Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 27
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 27. Earlier than expected but the first double game-week of the season is upon us as Stoke and Man City are both at the double. Of course, one of these is more interesting than the other – but I wouldn’t write off City so easily . This obviously means an extended game-week lasting from Saturday lunchtime through to Wednesday evening with only Tuesday as a rest day. It’s City’s neighbours Man Utd who kick start proceedings as they welcome Bournemouth, before five 3pm matches follow – Hull visit Leicester, Stoke start their double as they host Middlesbrough, travel sick Burnley go to Swansea, Watford and Southampton face off and two of England’s finest do battle as Big Sam’s Eagles go to Uncle Tony’s Baggies. The evening should be a corker as Liverpool and Arsenal do battle at Anfield. Sunday kicks off with Spurs vs Everton at the Lane before Man City go to Sunderland in what many hope will be a high scoring Kunfest as their double begins. Monday night sees what should be a decent London derby with the Hammers welcoming their Chelsea friends from the west. Save your jobs / tv catch-up for Tuesday and then be prepared for a wild Wednesday as City and Stoke complete their double with the team sheet announcement bound to be preceeded by fear, dread and nausea. Will Pep rotate? What about Crouchie? Oh the fun.
With particular interest on what Pep says (please tell us something useful!), let’s go Around the Grounds and see what the managers have had to say.
Man Utd vs Bournemouth (Sat 4 Mar 12.30)
Fresh off winning the first silverware of the season, United host Bournemouth at Old Trafford with the early kick-off giving them a chance to leapfrog Arsenal and Liverpool into the top four, albeit temporarily before the aforementioned pair meet later. The Cherries arrive on the back of four successive defeats and without a win in seven, a run they will be keen to stop before they slip closer to the drop zone. While Bournemouth can’t win, it’s United who cannot lose – they are unbeaten in 16 league matches but remain in sixth place, where they have sat since GW11. In their only meeting at Old Trafford so far, United won 3-1 last season and the Reds triumphed by the same score at Bournemouth in August back in GW1 – Wayne Rooney scored in both wins. Jose is smelling blood and with confidence high after Wembley and Arsenal and Liverpool showing signs of slipping up, the Special One will be sensing that this is United’s chance to nick the final Champions League spot. They will need to avoid another disappointing home draw though, but will be comforted by the Cherries’ away form this season which has seen them only take points from trips to Swansea, Stoke, Watford and Palace. Bournemouth keeper Artur Boruc has never kept a clean sheet against United at Old Trafford in four previous attempts and has conceded nine goals.
Luke Shaw is the spy who came in from the cold as Jose reveals the left back will finally make the squad at the weekend. The poor chap has been waiting so long he’ll probably tweak something in the warm up just out of excitement. It appears that Wayne Rooney will also get a game after missing out at Wembley while Phil Jones and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have both returned to training, but Mikhi won’t be ready for tomorrow.
Head Cherry Eddie says that Simon Francis remains missing with a hamstring injury while there are also one or two ‘other concerns’ which will be assessed after training today. The better news is that Jordan ibe has recovered from a knee injury and has trained fine this week to put himself in contention for selection. Bournemouth are bottom of the form table and whilst not many expect the Cherries to pick up anything at Old Trafford, another loss will undoubtedly increase the pressure on Howe.
Leicester vs Hull (Sat 4 Mar 15.00)
It’s certainly been a strange week or so for Leicester – a rare, gutsy performance in Seville was quickly followed by the much-criticised sacking of Claudio. Allegations of player revolt followed before the team fell into the relegation zone without even playing. Could things get any worse? Well it seemed not, for under the guardianship of Craig Shakespeare, the Foxes swept Liverpool aside with surprising ease to jump three places into 15th spot. It truly is a funny ol’ game. This week Leicester can do themselves another huge favour by repeating their efforts from Monday and beating one of their relegation rivals as Hull come to town. It truly is a dogfight at the bottom now, every match being vital especially those six-pointers and Hull will now be warier than they were, for Marco Silva’s men are in 19th place with just Sunderland below them but they will also be heartened to see what a win or two can do for one’s league position. Hull won the reverse fixture back in August, but frankly after what we have seen these past few days, I’m predicting nothing!
Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare reports a clean bill of health for the Foxes as they look to record two wins in a row. This means that Leonardo Ulloa is fit to play but keep an eye on Riyad Mahrez who has scored three goals vs Hull in three matches. Kasper Schmeichel is carrying a minor ankle injury but Shakey says ‘it won’t stop him training or playing.’
Hull have been dealt a blow (some would say massive result) with Dieumerci Mbokani being ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury picked up vs Burnley. Just as well then that Abel Hernandez is fit again and that Oumar Niasse, who was kept out of the Everton squad by Arouna Koné is showing some promise. Harry Maguire has picked up a knee injury and will need to be assessed, though Marco Silva is confident the defender will be ok. Sam Clucas returns from suspension, Lazar Markovic has a knock but should be ok, but Evandro Goebel remains out with a calf injury. The usual suspects, namely Michael Dawson, Curtis Davies, Ryan Mason, Markus Henriksen and Will Keane all remain sidelined.
Stoke vs Middlesbrough (Sat 4 Mar 15.00)
Leicester’s win has seen Boro slip to the perilous 17th position, just one spot above the drop zone with Palace only below them due to their inferior goal difference. A solid defence is what Boro base themselves on, but the lack of goals is becoming a big issue for Aitor Karanka’s men – no goals in three matches, just three in their last nine – however you want to dress it up, it ain’t pretty. They are the lowest scorers in the league by a decent margin and no-one needs me to tell them that if you don’t score, you don’t win. Boro go to Stoke on Saturday and while the Potters may still be shellshocked by first half hammering they were given at Spurs, Mark Hughes’ men generally do well against those teams below them – after losing to Bournemouth in November they have swept aside Watford (twice), Burnley, Sunderland and Palace. The two drew 1-1 up at the Riverside in GW1 and Karanka may well take a point here – he’ll certainly take the goal!
Stoke are slowly getting their injured players back, which of course means predicting their line up gets tougher! Geoff Cameron, Jon Walters and Glen Johnson are all available while Mark Hughes has selection issues up front. Saido Berahino has pleasantly surprised Hughes in training, Wilfried Bony has been moaning about his lack of game time with the manager saying he will get chances and of course Peter Crouch has been doing well. Xherdan Shaqiri is a doubt with a calf injury, while Jack Butland and Stephen Ireland are the only longer term absentees.
Good news for Karanka as two of his defensive unit have returned to training. Antonio Barragan and George Friend have both recovered from injury and should be available for the trip to Stoke, but Calum Chambers remains missing with a stress fracture in his foot which could rule him out for up to 4 weeks. Everyone else is fit, which is magnificent.
Swansea vs Burnley (Sat 4 Mar 15.00)
If Swansea’s current pattern of results is to continue then they will win this one. And they will certainly feel like they should after their combative performance at Chelsea last week, which on another day may well have brought the Welshies at least a draw. The Swans are at least scoring goals and they’ll need all of Siggy’s craft if they are to find a way past Tom Heaton who remains at the top of the FPL charts for keepers – Heaton has made a league-best 105 saves. Burnley as we know don’t travel well but they did at least grab a point at Hull last weekend which was just their second point on the road this season. The Swans have won their last two at home – maybe that doesn’t seem like a “wow” stat but any club fighting relegation will take it, trust me – Siggy is clearly their man, the Icelandic midfielder has scored or assisted in each of his last five matches. Swansea have met Burnley just three times in the top flight and have won each time 1-0 – a fourth win in a row will not be a surprise and will bring much relief to the valleys.
Much of the same for Swansea with trio Jefferson Montero, Ki Sung-Yeung and Nathan Dyer ruled out though Montero is back in full training. However Swasnea have not really missed the three so no harm done with Clement saying his team is very focused as they go into a run of games vs their relegation rivals that will go a long way to determining their fate. The manager says that Jordan Ayew and Luciano Narsingh have impressed in training and are pushing hard to be included in the starting XI.
Sean Dyche says that Steven Defour is making good progress but won’t make the weekend trip to Wales while Johann Berg Gudmundsson will again miss out. The manager says that Ashley Barnes’ suspension will give an opportunity to someone else. Thanks Sean. Expect Sam Vokes to get a start alongside Andre Gray. Dean Marney is a long-term absentee.
Watford vs Southampton (Sat 4 Mar 15.00)
Ah the comfort of a Southampton fixture for those FPL managers who brought in Manolo Gabbiadini last week, only to see him score a brace in the EFL Cup!! Well it’s Watford this week for the “a fuoco” Italian who has scored five goals in his first three appearances for the Saints. Before you get too excited, don’t forget he and Southampton blank in GW28. The two teams are separated by just a point and both will come into the game with confidence – the Saints considered themselves unlucky to lose at Wembley last weekend while Watford have found some resilience to lose just one in six. The teams have met just three times in the Premier League in recent times – Saints have won one and the other two have been drawn with the encounter in August finishing 1-1 at St. Marys.
Watford will be without the injured Nordin Amrabat, Christian Kabasele, Ben Watson and Mauro Zárate as they welcome the Saints to Vicarage Road. Playmaker Zárate has been ruled out for the rest of the season thanks to the serious injury he sustained against the Hammers and manager Walter Mazzarri says the team will miss the Argentine. Much may well then depend on Troy Deeney who has scored four goals in his last five league appearances. Mazzarri will check on the fitness of Daryl Janmaat and Costel Pantilimon before naming his squad for the weekend.
The Saints have no fresh injury concerns as they look to put last week’s Wembley defeat behind them. Manager Claude Puel is looking for a strong finish to the season and was buoyed by his team’s performance against United. Charlie Austin and Virgil van Dijk are the big absentees while Sofiane Boufal will be assessed prior to the game. Martin Caceres is not yet ready to play – he will instead feature for the U23s next week.
West Brom vs Crystal Palace (Sat 4 Mar 15.00)
Palace dropped into the relegation zone on Monday night with Leicester beating Liverpool. This is despite Palace’s battling 1-0 victory over Boro last weekend, which was their first win at home since GW14. A trip to the Hawthorns is not really what they need though as the Baggies have won seven of their last eight at home with their only defeat coming against Man United. The Eagles have never beaten Albion at the Hawthorns in the Premier League but maybe last week’s win has given Palace’s squad some confidence as they enter the last dozen matches of the season. Big Sam has never been relegated from the Premier League and will be determined to preserve that proud and impressive record, but he’ll need to find a way of keeping out Baggie goal machine Gareth McAuley whom has scored in his last two and has only Salomon Rondon in front of him as Albion’s leading scorer this season. It was Rondon who scored the only goal when the teams met at Selhurst Park in August.
Tony Pulis again fails to appease FPL managers – this time it’s Matty Phillips owners who are left in the lurch….”We are still waiting on Matty. Fingers crossed he’ll be ok. He’ll train today.” So it sounds like he is close and the optimistic amongst us may just feel that Pulis will play Phillips if he possibly can knowing that the fixtures turn for the Baggies after this week. Craig Dawson is ok after suffering a head injury vs Bournemouth.
Scott Dann is available for the Eagles after recovering from injury though Big Sam is not guaranteeing the defender a start while Bakary Sako is also in contention. Only Mathieu Flamini, Connor Wickham, Loic Remy and Pape Souare are unavailable for Palace. Big Sam takes his team to the Hawthorns with a fairly ropey record as a manager – he has won there just once in seven visits.
Liverpool vs Arsenal (Sat 4 Mar 17.30)
Strange as it may seem, both teams could be chasing Man United by the time of kick off if the Reds beat Bournemouth at lunchtime. With both clubs now scrambling for a top four spot, this is when the fun starts, when the men are separated from the boys, when the tough get going. Now tough is not a word that either club can necessarily be associated with right now – Liverpool were humbled 3-1 by Leicester on Monday – bear in mind that those 3 goals were the first the Foxes had scored this calendar year. Klopp’s boys have won just once in seven matches now. The Gooners meanwhile had last weekend off but have lost two of their last three in the league, have been battered by Bayern and the knives are again out for Wenger. So with big teams in “crisis”, this match is huge – it’s a massive one to win and for the loser (if there is a loser) it could mean the start of the end to their Champions League qualification hopes. If this be Arsenal then the knives will not only be out, they’ll be sharpened, for Arsene always qualifies for the CL. If it’s Liverpool then Klopp will be given a tad more sympathy but more will be expected from the summer transfer window and from next season as a consequence. The teams shared 7 goals at the Emirates on the opening day with Liverpool edging it, while last season’s encounter at Anfield ended 3-3. So we should probably expect goals – but who will be cheering at the final whistle?
Oh you won’t believe this. Well you will actually. Daniel Sturridge. Went to La Manga with the squad for the training camp and picked up an illness, so he flew home. That was of course last week’s news. So, to bring you up-to-date with the poor love, he is still not training as he was really ill so he was doing rehab. During rehab he picked up a strain in his hip muscle. Honestly, you can’t make this up with him. This is sensational. The guy is the richest patient in the ward. His own personal ward. So, moving on and Captain fantastic Jordan Henderson is again ruled out with the foot injury that kept him out of the loss at Leicester. However there is good news for Liverpool with Klopp reporting that Dejan Lovren has returned to training but was non-committal as to whether the defender would be ready to start. Danny Ings remains out but will likely be ready to play before Sturridge.
Wenger had some positive news as he revealed that Aaron Ramsey and more importantly Laurent Koscielny have both returned to training and will be available for the trip to Anfield, while Mesut Ozil should be ok despite being sent home from training on Wednesday with illness. Olivier Giroud is also ok but Mohamed Elneny has an ankle injury which will likely keep him out for three weeks or so. It’s ok however as Granit Xhaka, the walking red card, is available again after suspension… that’s of course until he gets suspended again. Danny Welbeck is fully fit.
Spurs vs Everton (Sun 5 Mar 13.30)
Sunday kicks off with two of the league’s most in-form teams competing at the Lane. Everton arrive on the back of an unbeaten run of nine matches which includes six wins, while Spurs are unbeaten at home in the league, winning 11 out of 13, conceding just five goals in the process. Of course, fresh on everyone’s minds will be last week’s Kane-ihilation of Stoke, a result that took Spurs back into 2nd. Everton are hardly likely to lay down in such a timid fashion – the Toffees have however drawn three of the last four on the road and it was again a draw when the two teams met at Goodison on the opening day – it will therefore not be a huge surprise for you to learn that the last three meetings between the two have ended in stalemate. It may be worth noting that Everton haven’t won at White Hart Lane in seven visits.
More smoke and mirrors, this time from Spurs as Poch says, Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are all ‘progressing well and will be assessed after the final training session’. Sorry everyone, I can only report what these muppets say. What I can tell you is that all three were pictured training today. Aside from the unknowns, Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain out – Rose is still a number of weeks away from a return to full training while Lamela has I think gone on holiday with Santi Cazorla.
Ronald Koeman reports no fresh injuries as he prepares his team for the trip to the capital. The manager believes the match will be won and lost in midfield but promises that his team will defend ‘differently’ to Stoke last week. Mo Besic and Dominic Calvert-Lewis have both returned to training leaving Yannick Bolaise as the only injured member of the squad.
Sunderland vs Man City (Sun 5 Mar 16.00)
If your captain is not playing in this game then you are either brave, stupid or a ghost. The start of City’s double sees them truck up to the north-east to face Moyesie and crew. Surely an away win is on the cards as Sunderland sit bottom with just one win in nine and have failed to score in four of their last five matches. City meanwhile have won their last three in the league and of course impressed going forward vs Monaco in their epic Champions League tie. I am trying to find some crumbs of comfort for Black Cat fans here but it’s not easy – City have won the last six meetings between the two, scoring 18 goals in the process. With Gabriel Jesus injured, most FPL eyes will focus on Sergio Aguero – despite Pep doing his best to ruin the striker, Aguero has scored five goals in his last four matches vs Sunderland with four of those coming at the Stadium of Light where he has scored in all 3 of his last matches there. One to also keep an eye on is Raheem Sterling who has scored or assisted in eight of his last ten Premier League matches. The Black Cats may just be running out of lives.
There is some good news for Sunderland and that is Papy Djilobodji is available again after suspension and Billy Jones should be ok after suffering a head injury at Goodison. That’s pretty much about it really. Jan Kirchoff is making good progress but GW29 is a more realistic target, while Jack Rodwell is a doubt, naturally. Jason Denayer is ineligible to play vs his parent club and the usual load of season long absentees remain just that.
Pep smashes the hopes of John Stones owners as he reveals that Vincent Kompany and Alexsandar Kolorov are both fit and could feature at Sunderland. Pep says that he is only focused on the next game, which presumably is good news for Sergio Aguero owners and those fearing rotation. Expect David Silva and Yaya Toure to feature after both were rested vs Huddersfield.
West Ham vs Chelsea (Mon 6 Mar 20.00)
A ten point lead is Chelsea’s comfortable looking cushion as we go into GW27 – surely they have one hand tentatively touching the league title and they could go a step further if they notch win no.21 of the season on Monday night in the East End. However, the East End on a cold and foggy winter’s night is not the nicest place to be, so the Blues will be hoping to smash and grab the three points and make a safe return to the confines of their tree-lined private boulevards of Surrey. The Hammers can of course be the ultimate spoilers or the kindest of hosts, so much may depend on what team turns up. Slaven Bilic’s men have drawn their last two matches, but only lost one in six since Payet slithered out of the team. Chelsea have won four and drawn the other two of the six league matches they have played since losing badly at Spurs. The Blues’ record at West Ham is mixed – they have lost two of the last four there including a loss last season. However, Chelsea have only lost this season to Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, so it’ll take a huge effort from the Hammers to knock Chelsea out of their stride.
Bilic says that Andy Carroll has been training very well this week and he is ‘very confident’ that the striker will play vs Chelsea. Jeez we really are going to have this every week! Michail Antonio misses out through suspension after being sent off in the draw at Watford, but only Angelo Ogbonna and Diafra Sakho miss out through injury. The manager says his squad are confident and optimistic as last season’s win over the Blues shows what is possible. Hmmm, we shall see.
Chelsea have a small scare with Eden Hazard who got a little kick in training on Wednesday, though Antonio Conte thinks it is ‘nothing serious’. There are no other injuries for the Blues, but Conte is paying particular attention to the threat of Andy Carroll as his team look to take another stride towards the title.
Man City vs Stoke (Weds 8 Mar 20.00)
Wednesday night will see one of the FPL highlights of the season so far as our first double game-week concludes at the Etihad. While City will be looking to close the gap on leaders Chelsea and Stoke will be looking to stop more humiliation vs a top club, we of course will be hoping to cash in the points from our selected players. If you are a Kun owner then you will be heartened to see his record of five goals in his last three appearances vs the Potters – if you are not a Kun owner then maybe you soon will be. When I speak of humiilation vs the top teams, bear in mind that Stoke have already conceded four to City this season as they have vs Spurs (twice), Liverpool and Chelsea. And Crystal Palace. One fears for the Potters if City can recreate the attacking prowess they showed vs Monaco.
Suspension Report GW27
Any player who receives 10 yellow cards before the second Sunday in April will face a two-match suspension (Jose Holebas is on 12 already!)
Suspended for GW27:
Ashley Barnes (Burnley)
Michail Antonio (West Ham)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 27. This article was written by Cookie
The Tracker in full…