Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 30
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 30. It illustrates just how boring those international breaks are that I remain interested in MLS and even found myself watching a game last Saturday night, while for the site, the most interesting thing that happened was the education in gambling undertaken by our very own Inittowinit. We now make a welcome return to FPL before I get too involved in the ‘awesome’ MLS and before Mrs Init finds out what he’s been up to with her housekeeping money. It’s Init himself who will be excited as GW30 kicks off as his beloved Everton stroll across the park to play Liverpool Saturday lunchtime. Six 3pm matches follow as Spurs visit home specialists Burnley, runaway leaders Chelsea host the in-form Palace, Hull hope to continue their home form as they welcome the dropping Hammers, revitalised Champions Leicester entertain Stoke, the Gooner beating Baggies visit Man Utd and Moyesie takes the doomed Black Pussy Cats to Watford. The evening entertainment is the New Forest derby as Bournemouth cross the deep dark wood to take on the Saints. Sunday sees relegation haunted Boro enjoy an afternoon in Wales before the #WengerIn crowd battle the #WengerOut crowd as Arsenal welcome Man City to the Emirates.
With many of our folk travelling across the globe to play for their national team, injury news is vital and so let’s see what our managers have in store for us this week as we go Around the Grounds.
Liverpool vs Everton (Sat 1 Apr 12.30)
1999 – do you remember it? The Euro was introduced into eleven countries, Lance Armstrong “won” his first Tour de France, Putin replaced Yeltsin as President of Russia, the Scottish parliament opened (there you go GP), Toy Story 2 and The Matrix were released, Man Utd won a historic Treble, teenagers across the globe were “bopping” to Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca” and “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. It was also the year that Kevin Campbell scored the only goal to give Everton their last win at Anfield – eight defeats and eight draws later and the Toffees are still searching for a win at their nearest and dearest. The problem they face is that Liverpool have lost just once at home this season, albeit against Swansea while victories against Man City, Spurs and Arsenal and draws with Chelsea and Man Utd highlight the task in front of Ronald Koeman’s men. Everton have won just one of their last five matches on the road and will depend heavily on the form of striker Romelu Lukaku who has scored nine goals in his last six matches and is now 2 goals clear in the race for the Golden Boot.
Shock, horror and amazement as Jurgen Klopp says Daniel Sturridge has ‘no chance’ of appearing in the derby. The striker isn’t even in training, but is instead working on the pitch with the rehab coach. Hope the rehab coach gets overtime. Another England great, Jordan Henderson, will also miss out with Klopp saying the midfielder has suffered a little setback and it doesn’t look likely that he’ll be able to train next week. Adam Lallana is ruled out after picking up a thigh injury with England, but all the other internationals have returned safe and sound. On Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, Klopp says, ‘They are ok for this weekend. How fresh? We will see on Saturday. The club did everything to bring them back as soon as possible.’
Ronald Koeman resolutely says he can still field a strong team tomorrow despite suffering ‘one of my worst international breaks’. Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori have both sustained season ending injuries while James McCarthy aggravated his injury with Ireland with Koeman angry that the Irish failed to protect the player when he was already flagged as “high risk”. Just to compound matters, Morgan Schneiderlin’s calf injury rules him out of the derby and will likely see him miss a return to Old Trafford on Tuesday. Mo Besic and Yannick Bolaise remain sidelined. Young Mason Holgate will likely fill in for Coleman at right back as he did in the first 3 game-weeks of the season. When it rains it sure does pour for the Toffees as Young Tom Cleverley announces he will sign permanently for Watford in the summer. A dark week for the blue half of Merseyside.
Burnley vs Spurs (Sat 1 Apr 15.00)
Ten matches left and ten points behind Chelsea – it’s make or break time for the Spurs who cannot afford to give the Blues any more leeway in the fight for the title. It’s a visit to Burnley this week for North London’s no.1 and while one look at the table suggests a comfortable away win, it’s likely to be anything but comfortable for Tottenham. It is well recorded that it’s Burnley home form which has kept them clear of relegation thus far – the Clarets have won 29 of their 32pts at Turf Moor, beating Liverpool and Everton and drawing with Chelsea amongst others along the way. It’s been a while since Spurs got on the coach – their last five matches in all competitions have all been at home – we have to go back to 11th February for their last league away day when they lost at Liverpool and it doesn’t get a lot better the deeper we look as Mauricio Pochettino’s team drew the two before that. In fact Spurs’ last away win was on New Year’s Day at Watford. In two previous Premier League visits to Turf Moor, Spurs have drawn one and lost the other – yet Spurs have to win otherwise come full time they are likely to find themselves 13pts behind Chelsea.
Sean Dyche says all his internationals have returned in good shape, which implies that Scott Arfield is ok after picking up a knock on international duty. Steven Defour is close to a start after being on the bench in GW29 and Johann Gudmundsson has returned to light training. Burnley’s hopes may well depend on Ashley Barnes who has scored in two of his previous three league games against Tottenham – the Clarets will need all of Barnes’ skill and charm as Dyche’s men (that just sounds wrong) haven’t scored a goal in any of their last five Premier League games played in the month of April.
Poch says that Danny Rose’s ‘rehabilitation continues to be monitored and progress is to be reviewed at the end of this week’. Pick the bones out of that. The manager is believed to think that the left back is still weeks away from a return, leaving Ben Davies a good short-term option it would seem. Harry Kane is now thought to be closer to a return than Rose with the striker returning to very light training on the grass this week. Erik Lamela has been ruled out for the season and Vincent Janssen is suffering from a chest infection, poor love, but he is improving daily and will be monitored ahead of the weekend.
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace (Sat 1 Apr 15.00)
It’s all looking pretty comfortable for Chelsea – ten points clear, the closest challengers taking points off each other but just to leave nothing to chance they are unbeaten themselves in eight matches and have won 22 of their 28 matches this season, losing just once at the Bridge. Palace make the short journey north of the river on the back of a run themselves – three wins on the spin has lifted the Eagles out of the drop zone just when it looked like they were Championship bound and that Big Sam had lost his magic touch. How wrong of us to doubt England’s most successful manager – those three victories has seen three clean sheets and we are reminded that Big Sam does what Big Sam does. Can they keep Chelsea out? Probably not but we can’t expect a win and a clean sheet every week. Palace did actually win on their last trip to the Bridge, but that was the year of discontent for the Blues and Mourinho – since then Chelsea have won both meetings with Diego Costa scoring in both matches.
Conte says some of his players returned from the internationals with problems and will need to be assessed. Expect these players to be Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa and Victor Moses. Conte allayed fears about Eden Hazard by saying he is confident the Belgian will play tomorrow and that he will play well after missing the win over Stoke and the internationals with the calf injury he picked up in the win over Man United. John Terry is fit if required. Conte is expecting a tough match vs Palace especially as playing a London derby after the internationals is never easy.
Palace go to Chelsea without PvA who remains out with his ankle injury – a big loss for the Eagles attacking prospects, but not so much for their defensive ones, let’s be honest. James McArthur has picked up a knock to the back and is struggling, while Fraizer Campbell who hasn’t been seen since GW20 is also injured. At times of crisis such as this, Big Sam must be grateful that Mathieu Flamini has returned to training. All the internationals came back ok as Palace attempt mission impossible at the Bridge.
Hull vs West Ham (Sat 1 Apr 15.00)
“Don’t sell your West Ham assets just now” they said, “they’re playing Hull.” Who are these ‘experts’?? West Ham are awful right now, no wonder our favourite snake preferred the south of France to the east of London. And why do these ’experts’ expect the Tigers to lay down and allow Andy Carroll and co to tickle their tummies as they score a hatful? Have these ‘experts’ looked at the latest stats for both teams? I doubt it. Hull have won three and drawn the other of their last four matches at home – granted they are pants on the road, but so what? We’re happy to bang on about Burnley’s preference for home comforts so why can’t we praise Hull? The Hammers meanwhile have lost their last three matches, conceding eight goals in the process. I’ll also chuck in the fact that the Hammers have not won at Hull in the Premier League, drawing twice and losing twice. What do the ‘experts’ know eh?!
Evandro Goebel has returned to training after missing the last four game-weeks with a calf injury, though Saturday’s match may come too soon for him. However, Oumar Niasse is available for selection again after being ineligible against parent club Everton, whilst Markus Henriksen has pressed his claims for a recall having trained with the rest of the team for the past fortnight following his return from damaged shoulder ligaments. Skipper Michael Dawson will be assessed after also returning to full training for the first time in two months earlier this week. The Tigers continue to be without long-term absentees Dieumerci Mbokani, Ryan Mason, Moses Odubajo and Will Keane, while Tom Huddlestone is suspended.
There is good news, bad news and mixed news for the Happy Hammers this week as Slaven Bilic reveals that Mark Noble has returned to training and will be back in the squad for the trip to Hull. The mixed news concerns Michail Antonio and Diafra Sakho – Antonio picked up a hamstring injury in the loss vs Leicester and had to withdraw from the England squad, but the injury is not as bad as first feared and the Hammers’ leading scorer could be fit for Wednesday’s trip to Arsenal. Meanwhile Sakho returned to full training on Thursday but this weekend will obviously come too soon for him. The bad news is that Pedro Obiang has been ruled out for the rest of the season and Winston Reid remains sidelined. Robert Snodgrass faces his old club for the time in a Hammers’ shirt with Bilic hoping the midfielder can deliver his first goal for the Irons vs his former mates – ironically Snoddy remains Hull’s top scorer this season. Funny ol’ game.
Leicester vs Stoke (Sat 1 Apr 15.00)
‘Beware the Ides of March’ we are warned in Julius Caesar, but the modern day Shakespeare has recorded three wins in the month which suggests Craig is as every bit a legend as old Bill. Throw in their qualification to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and it now seems that the sacking of Claudio Ranieri was a sad but necessary tragedy. Many remain appalled by the sacking of Ranieri but you can’t knock Shakey – a win vs the Potters would see him become the first British manager to win his first four Premier League games. The only other managers to win their opening four PL matches are Pep, Mourinho, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti. Just like Palace, Leicester’s three wins have come at a vital time and has seen them climb away from the relegation zone and bring some confidence and spirit back into the camp. Stoke arrive at the King Power Stadium this week and one never quite knows what to expect from Mark Hughes’ men – in GW29 they only lost to Chelsea due to a late goal, whereas the week before they spoiled many a DGW by holding Man City to a bore draw at the Etihad – the week before that they were taken apart in the first half at Spurs. So your guess is as good as mine. Fixture form gives us little clarity with Stoke winning one and losing the other of their two Premier League trips to Leicester while the reverse fixture in December ended 2-2.
The Foxes will again be without captain Wes Morgan who continues to struggle with a nerve problem in his back – the defender is ‘touch-and-go’ for Tuesday’s visit of Sunderland. Nampalys Mendy is a further casualty with a knee injury, but Shakey says that everyone else is ok and the internationals all returned ok, including Shinji Okazaki who was the last one back.
Sparky spent much of his presser having to field questions on Saido Berahino’s comments that his drinks were spiked which is why he failed his drug test. Righto. Happened to me once in Rio. As in Brazil, not Ferdinand. Can’t trust anyone these days. Xherdan Shaqiri is a doubt (yes I know, as per every week) after suffering a setback with his calf injury, though Sparky hopes to have him back for the Liverpool match in GW32. When asked in the week if he is pushing for a move away from Stoke, Shaqiri Shaqiri said, ‘No, no, no…..not for the moment.’ Lol. Jack Butland remains out but is in full training so maybe we’ll see him soon, while Geoff Cameron faces a late fitness test. Sparky didn’t sound too confident ahead of the trip to Leicester: ‘It’s difficult to win away games in the PL. The most we’ve ahcieved in a season is 5 or 6.’ The Potters have failed to score in their last three away games and have picked up just four points in seven roadtrips since the start of December. Hmmm could be a tough one.
Man Utd vs West Brom (Sat 1 Apr 15.00)
‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I wasn’t on that particular job’, said Brian Clough. Love him. Cloughie would have been 82 last week. If you are too young to remember the great man, google him and read his quotes – they are up there with Churchill’s best. I digress, but only slightly. United’s hope for a top four finish has been excruciatingly drawn out under Mourinho – the Reds spent almost 100 days in 6th place before overtaking Arsenal last week. Too many draws, especially at home, have derailed United’s season and this week has the hallmarks of another stumbling block. Tony Pulis brings his Baggies along for the day on the back of last week’s comprehensive win over Arsenal, just as we thought Pulis’ boys were halfway to the airport for their summer frolics after two successive losses, immediately after reaching 40pts. United should of course have too much for Albion, but we thought that also when Stoke, Burnley, West Ham, Hull, Arsenal and Bournemouth visited Old Trafford this season and Pulis will be reminding his men that they have won two of their last three matches at United. United meanwhile have lost just once at home this season, vs City in August, but it’s been draws not defeats that have been their problem this term and another one will make that coveted top four spot seem even further away.
Problems in defence for United with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones both ruled out with injuries picked up on international duty, while Paul Pogba also remains out with the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the win at Boro and also France’s internationals this past fortnight. Naughty boys Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera serve the final match of their suspensions while Mourinho is hopeful that Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo are fine after their trips to South America – “they are not with injuries. Tired? Yes, of course but ready to try to help us.”
The mysterious case of Matty Phillips dodgy hamstring continues with Pulis thinking his winger / Sturridge wannabe will continue to miss out. There has been speculation in the local press that Tone may rotate this week with Salomón Rondón and Nacer Chadli most at risk. Well, blow me down, Tone only mentioned the pair in his presser saying that ‘Chadli will be assessed and Rondón only returned from South America today.’ Poor old Rondón, doesn’t score for months, hops over to Venezuela where he scores and then is likely rested for Hal Robson-Kanu. Pulis then joined Init in the Gareth McAuley fan club – frankly the whole episode is making me sick and I still pine for Chris Brunt’s assist points from the GM’s ghost goal at West Ham. I’m not bitter.
Watford vs Sunderland (Sat 1 Apr 15.00)
Moyesie’s last stand begins with a trip to Watford in a match that the Black Cats will view as a must win bearing in mind they are lampooned at the bottom of the league, seven points from safety with just ten matches to go. This is a job for Big Sam not Ginger Dave but sadly for Sunderland Palace got there first leaving the Wearsiders preparing for life in the Championship unless Ginge discovers where Sam left his end-of-season superpower box. Watford of course is Elton John’s team – I have to confess that Sir Elton is one of my favourite musicians – the great man celebrated his 70th birthday just last weekend. Whether Ginge Dave is Still Standing come full time is doubtful for the Black Cats have won just one of their last eleven league matches and have failed to even score in their last four games – however they did beat Watford 1-0 in December and that sole win in eleven came on their last trip to London when they won at Palace. Watford have hit a wall it seems and have gained just one point out of their last four matches and their home record against the Black Cats is not much better for the Hornets have failed to win any of the last four meetings between the two at Vicarage Road, with the last three ending in draws. While a draw may not be the worst result, it will be viewed as not enough for both teams.
Troy Deeney and Sebastian Prodl are doubts for the Hornets – Deeney has been suffering from illness while Prodl has a knock and manager Walter Mazzarri may not risk the pair with three games in eight days coming up. Valon Behrami has already been ruled out with a knock joining Christian Kabasele, Ben Watson, Roberto Pereyra and Mauro Zarate on the sidelines.
Ginge says his international plays are ok. Crap, but ok. As in fit. Which is unusual for a Sunderland player. John O’Shea ‘took a rattle in his game but we think he’s ok’ – see I told you. Bryan Oviedo and Seb Larsson returned fine, while Victor Anichebe has returned to training at the club after being in America seeing a specialist. Not with Saido Berahino’s dealer (sorry, spiker) I hope. Lee Cattermole, remember him – useless thug ‘plays’ in midfield – well Moyesie doesn’t expect him to be in the squad, great news for the careers and legs of the Watford team. Lamine Koné comes back into the squad.
Southampton vs Bournemouth (Sat 1 Apr 17.30)
Separated only by the New Forest, Southampton and Bournemouth meet up on Saturday evening for a derby which while is not nearly as big as the Southampton rivalry with Portsmouth it may just grow into something bigger than it is right now. The two teams have only met 24 times in the past and just three times in the top flight with the Saints winning two and the Cherries winning the other. Interestingly the teams find themselves not only side by side geographically but also in the league standings and level on 33pts, though Southampton will claim they have played two games less than their young pretenders. With both teams preference to play attractive football an entertaining match is expected and hoped for in front of the cameras – there have been 21 goals in Southampton’s last five games while there have been 23 goals in Bournemouth’s previous six matches.
Saints striking sensation Manolo Gabbiadini has been ruled out of the derby with the groin injury that forced him off at Spurs, but manager Claude Puel is hopeful the Italian may be available for the visit of Crystal Palace on Wednesday. Fellow forward Charlie Austin is making ‘good progress’ and could be back in three weeks while the manager is unsure whether Virgil van Dijk can play again this season. There is local speculation that Martín Cáceres may get a start instead of the much travelled Maya Yoshida and the manager says that Dusan Tadic has been ‘dealt with internally’ after the moody midfielder moaned about being substituted in 16 of his 20 starts this season.
Head Cherry Eddie says Brad Smith is still to return from international duty with Australia. Apart from Smithy, everyone else has returned ok, though Ryan Fraser has trained but is rated touch-and-go due to his hamstring injury. Jack Wilshere has trained well over the break and is ‘ready to play if called upon’ – how the mighty have fallen eh Jack. Still no mention of Junior Stanislas who appears to possibly be in Ibiza with Matty Phillips, Santi Cazorla, Erik Lamela and Lord Pardew and clumsy Tyrone Mings remains suspended for not meaning to stamp all over Zlatan.
Swansea vs Middlesbrough (Sun 2 Apr 13.30)
Sunday kicks off with a relegation battle that may go a long way to determining both club’s short term future. Swansea host a Boro side who sit five points behind them with a game in hand. However, games in hand are fairly useless if one remains on a losing run and that is exactly where Boro find themselves right now. The division’s lowest scorers actually found the net while losing to Man Utd in GW29 but that was their first goal in five matches and while a tight(ish) backline is fine, it ain’t much good if you have nothing up top. Eleven league matches without a win has seen Boro slump to 19th position, with only Sunderland below them – caretaker manager Steve Agnew sure has a job on his hands but will use Boro’s last win in his team talk on Sunday – that win came in December at home to…..Swansea! A 3-0 win too – three goals in the same match! How bad were Swansea then?! Well, only slightly worse than they are now for the Welshies are just a single spot clear of danger. Wins over Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester and Burnley saw most of us invest in Siggy, Llorente or both but two successive losses to Bournemouth and Hull has meant that Paul Clement’s men still have plenty of work to do. Swansea have won their last three at home however and another victory will surely seal Boro’s fate of having to play Sunderland twice again next season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has eased fears that he is injured by explaining that he missed Iceland’s friendly win over the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday due to a pre-arranged rest after picking up a ‘few bumps against Kosovo’. “If it had been a qualifying game I would have played.” Back in Wales and manager Paul Clement says that defenders Kyle Naughton and Martin Olsson have recovered from injury and are hungry to get back in the team, leaving just Nathan Dyer and Angel Rangel as definite absentees.
Boro defensive duo George Friend and Calum Chambers have failed to recover from knocks and will miss the trip to the valleys – lucky buggars. Daniel Ayala is not so lucky and his recovery from a calf strain will see him return to the squad. There are no other injury concerns for Boro and Steve Agnew. Apart from that trio, it’s very dull, just like Boro. Maybe Agnew will get them attacking a bit more and we’ll all buy Negredo – even Mito.
Arsenal vs Man City (Sun 2 Apr 16.00)
The end of our game-week and what a match to finish with. Both Arsenal and Man City have provided us with plenty of entertainment over the season – whether it be John Stones’ early season defending, Arsenal Fan TV, City throwing away a 2 goal lead to exit the Champions League, the Gooners being shafted 10-2 by their annual visitors from Germany, the dressing room and terrace discontent at Arsenal. There has been much to keep us amused and now the two meet. But firstly let’s just see where both teams sit – City look good for a top 4 spot and go into the weekend in 3rd place, a dozen points behind leaders Chelsea, but five points clear of 5th placed Man Utd. Arsenal meanwhile, hmmmm, what can we say that won’t be taken as a major insult or a cheap dig? The Gooners are now in 6th place due to the loss at West Brom – Arsene Wenger’s men are indeed closer to the 8th placed Baggies as they are to 2nd placed Spurs. Oh the shame. It puts Champions League qualification – something achieved in every full season under Arsene Wenger – under real threat. The seriousness of Arsenal’s situation is highlighted by how long it’s been since they were this low in the table at this stage of the season. Not since the 2005/06 campaign have Arsenal been below fifth this late in the campaign. The futures of Wenger, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil remain up in the air. The club is in turmoil, if you believe much of what is written. Back to this week and the match. Arsenal won the last meeting with City at the Emirates last season 2-1 and are unbeaten in the last four meetings at home. City won 2-1 at the Etihad in December and have not lost a league match since the January defeat at Everton, while Arsenal have lost four of their last five matches and look like a club in crisis. The momentum is definitely with City – and when in trouble, should Wenger call on countryman Olivier Giroud? The French striker has scored three goals in his last three starts vs City and has been in good form for the national team over the last fortnight.
Wenger seemed slightly confused at the presser – while commenting on the future of Alexis and the Chilean’s reported remarks that he is happy in London but wants to play for a winning team, Le Prof said, ‘There is only one team in London – so he is happy here.” Now there are obviously a number of incorrect things about what Wenger said – too many in fact to highlight them all, but to focus on one – a brief glance at the league table sees Chelsea and Spurs at the top, both teams with London postcodes, in fact Spurs have a very similar postcode to Arsenal themselves. So Arsene, it would appear that there is more than one team in North London alone and the Gooners aren’t even top in their own area. Alexis’ ankle injury that forced him off vs Albion is now fine, while fellow contract rebel Mesut Ozil has a chance of starting on Sunday after appearing from Germany in midweek. Keeper Petr Cech picked up a calf injury in the horror show at West Brom and has been ruled out for the next two games but has a chance of playing vs Palace in GW32. Lucas Perez has also been ruled out while Santi Cazorla is almost certain of not playing again this season.
Pep says that Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Pablo Zabaleta are not ‘top, top perfect, but ok’ for the trip to the Emirates. Whether all are risked with a trip to Chelsea coming up in midweek only Pep knows and we know better than to try and second guess him. Only Ilkay Gündogan and Gabriel Jesus are definite absentees.
Suspension Report GW30
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, has already served his 2-match ban and is 3 bookings away from a 3-match ban.)
Suspended for GW30:
Tyrone Mings (Bournemouth)
Tom Huddlestone (Hull)
Ander Herrera (Man Utd)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd)
Phil Bardsley (Stoke)
The following players are one booking away from a 2-match ban:
Joe Allen (Stoke)
Craig Dawson (West Brom)
Mark Noble (West Ham)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 30. This article was written by Cookie
The Tracker in full…
DGW34 IS ON THERE AS CONFIRMED BUT DGW37 IS VERY MUCH PROVISIONAL!
That’s our best guess as to how it will pan out and there is still Southampton vs Arsenal to be rearranged. That looks likely to be in GW35 or 36. The FPL site itself has said that they expect the remaining games to be confirmed on or around the 7th April.
Teams with DGW’s ahead… (with thanks to Rosco)
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