Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 36
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 36. And then there were three. Yep folks, we’re nearly there, the race is nearly run and the finishing post is in sight. Good news for some, sad news for others, but whatever your position the three game-weeks need to be played out with potentially huge points on offer given the double game-weeks of this week and next and some appetising fixtures in store for the final day. This week is a mini DGW, let’s call it a small dgw then, for the only teams to play twice are the holiday bound Saints and the shrinking giant that is Arsenal. First up folks, I need to remind you of this week’s early deadline which is this evening at 7pm UK time. This is because we have a nice friendly local derby with Spurs taking the short trip to West Ham. Six matches follow on Saturday with a lunchtime kick off at the Etihad as Palace visit Man City and the day ends with Everton travelling to Swansea for the evening kick off. Sunday sees our dgw’ers play for the first time as the Saints go to Liverpool while Arsenal host Man Utd. The football feast continues on Monday as champions-elect Chelsea host the sorry looking ‘Boro, who could be relegated if they lose and Hull avoid defeat on Saturday. Tuesday gives us a brief respite before Southampton and Arsenal complete their small dgw at St.Mary’s on Wednesday.
Tonight’s match and early deadline gives us less time for plans and transfers to be thought out and implemented so let’s go Around the Grounds to see what the managers have had to say.
West Ham vs Spurs (Fri 5 May 20.00)
The Spurs ain’t giving up hope of catching Chelsea and finally have a chance to play before them and put some pressure on the Blues. The trip to the London Stadium may be short but certainly won’t be sweet, for we have all witnessed how welcoming those Irons are. With any luck Spurs will smash them, we’ll all score loads of FPL points and the eastenders will get relegated. Slaven Bilic’s men have 39pts meaning they are probably safe unless Swansea win all three of their remaining matches, which of course is unlikely – but the end of the season brings strange situations so we can never say never and must retain hope! This is Spurs’ first visit to the stadium but they did lose two of their final three visits to Upton Park – sadly for the Hammers young Michail Antonio has scored 2 of the last 3 goals West Ham have scored vs their hated rivals and he is out for the season. Spurs are the form team of the two – the Hammers have drawn their last three and won just once in eleven matches, while Tottenham have won their last nine.
Slav runs the risk of upsetting Hammers by declaring that in his opinion Spurs are playing the best football in the league and he has nothing but respect for them – that’ll go down well with the locals. The major teams news may not be resolved until after training today as wing back Arthur Masuaku suffered a knock at Stoke and Andy Carroll is still suffering with his groin problem – both players were expected to train and a late decision will be made on both. Bilic says that only Diafra Sakho has suffered another serious injury and like Michail Antonio and Pedro Obiang will not play again this season.
Ben Davies owners may smile for a while longer as Danny Rose remains out. The defender continues to step up his recovery from his knee ligament injury ‘with a view to returning to full training next week.’ Cameron Carter-Vickers is unlikely to return before the end of the season and Harry Winks and, of course Erik Lamela, are out for the rest of the campaign.
Man City vs Crystal Palace (Sat 6 May 12.30)
Strange old team Palace – they take weeks and weeks to implement Big Sam’s rescue plan, then suddenly everything clicks and they win five out of seven to lead them to the brink of guaranteed survival and then it all goes tits up again. 38 points may or may not be enough – it should be – but one never knows and Sam will want one more win before he can rest easy. Shame for the Eagles that they have to visit the Etihad this week for City are fighting hard to secure Champions League qualification. City are fourth, will go third with a 2-goal win and put more space between themselves and neighbours United and also Arsenal. City have won 12 of the last 13 against Palace, including the last seven at home – Palace have lost their last two and gifted Burnley a first away win last weekend – there is surely only one winner here? And while many are focusing on Aguero, Jesus, Sane and Sterling, the sneaky bet here is Yaya Toure – the midfielder has scored seven goals in his last eight clashes with the Eagles. Christian Benteke has scored against 22 different clubs in the Premier League, but Manchester City are one of the six teams he’s faced and is yet to score against in 7 matches.
Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of this weekend’s visit of Palace, though Pep is hopeful the striker may be able to return for DGW37. John Stones and Claudio Bravo remain out, Bravo for the season, while ‘John maybe can return in the next few games’ – not overly bullish. Finally David Silva – Pep says the midfielder trained for the first time yesterday but ‘he is still not perfect.’
Big Sam says his injured defenders Scott Dann, James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho are still injured as is Yohan Cabaye and now joining them in the treatment room is Andros Townsend who ‘felt a twinge in training’ – the winger will be given maximum time to prove his fitness, though he is clearly a major doubt. Sam is looking for an improvement in the defending, describing last week’s effort as ridiculous!
Bournemouth vs Stoke (Sat 6 May 15.00)
The Cherries’ win at Sunderland last week not only relegated the Black Cats but also lifted Bournemouth above this week’s visitors Stoke and guaranteed safety for Eddie Howe’s men at the same time. This match is one of those end of season matches that means little in terms of relegation, but both managers will of course speak about pride and wanting to finish the season well, blah blah blah. The Cherries have already beaten Stoke this season when a Nathan Ake goal (ah, remember those days?) was enough to secure a 1-0 win at the Britannia but they now have to get past a fit again Jack Butland who excelled in last week’s goalless draw with West Ham. Butland’s main danger will of course be Josh King who scored his 15th goal of the season last week and has registered at least a goal or assist in eight of the last ten game-weeks.
Chief Cherry Eddie says he wants his team to finish the season well but is expecting a tough game from a Stoke side which has created plenty of chances but is having problems getting the ball in the net. Midfielder Dan Gosling won’t be risked this weekend leaving Lewis Cook likely to start again. Callum Wilson, Andrew Surman, Jack Wilshere and Benik Afobe also remain out.
Goal machine wannabe Saido Berahino is ill, poor love. Mark Hughes hopes his prolific striker is just suffering with a 24-hour bug and that he’ll be ok to miss a few more chances at Bournemouth. Sparky gives his weekly ‘we’re still waiting on Jon Walters’ update – FFS where has he gone? And has anyone considered not waiting any longer? Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland are long term casualties, everyone else seems fit, just not that interested.
Burnley vs West Brom (Sat 6 May 15.00)
Burnley finally registered their first win on the road last weekend at Palace – a win which has seen the Clarets reach 39pts, level with West Ham, and safety is virtually assured, or at least will be once this game is over. The reason for the certainty is the abject and complete lack of interest West Brom are showing in any of their matches now – four defeats in a row and no goals scored in five. Therefore expect goals to be at a premium here – Burnley would be 6th on home form alone and have only conceded 16 goals in 17 matches at Turf Moor, the Baggies have scored just 12 on the road in 16 matches. Dull it is likely to be, another clean sheet for Tom Heaton is extremely likely and just to completely screw with my lack of goals thread, West Brom smashed Burnley 4-0 at the Hawthorns in November – what a day that was,
Salomón Rondón scored, Darran Fletcher scored, jeez even Matty Phillips was fit….and scored.
Potential problems at the back for Burnley with Michael Keane and Ben Mee both doubts for the weekend – there is slightly better news as Stephen Ward should recover from the injury he picked up at Palace. George Boyd is expected to be ok as Sean Dyche says the midfielder’s injury is ‘settling down’, but Dean Marney remains out and Joey Barton is down Ladbrokes.
Rotation, rotation, rotation for the Baggies as Big Tone says, “We might make a few changes for the game at Burnley and freshen things up.” That’s not good news for FPL owners with Albion assets in their teams or indeed for the whacky wildcarders amongst us who have gone with a Baggie or two. Definitely out are the hamstrung Hal Robson-Kanu and Matt Phillips.
Hull vs Sunderland (Sat 6 May 15.00)
Crunch time for Hull – they go into the weekend 2pts clear of Swansea and a win over relegated Sunderland will put added pressure on the Welshies who don’t play until Saturday evening. The home form of Hull has made an unlikely escape a realistic possibility – the Tigers have won 28 of their 34pts at home this term, which includes a run of six wins and a draw in their last seven at the KCOM Stadium. What can we say of Sunderland that hasn’t already been said? Not much really, we have beaten them up for much of the season, deservedly so, but there is little gain in doing so again – we all know how shite they are and few will be sad to see them go. The Black Pussies did win the reverse fixture in November when a Victor Anichebe brace and a Jermain Defoe goal handed Hull a 3-0 beating – Anichebe hasn’t scored since. Hull are the only team not to score vs Sunderland this season – expect that to be put right tomorrow for Hull should win, they are very unlikely to lose as manager Marco Silva hasn’t lost a home league match as a manager since March 2014 while manager of Estoril.
Silva remains hopeful that Oumar Elabdellaoui can recover from a niggling back injury to play some part in Hull’s remaining fixtures. There are no new injuries to report with Silva maintaining he is expecting a tough game vs Sunderland and is not underestimating them.
The Black Cats can welcome back Sebastian Larsson from suspension following his 3-match ban. What Moyes chooses to do now relegation is confirmed remains to be seen but he did provide us with this brilliant quote, ‘we need to make sure we get a good bit of momentum into next season by winning a few games.’ Ah Ginge, ever the optimist, good for you. Darron Gibson and Lee Clattermole remain out and Paddy McNair, Jan Kirchoff, Bryan Oviedo and Duncan Watmore are all long term casualties, but Billy Jones, Jason Denayer and Jack Rodwell have all recovered from injury. Steven Pienaar is struggling with an ankle injury and is likely to miss out.
Leicester vs Watford (Sat 6 May 15.00)
We seem to say it every week but it has been a strange season for the Foxes, but finally they have reached 40pts and in all likelihood they will be on 43 by 5pm on Saturday. Watford are also on 40pts and yep, you’ve guessed it, will still be on 40pts by 5pm. It’s been a while since Leicester have played at home – their last four league fixtures have all been on the road, but don’t ignore their home form which has seen them win four out of four with Jamie Vardy scoring four goals and one assist and returning 34pts alone in those four victories – since then young Vardy had scored two in the last three away and also provided one assist – he is bang in form – and has scored nine goals in his last 13 competitive appearances for Leicester. Don’t forget his wing man Riyad Mahrez who has scored in each of the last two matches vs the Hornets, who themselves have lost their last four away matches.
Wes Morgan has again been ruled out for the weekend, but he is getting closer! Shakey says the captain has progressed but still hasn’t had a full training session with the squad. Morgan is expected to progress further next week with Shakey confident the defender will be available to face Man City in DGW37.
Watford’s defensive problems continue with Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart and Miguel Britos already ruled out and Jose Holebas a doubt with a foot injury – manager Walter Mazzarri said Holebas’ injury is being managed and the medical team are trying to get him available for the weekend but a decision will only be taken after training. Adrian Mariappa is almost certain to retain a starting spot, while young full-back Andrew Eleftheriou may keep his place on the bench. Not good news for a team who has gone 15 matches against the Foxes without keeping a clean sheet.
Swansea vs Everton (Sat 6 May 17.30)
Whether Hull win, lose or draw at home to Sunderland, this remains a must-win for Swansea – in fact if they can eek out a win here then their last two fixtures are a trip to the fallen Sunderland before hosting beach bums West Brom in GW38. This game is therefore massive for the Welshies who have taken four points from their last two matches with manager Paul Clement hailing the performances as much as the results. Last week’s draw at Old Trafford was plucky, deserved and of course routine because most rubbish sides have drawn at United this season. Those last two matches has seen Siggy rejoin the party after a few weeks off, highlighting how vital he is to the Swan’s chances of survival – and the Icelandic has form vs the Toffees for he has scored in three of the last six meetings between the two – and the Swans have not lost to Everton in any of those six clashes. So there is hope. And that hope if further strengthened when one looks at the Merseysiders who were toothless in the West Ham bore draw and then outplayed at home by Chelsea last week, leaving them almost certain to finish 7th unless Arsenal completely implode. Ok, maybe it’s possible they could finish 6th.
Clement said his Swans will be going into the game full of confidence on the back of recent results. However three Swans who won’t be involved are Nathan Dyer, Jefferson Montero and Angel Rangel – Rangel should return to training next week, while Montero and Dyer are unlikely to play again this season.
The Toffees will again be without Morgan Schneiderlin and James McCarthy – Ronald Koeman says both midfielders are progressing well but will not be ready for this weekend. Long term absentees include Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes-Mori and Yannick Bolasie with Aaron Lennon joining that list this week. Mo Besic continues to build up his fitness and has been pencilled in for an U23s game on Monday.
Liverpool vs Southampton (Sun 7 May 13.30)
Monday’s tight win at Watford may have been laboured and tense but oh boy how valuable it may have been. On a weekend where Man City, Man Utd and Arsenal all dropped points, Liverppol pulled clear in the race for a top 4 slot – a win not a performance is all that counts at this stage of the season. With United dropping points almost as fast as they are dropping players and Arsenal turning into a complete joke, a win for the scousers on Sunday should go a long way to securing Champions League qualification. Of course, Liverpool don’t tend to do things the easy way and will in all likelihood still be battling in GW38, but luckily for the Klopp crew, the Saints appear to be more bothered about making sure they board the flight to Ibiza than they do about their remaining matches. Last week’s stalemate at home to Hull tells us all we need to know about Southampton – expect rotation, expect little fight, expect nothing and be grateful for anything that comes your way from Claude Puel’s numpties.
Klopp says that Philippe Coutinho was able to run for the first time yesterday and ‘in this moment it looks positive but we can’t be 100% sure’ (that the midfielder will be able to face the Saints). Jordan Henderson remains out as of course do Sadio Mané and Danny Ings. The manager says he wants his team to use Anfield on Sunday, for the fans to create a strong not nervous atmosphere as his team looks to strengthen their hold on a top 4 spot. Klopp says that having Daniel Sturridge as an option off the bench is important for his team at this stage of the season.
It’s not been a happy time at St.Mary’s with plenty of reports of dressing room discontent with Claude Puel – players such as Shane Long, Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bertrand are all speculated to have had run-ins with the manager recently. Just what we want to hear as the Saints begin consecutive double game-weeks. Puel dismissed such chatter as rubbish at his presser – good lad, lying like a true Frenchman. Charlie Austin and Matt Targett will continue their return to action by appearing for the U23s this evening as will Jeremy Pied, Florin Gardos, Sam McQueen and Harrison Reed, but Virgil van Dijk remains out. Puel was unwilling to say if Austin will feature for the first team again this season – ‘I don’t know – we have to see him on this level (U23) and in training. We have many players in attack.’
Arsenal vs Man Utd (Sun 7 May 16.00)
For so long the Premier League era was dominated by these two giants. If United weren’t winning the league then it was generally Arsenal that nipped in with the odd title triumph. The rivalry was huge – Fergie vs Wenger, Keane vs Viera, Schmeichel vs Wright, Pizzagate, Keown vs van Nistelrooy. However times change and the pair have seen their domination overtaken by the likes of Chelsea, Man City and dare I say it, Spurs. United’s indifferent last few seasons is perhaps more understandable post Fergie, while the dismay at the Emirates has shocked many, but has given us a chuckle on the way. All is not lost for either club – with a change in form and luck a top four spot is still attainable, though a win here is a must for whoever wants to take on the baton and fight City and Liverpool. Last week proved a huge spanner in the works for both – Arsenal succumbed like a cowering puppy to Spurs, while United suffered another home draw to seemingly inferior opposition. The King is dead, long live the King, but neither Wenger or Mourinho can expect to attend the coronation this season.
Just to add to the confusion surrounding the Gooner defence, Wenger reveals that Shkodran Mustafi has recovered from his thigh injury and returned to full training. Midfield fouler / enforcer Granit Xhaka picked up a swollen ankle in the derby defeat and will miss the visit of United, while Lucas Perez returned to training and subsequently picked up another ‘small problem’. Santi Cazorla is the only other definite absentee, while Wenger says he will talk to Mesut Ozil who kicked a door at White Hart Lane after the game and after being asked to conduct a drug test – presumably he’ll ask his lesser-spotted midfielder how he managed to kick the door and not the ball. While it is not confirmed if the drug testers have been relieved of their duties for gross incompetence after singling out Ozil for a drugs test.
Mourinho has confirmed that David de Gea will start at Arsenal. With United taking a narrow 1-0 lead into the 2nd leg of the Europa semi-final, the manager says ‘it’s impossible not to rest players’ vs Arsenal. ‘I cannot now play with the same team that played at Celta.’ ‘I think the last match vs Swansea was our last chance to fight for a top four place, so I am going to rest players, sure.’ I make no apologies for the long quotes – with all RMT’s concerning United players I have warned to avoid them for this reason. With Zlatan out long term and Marcus Rashford leading the line superbly and also aggravating a knock in Spain, don’t expect the young striker to start. Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick were all on the bench in Vigo and could well feature at the Emirates, but Ashley Young won’t – the winger / wing back pulled a hamstring shortly after coming on and may not play again this season. Marouane Fellaini is suspended, jeez even Phil Jones may make the squad. The likes of Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia are very likely to be rested alongside young Rashford. You have been warned.
Chelsea vs Middlesbrough (Mon 8 May 20.00)
A Spurs win at West Ham on Friday will mean a squeaky bum weekend for the Blues as their lead at the top will be cut to just a point. However, does anyone really expect Chelsea not to win on Monday, vs a Boro side who did, admittedly hold Man City last weekend? Chelsea are different gravy to all but Spurs this season and no way will they let this lead go. With a crazy Italian in charge, if it takes three 1-0 victories to get the job done, then that is what they will do. Boro of course are still fighting for survival and are unbeaten in their last two – and that is some achievement for the Boro – it’s also as good as it gets. The Blues have won all of the last seven meetings between the two – in fact Boro have failed to score in any of those seven clashes. Let’s not waffle unnecessarily, I have no wish to waste your time or mine. A loss for Boro, sorry, the loss for Boro, coupled with Hull avoiding defeat at home to Sunderland will seal Boro’s relegation and see the Blues one step closer to another league title.
Antonio Conte reveals that David Luiz and N’Golo Kante are struggling with their injuries – ‘I think there are three days before the game and I have the time to make the best decision’. Hmmmm, Nathan Ake owners are suddenly quite excited! Thibaut Courtois trained yesterday and today and appears to be fine, according to the manager. Conte said he isn’t worried about the transfer speculation regarding Diego Costa and he and his players will need to be and will be fully focused on the final four games of the season.
Boro keeper Victor Valdes is still struggling with a rib injury leaving Grad Guzan to continue to deputise between the sticks. Daniel Ayala is struggling with an ankle injury and Gaston Ramirez has a pelvic problem, but there is some positive news as manager Steve Agnew reports that Grant Leadbitter and Adlene Guedioura have both returned to training.
Southampton vs Arsenal (Weds 10 May 19.45)
Our dgw match and the end of our game-week sees Arsenal travel to St. Mary’s. The mood of the Gooners will likely depend on how Sunday’s clash with Man United ended up. A victory should spur them on to showing some sort of interest in this match, although if the recent performances of the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil tell us anything, it’s that the Gooners, or their so-called stars at least, have already thrown the towel in and have decided their futures lie elsewhere. Fixture form may therefore be irrelevant, but for the record Arsenal have failed to win on any of their last five league trips to Southampton, losing the last two and drawing the three before that – the Gooners did win 5-0 at St. Mary’s in January’s FA Cup tie, although that was very much against a Southampton reserve team.
Suspension Report GW36
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 of course Watford’s Jose Holebas who has 12 yellows. Lee Cattermole looks on in admiration…
Suspended for GW36:
Mophead Fellaini (Man Utd)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 36. This article was written by Cookie
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