Gameweek 16 is just around the corner so All Things FPL (ATFPL) presents the team news, focusing on Agüero’s injury and Silva’s comeback; Chelsea’s lack of rotation; Arsenal’s makeshift defence; and Manchester United’s injury list.
Agüero’s Injury Presents an Opportunity
The biggest injury news of the season is Sergio Agüero’s hamstring injury in last week’s game against Everton. His injury has caused a massive scramble to replace him, with almost 500.000 transfers out this week. Many Fantasy Managers have opted to look for targets elsewhere, with Diego Costa, Wilfried Bony, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Graziano Pellé popular choices. However, there remain fine options at Manchester City as Manuel Pellegrini has been quick to point out:
“Sergio is a very important player, but I don’t think this team depends just on Aguero.”
City’s success in Rome was a good indication that he’s right. After all, City have one of the most expensive teams in the world and coped admirably without three key players—Agüero, Vincent Kompany, and Yaya Touré were absent. Samir Nasri was impressive, Fernando and Fernandinho were strong in the middle, and most importantly for Fantasy Managers David Silva came on as a substitute. Vincent Kompany is also fit and ready. Pellegrini confirmed as much in the pre-game press conference:
“We will see tomorrow, he [David Silva] didn’t feel any pain in the knee from the 30 minutes [in Rome] so I think he will be fit.”
“Kompany is in the squad list so I don’t think he will have any problem to play tomorrow.”
The return of Silva and the upswing in form of Nasri will help City cope with the loss of Agüero and furthermore should help Edin Džeko—likely starting upfront in Agüero’s absence. Any striker would benefit massively from a fit and firing midfield pairing of Silva and Nasri, not to mention the suddenly prolific Touré.
Agüero’s injury, although terrible for the player and City, provides an opportunity for Fantasy Managers to pull away by making correct decisions. Everyone knew they had to have Agüero, but with him gone there are so many options to consider. It’s a good time to be a prepared Fantasy Manager.
Chelsea’s Lack of Rotation
José Mourinho has fielded the same starting lineup in nine Premier League matches. In fact, John Terry, Branislav Ivanović, Cesc Fàbregas, Eden Hazard, Gary Cahill, Thibaut Courtois, and Nemanja Matić have all missed less than 90 minutes of game time in the league this season. This begs the question of how Mourinho is going to approach rotation in the hectic Christmas period featuring six games in less than a month. Going by his remarks in today’s press conference, not much will change, with some players expected to feature five times out of six:
“I don’t think one player is going to play these six matches (over Christmas) but the ones that have to play more go to five. I have to give them one rest.”
Sitting out for his first Premier League game of the season against Hull will be injured Thibaut Courtois. Petr Čech will start for Chelsea:
“Courtois had a little problem in training, a muscular problem, and is not available for tomorrow. But it’s a chance for Petr and a chance for Mark to be on the bench. So I’m more than comfortable.
It’s a minor problem for Thibaut. I don’t think it’s important [for Cech to restake his claim for a first-team place]. It’s just consequence of being an important player in the squad who had our confidence even with Courtois in conditions to play. We played Petr in three Champions League matches and every game in the Capital One Cup, and we know what we have.”
In better news for the Blues, Matić is available again having served his ban against the Magpies. However, Chelsea have to do without Fàbregas—the Spanish midfielder is serving a one-match suspension following his fifth booking against Newcastle. Mourinho continued his approach of not wanting to speak about single players, but doing it nonetheless, by highlighting the strength of the team above the individual:
“He’s suspended for tomorrow. We don’t think about him – we trust the other people.”
It’s hard to argue against that, given the quality of players that could step in for Fàbregas.
Ramsey Injured and Arsenal’s Makeshift Defence
Aaron Ramsey is expected to miss up to four weeks after suffering a hamstring strain in Arsenal’s Champions League win against Galatasaray. It’s a shame for player and club as Ramsey was looking better in recent games, as Arsène Wenger noted:
“It’s a shame because he was getting close to matching last season’s form.”
Ramsey’s injury adds to Wenger’s woes as he confirmed that defensive pair Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny will miss the game against Newcastle, with Calum Chambers suspended for the match:
“Koscielny and Monreal are definitely out of Newcastle, Chambers is suspended and Ramsey is not suspended but he’s injured.”
While there is some positives in Kieran Gibbs and Mathieu Flamini being available, the amount of injuries means Wenger is forced to field a makeshift defence once again with Mathieu Debuchy—also recently back from injury—likely to start out of position at centre-back alongside Per Mertesacker, with Gibbs at left-back, and 19-year-old Héctor Bellerín likely to feature at right-back.
Theo Walcott is nearing full fitness but is unlikely to start:
“The signs are quite good. He has had two days of training now but he now lacks competition and fitness to come back to a good level.”
Di María Still Out But Falcao Could Feature
Louis van Gaal was happy to report that Manchester United’s injury list was now manageable with only four confirmed absentees:
“We have only four players injured so that is better than ever. We have Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Angel Di María and Daley Blind.”
“As I have said already last week, the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and I believe that by the end of December maybe we shall only have three or four injuries.”
The bad news is the confirmation that Di María is out of the Liverpool clash as the United manager had been hopeful he could recover quickly enough to feature. However, Radamel Falcao is fit enough to play a part, but likely from the bench:
In Other News
- Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s broken metatarsal will keep him out of Premier League action for at least a month. Captain Wes Morgan is back from suspension and Paul Konchesky is also available after his red card against Aston Villa was rescinded.
- Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph, and Tom Cleverley are set for late tests while Ashley Westwood, Joe Cole, Nathan Baker, and Philippe Senderos all remain sidelined.
- Toby Alderweireld is back for Southampton after recovering from a hamstring problem, as well as James Ward-Prowse who is likely to start on the bench. Morgan Schneiderlin is a doubt but Jack Cork is remains sidelined.
- Tim Krul and Rob Elliot are both out meaning young Jak Alnwick will start for in goal for Newcastle.
- Alan Irvine confirmed that Youssouf Mulumbu and Stephane Sessegnon are fit for West Brom’s game against Aston Villa while Chris Brunt and Jonas Olsson are confirmed absentees.
- Stephen Ward remains sidelined alongside Matt Taylor and Micheal Duff, but Sam Vokes is fit again but unlikely to feature as Sean Dyche is likely to build up his fitness gradually.
- Hull’s Nikica Jelavić is back after recovering from illness but Gastón Ramírez is still suspended.
- Mark Hughes was positive about Jonathan Walter’s chances to feature for Stoke against Crystal Palace, but less optimistic about Marc Muniesa’s chances.
- Damien Delaney is back for Crystal Palace but Joe Ledley and Jonny Williams are set to miss out.
- Sunderland will be missing Patrick van Aanholt, Emanuele Giaccherini, and Billy Jones, but Steven Fletcher is back in contention after sitting out against Liverpool.
- Sam Allardyce confirmed Mark Noble is West Ham’s only guaranteed absentee although Carl Jenkinson remains a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury against Swansea City.