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Around the Grounds FPL Team News

Team Talk Gameweek 21 – FPL Fantasy Premier League

iNTROWelcome to GW21 and what an interesting week it promises to be – especially as many managers have chosen to activate their January wildcard at the earliest opportunity. The action kicks off Saturday lunchtime when Hull entertain Chelsea at the KC Stadium and runs right through to Monday evening when Arsenal take the trip up to Villa Park. In between that we have five 3pm starts on Saturday as Cardiff entertain West Ham, Norwich visit Everton, Fulham host Sunderland, Southampton take on West Brom and finally we have a London derby at the Lane as Spurs face Crystal Palace. The evening kick-off sees struggling Man Utd hosting Swansea. Then onto Sunday as Man City take the trip up to Newcastle followed by Liverpool’s match at Stoke. And then onto Monday….

So loads to get through, injury updates all over the place in what has been a frenetic day of press conferences – let’s waste no further time and get around the grounds to catch up on the latest news.

Hull City vs Chelsea (Sat 11 Jan 12.45)

Chelsea travel to the KC Stadium, knowing that a lunchtime win would, at least temporarily, take them to the top of the league. Hull however, will be no pushover and Steve Bruce will surely be reminding them of their previous home match when they battered Fulham 6-0, as they seek their first ever Premier League victory over the Blues. The Tigers will have their work cut out though, as Jose Mourinho appears to be motivating his team into top gear, winning seven of their last nine league matches and keeping clean sheets in three of the last four. For those managers looking for a short-term striking punt, maybe Fernando Torres is your man – the Spanish forward scored his last PL hat-trick against Hull and if he plays this weekend, he will make his 200th PL appearance.

Hull’s only fresh concern is defender Paul McShane, who is likely to miss a month with an ankle injury, while Sone Aluko and Robbie Brady continue to miss out, with both likely to return towards the end of January or beginning of February. Bruce is confident that any effects of a sickness bug which swept through the camp a week ago have now passed.

Mourinho is still without Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic, meaning full backs Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta will retain their places, while John Terry will be recalled after missing last week’s Cup win, probably in place of David Luiz. The Blues have no other injury worries, but Mourinho did go out of his way to insist that Eden Hazard would not be sold to PSG in the summer.

Cardiff City vs West Ham (Sat 11 Jan 15.00)

New Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes charge for the first time at home against a West Ham side that appear to be in free fall towards the Championship. Big Sam is having a shocker, no wins in seven in the league, just one win in thirteen, thrashed 5-0 in the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest, beaten 6-0 by Man City in the first leg of the semi-final of the Capital One Cup and recently been given the dreaded vote of confidence by the board. A home win would see Cardiff climb clear of the drop zone and plunge the Hammers into a bigger crisis, but the Welsh outfit have only won one of their last ten home meetings with West Ham in all competitions – saying that, Big Sam’s stumbling unit have lost their last five away games in the league.

The good news for Big Sam is the possible return of Andy Carroll, who has returned to training and he will be assessed further today – the manager revealed, “it may be a calculated risk I’m prepared to take” – desperate times call for desperate measures I guess, but with Kevin Nolan (seemingly) permanently suspended and Ravel Morrison allegedly seeking a new hood, it may well be that Carroll is hurried back – and as we can see from the pics, the training has been going well. Defender James Tomkins is back in the squad but Joey O’Brien will need to be assessed after picking up a knock in the midweek defeat at City. Winston Reid is still ruled out.

Solskjaer says that Craig Bellamy has trained very well this week, looked sharp and as a result will return to the squad for the first time in two months, but new signing, Magnus Wolff Eikrem will not start, although he could make the bench. Jordan Mutch will have a late fitness test before the game.


Everton vs Norwich (Sat 11 Jan 15.00)

Everton welcome The Canaries to Goodison hoping to continue the momentum that sees them currently sitting in 5th place in the league and very much challenging their local neighbours for a Champions League spot. Norwich are winless in five matches, but go into the game unbeaten in their last five matches against the Toffees since their return to the Premier League in 2011.

Roberto Martinez reveals that he is still sweating over defenders Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines – the boss said Baines has at least resumed training this week and has most chance of being available, while Distin & Jagielka are thought to be less likely to feature, with GW22 a more realistic target. Midfielder Ross Barkley is also a doubt with a toe injury – he will have a late assessment before the game but Martinez is hopeful he will be available. Gerard Deulofeu is on course for a comeback in February.

Norwich midfielder Wes Hoolahan is fit and available for the match, but defender Michael Turner and midfielder Jonny Howson remain out. Better news of Bradley Johnson and Sebastien Bassong, who are both back in contention, while longer-term absentees Alex Tettey and Anthony Pilkington have both returned to light training and could even be back for GW22. Leroy Fer returns from suspension.

Fulham vs Sunderland (Sat 11 Jan 15.00)

Another relegation battle here as Sunderland travel down to the capital fresh from their midweek Capital One Cup victory over Man Utd, while Fulham have won two of their last three league games and are currently five points clear of their opponents. Sunderland have won just once in their last nine matches vs Fulham, although that victory did come last season. This has all the ingredients of a low-scoring affair – Fulham have kept six clean sheets in their last nine PL games vs the Black Cats.

Sunderland are still without long-term casualties’ defender Carlos Cuellar and keeper Kieren Westwood and are likely to keep faith with the team that toppled United in the week. Gus Poyet has been complimenting Adam Johnson, hinting that he may expect more game time, which cannot be said of midfielder Cabral, who has moved to Genoa on loan.

Fulham chief Rene Meulensteen says keeper Maarten Stekelenburg may feature, the boss will need to make a late call on him, while defender Brede Hangeland is in contention to play, having recovered from surgery – the big defender hasn’t played since mid-October. Brian Ruiz has been given permission to speak to other clubs, so probably won’t be involved. Old Boy Clint Dempsey is expected to feature on his temporary return to the club.

Southampton vs West Brom (Sat 11 Jan 15.00)

Southampton host West Brom at St. Mary’s with both teams hoping the New Year brings a change of fortune and form. The Saints have won just once in nine league games, which has seen them fall from a Champions League spot to mid table, while the Baggies hover just above the relegation zone, but are unbeaten in four games, drawing three of those. The Baggies did triumph at Southampton 3-0 last season, although they were Lukaku-inspired that day and it’s the home team that will start as favourites in this one. West Brom have this week announced the appointment of Pepe Mel as the club’s new head coach

Saints manager Manuel Pochettino has revealed that goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who has missed the last seven league matches with a hand injury, is progressing well and has a chance of playing this weekend, meaning those FPL managers holding Kelvin Davis and Paolo Gazzaniga could have problems down the line. Midfielder Victor Wanyama remains sidelined, while striker Ricky Lambert and midfielder Gaston Ramirez picked up knocks in the Cup last weekend and will need to be assessed before the game. Pablo Osvaldo is suspended.

West Brom will be without defenders Billy Jones and Goran Popov for the trip down south but midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is available. Striker Victor Anichebe is a big doubt with a groin injury and is unlikely to travel down with the team. Steven Reid is fit, available and will be looking forward to an extended run in the team after missing much of the season.

Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Sat 11 Jan 15.00)

Spurs enter this London derby looking to continue their great form under Tim Sherwood, which has seen them win three out of four, including the victory at Old Trafford. But as we know Palace, under Tony Pulis, have become a tighter unit, with the ability to frustrate, but will need to recover the art of winning games as they battle the drop – just one win in six, sees Palace stand just three points off the bottom spot and if the likes of Christian Eriksen & Emmanuel Adebayor can repeat their form of late, it could be another day of joy for Sherwood. Interestingly, Spurs have only scored more than once in a Premier League match vs Palace just once in seven meetings.

Pulis will need to assess a number of players with minor knocks in front of the game- Jerome Thomas is back in training and has a chance after missing the Cup victory at West Brom with a knee injury, while Glenn Murray and Jack Hunt are also nearing returns after long lay-offs. Adlene Guedioura is still missing with broken ribs but could return in 2/3 weeks.

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe has confirmed he is to leave the club to join Toronto in February – he will be available for all Spurs’ games before then. Sherwood reveals that Andros Townsend, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby and Defoe are all fit and available to play. Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul, Paulinho and Sandro continue to miss out.

Man Utd vs Swansea (Sat 11 Jan 17.30)

Swansea return to the scene of last weekend’s FA Cup victory hoping to complete a unique double over the Champions. Not like United are looking like Champions right now – three successive defeats in all competitions has seen increased speculation over the future of David Moyes, who now, according to press reports, is also raising doubts on his ability in the dressing room. The Swans have never beaten United in the Premier League, but given the events of last weekend, one would think they would have no better chance of breaking that duck.

Michael Laudrup has been dealt a double injury blow with Dutch duo Jonathan de Guzman and Dwight Tiendalli both ruled out of the game at Old Trafford. The Swans are already without Michael Vorm, Michu, Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer and Roland Lamah and the manager laments he may be forced to put some untried youngsters on the bench. Much may continue to depend on in-form striker Wilfried Bony, who scored twice in the defeat at home to City and then went on to score the winner in the Cup win at United.

The big news from United is that Wayne Rooney is out of the game with his ongoing groin injury – United are reporting the striker has gone away for some hot-weather training with a fitness coach – Tenerife it is then Wazza – not untypical for a scouser to end up in the Canaries at this time of the year and I’m sure EasyJet will welcome the opportunity to put on a special plane just for the whole Rooney clan’s holiday. RvP continues to miss out with Moyes suggesting he’s “a while away” from being fit. So, all down to big Danny Welbeck then, let’s hope he’s not been on the jagerbombs with Chris Smalling. It is believed that Phil Jones may feature, but Fabio is suspended and Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Young, Nani and Marouane Fellaini are all injured…and useless.

Newcastle vs Man City (Sun 12 Jan 14.05)

Newcastle welcome Man City to the Sports Direct Arena looking to end a run of two successive defeats, though the bookies won’t be fancying them – Toon have lost their last eight against City and won none of the last fifteen, suffering thirteen defeats in the process. And let’s be honest – City are flying, unbeaten in nine league games, winning eight of those, scoring for fun – and half of those games have been without their top scorer, Sergio Aguero!

City chief Manuel Pellegrini has ruled out Jack Rodwell and Stevan Jovetic for the game, as well as Sergio Aguero, who he said could return next week for the game at home to Cardiff. Yaya Toure, Micah Richards & Jesus Navas have all been passed fit – Yaya’s ankle injury was a point of concern, not only for City, but more importantly, many FPL managers – but Pellegrini suggests the injury is nothing serious.

Le Toon have a number of worries for the game – Frenchman Mathieu Debuchy is suspended, Frenchman Davide Santon is a doubt with a knock, Frenchman Yohan Cabaye has only just recovered from an Achilles injury and trained for the first time today – he’ll need to be assessed before the game, but is expected to play. Argentine Fabricio Coloccini is out until February with a knee injury, but Dutch keeper Tim Krul is fine for the game after recovering from injury. Fortunately, Englishman Mike Williamson is fine – when the chips are down, you can always rely on the Brits, Pards.

Stoke City vs Liverpool (Sun 12 Jan 16.10)

Liverpool take the short trip down to Stoke hoping to keep the pressure on the top 3, but knowing that a victory won’t be easy at the Britannia – Stoke haven’t lost there since Norwich grabbed the spoils in September, a run which includes a win over Chelsea. The Potters also have good memories of this fixture, having defeated the Reds 3-1 last season and another win here could see Mark Hughes’ men climb into the top half of the table.

Brendan Rodgers is delighted to report that Daniel Sturridge returns to the squad for the first time since the end of November, expect him to start from the bench. Captain Steven Gerrard is now fully fit to lead the side and defender Mamadou Sakho is also fit, but the Reds will have to do without Jon Flanagan, Jose Enrique and Daniel Agger, who is out for four weeks with a calf injury. Glen Johnson is fit.

Thomas Sorensen is likely to be in goal for Stoke on Sunday – the keeper returned to training today and barring any last minute niggles, he will replace Asmir Begovic, who remains on the treatment table. Jack Butland is on standby if necessary. The other good news is that captain Robert Huth has also resumed training and has a chance of playing, but Andy Wilkinson is out due to a heel injury. Oussama Assaidi cannot face his parent club, but Peter Crouch will likely be recalled to face his former employers.

Aston Villa vs Arsenal (Mon 13 Jan 20.00)

Our game-week ends on Monday evening as Arsenal travel up to Villa Park, knowing that if other results have gone against them, they could well have fallen from 1st to 3rd over the weekend without even playing. But a win here would take them back to the top and they’ll be facing a Villa side who, despite last week’s narrow win at Sunderland, continue to flatter to deceive and before last week had gone five games without a win. However, Paul Lambert will be reminding his players of the opening day of the season when they went to the Emirates and triumphed 3-1 – although not many will be backing that score this week!

Arsene Wenger has said that striker Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil have both trained well this week and will be available for Monday, while defender Kieran Gibbs has a small chance of being available. Aaron Ramsey will not make the game, but his return is thought to be close. Winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is finally ready to return to first team action and played 45mins for the reserves on Thursday – the young winger who was injured in the opening day loss to Villa, could now be a ready-made replacement for the injured Theo Walcott. Thomas Vermaelen is likely to miss out with a knee problem, while Nicklas Bendtner is out for three weeks with an ankle injury. Wenger made mention of Lukas Podolski, saying that “when he is fully fit, he is a great finisher and brings so much to the team” – maybe a hint that the striker still isn’t 100%? If so, good news for Giroud owners.

For Villa, Gabby Agbonlahor and Brad Guzan are both fit for the game, but defenders Nathan Baker and Ron Vlaar will have to undergo late tests to prove their fitness. Joe Bennett has returned to full training today, while Chris Herd has resumed light training.

Best of luck to you all this game-week.

This article was written by Cookie.


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  1. 1

    Lovely round up Cookie,

    When did you become a pappo ??

    More snaps there than a Rice Krispies factory!

  2. 2
    NIN says:

    Great stuff cookster,cheers for that!

  3. 3
    inittowinit says:

    Brilliant read Cookie, thank you. You can come out of those bushes now though :oogle:

  4. 4
    Kop Warrior says:

    Another brilliant read Cookie with so much helpful information for everyone.

    Next week can we please have a few pics of some WAGs?

  5. 5
    Anonymous123 says:

    Evening everyone,
    Any chance of a RMT?

    Azpilicueta Skrtel Sagna
    Lallana Cazorla Oscar Silva
    Ade Suarez Lukaku
    Subs: Foster Mutch Ward Chester

    WC active. £0.2 in the bank.

    • 5.1


      Personal preference for me is Hazard to Oscar and I’m not entirely convinced on Cazorla again yet.

      Adebayor to Rodriguez would to me make sense if you are looking for those extra funds.

      • Anonymous123 says:

        Thanks for replying GP,
        nice suggestions but I think Ade will do really well under Sherwood. I waas thinking of downgrading Caz and keeping funds for Lukaku to Aguero

  6. 6
    Milk and Busquets says:

    Hey people, Rooney’s injury has made me contemplate my WC. Was looking at using it during the next GW or the one following that, but not sure if I should.

    This is my CURRENT squad:
    Mignolet, Daniels
    Terry, Mertesacker, Gabbidon, Baker, Alcaraz
    Silva, Yaya Toure, Santi, Whittingham, Shelvey
    Suarez, Rooney, Negredo

    This is the potential WC squad:
    Speroni, Kelvin Davis
    Terry, Mertesacker, Coleman, Gabbidon, Chester
    Yaya Toure, Santi, Hazard, Lallana, Parker
    Welbeck/Bony, Suarez, Negredo

    Thoughts anyone? Help a Regular out for a change 😉

    • 6.1
      Anonymous123 says:

      You could go Rooney to Welbeck for a temporary change and play the WC next week

      • Milk and Busquets says:

        Already played Walcott to Santi for my FT this GW. =/

        • Anonymous123 says:

          Well, when you think about it, Santi and Welbeck are basically guaranteed 4 points more than Wazza and Wally, so it’s worth it

    • 6.2


      I’d leave the WC. I have Rooney and I’m benching him tomorrow and will review the WC over the weekend. The longer the better I’m thinking !

      • Milk and Busquets says:

        Yeah that’s been my thinking until I remembered my bench players – Shelvey at United, Gabbidon at Spurs.. Baker at Arsenal! lol

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