Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 38
Welcome to Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 38. Here we are, the end of the road. It’s been a long and eventful journey from those pre-season days in August all the way through to the madness of the last 3 game-weeks. Regarding the actual football itself, much of course has already been decided and there is little to play for on the last day – just the battle between Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal for the final two Champions League places. As you should be aware, all the matches take place at the same time, namely Sunday at 3pm UK time – therefore this week’s deadline is Sunday at 2pm UK time. Much of the focus will of course be on those still fighting for the top four while Chelsea will receive their trophy in front of their own as we say goodbye to Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull.
Thank you for reading Around the Grounds this season, it’s been a pleasure to write for you and hopefully helped in some small way. Don’t be offended if I have taken the pi55 out of your team, I am only joking around and actually have much respect for Monsieur Wenger and Arsenal. I also really like Klopp. The last word should of course go to my special friend the Lord – I can’t say I miss your smug pressers, but I think you make a half-decent pundit!
Ok, for the last time this season let’s go Around the Grounds to see what the managers have had to say before they jet off for the summer.
Arsenal vs Everton
All is not lost for the Gooners as they chase Champions League qualification for the 20th straight season under Arsene Wenger – however they will need to either better Liverpool’s result or hope Man City lose at Watford. Whatever City and Liverpool do, Arsenal must just focus on their encounter with Everton and ensure victory. Fortunately, Everton have nothing to play for – they will finish 7th whatever the result on Sunday and it may well be the last game in a Toffee shirt for both Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley. The Gooners have not lost at home to Everton since 1996 but did lose at Goodison in December and after struggling to break down a surprisingly plucky Sunderland in midweek, one wonders if Wenger can rally his disillusioned troops one more time. Four wins in a row suggests he has a chance and with Everton failing to win any of their last seven on the road, the odds will be on a home win. But will it be enough?
Gooner defender Laurent Koscielny faces a fitness test in front of the game but Aaron Ramsey is alright despite limping off vs Sunderland with an ankle knock. Unsurprisingly, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains out with his hamstring injury. If Kos remains out expect few changes ahead of next week’s Cup Final.
Everton will have the same squad available as per last weekend and manager Ronald Koeman is adamant his team can win at the Emirates. When asked if he is confident that Ross Barkley will stay, he replied ‘no’! James McCarthy and Maarten Stekelenburg remain out injured while, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are with the England U20 squad and Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Yannick Bolasie and Aaron Lennon remain long term absentees.
Burnley vs West Ham
It’s been a tough run for Burnley – just one win in their last six made things a tad tighter than they needed to be but of course they always knew they would have the Hammers visiting this week, which must of been a comforting factor for Sean Dyche. The Hammers are pants, to put it politely – unless they are playing Spurs or leaving Upton Park, expect nothing from these money-grabbing, spoilt turds. This should be a comfortable-ish home win for the Clarets, given Burnley’s general home form and West Ham’s general form – although fixture form sees the Hammers winning the last three clashes, Slaven Bilic won’t have Mark Noble to call upon and the Hammers captain has scored the winner in the last two meetings.
Dyche confirms that defenders Ben Mee and Michael Keane remain doubts for Sunday’s game – there are no new injuries and the manager has reminded his squad that he wants them to finish as high as possible. A win would take them above West Ham in the final table.
Andy Carroll’s season is over, you’ll all be surprised and disappointed to hear – Bilic says the striker hasn’t trained for ‘a long time’. Another to miss out is Winston Reid who underwent knee surgery this week and will be out of action for around ten weeks, meaning he should be ok for the start of next season! The Hammers may choose to blood some of the kids, although Bilic is hopeful his team can produce one more win. Mark Noble, Diafra Sakho, Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyaté also remain sidelined.
Chelsea vs Sunderland
Chelsea will be presented with the Premier League trophy after the game but will hope to precede the ceremony with one more win which will take them to 30 victories for the season. Of course they couldn’t have picked a nicer fixture on paper – Sunderland are poor, relegated and have won just once in 13 matches. Fair play however and the Black Cats were determined and resilient vs Arsenal on Tuesday with Jordan Pickford in outstanding form. Sadly for Moyesie and the pussies, Chelsea are a little better than Arsenal although Watford scored three times at the Bridge on Monday vs the reserves. Much may therefore depend on Chelsea’s teamsheet as to how severe the beating is – but expect a beating, hopefully a very severe one that will be so painful that Moyesie’s arse will turn redder than his hair.
Chelsea have no injury concerns for their trophy party, which of course makes second guessing their line-up even harder. Conte wants to keep it a surprise whether John Terry will start vs Sunderland, so best of luck trying to work out if Hazard, Costa and Alonso will start.
Moyesie says ‘we have an incredible number of injuries going into the last game and I’m disappointed with that.’ We’re not Ginge, we’ve all got three Chelsea in our squads ready to make hay. Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar, Jan Kirchoff, Jason Denayer, Duncan Watmore and George Honeyman are all on the casualty list, while Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong will both need to be checked after suffering dead legs at Arsenal. Not that you care, be honest.
Hull vs Spurs
This could be messy if Spurs want it. If they don’t, then maybe it’ll be like last season when a deflated Spurs succumbed 5-1 to a relegated team – that would be amusing after the ridiculousness of that “Farewell to the Lane” pantomime we witnessed last weekend. With just pride to play for hopefully we see an open encounter rather than a turgid end of season stalemate. Spurs have won the last three between the two and beat the Tigers 3-0 at the (bulldozed) Lane in December with Christian Eriksen scoring a brace. Harry Kane seems intent on the Golden Boot – .as evidenced this week! Hull had an impressive home record under Marco Silva until they lost to Sunderland a fortnight ago – they may well give it a go and try and sign off with a decent performance but having gone three games without a goal, all the firepower is likely to come from the away side.
Hull go into their farewell game without Harry Maguire, Abel Hernandez and Evandro – Maguire picked up a knee injury at Palace and Evandro suffered a groin strain in the same match, while Hernandez has an ongoing ankle injury. Also missing will be longer absentees Will Keane, Lazar Markovic, David Meyler and Ryan Mason.
Having trounced Leicester on Thursday evening, Spurs appear to be in a different mind-set than this time last season, which is bad news for Hull. Even worse for Hull is Kane’s pledge to ‘score another four’ at the weekend. Non-owners beware! Christian Eriksen may be recalled after being rested last night, but aside from him, expect much the same line-up. Sadly Poch hasn’t held a presser today.
Leicester vs Bournemouth
How many times have we looked at a fixture and thought, ‘this has goals written all over it’? This is one of those matches for sure – with the likes of Jamie Vardy and Josh King about many FPL managers will be hoping from one last bonanza from one or maybe both. Bournemouth have only been involved in one scoreless draw on their travels this season, while the Foxes and ex-Champions have won four of their last six league matches at home scoring 13 goals. Just to completely contradict everything I’ve just written the reverse fixture at the Vitality Stadium ended with a 1-0 win for the Cherries with Josh King not scoring the goal!
Defensive duo Wes Morgan and Robert Huth, who were so badly missed on Thursday evening, will again be missing this weekend as both have failed to recover from injury. Everyone who played vs Spurs should be available, if that’s a good thing I don’t know, while Andy King has a chance after he trained today. Shakey wants a reaction from his players after the debacle vs Spurs.
Chief Cherry Eddie says he is reluctant to make wholesale changes for GW38 as each position in the Premier League is worth so much financially. Lewis Cook won’t feature however as he has joined up with England U20s, while Adam Federici and Callum Wilson remain out and Jack Wishere has returned to Arsenal General Hospital. Andrew Surman is back in training but may not be ready for the weekend, Dan Gosling is ok and Benik Afobe ‘continues to improve’ but is unlikely to feature.
Liverpool vs Middlesbrough
Surely they can’t screw this up? Liverpool go into the weekend rudely occupying Arsenal’s beloved fourth position and all Klopp’s army need to do is match the Gooner’s result to secure Champions League football for next season. Of course the scousers do have the habit of slipping at crucial moments….but c’mon, if they can’t wrap things up with a result vs relegated Boro they deserve nothing less than Thursday night trips to Legia Warsaw, Olimpik Donetsk and CFR Cluj. Boro have turned into a sorry outfit winning just one match this calendar year and just five all season , the lowest in the league – they have conceded 11 goals in their last three away matches, lost 3-0 at home to Liverpool in December and haven’t won at Anfield since 1976. Meanwhile, Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in their last five. Sorry Arsene, it ain’t looking good.
Klopp is optimistic on the chances of having Roberto Firmino available for Sunday’s clash with Boro, but admits the Brazilian’s fitness will need to be assessed on Saturday. “We could not decide until now, but he feels good and he feels comfortable. He did a lot of things, but was not part of team training. That’s not a problem after this long season. I think we will make a final test tomorrow. In this moment, I would rather say ‘yes’ than ‘perhaps’, but I am not sure.” There are no new injuries, not even Daniel Sturridge, while Jordan Henderson remains out.
Boro bow out of the top flight as sitting ducks to Liverpool’s Champions league hopes. Adlene Guedioura is doubtful, while Victor Valdes, Daniel Ayala and Gaston Ramirez are set to miss out once again.
Man Utd vs Crystal Palace
With all eyes focused on next week’s Europa Cup Final, Mourinho has already said the last few league matches are ‘matches we just don’t want to play’. Well, they have one left to play with nothing on the line for either side. Palace are of course safe after their win over Hull last week and come into the game relaxed and without a care in the world. This has all the hallmarks of another home draw for the Reds, who’s season has been decimated by underperforming home matches vs lesser opposition. For the record Palace haven’t won in the league at Old Trafford since 1989 and the last time they went to Manchester, last week, they were hammered 5-0 by City. That won’t happen on Sunday, I assure you.
He gave us plenty of warning and Jose has confirmed that it will be mostly a junior team facing Palace on Sunday – the names likely to feature that you will recognise are Paul Pogba who has not played or trained for a while due to the death of his father, keeper Joel Pereira, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe who has played the last couple of games and Eric Bailly assuming the defender shrugs off the knock he received at Southampton. 3 or 4 other first teamers will play one half, but Wayne Rooney is unlikely to feature having played 90mins at Southampton. Other names mentioned by Mourinho are Demi Mitchell, Matty Willock, Josh Harrop, Scott McTominay and Zak Dearnley – all are likely to play and the FPL message here is clearly to forget United and don’t sell Benteke or Zaha!
Big Sam is still on a high after last week’s ‘perfect performance’ vs Hull, he is looking forward to the trip to Old Trafford and says he will play the fittest team he can. Andros Townsend and Yohan Cabaye won’t be able to feature, Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho are unlikely to be risked and Pape Souaré, Connor Wickham and FPL favourite Jonathan Benteke remain long term absentees. James Tomkins however appears to be ok to feature.
Southampton vs Stoke
Ah a good old game of beach volleyball. The mind boggles. Don’t get too excited, I’m talking Southampton vs Stoke, not bikini-clad beauties diving around in the sand. Many of us will be left with the dirty residue of Saints defenders in our squads following our DGW37 adventures so December’s 0-0 draw between the two at the Britannia should whet your appetite. While Stoke’s form has been pretty dreadful their away form has been even worse – just three wins on the road all season with the last one coming at Sunderland in January. However, the Potters won on their last trip to St.Mary’s and will be keen to sign off with a win.
More agony for suffering Gabbiadini owners as Claude Puel says there is a chance Charlie Austin could start vs Stoke. Expect the usual type of rotation from the manager who says that Shane Long is ruled out with a fractured metatarsal and Cédric Soares and Ryan Bertrand are doubts.
Sparky reports just one new injury and that is attacking midfielder Marko Arnautovic who has got a ‘bang on the elbow’ – presumably Peter Crouch is ok after his bang on the elbow denied many of us an Arsenal clean sheet last weekend. I used to like Crouchie, he’s dead to me now. Long term absentees Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland remain out as Hughes says a win would be a good to end what has been a disappointing season.
Swansea vs West Brom
Another season of sheep and Welshie jokes await us after the Swans secure survival at Sunderland last week. Expect this match to be very much like a testimonial with the Baggies also playing for nothing and both teams ready to hang up their boots for their flip flops for a few weeks. Therefore beware the dangers of rotation, especially for the Swans who have put in a super human effort over the last few weeks which has seen them win three out of four and draw the other. The Baggies meanwhile have taken just one point from their last seven matches and let’s be honest, the less said about them the better.
Paul Clement says the team has celebrated staying up but have also had a good week’s training and is determined to end the season with one more victory and finish as high up the table as possible. The Swans have no new injuries and the fit again Wayne Routledge and Angel Rangel may be included in the squad.
We couldn’t end the season without a Pulis presser – ‘we’ve got a couple of knocks and bruises from the other day. The majority of them should be fine to travel.’ Thanks Tone, have a great summer. Unlikely to travel is Matty Phillips, while Gareth McAuley missed the loss at City and Salomón Rondón is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Watford vs Man City
So the equation is thus for City and Pep – a draw secures Champions League qualification, a win secures third place and avoiding the qualifying round. They can also afford to lose but then they will be risking Arsenal not beating Everton. There appears little to worry about for Pep as City have won all three Premier League matches vs Watford including a comfortable if unexciting 2-0 win at the Etihad in December. The Hornets did score three at Chelsea on Monday, but City will be slightly more focused than Chelsea reserves were and what may be more telling is that Conte’s back-ups scored four vs Watford.
Walter Mazzarri faces his final match in charge of the Hornets and is going out on the attack, accusing the club of lacking a winning mentality. Lovely. The soon to be ex-manager singled out Daryl Janmaat and Abdoulaye Doucoure for praise, but no-one else. Sounds like a happy dressing room. Miguel Britos, Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart, Roberto Pereyra and Mauro Zárate remain out, Christian Kabasel is a major doubt and Sebastian Prödl is suspended after being sent off at Chelsea.
Pep gave nothing away at his presser, preferring to say, ‘it’s a crucial game. It’s in our hands. We have to go there and win. We have to be careful.’ Fantastic, thanks pal. What we do know is that John Stones is fit again and will step in if Vincent Kompany is ruled out, while Gael Clichy could return. Claudio Bravo, Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gündogan all remain out.
Suspension Report GW38
Suspended for GW38:
Sebastian Prödl (Watford)
Thanks for reading Around the Grounds FPL Team News Gameweek 38. This article was written by Cookie
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