Gameweek 15 is just around the corner and ATFPL ponders Arsenal’s problems against Stoke, Southampton’s recent injuries, and Mourinho’s curtness.
Can Arsenal Banish the Stoke Ghost?
Arsenal have only won once at the Britannia since Stoke’s promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and will be hoping to put in a convincing display against a transformed Stoke side under manager Mark Hughes. In the pre-match press conference Arséne Wenger wanted to focus on the football and made little of the animosity between the sides:
“I think that’s exaggerated. Its a football game. Its not a hate game. We want to focus on playing football.”
Wenger had positive news regarding two defenders:
“We have Gibbs available. We have to assess some other players like Koscielny and a few bumps and bruises after the Southampton game but I will make that decision after training. I would like [Koscielny] to play a third game in a row. He is a very important player in our squad but a decision on whether he will play will be made tomorrow. Sczczesny should be back today in full training. Whether he will be completely fit I don’t know.”
On the injury front Wenger confirmed that Nacho Monreal is out of the game tomorrow but was hopeful goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, as quoted above, could feature as he was expected to be back in full training today. Mathieu Debuchy is ruled out despite also being back in training:
“Debuchy is also back in training but it’s too early for him. The earliest he could be available is maybe on Tuesday. I don’t know whether I will take him yet because we are short number wise.
The hardest part is when a player has been out for three months. You have to decide whether to put him in straight away and risk that he has a big setback, or whether you wait one more week but have the urgency of the result – that is of course very big. We have to take a calculated gamble.”
Long term injuries Mikel Arteta, Mezut Özil, Jack Wilshere, David Ospina, and Theo Walcott remain unavailable.
Southampton Taste the Bitter Injuries
Ronald Koeman’s Southampton have exceeded expectations so far despite a draw against Aston Villa and losses against Manchester City and Arsenal in the last three games. The dip in form was to be expected given the tough fixtures and life isn’t about to get much easier with Manchester United this Gameweek and games against Everton and Chelsea up ahead.
Toby Alderweireld, Jack Cork, and Dušan Tadić limped off against Arsenal and are doubts for the United fixture, in addition to Morgan Schneiderlin and James Ward-Prowse who missed last Gameweek. Graziano Pellè’s form has also dropped of late and will not be helped with the injures, particularly to Tadić who has been the creative force behind much of Southampton’s attacking play.
The game against United will be instructive and Fantasy managers will be selling Southampton players—if they haven’t already—should the fail to produce yet again.
We Don’t Speak About Matić
José Mourinho reported no fresh injury concerns for Chelsea so Gary Cahill is set to play in defence. However Nemanja Matić is suspended after his fifth booking of the season. A rather grumpy Mourinho was not much for dialogue in today’s press conference, giving curt answers to questions he deemed inappropriate:
“Last week we missed Diego so we didn’t speak about Diego. Today we don’t speak about Matic.
It’s another big player who is not playing but we trust other people. Matic has a free weekend, which he deserves very much, and he will come back stronger. Other people will play, we trust them so no problem.”
He did however confirm that Diego Costa would start upfront despite Didier Drogba and Loïc Rémy both scoring against Tottenham.
In Other News
- Angel Di María is unlikely to feature against Southampton due to a hamstring tear but could be ready for the game against Liverpool. However, several important players are expected to be back including Wayne Rooney, who has recovered from a shin injury; Rafael; and Jonny Evans, who featured for the under-21 team this week. Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, and Jesse Lingard are still out with a likely return date being January.
- Sam Allardyce will be delighted to have Diafra Sakho and Alex Song back in the West Ham squad and be hopeful Mark Noble can feature despite a calf injury.
- Tottenham have several doubts, including Danny Rose, Andros Townsend, and Emmanuel Adebayor, while Etienne Capoue is unlikely to feature and Kyle Walker is a confirmed absentee.
- Federico Fernandez has returned to full training so Swansea’s only absentee is suspended Neil Taylor.
- Michael Duff is a major doubt for Sean Dyche’s Burnley who is also missing Stephan Ward and Sam Vokes.