Midweek GW14 is quickly upon us and it all kicks off at Selhurst Park tonight as Palace host West Ham. All the other games take place Wednesday evening with the highlights being David Moyes facing Everton for the first time since he joined Man Utd, simple looking home fixtures for Arsenal and Liverpool, tough looking away trips for Chelsea and Man City and a London derby down by the river as Fulham host Tottenham, with Rene Meulensteen taking charge of the Cottagers for the first time.
Let’s go around the grounds to catch up on the latest team news.
Crystal Palace vs West Ham (Tues 3 Dec 20.00)
Big Sam takes his Hammers the short journey south of the river, hoping to win their second London derby in four days and spoil Tony Pulis’ first home match in charge of the Eagles. Not sure I’ll be tuning in for this one as Palace have failed to score in three of their last four league games at home, while West Ham have failed to score in five of their last seven league games on the road – though they did, of course, score three at Spurs – and how they laughed that day!!
Tony Pulis has been talking up the Jerome Thomas and Marouane Chamakh partnership – well I guess someone has to believe in a combination that has so far produced the grand total of one goal so far this season – Thomas himself, is likely to miss the game through injury – what will his partner do without him?! Midfielder Yannick Bolasie serves the second match of his three-game suspension, while Pulis has to do without Jack Hunt, Paddy McCarthy and Glenn Murray. Jonny Williams will be pushing for a start after coming on as a second-half substitute at Norwich and Danny Gabbidon will be hoping to gain some revenge on Big Sam after the manager booted the defender out of Upton Park two and a half years ago.
West Ham have no new injuries from the weekend, but Big Sam says the squad has a few niggles and with Joe Cole, Carlton Cole and Ravel Morrison all impressing after coming on against Fulham, don’t be surprised to see the first XI slightly different from Saturday. Talking of prolific strikers, Andy Carroll continues to miss out as do Ricardo Vaz Te, Winston Reid, Razvan Rat and Alou Diarra.
Arsenal vs Hull City (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
Four points clear at the top, a home match to Hull to come, life doesn’t get much better for Arsene Wenger. Hull, however, will have other ideas and come fresh from an impressive display and victory against Liverpool on Sunday, although it’s tough to see how they can keep the Gunners at bay, especially when you consider they have won just one of their last 30 PL away matches! With five clean sheets in their last six, Arsenal appear to have steadied things at the back and have won their last five at the Emirates.
Hull defender Curtis Davies is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Liverpool, while James Chester is in contention to start. Bruce confirms no new injuries and will have to make a late assessment on the fitness of defender Paul McShane. Matty Fryatt will join the squad for the Arsenal game after the striker returned from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna is likely to miss the game with a slight hamstring injury, meaning Carl Jenkinson will deputise. Striker Lukas Podolski is making good progress with this comeback and will start normal training after this game and could be back in contention for GW16. A word of warning, Wenger says he will rotate in every game from now until after the Christmas schedule – he mentioned no names. He is quoted as saying, “I rotate considering the level of fatigue. We have some indications – my eyes, some objective data and as well some positions where it’s more demanding on the physical front than others. We have so many games that in some positions I will have to change; the full-back position is one that is very demanding. Central defence is a little bit less demanding on the physical side, it’s more on the concentration side. When you play so many games of that intensity, we expect to lose one or two players. In every single game I [will rotate]. I try to limit the number because I do not want to disrupt the balance of the team, so I do that in every single game.” He failed to mention if Theo Walcott would start the game.
Liverpool vs Norwich (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
Having been humbled at Hull, surely Liverpool will beat Norwich at Anfield. There won’t be many backing the Canaries to come away from this one with anything except dented pride, despite them picking up a much needed win at home to Palace on Saturday. Chris Hughton will be drumming into his team the need to keep Luis Suarez as quiet as possible and that they will have to take whatever chances come their way as the Reds have only kept one clean sheet in their last ten league matches and have shipped three goals in each of their last two games. Back to Suarez – the striker has scored seven goals in his last three games against Norwich, including two hat-tricks.
Hughton has no fresh injuries for the trip to Anfield and he will be sorely tempted to name an unchanged side from the weekend. Anthony Pilkington, Robert Snodgrass, Rocky van Wolfswinkel, Alex Tettey, Mark Bunn and Elliott Bennett remain on the treatment table, with the manager anxious to get some of these players back as soon as possible as the fixtures mount up.
Rodgers is delighted to welcome back Philippe Coutinho, who was unable to start the game at Hull, having not trained all week. However, the young playmaker has trained this week and Liverpool will need his creativity, having looked utterly hopeless without him and Daniel Sturridge at the weekend. Defender Kolo Toure will need to be assessed before the game, having suffered a hip injury at Hull, but the manager is optimistic he will be available for the visit of Norwich.
Man Utd vs Everton (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
David Moyes welcomes his old employers to Old Trafford, but it’s Roberto Martinez who has made the more impressive start to his new club. Unbeaten in six, Everton sit in fifth place and on the back of a resounding victory over Stoke at the weekend, while the Champions continue to stutter, with Moyes seemingly unsure of his best XI and struggling to get the best out of Marouane Fellaini, since his deadline day move to United. In form Wayne Rooney will again be United’s best hope as he too faces his old club, though his record against the Toffees isn’t impressive – just four goals in 15 games. Everton haven’t won at United since 1992, but they will sense this is a great chance to change that miserable run.
Roberto Martinez will use the same squad as the weekend and reports no new injuries – Leighton Baines is making a better-than-expected recovery from his fractured toe, but is still expected to be out until into the New Year. Brian Oviedo, who deputised for Baines so impressively against Stoke should get the nod again, while the manager has to decide whether to retain on-loan Barcelona youngster Gerard Deulofeu after his impressive display against the Potters or bring back the safer option of Kevin Mirallas. On-loan striker Romelu Lukaku will have happy memories of facing United – the last time he played against them he notched a second-half hat-trick for WBA on the final day of last season.
I’m getting bored of these press conferences from David Moyes. Speaking about RvP he says his striker “is ok – he has a chance” – which is exactly what he said on Friday before the game at Spurs. Well, Moyes will be hoping that RvP takes his chance as he has scored six goals and assisted five more times in ten PL starts vs Everton. With Phil Jones suspended, Fellaini could (and having paid £27mln for him, should) be given the chance to show United fans what Moyes sees in him – and what better a fixture for him to finally make his mark?
Southampton vs Aston Villa (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
Having suffered two defeats in succession in London, Southampton will be relieved to return home from the capital and welcome an Aston Villa team, which has won just once in seven matches, failed to score in three of their last four, but remain unbeaten in their last four. The Saints have conceded just one goal in their last five league matches at home, so Villains boss Paul Lambert will be hopeful that striker Christian Benteke can rediscover his touch in front of goal – the forward hasn’t scored since mid-September.
The Saints have a small crisis in goal with first choice keeper Artur Boruc being ruled out for “a number of weeks” with a fractured hand, while second choice Kelvin Davis is also injured – meaning third choice Paulo Gazzaniga gets the nod. Manager Mauricio Pochettino also says midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is out with a groin injury, while Danny Fox & Guly do Prado remain absent. Rickie Lambert could be recalled up front.
Villa have a small concern over forward Andreas Weimann who has a tight hamstring, which he picked up against Sunderland. Aside from that Lambert reports no new injuries, but the game is likely to come too soon for Joe Bennett, while Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia are longer term casualties.
Stoke City vs Cardiff City (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
A nervy game is in store at the Britannia, with only goal difference separating the two teams directly above the relegation zone. Mark Hughes’ side definitely have the edge in this fixture though, having won four and lost none of the last six matches between the two, in all competitions. However, Stoke are struggling and have won just one of their last ten in the league and having been soundly beaten at Goodison on Saturday, Hughes will be desperate for his team to react with a decent performance and a win.
Malky Mackay is set to join the rotation bandwagon and could start with Craig Bellamy and Peter Odemwingie, while winger Craig Noone is also hoping for a start. Striker Andreas Cornelius may have to wait for a return though as the manager looks to manage his return from a lengthy lay-off.
Hughes reports that Jon Walters, who has scored three goals in his last four games against Cardiff, is a small doubt with a thigh problem and will undergo a late fitness test, while the Potters continue to be without defender Robert Huth with a knee injury and attacking midfielder Marko Arnautovic with a hamstring injury.
Sunderland vs Chelsea (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
Despite Chelsea old-boy Gus Poyet winning all three of his home games since taking charge of the Black Cats, Chelsea have a great record here, having won their last eight games at Sunderland. Having moved up to second with their win over Southampton on Sunday, Jose Mourinho now believes his team are showing realistic ambitions of winning the title. The main man here could be Fernando Torres – he has scored more PL goals against Sunderland than he has against anyone else, with six goals in seven games.
Mourinho reveals that Oscar won’t play after limping off against Southampton, but better news of Samuel Eto’o, who is back in training and could feature. David Luiz is still injured, but Mourinho is keen for him to return as soon as possible so he can rotate at the back. Speaking of Ashley Cole, the Special One says he will start either at Sunderland or at Stoke…or against Steaua in the CL next week. The manager hasn’t yet decided if Torres or Demba Ba will start, while Marco van Ginkel remains a long-term absentee.
Sunderland skipper John O’Shea is expected to recover from a knock picked up in the weekend draw at Villa, but keeper Keiren Westwood and defender Carlos Cuellar are unlikely to be fit for the game.
Swansea vs Newcastle (Wed 4 Dec 19.45)
Alan Pardew will take his Newcastle side down to the Liberty Stadium full of confidence, having won their last four games, the Magpies sit in sixth place, while Swansea are fresh from their hammering at the Etihad and, more worryingly for manager Michael Laudrup, the Swans have won just one of their last 11 league matches at home.
Wilfried Bony is recovering quicker than expected and is due back in ten days or so, but Angel Rangel’s calf injury is worse than first thought and he will be side lined for 2-3 weeks. Michu has resumed training, but it looks likely that the visit of the Toon will be a game too soon for him. Defender Garry Monk is still out with a knee injury.
Pardew says he has no new injuries and may even freshen up the team as he has a number of players knocking on his door, asking to play – these include Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, Steven Taylor, Vurnon Anita & Jonas Gutierrez. Could the manager spring a few surprises and rest a couple of popular names in front of their visit to Old Trafford at the weekend?
Fulham vs Tottenham (Wed 4 Dec 20.00)
The questions on everyone’s lips in this one are: “Can Rene Meulensteen motivate and save a lacklustre Fulham side?” and “Can AvB get the critics off his back and prove his summer shopping spree was cash well spent?” The positive news for Fulham is that they have at least scored in each of their six home games this season – the bad news is that they have lost four of those and are on a run of five successive losses in the league. They even let West Ham score three goals at the weekend, while not managing a shot on target themselves.
Fulham defender Sascha Riether will return from a three-match suspension, while fellow defender Brede Hangeland could be back to bolster the defence after missing the last five games with a back problem. It is hoped that striker Dimitar Berbatov will have fully recovered from illness by tomorrow to play against his former club, but Hugo Rodallega and Matthew Briggs remain out while youngster Moussa Dembele, who made his debut at West Ham, looks likely to miss out with a hamstring strain.
Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor is a doubt with a groin injury, meaning AvB has to choose whether to keep faith with misfiring forward Roberto Soldado or give Jermain Defoe a chance to lead the line instead. Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Harry Kane remain side lined.
West Brom vs Man City (Wed 4 Dec 20.00)
Impressive at home, “must do better” on the road. That’s the comment on Man City’s report so far this season – with Manuel Pellegrini’s men losing four out of six away from home, Steve Clarke will be hoping the Baggies can turn it on against the Blues, although most believe it’s just a matter of time before City improve away from the Etihad. Well the odds would appear to be in City’s favour as West Brom have taken just one point out of possible 21 in the last seven games between the two and they have scored just once against City in six games. Clarke’s men have won just two of their last ten at home. For fantasy managers of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, it may be worth noting that Edin Dzeko scored all three of City’s goals against the Baggies last season – will he be given the chance to continue that impressive run?
Clarke hopes to have midfielder Zoltan Gera available to start the game after he made a brief appearance as a substitute in the loss at Newcastle, but will have to do without Youssouf Mulumbu, who is suspended after receiving his fifth caution. Keeper Ben Foster, who has been out since picking up a foot injury against Everton in only the second game of the season is believed to be close to full fitness, but this week comes too soon for him. Owners of understudy keeper Boaz Myhill beware though!
Pellegrini is delighted to welcome back captain Vincent Kompany back into the squad – the influential defender has missed the last six matches with a thigh injury and to have him back for the busy festive period will bring a massive boost to the club. While not actually confirming that Costel Pantilimon would definitely start in goal, Pellegrini did praise the keeper, adding that City have conceded just one goal in seven games in all competitions since Joe Hart has been left out. David Silva, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic remain unavailable.
This Article was written by Cookie