Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 35
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 35. It’s non stop isn’t it?! No rest for the wicked they say, but come Tuesday morning we can put our feet up and relive the excitement / stress / heartache of the previous ten days! Until then, we have three more days of footy, another chance to extend your lead, improve your rank or close the gap on your leader. And don’t moan too much, it’s GW35 for goodness sake – you have all summer to rest and you’ll be moaning you have nothing to do. It’s another late deadline this week as GW35 doesn’t have a lunchtime match on Saturday, instead four 3pm matches kick us off – Southampton welcome relegation scramblers Hull, not yet mathematically safe Stoke host also not yet mathematically safe West Ham, Leicester go from the East Midlands to the West as they face West Brom and bottom dogs Sunderland try and keep out the free-scoring Bournemouth. The evening match sees Burnley suffer a night in South London as they face Harry Houdini’s Crystal Palace. The Sabbath concentrates predominantly at the race at the top of the league and Champions League qualification – first up Man Utd host the troublesome Swans, before Lukaku past and possibly future goes to Lukaku present as Everton welcome Chelsea at the same time as Negredo shows Man City what they are missing as City go to Boro. Sunday finishes with the North London derby at the Lane. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, we have some Monday fun as Watford attempt to further destabilise Liverpool’s hopes for a top 5 finish.
After a busy DGW that only ended on Thursday, beware of injuries, beware of fatigue, beware of the dreaded R word…..rotation!
Let’s see what our friendly managers (no, not you Pulis) have had to say as we go Around the Grounds.
Southampton vs Hull (Sat 29 Apr 15.00)
The Saints have lost their last two, conceding 7 goals in the process, although the losses came vs Man City and then Chelsea – and in fact they played well at Chelsea. Fortunately for the Saints, Hull come to visit on Saturday which should, on paper at least, offer Claude Puel’s men some brief respite before next week’s DGW which sees matches vs Liverpool and Arsenal. Hull meanwhile are in trouble, but they’re fighting and they have hope and luckily for them, they have Swansea placed between themselves and a quick return to the Championship. It’s a minor, maybe major miracle that Hull are still fighting with realistic hope considering they started the season with about 9 fit players and Mike Phelan in charge. It will certainly be a major miracle if they win at St. Mary’s for Hull’s away form is only marginally better than Burnley’s with their only away win coming in GW2 at Swansea, ironically enough – how important might that victory look at the end of the season?! All may not be completely lost for Hull this weekend as they have good memories of beating Southampton at home in November, but they have lost on their last four trips to the Saints and it’ll be no surprise to see them make that five on Saturday. Whatever happens, expect goals for there have been 54 goals scored in the last 16 Premier League games involving Southampton – an average of 3.4 goals per game.
Saints striker Charlie Austin returned to full training on Thursday and will be trying to build up his fitness to get some game-time before the end of the season. Young midfielder Sam McQueen and defender Matt Targett have also stepped back on the training ground and the trio are likely to play for the reserves in the near future. Puel says he and his team are keen to finish the season well and secure a top half finish.
Hull have no new injury concerns for the trip to the south coast and will be able to call on striker Oumar Niasse after having the red card he picked up against Watford rescinded. Defender Omar Elabdellaoui continues to miss out with a back problem.
Stoke vs West Ham (Sat 29 Apr 15.00)
Both teams should be safe – Stoke have 39pts and the Hammers 38, but it only takes Hull and Swansea to win a couple more games and it’ll be squeaky bum time for one of these two. Therefore both managers will be ultra-keen to try and find one more win to take them over the line and avoid any skiddy underwear over the next few weeks. The form of both has been nothing short of shoddy over the last few weeks – in their combined previous fourteen matches the pair has won just two (vs Swansea & Hull) and lost nine. A winner is tough to call here because both are so bad, not like Sunderland or Boro bad, but bad enough and it would be very amusing to see either pulled into the relegation battle at this late stage. No winner may well be the favourite result here as there has been four draws in the last five clashes between the two, while the Hammers have not won any of the last eight meetings. Is this the week that Saido Berahino finally breaks his duck for the Potters? The striker has form vs the Hammers, having scored in three of his four previous starts against West Ham.
Mark Hughes says the mood in the camp is fine despite their current form – haha of course the mood is fine, most of them are already in their shorts and flip flops at the bar by the pool. Sparky says it was good to have Jack Butland back and the keeper will start again tomorrow, while Jon Walters faces a late fitness test after missing out last week and failing to train so far this week.
The Hammers welcome back captain Mark Noble who has missed the last two matches due to suspension, but will continue to be without Andy Carroll who hasn’t quite recovered from his (latest) injury – manager Slaven Bilic who was expecting Carroll back this week, now expects his striker to back for the Spurs game….think we can see where this is going. Slav says ‘we have a few knocks which will need to be assessed after training on Friday’. Michail Antonio remains out for the season, while Robert Snodgrass will be assessed, but should be ok. James Collins, Adrian and Arthur Masuaku have all impressed since coming into the team and will likely continue to start.
Sunderland vs Bournemouth (Sat 29 Apr 15.00)
Remarkably Sunderland are still not mathematically down, despite no wins in nine and seven defeats in that time. Moyesie says he won’t resign and that he thought his team played well at Boro in the week. Wow. Just wow. Still, keep holding out for that pay-off Davie Boy, you canny Scot. Bournemouth are not mathematically safe but should be ok and one more win should defo guarantee that, so where better to go this weekend than the Stadium of Delight for away teams. Remarkably, one of the Black Cats five wins this season came at Bournemouth in November – Little Jermain and Big Vic were the scorers that day but with Sunderland failing to score in eight of their last nine matches it seems even the magic of Defoe is no good without Big Sam around to direct the show. Bournemouth have never won at Sunderland and they won’t have a better chance than this – in fact they may not have another chance for a while – if Hull get a better result on Saturday than Sunderland then relegation for the Black Cats will be confirmed, West Ham can start bidding for Defoe (if HMRC allows) and Moyesie may well be heading to his local RBS to cash his cheque.
Oh Moyesie, bless Moyesie – ‘I think we will need a really good run of results for things to go our way.’ Gulp. Dave. We need to formalise this. Dave, you and your useless bunch of Black Pussies are 12 (twelve) (( a dozen )) points off safety and you only have 15 to play for. You haven’t won since 4th February. Things won’t be going your way my little – face facts man, you ain’t no Big Sam, you ain’t no Saviour. Don’t be sad, there is every chance Dundee United or Brechin will be looking for a new manager soon. Right, sorry about that, needed to get that off my chest. Bad news for Ginge as he has some fresh injury woes – Lee Clattermole, Darron Gibson, Jack Rodwell and Jason Denayer have all picked up injuries and will need assessing later today. Hold up there’s more – ‘The game is at home and we have a chance because we’ve played quite well recently.’ Oh my, this is too much. Poor ol’ Dave, he’s probably a nice bloke really.
Chief Cherry Eddie says he wants his team to get over the 40pt barrier this weekend but is expecting Sunderland to fight while there is still hope for them. That’s very polite of him. Onto the injuries and Dan Gosling suffered a recurrence of his calf problem last weekend and misses out as does fellow midfielder Andrew Surman, who is progressing well but is not quite ready for the trip. Jack Wilshere is obviously out for the season as is Callum Wilson.
West Brom vs Leicester (Sat 29 Apr 15.00)
It’s not been a happy season for the Champions, certainly not domestically, with well publicised internal wranglings, the sacking of Claudio Ranieri and a poor defence of the title they won so romantically last season. The Foxes remain still in danger of the drop if they can’t find a win or two before the end of the season – they will fancy their chances of securing a victory on Saturday however as they visit safe and sound West Brom who got to 44pts before proceeding to lose their next three games. The Baggies had last weekend off so have had a good rest while Leicester were unfortunate losers at the Emirates on Wednesday. However, we are told to beware the team that has something to play for this weekend and I’d back the Foxes to get the win here, as they did last season with a brace from Jamie Vardy and a strike from Riyad Mahrez – the Vardy / Mahrez partnership will be relishing this fixture as Vardy has scored in both of his league appearances vs the Baggies at the Hawthorns, while Mahrez has had a hand in four goals in his last three games against West Brom.
Clarity from Pulis and another injury for Matty Phillips – shocks all round this morning at the Albion presser! Yep he’s injured again, poor old Phillips limped out of training this week with a hamstring injury and just to make him feel better Hal Robson-Kanu did exactly the same! Both will miss the next two matches, though on the evidence of this season we probably won’t see young Matty again until pre-season. Robson-Kanu’s absence opens the door for a return for Salomón Rondón.
Foxes captain Wes Morgan is described by Shakey as ‘touch and go’ for Saturday – the defender returned to training yesterday and if he can train again today he will be a ‘late shout’ for the game. While he won’t be risked unnecessarily, the manager quietly expects his captain to play as the team looks to cement their top flight status. Islam Slimani has recovered from his groin injury and comes into contention. Shakey is hungry for his side to return five wins in their final five matches and wants his side to attack with more tempo and create more chances.
Crystal Palace vs Burnley (Sat 29 Apr 17.30)
While everyone has been talking about Sunderland, Boro, Swansea, Hull and Palace in the relegation stakes, sneaky Burnley have slowly snuck down to 16th place, just 5pts clear of the drop and with just one win in eleven matches. The Clarets visit Palace who have somehow found themselves in 12th place, albeit on the same points total as 14th places West Ham and just 2pts clear of their visitors. A win for Palace would pretty much secure safety and Big Sam will be looking to put this to bed asap – the Eagles ran Spurs close in midweek and of course won at Anfield last weekend and will be feeling confident of the victory. The teams have met just three times in the Premier League, which has seen a single victory for each time and a draw, though Burnley have failed to win on any of their last ten trips to Palace in either the top flight or the Championship and have still to register a win anywhere on the road this season.
Big Sam thinks one more win will be enough but knows his team will require a big effort to break down a determined Burnley side. Mamadou Sakho joins the ever growing injury list for Palace defenders, but the good news is that the defender didn’t suffer a cruciate injury and has a chance of playing again this season. This leaves just Martin Kelly and Damian Delaney to buddy up in central defence. James Tomkins and Scott Dann remain unavailable, with Dann targeting a return on the last day of the season. With Big Sam moaning about the lack of recovery time, the likes of Yohan Cabaye and PvA may get a start to freshen things up.
Sean Dyche welcomes back Sam Vokes and Scott Arfield into the fold for the trip down to the capital, but will need to make late calls on defenders Ben Mee and Stephen Ward who picked up knocks in last weekend’s defeat vs Man United. Definitely out is of course Joey Barton who has likely played his last game of professional football due to his ban.
Man Utd vs Swansea (Sun 30 Apr 12.00)
Another week, another Sunday match for United and we’ll see how much the heavy schedule is taking on those Reds still fit and not banned. The derby was a slog for United who took wave after wave of City pressure to come away from the Etihad without a well-earned point – whether that will be enough to help them achieve a top 4 spot remains to be seen, but at least they have things in their own hands. The Swans meanwhile do not have their fate in their own hands – the Welshies are two points shy off Hull and may need to win three of their last four to stay up – unfortunately for Paul Clement’s men, they have lost their six matches on the road, were beaten by United at the Liberty in November and also succumbed to defeat at Old Trafford this season. The glimmer of hope for Swansea is that this is the sort of match United have drawn at home this season and with them fighting for their survival, don’t write off this one ending in another home draw for United.
Mourinho is not expecting Paul Pogba to return on Sunday but is confident his cut-price midfielder should be ok to face Celta Vigo on Thursday. With Marouane ‘Zinédine’ Fellaini suspended (hopefully for ever), Jose says he is considering playing Wayne Rooney in midfield and then jokes that he may play himself in defence alongside young Axel Tuanzebe vs the Swans. United clearly have one eye on Thursday’s Europa tie, so good luck trying to predict the Red’s starting line up on Sunday. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones remain unavailable, Mourinho has been saying Eric Bailly needs a rest, so it’s quite possible that Tuanzebe may partner Daley Blind at the back.
Clement says he and his players are confident that they can pick up valuable points in all four of their remaining matches. Martin Olsson and Leroy Fer both returned to training today and will be assessed after the session to determine if they can start or return to the bench, captain Jack Cork is expected to be available while Wayne Routledge has a chance of playing again this season after undergoing hernia surgery. Angel Rangel and Nathan Dyer remain out.
Everton vs Chelsea (Sun 30 Apr 14.05)
So the Blues find themselves four points clear of the Spurs which just five matches left apiece. Sunday’s trip to Goodison is massive for the title race – a win for Chelsea would most likely see the leaders with one hand on the trophy considering the fixtures they have left – but if Everton can continue their home form which has seen them win eight on the trot at Goodison, then maybe Spurs will pounce on a chink in the armour of Antonio Conte’s men. Matches between these two normally produces goals, evidenced by the last five meetings which have produced no fewer than 25 goals. The Toffees beat Chelsea 3-1 at Goodison last season but were humiliated 5-0 at the Bridge in November, including a brace from Eden Hazard. This season’s leading scorer Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in his last five league matches vs his old and possibly future club.
No new injuries to the squad for Everton but Koeman says he noticed less intensity and motivation at West Ham last week, describing it as the worst team performance of the season. Enner Valencia is available after being ineligible to face his parent club last weekend, while Maarten Stekelenburg is expected to remain between the sticks. Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Muhamed Besic, James McCarthy, Aaron Lennon and Yannick Bolasie are all still out.
Conte reports no injuries, a fully fit squad, but is expecting a tough Sunday afternoon at Goodison against an Everton team ‘with good players’. The manager knows that a win guarantees Champions League and that’ll be the first target reached. Expect few changes for the Blues, although Pedro could possibly be recalled in place of Cesc Fabregas.
Middlesbrough vs Man City (Sun 30 Apr 14.05)
Thursday’s derby draw hasn’t really changed an awful lot in the race for a top 4 spot – City remain 4th, a point now behind 3rd placed Liverpool with a game in hand. Of course a trip to Boro is about as nice a fixture as one could choose for Steve Agnew’s men hardly score and have started to concede just as Gabriel Jesus plots his second coming. Jesus came off the bench for the last few mins of the derby, looked very lively and had a goal chalked off for offside, while his mate Sergio Aguero looked hungry all night and was unfortunate not to score. Poor old Boro – this could get messy. These two have only met once in the Premier League since 2009 – that was in November when Boro somehow nicked a draw at the Etihad – a similar outcome would be a big dent in City’s hopes for Champions league qualification while anything less than a win will not be enough for Boro. Gone are the days of results such as Boro 8-1 City, in fact on current form and with the resources on hand, don’t rule out another Riverside beating – but this time with City gaining their revenge.
Agnew admits it’s all or nothing on Sunday but says that it was like that vs Sunderland and his team stood up to the task. Hmmmm, not sure Negredo owners will be so sure Stevie. The manager says the midweek win has given his team new impetus…jeez what are they smoking in the North-East? Daniel Ayala is doubtful with a twisted ankle, Grant Leadbitter is still struggling with his hamstring and Victor Valdes remains a doubt with sore ribs….caused no doubt by listening to the bullshit spoken up there by Moyesie and friends. Gaston Ramirez is available again after serving his suspension in midweek.
Claudio Bravo is ruled out of the trip to Boro after suffering a calf injury in the derby, but City are waiting for the results of the scan before celebrating too much. Willy Caballero will deputise in goal. Gabriel Jesus came off the bench to play 11mins vs United and will look to build up his match fitness with more minutes on Sunday, but David Silva is rated as no better than 50-50 to be fit for the match. John Stones didn’t even make the bench on Thursday so can be considered a doubt also while Gael Clichy may return after being rested.
Spurs vs Arsenal (Sun 30 Apr 16.30)
There is soooo much riding on this game, especially if Chelsea don’t win at Goodison earlier in the day. The connotations for the league itself are pretty clear – if Chelsea win at Everton then they will be at least 4pts clear of Spurs with matches vs Boro, Watford, WBA & Sunderland to come, so Spurs could go into the derby in either very positive or slightly muted fashion depending on what happens at Goodison. However, this is the North London derby and it looks pretty nailed on that Spurs will finish above Arsenal for the first time for the first time in 22 years – only a tumultuous collapse from Spurs (errrr similar to what we saw last season) can stop the Gooners handing over the local bragging rights but in all realism it ain’t going to happen. Arsenal will still hold out some hope that they can secure Champions League qualification but they will need to win at the building site that is the Lane – sadly for the Gooners no-one has won there this season, well Spurs have, but no-one else in the league – Spurs have a Played 17, Won 15, Drawn 2 record at home this season. The last three derbies have all ended in draws, quite boringly, but those Harry Kane owners will be licking their lips for the Beak has scored in all four league NLDs he has played in, scoring 5 goals in the process.
Ben Davies owners seemingly get a stay of execution as Poch reveals that Danny Rose ‘continues to integrate with some aspects of first team training’ – that suggests to me that Rose won’t return for the derby, but this situation will run week by week. Mousa Dembele picked up an ankle injury at Palace and needs to be assessed but will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness before Sunday. Aside from these two, it’s as you were – Michel Vorm should be available soon after returning to full training while Cameron Carter-Vickers is out for the season.
Arsene says he is hopeful that Laurent Koscielny will be fit for the derby – the defender picked up a knee injury in midweek and while there is still uncertainty at this stage, Wenger says that ‘the news yesterday was quite positive’ – expect Kos to be wheeled out if he is anywhere near fit because Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out for another two weeks. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit for the derby – the midfielder left Wembley on crutches last weekend but was on the bench in midweek, while David Ospina and Lucas Pérez have returned to training this week and are available if required. Wenger says he is expecting an open and fast game on Sunday – however a loss to Spurs will only increase the pressure on the manager…..don’t miss ArsenalFanTV on Sunday night!
Watford vs Liverpool (Mon 1 May 20.00)
Liverpool have had a lot time to stew since being undone by ex-employee Christian Benteke last weekend. Watford have won their last three home matches, albeit only against Swansea, West Brom and Sunderland, but one can only beat what is in front of one – they did also beat Liverpool when the scousers visited Vicarage Road last season, though the scorers that day were the long-departed Odion Ighalo and Nathan Ake – one has of course gone to a power hungry, new money club with no history – while Ighalo has gone to China. Liverpool put 6 past the Hornets at Anfield in November and will need to find their winning touch to get their confidence back for the run-in if they have realistic ambitions of Champions League football next season.
Walter Mazzarri has no fresh injury concerns and says he only needs to check on the fitness of Valon Behrami and Craig Cathcart ahead of the game on Monday. Behrami has been in the squad for the previous two games after missing a month, but the manager would not be swayed into stating whether the midfielder would start. Cathcart has not been available for the last two matches because of a knee complaint and Mazzarri said ‘It doesn’t look good.’ Roberto Pereyra and Mauro Zárate and Younès Kaboul remain the only long-term absentees.
Klopp says that Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge have both returned to training – Lallana has been on social media saying he is looking forward to the Watford match, so presumably he has a chance of featuring while Sturridge, well, who knows! Jordan Henderson remains unable to train while Sadio Mane of course is sidelined.
Suspension Report GW35
The deadline for ten yellow cards is now past, meaning that suspensions for yellow card accumulation will only apply when a player receives 15 yellow cards. The closest to reaching this is Watford’s Jose Holebas who has 12 yellows.
Suspended for GW35:
Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 35. This article was written by Cookie
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