Gameweek 12 is just around the corner and ATFPL ponders Manchester United’s injury curse, Sanchez’s match fitness, Newcastle’s defence, and Sturridge’s continued injury set-backs.
Manchester United’s Injury Curse
The injury nightmare continues for Louis van Gaal as the international break proved costly. Daley Blind injured his knee, Ángel Di María suffered a knock, David de Gea dislocated a finger, and both Michael Carrick and Luke Shaw are doubts due to groin injuries.
Van Gaal on Blind:
“He has a brace on his knee. It’s not as bad as the doctors thought after the match, but it shall be a long story I believe, but not six months or so.”
Worse yet a slew of players continue to be unavailable for selection, most of them defenders. Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Jonny Evans, Rafael are out meaning United are likely to continue fielding a youth player in defence, partnered by Carrick, if fit. In better news, Van Gaal believes both De Gea and Di María will be fit, and is hoping Shaw can start on the left of defence:
“Di Maria has trained today normally so I don’t think there is a question mark, De Gea is good – no problem. Luke Shaw, who felt a tight hamstring, is a question mark.”
Radamel Falcao has not recovered in time for the Arsenal clash and with Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney both fit, it’s likely Van Gaal will introduce Falcao slowly back into action.
Sanchez a Doubt
The biggest news for Fantasy Managers from Arsenal’s press conference was Arséne Wenger’s doubts about Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean only got back from international duty yesterday afternoon and needs to be assessed according to the Arsenal manager. Mezut Özil is unavailable, Fantasy Favourite Theo Walcott is a major doubt, and Danny Welbeck is to be assessed.
“Everyone has come back in decent shape (from the international break). We have to check in with some players this morning, so we have lots to check today.”
“I don’t think he (Walcott) will be available tomorrow (and Welbeck’s) fitness will depend on the medical assessment this morning.”
In better news for Arsenal, both Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta are back into contention after recovering from a broken leg and hamstring problem, respectively. Arteta is likely to start in the holding role and Giroud’s return puts Welbeck’s Fantasy status in major doubt, and impacts on Sanchez’s role. Should Wenger decide to start with two men upfront it remains to be seen how Arsenal reorganise. However, given Sanchez’s form, it’s more likely Welbeck will be pushed out wide, effectively eliminating him as a Fantasy asset.
Arsenal, similar to United, have their own defensive issues to worry about. Defenders Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy are still sidelined and Wenger has a decision to make on whether he sticks to playing Nacho Monreal alongside Per Mertesacker at centre-back, pushing Calum Chambers to right-back. This proved costly against Swansea and Wenger could decide to play Chambers in his natural centre-back role and rely on inexperienced Spanish full-back Héctor Bellerín on the right side of defence.
Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager, was rueful about the international break as it broke up a fantastic run of five wins in a row:
“It seems like a very, very long time, this (international) break. We have had some injuries but hopefully we can carry on the good form. There is a little more expectation on us now than in previous weeks and therefore a different type of hurdle for these younger players to overcome. QPR have definitely improved and Harry has got a good unity in the team, so I don’t think they will be down the bottom end for long, but I hope on Saturday we can beat them.”
Pardew’s main concern is at centre-back where budget option Paul Dummett was all but confirmed to start for the Magpies. He will likely be joined in the centre of defence by Mike Williamson, who hasn’t started since Gameweek 7, or Steven Taylor if declared fit:
“We’ve suffered some injuries, managed to repair the squad somewhat but we are still missing one or two for Saturday, which is a shame. Aarons won’t be available, Cheick Tiote won’t be available, Coloccini is not going to play and Steven Taylor is probably a big doubt as well.
So we are short at centre-back but we have good cover there. Paul Dummett has done brilliantly for us and there is a good chance he will play in there again. If he carries on like he has, we will be absolutely fine. You would really be kicking yourself if you were on the back of five defeats, losing your captain and the other first-choice centre-half, but we have a good replacement in Williamson. He has been a great servant for us and our player of the year last season in a lot of respects, so there’s no worries with him.”
Sturridge’s Continued Injury Problems
In a blow to struggling Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge suffered an injury recurrence that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of 2014. Brendan Rodgers believes it’s the ninth injury on his left thigh:
“We reckon it’s his ninth injury on the same thing from previous clubs here and there. So there seems to be an underlying issue somewhere. Our medical team are looking into it, the latest scans show a slight tear just below where he had a previous injury.
Daniel is very disappointed and so are we. It is hugely disappointing to be without a player of his quality. Most players you will find want to play through an injury to get on to the field and when the incident happened in training it was through quite an innocuous action. He just flicked the ball and instantly felt the pain, it wasn’t a shot or anything that looked as if it might be serious.”
Sturridge’s continued problems have troubled Liverpool so greatly that they have ordered detailed examination of the problem, with a thorough medical report to be produced.
In Other News
- Roberto Martinez has several doubts for the game against West Ham. Gareth Barry is unlikely to feature while Leighton Baines’s remains to be assessed, as well as Séamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar, Kevin Mirallas, and James McCarthy.
- Diafra Sakho and Stewart Downing are doubts for West Ham while Andy Carroll has recovered but is not fully match fit.
- Alan Hutton has recovered in time for Aston Villa’s clash against Southampton but Paul Lambert is missing Philippe Senderos and unlikely to enjoy the services of either Ron Vlaar or Nathan Baker.
- Manchester City skipper, Vincent Kompany, is unlikely to start against Swansea.