Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 37
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 37. Well I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s day off because we’re off to the races again with the season’s biggest DGW – 15 matches, starting with two this evening and then it’s spread over seven successive days of Premier League and FPL action. Yep, it’s go, go, go – it’s crazy season, it’s a week that may well make or break your season and if your other half moans just tell them that it’s nearly all over and to stop whinging! As I have just mentioned, we kick off tonight therefore our deadline is another early one – 18.45 UK time this evening. It’s the Toffees who get us going as they host Watford at Goodison before West Brom vs Chelsea starts just 15mins later. Of course a Chelsea win would confirm the title returns to West London and immediately puts all our Chelsea and Spurs players in danger of rotation or rest! Man City again get our Saturday going with another home kick off, this week vs the Champions – or ex-Champions as they may be after this evening’s action at the Hawthorns. Just three 3pm matches follow before Arsenal face a trip to their least favourite ground, no, not the Emirates, I’m talking Stoke. Three matches follow on Sunday, Chelsea reappear on Monday, Arsenal and Man City target Champions League qualification as they both play on Tuesday, Man Utd attempt to give us some more Southampton clean sheets on Wednesday before our monster game-week is brought to a close by Jamie Vardy, how apt, as Leicester host the bridesmaids of Spurs. I’m tired just writing this.
Clearly injury news for the games after Sunday will be dependent on what happens in the first round of matches tonight and at the weekend. The managers, bless them, have been busy planning strategy and team selection. And to see if they will share any of those plans, let’s Go Around the Grounds.
Everton vs Watford (Fri 12 May 19.45)
Our Friday double-header kicks off under the lights at Goodison with Everton stuck in 7th place and Watford stuck on 40pts, still not mathematically safe, but just one point from their final three matches will guarantee survival, irrespective of what Hull and Swansea do. Hornets manager Walter Mazzarri will want that point brought home asap, with tonight the preferred option, but his team are hardly going into their double game-week in the best of form – just one win in five, with four defeats in that sequence which is a habit his team needs to remove as that is exactly how they ended last season also. Luckily for Watford, Everton’s momentum has subsided, no wins in three for Ronald Koeman’s men, Europa qualification is sorted, so not much to play for and Romelu Lukaku looks like he is offski at the end of the season. So there is a chance for the Hornets and they have already beaten the Toffees this season when they won 3-2 at Vicarage Road in December – Lukaku scored a brace that day and will want to get back on the scoring trail as he looks to nail the Golden Boot before he seeks a new home.
Everton keeper Maarten Stekelenburg has picked up a groin injury and joins Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon, Yannick Bolasie and James McCarthy on the sidelines. There is some positive news as Morgan Scheniderlin has recovered from his thigh injury and will be available, while Mo Besic will finally make a return to the matchday squad. Koeman says that the England U20’s in the squad, namely Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin may not see so much game time as they could be released early for their summer tournament while the manager stated there is much doubt over the future of Ross Barkley, who is still to sign a new contract and has, according to Koeman, one more week to decide if he wants to stay or not – “we need an answer before next week. He will either accept the contract or we will sell the player.” Think we can all see where this is heading. Probably Man City reserves. Maybe Ross needs to ring Jack Rodwell to see how that one went for him…
The Hornets will again be without defenders Miguel Britos and Craig Cathcart for the trip to Goodison, but Jose Holebas is back in contention with a late decision due to be made on whether he can start or not. Midfield general and ex-Toffee Tom Cleverley misses the game as he is ineligible to face what is still his parent club. Valon Behrami is likely to replace Young Tom. Younes Kaboul, Roberto Pereyra and Mauro Zarate remain out.
West Brom vs Chelsea (Fri 12 May 20.00)
The Blues take a 7pt lead into DGW37 and can seal the title this evening with a win at the Hawthorns – and it’s difficult to see anything other than a victory for Antonio Conte’s men for the Blues have lost just five matches this season and are in great form, scoring ten goals in their last three matches. West Brom meanwhile have hit the beach, have not won in six matches, but at least they scored last week – and just like waiting for a bus, they only went and scored two. In the same match. With Salomón Rondón getting on the scoresheet. It was a truly miraculous day, but don’t expect a repeat as Conte will want the title done and dusted this evening as it will give him the chance to plan for the Cup Final. Of course, much FPL focus will be centred on Costa, Hazard, Alonso and Pedro etc, but those César Azpilicueta owners may be rewarded for the Spaniard is the only outfield player and regular first teamer not to find the net this season – the crowd were willing him to score vs Boro and will be just as desperate here…and he has form vs the Baggies for he has scored 2 in his last 3 matches vs Albion. Penalty duties for Azpi anyone?
Big Tone says he is looking forward to the visit of Chelsea, but is frustrated that his team didn’t win at Burnley last week. Jeez T, just be glad your team scored two, Rome wasn’t built in a day mon ami. Now, this won’t come as a big surprise to you, but Matty Phillips won’t be fit, he is still hamstrung but fellow hamstrungee Hal Robson-Kanu is responding better and faces a late fitness test. Jonny Evans picked up an ankle injury at Burnley but Pulis is hopeful his defender will be able to play.
As per much of the campaign, Chelsea have a healthy squad and Conte again reports no injuries, meaning N’Golo Kante is available once again and David Luiz is fine. Unsurprisingly, rotation wasn’t mentioned – instead the manager spoke of the tough game West Brom gave Chelsea earlier in the season, but maintained that his players are relaxed and concentrated. Those FPL managers who love a stat will like the one that has seen Eden Hazard scoring the title winning goal for the past two seasons – the Belgian scored vs Palace two seasons ago to confirm Chelsea’s title and then scored the equaliser vs Spurs last season to cement Leicester’s win…..can he make it three in a row?
Man City vs Leicester (Sat 13 May 12.30)
At this stage of the season one cannot ask much more than to have one’s own destiny in their own hands and that is the situation for City – if they win their remaining three matches they will seal a third place finish, irrespective of what Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal do. Leicester are this week’s visitors to the Etihad and having spent much of the season with the threat of relegation hanging over them, they now find themselves in the top half, safety assured and probably ready for their summer holidays after an eventful season. City are in consistent form and have lost just one of their last fourteen league matches, scoring thirteen goals in the last five matches – but, they will need to silence the in-form striker of the league, Jamie Vardy – dentist’s dream Jamie has scored or assisted in all but one of the last ten game-weeks and scored a hat-trick as Leicester beat City 4-2 at the King Power Stadium in Decemeber.
There is good and bad news for City – the good is that Sergio Aguero returned to training this week and is available for the game. The bad news is that John Stones returned to training this week and is available for the game. Oh well, back to fears of rotation so good luck with that. Just Claudio Bravo and Ilkay Gündogan are definite absentees for the Citizens.
Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh problem – more worrying for the Foxes is the news that Wes Morgan remains out and Robert Huth has emerged as a doubt for the game with a foot injury, which has prevented him from training. Nothing much stresses Shakey though as he says “we’ve got Amartey, Wasilewski, Fuchs and Chillwell who can all play at centre-half” alongside Yohan Benalouane. Hmmmm, suddenly Man City attacking assets become even more attractive.
Bournemouth vs Burnley (Sat 13 May 15.00)
Just like Watford, Burnley are on 40pts and not definitely safe – although 40pts should probably be enough, Sean Dyche will be huskily urging his lads to seal the deal at Bournemouth before they can relax and look forward to another season in the top flight. The Cherries have already secured their spot for next season so it’s tough to predict their level of care. Burnley won their first away game of the season in GW35 so they now have some sort of belief, although allowing West Brom to score twice last week was as big a surprise – the end of the season truly produces some strange happenings. Strange is certainly a word to define the form of Josh King who has hit double figures for the first season in his career and has scored or assisted in 10 of his last 12 matches. The Clarets have not lost vs Bournemouth in any of their last seven meetings going back to 1999 and were triumphant when winning 3-2 at Turf Moor in December. A difficult game to predict, but it would appear that goals are likely with King continuing his great form.
Chief Cherry Eddie says Ryan Fraser will need to be assessed – the winger has a slight Achilles issue, but the manager is hopeful he will be able to feature. Fellow midfielder Dan Gosling has recovered from his calf injury and comes into contention, but Benik Afobe is expected to miss out again, while Callum Wilson, Adam Federici and Andrew Surman are long-term absentees.
Burnley again have issues at the back with Ben Mee unlikely to be fit for the trip to Bournemouth while Michael Keane appears to have more chance but will need to be assessed closer to kick off. There are no other new injuries, but manager Sean Dyche promises his team will ‘go strong until the end of the season.’
Middlesbrough vs Southampton (Sat 13 May 15.00)
Well this has all the makings of the biggest of bore-offs if recent form is anything to go by. And that will probably please a huge number of FPL managers who own Yoshi, Fraser Forster or Jack Stephens et al. The Saints have failed to score in their last three matches while Boro’s relegation is confirmed and morale will clearly be desperately low. Or desperate and low. Whatever, you got the point. So hold onto your Saints stoppers and if anyone still owns Alvaro Negredo then I’m not sure if I feel sympathy or downright revulsion. If you truly care on fixture form then note that the Saints won the reverse fixture 1-0 – see, not many goals there either. You know the form – expect much from your defenders, expect nothing from Negredo, Gabbiadini etc and anything they deliver is a bonus.
Boro boss Steve Agnew says his team wants to play in a positive manner for their last home game of the season before they are dumped unceremoniously into the Championship. On the injury front, keeper Victor Valdes continues to struggle with his rib injury, Gaston Ramirez has failed to recover from a groin strain and Daniel Ayala has started to run again but is still a doubt.
The Saints have no new injuries to report, though manager Claude Puel says all the players will be checked for fatigue. The manager expects Boro to play without pressure or fear following the confirmation their relegation, but reiterates that he wants his team to finish well. Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez give Puel options if he wants to freshen things up front, while Matt Targett and Charlie Austin will be keen for some first team action. Virgil van Dijk remains out.
Sunderland vs Swansea (Sat 13 May 15.00)
Huge, huge, huge is this game for the Swans. A victory at sorry and sad Sunderland will put even more pressure on Hull who would then have to avoid defeat at Palace on Sunday to avoid the drop. Of course things could work out very differently – Sunderland won at Hull last week and a second win in a row, vs Hull’s biggest rivals, would set the cats amongst the pigeons, or the Tigers amongst the Swans, or indeed the Black Cats amongst the Eagles…ok, this analogy has gone on too long, you know what I mean. The Welshies are fighting and have claimed 7pts from a possible 9 and will surely fancy their chances of a victory at the Stadium of Light. But it may not be as straightforward as their fans may hope – all pressure and tension has been removed with relegation confirmed, Jermain Defoe has remembered what he is meant to do at this time of the year, albeit too late – the tinpot striker does have form vs the Swans as he has scored five goals in his last four appearances against them, while Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored in his last two matches vs Sunderland.
Listen to this. Moyesie gives it the usual blurb…”we’re just trying to win as many games as possible before the end of the season” blah, blah, blah. Then it was, “I’m trying to introduce some younger players. Unfortunately George Honeyman (kid midfielder played last week at Hull) won’t be available due to a back injury. He picked it up in training when Lamine Kone fell on top of him.” Oh boy, this is too much. Moyesie was genuinely being serious too. We’re gonna miss you Ginge. Defoe is fit, Pickford is fit, even Big Vic is fit, that’s all you need to know.
Angel Rangel and Wayne Routledge will return to the Swansea squad, though Paul Clement is wary that they are short of match fitness, despite being medically ok. The manager is looking forward to the match at Sunderland and says, “there’s a lot of belief in the team. We need to make sure we do everything we can to make sure we keep this run going.” Clement talked positively about Jordan Ayew’s contribution alongside Fernando Llorente, implying that the Swans will continue with the system that has sparkled fresh hope of survival.
Stoke vs Arsenal (Sat 13 May 17.30)
Four wins out of five has seen the Gooners relight some optimism that Champions League qualification can still be achieved. However their destiny is not yet in their own hands – if Liverpool and Man City win their final games then they will take the final two spots. But any points dropped by the pair will give Arsenal their chance – all the Gunners can do is win their games and their second successive DGW begins with a trip to Stoke. Dreaded, nightmare Stoke, if you are a Gooner – the place of bad memories, hostile clashes and a run of six matches without a win at the Britannia. Now luckily for the Gooners, the Potters started playing with their bucket and spades a few weeks ago and have won just one of their last eight – however, Stoke love hosting Arsenal and they will need their biggest characters to stand up to the oppo if they are to force the victory they so desperately need. A win for Arsenal is essential to put some pressure on Liverpool who play Sunday – now we will see what the Gooners and Wenger are made of. When the going gets tough……….we shall see!
Mark Hughes will no doubt love nothing more than to ruin Arsenal’s dreams and is looking forward to the clash under the lights at the Britannia. He reports no new injury injuries and a fully fit squad, minus of course long-term absentees Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay. Sparky says he has plenty of different options open to him with Mame Biram Diouf scoring and playing well at Bournemouth, Saido Berahino 100% following his illness and Jon Walters and Peter Crouch in good form.
Confusion surrounds the defensive situation at Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain limped off at Southampton which looked like a hamstring injury – cue everyone gets excited about Hector Bellerin as a shoe-in at right wing-back. Wenger then pisses on that bonfire to some extent by saying it’s only a minor hamstring problem and more to do with fatigue. Anyway, it seems the Bell*** is likely to start at Stoke and most probably on Tuesday also. Meanwhile Laurent Koscielny missed out at Southampton, Shkodran Mustafi steps in and nicks a couple of bonus points, while at the same time Rob Holding owners feel they have won the FPL lottery and non-owners clamber to buy the cheap as chips Gooner. Wenger then teases us by saying Kos was not far away from playing at Southampton – ‘he practiced on Tuesday, but it was risky to play him at Southampton.’ And after the win at St.Mary’s Le Professeur said: “we have to recover now physically and see how everyone recovers for Saturday. I may need to make some changes: does Koscielny come back or not?”, Jeez Wenger, we ask the questions and you answer them, this is how this works.
So what can we conclude? Bellerin, Mustafi and Monreal are all the most likely to play (assuming none has fatigue). With Arsenal desperately trying for top 4, Kos will play, if he can. Which leaves Kieran Gibbs and Holding – one of them will be left out, if Kos is fit. Which one, we don’t know! Now, if Wenger trumps me and plays Gabriel, I will hold my hands up to him and admit defeat! #WengerIn
Crystal Palace vs Hull (Sun 14 May 12.00)
If there was ever a fascinating relegation battle then this is it – serial escapee Big Sam leads his wing-clipped Eagles in battle vs the limp Tigers – both teams suffered morale-busting defeats last week, Palace were humiliated at the Etihad while Hull lost at home to already-relegated Sunderland. Now the situation is this – Hull are in the drop zone as we enter the weekend, they are a point behind Swansea (who play at Sunderland on Saturday) and four points behind Palace, which is really five given Palace’s much better goal difference. A Palace win would see them safe, whereas a Hull win would spice things up and would mean things will be decided on the last day. Palace have lost three in a row, Hull have taken four points from their last three and won on their last trip to Selhurst Park last season. The reverse fixture this season ended in a 3-3 draw at Hull – this game is massive and with both teams having tough looking fixtures in GW38 the winner, the tension will be huge, the pressure highly charged with the stakes massive. It’s an impossible match to call, and with neither team having a DGW, there will be little fantasy interest here, so sit back and enjoy the agony of others!
Palace are sweating on the fitness of James Tomkins and Yohan Cabaye for the big match on Sunday – Big Sam says the pair are not training as of yet but have the best chance of all the injured players of making a comeback. Scott Dann has an outside chance with Big Sam describing his chances as ‘maybe a calculated risk’ while Mamadou Sakho has been ruled out for the season. The manager says the pressure lies with Hull, who have to win, whereas ‘we only have to avoid losing’, though training has been light this week with the likes of Joel Ward nursing a broken nose and Andros Townsend managing an Achilles problem.
Marco Silva says his team has trained hard this week and they are ready to go to Palace and try to win. However, they will go without Lazar Markovic who picked up an ankle injury last weekend and has been ruled out for the rest of the season – the good news for the Tigers is that Omar Elabdellaoui is available after recovering from injury. Yep, that’s the good news folks.
West Ham vs Liverpool (Sun 14 May 14.15)
It’s deja vu all over again for The Hammers. Once again they host a team in dire need of points and they have nothing to play for but pride. West Ham have won 3 of their last 5 versus Liverpool with one draw and one loss. Perhaps not the team LFC wants to see then considering how The Hammers played against Spurs and their recent history in the head to heads. Now is not the time to bring up a famous GW37 if you are an LFC fan, but I will, since I am not. It wasn’t that long ago that LFC needed a win vs Palace, who at that stage were just playing out the season, left Suarez in tears, right before he went off to much, much greener pastures. Hammers are not a strong home team and Liverpool have proven they travel well, unless the trip is to Hull, Burnley or Bournemouth. West Ham really struggle against top 10 teams, with only 10 points from a possible 57 and LFC only loses to teams way below them in the table, sounds like two teams who will be expecting the other to win.
Yep, you’ve guessed correctly, Andy Carroll will miss the game vs Liverpool, which is a dreadful shame as those die-hard Liverpool fans will I’m sure have been looking forward to seeing their record transfer. Also missing is captain Mark Noble who is to undergo surgery for a long-standing abdominal injury and will miss the rest of the season. There is some better news as Arthur Masuaku has recovered from the foot injury that kept him out of the win over Spurs. Michail Antonio has signed a new contract so everyone is happy, but he remains out for the season alongside Diafra Sakho and Angelo Ogbonna.
Klopp says Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana are now options to start, which is good news for Liverpool as there are doubts over the fitness of Roberto Firmino and Lucas – both ‘felt something this week’, I assume not each other, and will need to be assessed prior to the game. Still missing are Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Danny Ings.
Spurs vs Man Utd (Sun 14 May 16.30)
By the time this game commences, Spurs could and should be officially eliminated from the title race. While Manchester United could be sitting as low as sixth and with less optimism than a Spurs or LFC fan at the end of a ‘great’ season. So basically a game that looked like it could have huge implications on the title and a Champions League spot will probably turn out to be just another Bournemouth vs Burnley in the grand scheme of things. The stakes couldn’t be lower. United took their first meeting 1-0, and until their blemish vs Arsene, had not lost since October. Spurs had reeled off nine consecutive wins before the least surprising surprise with their loss last game-week. Two teams with nothing to play for should actually provide some excitement, but Jose would hate to spoil us, so expect him to aim for another draw if possible. And blame it on Luke Shaw afterwards.
Ben Davies’ stay of execution gets another extension as Poch reveals that Danny Rose is not match fit despite returning to full training earlier this week – the left back will be ‘continue to be monitored.’ Harry Winks and Erik Lamela are obviously ruled out for the season so it’s very much as you were for Spurs.
United reached the Europa Cup final last night, meaning the club is one win away from Champions League qualification. Manager Mourinho will obviously deeply prioritise the final to the detriment of the league campaign which now offers little to no chance of a top 4 spot. David de Gea hasn’t played Europa, so expect him to play in the league while Eric Bailly will miss the final vs Ajax after being sent off last night, so his place seems relatively secure in DGW37 & GW38. The likes of Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Daley Blind and Jesse Lingard should now be avoided as FPL options, while Marouane Fellaini is suspended. Mourinho has already said he will field a ‘weakened’ team in GW38, just 3 days before the final, so unless you are a massive Rooney fan, and I couldn’t possibly think of anyone that still is (cough), ignore United players and look elsewhere.
Chelsea vs Watford (Mon 15 May 20.00)
Who knows what we will get for a team sheet from CFC if they have already locked up the title. One can only hope that they either manage to not win it vs West Brom or Conte just feels that the heroes that led Chelsea to the title should get a run out so the fans can properly acknowledge them. On paper this fixture looks like a mauling if CFC plays a full side here. Watford allow a good amount of goals when playing away and Chelsea are the highest scoring team in the league when playing at home. CFC won the reverse fixture earlier this season, just squeaking by with a 2-1 win. CFC have scored ten goals over their last 3 games (all wins), versus 3 teams who have been above average defensively this season. Watford has lost their last 5 away while being outscored twelve to nil. The only real drama that we are likely to have here, should come one hour before kick-off.
Arsenal vs Sunderland (Tues 16 May 19.45)
Arsenal will go into Tuesday’s match still in 5th unless they can somehow overturn a 7 deficit in goal difference to Man City. However, the Gooners could be closer to their top 4 competitors if results go their way. Of course if Arsenal lose at Stoke and City and Liverpool both win then this game will matter for nothing and we can all ignore it and regret captaining Alexis! Fixture form here of course points to the Gooners – they won 4-1 at Sunderland earlier in the season with Alexis and Olivier Giroud scoring a brace each and have not lost to the Black Cats in the league since 2009 and you have to go back to 1983 for the last time Sunderland won at Arsenal. Giroud has a particular liking for pussy as he has penetrated the Sunderland defence seven times in his last seven appearances vs them.
Man City vs West Brom (Tues 16 May 20.00)
For all their trials and tribulations City could walk into this game on the verge of clinching a Champions League spot if other results pan out for them before this fixture. Pep the saviour would have finally squashed all the naysayers and shown that after that debacle last season under Pelligrini, that City is now back! Errr, wait… I have been notified that City finished in a CL spot and made it to the semis of said competition last season. Well, there is no way that Manuel would have convinced John Stones to come to City for only 50 million, so Pep made his mark nevertheless, period!! West brom and happily married Tony Pulis (sorry ladies) have won one game since March, luckily it was versus Arsenal, so thanks. With The Baggies having their bodies on the pitch, but their souls on the tee, one can only see this fixture going in one direction. Their last meeting finished with a 4-0 score line in favour of the Citizens and a repeat is a possibility.
Southampton vs Man Utd (Weds 17 May 19.45)
Another Saints match and with their dullard cousins United in town don’t get your hopes up for excitement, action and entertainment – that’s unless you are a Boro fan in which case this will probably feel like the most exciting moment of your life. Back to the game and it may or may not be worth knowing that the Saints haven’t beaten United at home since 2003 and of course were beaten by the Reds at Wembley in the League Cup final in February. With nothing on the line for either club, predictions go out of the window, as indeed so may your tv if you dare to watch this game.
Leicester vs Spurs (Thurs 18 May 19.45)
Ah the end of our big DGW – now if this match was in DGW37 last season what fun we may have had. But of course a year is a long time in footy and much has changed for Leicester this season, while for Spurs nothing much changes, though they can celebrate finishing above Arsenal. Whatever floats your boat. Most of you will have representation here so hope for the best and maybe you’ll see a late rise in the rankings as the game-weeks comes to a close. Whether your interest be Kane or Vardy, Alli or Mahrez, Eriksen or Albrighton, Vertonghen or Huth, Lloris or Schmeichel, I wish you all the best – however October’s 1-1 draw at the Lane saw none of the above bring home the bacon – instead it was left to Vincent Janssen and Ahmed Musa to score the goals and take the plaudits. Exciting eh? Well it was for those two – probably the highlight of their season, so don’t mock.
Allow me to close by again wishing you all the best for DGW37 – leave nothing on the table, have no regrets, it’s better to try and fail than to not give it a go. Go large or go home.
Suspension Report GW37
Suspended for GW37:
Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 37. This article was written by Cookie
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