Good news for the Baggies as Jonny Evans has been declared fit! Enjoy and make the most of this moment, just reading this sentence guarantees you a part of history. If Pulis starts Evans (he really should while he can) this could see Chris Brunt pushed further forward with Craig Dawson reverting to full back or even Allan Nyom losing his spot. Pulis talked up Brunt, saying he has been “absolutely outstanding.” Mito’s mate Claudio Yacob has recovered from stomach cramps (presumably inflicted by Mito’s constant attacks) but will be competing with Jake Livermore for a starting spot.
Liverpool vs Spurs (Sat 11 Feb 17.30)
It was only a few weeks ago that Liverpool coverage was a must – was one midfielder enough? Some trebled up. Some even brought Lovren. Honest. Within a matter of weeks, Coutinho got injured, Mane went off to the AFCON, Mignolet and Karius traded mistakes and it all went belly up. Just one win in ten matches followed with that sole victory being at Plymouth in the FA Cup. No wins in five league matches has seen Liverpool slip to fifth and they are only that high due to Man United’s reluctance to take advantage – which is strange given the rivalry between the two. Last week’s loss at Hull may prove to be the nadir – alternatively it may prove to be a continuation of the downfall, only time will tell. But the knives are out for Klopp from some quarters and this week will be no easier with Spurs the visitors. But if there is one thing Liverpool are decent at under Klopp it is matches vs the other top 6 teams, where they have lost just once in 15 matches under the German. The last three meetings with Spurs in the league have all ended in draws with Liverpool winning all five before that. However this is a new Spurs, a resilient Spurs and one who don’t just rely on Harry Kane to score – Mauricio Pochettino’s team are unbeaten in their last eleven in all competitions, winning nine.
Klopp says there are doubts over Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Adam Lallana – Lallana has missed two days of training this week with a minor Achilles problem and wont feature if he misses training today, Lovren is another uncertain trainer today while Klavan has returned to training today but will be assessed after losing weight following six days in bed with an illness. Dismissing rumours that the merry-go-round in goal will continue with Loris Karius being recalled, Klopp says he has genuinely not yet decided which keeper will play. Karius it is then.
Ben Davies will again deputise at left back with Danny Rose ruled out again – however Pochettino says Rose’s injury isn’t as serious as first thought and the player must now focus on recovery and building fitness. No timescale was put on a return date. Kieran Trippier should be ok to rejoin the squad, but Jan Vetonghen and Erik Lamela remain out – Vert could return to light training next week while Lamela is “taking it step by step”…..which translates to, “don’t expect him back anytime soon.”
Burnley vs Chelsea (Sun 12 Feb 13.30)
Now if I told you that in 93 meetings between Burnley and Chelsea, Burnley had won 37 and lost 34 you may be surprised. But don’t forget that Burnley used to be an established top tier club while Chelsea were poor. As in not rich. But also poor, as in average, for much of the past. Times have changed of course, new Russian money came to West London, league titles and a Champions League has been won while Burnley have fought back from the bottom tier of English football to compete again in the top flight. This season has seen the Blue machine build a 9 point lead at the top while Burnley are doing ok – they have 29 points and safety is in sight. For this week, Chelsea will of course be favourites but Burnley will be competitive at home – they have won 28 of their 29 points at home. Chelsea however own this fixture in the Premier League – in five meetings Burnley have scraped just the one draw and lost four including both meetings at home.
Burnley will be without the suspended Jeff Hendrick just as the Champions elect stroll into town. Robbie Brady or Ashley Westwood are the likely deputees for Hendrick. Well, not both of them of course, just one. Dean Marney is a long-term absentee while Steven Defour continues to miss out with a hamstring injury.
Antonio Conte says “it’s a big mistake to think we are close to winning the title because we have a nine-point lead” and has identified Burnley’s impressive home form as the reason why his team won’t be underestimating the Clarets. The manager says all his squad are available – David Luiz is playing with a bit of a pain in his knee (cough cough Mr Aguero) but is still performing well. Be assured everyone, Conte is a manager determined to ensure his team leaves no stone unturned in their pursuit of winning the title. He dismissed claims Eden Hazard is carrying an injury and said the midfielder was substituted last week vs Arsenal so the fans could give him the applause he deserved. Rotation may come into play with the manager saying there will be chances in the coming games for Cesc Fabregas and Willian.
Swansea vs Leicester (Sun 12 Feb 16.00)
How things have changed over a few months for Leicester – gone are the “dilly ding, dilly dongs”, the Mahrez assists and Vardy goals are a thing of the past, gone is Kante of course, sapped is the confidence that swept through the club on the way to the unlikeliest of league titles. Now we see a team bereft of ideas or belief, a defence which is a year older and slower and a club in turmoil. Rumours abound that some of the players have even approached the Chairman in regard to Ranieri. The Foxes go to hunt the Swans this week with both clubs teetering above the relegation zone on 21 points, but there is at least hope in the home camp. Paul Clement has organised the Swans who fought well but ultimately went down to City last week but had won the two before that. The Foxes have lost four in a row and unless Vardy or Mahrez pull their fingers out sooner rather than later, it’s going to be a very painful end of the season for Leicester. The Foxes can at least cling onto the stat that they have won the last four vs Swansea, though present form suggests Siggy and co will be laughing come Sunday afternoon.
Jordan Ayew has arrived at Swansea and manager Paul Clement says his striker will be involved vs Leicester. The only injuries are midfielders Sung-yueng Ki and Jefferson Montero while Leon Britton has a “small problem” and is a doubt for Sunday.
Ranieri expects everyone to be available with the exception of moody Leonardo Ulloa. No loss. The manager talked up Demarai Gray in his presser saying, “he grows up very well this season, if he continues and improves his defensive way he could be a very good player.” Islam Slimani will be checked after training today and tomorrow, with the manager saying he isn’t quite 100%. In front of a key match for the Champions, Ranieri says he has had a meeting with Vardy and Mahrez and “they now know what they have to do to recreate their link of last season.” Tactical genius or desperate times? We’ll know by Sunday night for sure but let’s hope we hear a few more “dilly ding, dilly dongs” sooner rather than later.
Bournemouth vs Man City (Mon 13 Feb 20.00)
There is something bad going on down on the south coast. Southampton are struggling big time and Bournemouth are heading even further south with last week being embarrassing and confidence destroying. The loss at Goodison was of course celebrated by many Lukaku-owning FPL managers, but for the Cherries it was the third loss in four matches – two points have been won in the last five with 16 goals conceded. Not the sort of form one wants with the league’s newest and hottest property arriving. Gabriel Jesus has taken the league by storm in the two matches he has played – three goals scored, Pep actually showing some excitement and the odd smile and City winning again. This could get messy unless Eddie Howe has somehow coached his team how to defend – Bournemouth have never beaten City. In nine meetings the best the Cherries can cheer is two draws and in three Premier League matches City have won 5-1, 4-0 and 4-0 with young Raheem Sterling scoring four times in two matches vs the Cherries.
Head Cherry Eddie says the Cherries have “a few injury concerns” with Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis and Adam Smith all facing late fitness tests. Jeez, with Nathan Ake and Marc Wilson leaving in January Bournemouth will have no defenders left soon! Don’t be short a City attacker this week (I have none…gulp). A lot will again rest on the well-worn shoulders of Steve Cook. Nothing new there eh Anyway, back to Bournemouth and with Callum Wilson ruled out, much will depend on the likes of Josh King, Benik Afobe, Ryan Fraser and Junior Stanislas to ensure they outscore City, for they won’t be keeping a clean sheet any time soon.
Pep says that everyone except Ilkay Gündogan is fit for selection for Monday night and adds that they have been ‘amazing in training’. Just what Eddie Howe wanted to hear! The manager says he has not yet decided who will be in goal and on speculation that Sergio Aguero will leave for another European club in the summer, Pep says he stands by the club’s comments in the week that the striker is going nowhere. Pep then went on to say that Monday will be a ‘tough, tough game’ – proving in two sentences that he can bullshit as well as the rest of them as he prepares to unleash Jesus and friends on a makeshift defence.
Suspension Report for GW25
Any player who receives 10 yellow cards before the second Sunday in April will face a two-match suspension.
Suspended for GW25:
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Jeff Hendrick (Burnley)
Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 25. This article was written by Cookie
Fixture Tracker – the next 6 games