Gameweek 17 is just around the corner so All Things FPL (ATFPL) presents the team news, focusing on strikerless Manchester City, Manchester United getting players back, and Giroud leading the line for Arsenal.
Strikerless Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that Vincent Kompany will miss all of Manchester City’s December matches and is without the services of three of four strikers for the Crystal Palace match. José Pozo is the only fit City striker for tomorrow’s noon matchup, but the 18 year old is unlikely to start. Although Pellegrini could stick to a known system, featuring Pozo upfront, he indicated in the pre-match press conference that he would set up the City team differently:
“Vincent is recovering from his injury but he is not fit for tomorrow. We are also without Jovetić, Dzeko, Aguero. We must change the way we play, a different system.”
This likely means a fluid 4-6-0 system featuring Samir Nasri, David Silva, and Yaya Touré further forward. Pellegrini also has Englishmen James Milner and Frank Lampard, who could both play in an attacking midfield role.
Eliaquim Mangala will replace Kompany at centre-back and Pellegrini stressed his trust in the French defender:
“Of course we have a lot of trust in Mangala. That’s why we bought him. Maybe he has made some mistakes in the Premier League and maybe he has taken time to settle here.
But we continue to trust in him because I am sure he is a very good player, he is a very young player, and he will be a very important centre-back for our team.
I don’t think Mangala needs Kompany to be injured to have his chances. He started the season late but has played a lot of games already, playing well in some and not so well in others. But I am very happy with him and I am sure he will be an important player for this club.”
City, who are on a seven-match winning run in all competitions, are clear favourites against Palace and Fantasy Managers have several recruitment options to capitalise on their fantastic festive fixtures. Touré is a proven goalscorer, Silva has a fine FPL record although just recently back from injury, and Nasri could be given more licence to attack with no recognised striker playing. James Milner and Frank Lampard offer differential options.
In defence, Pablo Zabaleta is the safest option but faces rotation risk in December, so getting three games out of four from the Argentine defender is likely.
Manchester United’s Getting Players Back
Manchester United’s well documented injury nightmare seems to finally be coming to an end. Only Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Chris Smalling, and Daley Blind are sidelined with injuries, but Marouane Fellaini is absent due to illness. Rafael and Ángel di María are doubts for the game at Villa Park.
The amount of injuries has forced Van Gaal to rotate heavily and be flexible with systems. Michael Carrick has spoken of the need to adapt, both to Louis van Gaal’s methods and to cope with the missing players:
“You have to adapt because that’s just how things have gone in recent weeks. Maybe when the injuries settle down and we have more of a settled squad then it will be more consistent in terms of positioning. But you have to be ready to deal with injuries. It’s happened a few times this season and, the more it does, the easier it gets.
I class myself as a midfielder and probably always will. I might have spells at centre-back, as I have over the last few years, but I’ve played for that long in midfield that I can’t class myself as anything other than a midfielder.”
Van Gaal was positive about the possibilities of Radamel Falcao featuring, but is still keeping Fantasy Managers in the dark over team selection:
“I have said that three weeks or a month ago, the first demand is fitness of a player. And, okay, we wait for the fitness of a player. Now he shows fitness on the training sessions, so maybe I shall select him, maybe for the bench or the line-up. Wait and see.”
Di María is back in training and is likely to feature as a substitute in the second half:
“Di María has trained this week with us, but it is also dependable how he compares with other players, because he is not match fit. I have said the same about Robin van Persie and Falcao, and Di Maria is no different.
Maybe I shall select him on the bench or maybe not. I have to make my decision but we have one more training session so we shall see.”
With Fellaini missing, Wayne Rooney is likely to retain his spot in the midfield even if Marcos Rojo is unable to shake off a knock sustained in training, allowing Carrick to move back to midfield. Juan Mata is set to retain the advanced midfield role and Falcao could then start alongside Robin van Persie upfront.
Giroud Leading the Line for Arsenal
Laurent Koscielny remains sidelined for Arsenal and Nacho Monreal is a doubt, leaving Mathieu Debuchy likely to start alongside Per Mertesacker in the centre of defence. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are to be assessed tomorrow, according to Arséne Wenger:
“Monreal final decision tomorrow. Ox has not practiced, Walcott, we make a decision tomorrow. Koscielny is still out.”
Aaron Ramsey is set for a longer time out, with Wenger expressing concern for his recovery time:
“I am scared he will miss the Christmas period. He should be back at the end of December, [or] beginning of January.”
Olivier Giroud is set to start centrally in Wenger’s three man forward line that played against Newcastle last week. Sometimes unfairly labelled an old-fashioned striker because of his strength and aerial prowess, Giroud is able to play the short game as well as running the channels. This allows the remaining two of the forward trio, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, to move to the centre creating a fluid forward line with muscle, movement, and finishing talent.
Wenger was full of praise for the Frenchman after their win against Newcastle:
“He links up well, plays good one-twos and protects the ball well.
He gives us different options, we can go for longer balls. We have plenty of players who can play short and he gives us variety. He was not the best at Stoke and he had something to show. He responded well today.
There is something as well, I believe, in his mentality. He’s a positive guy. Even when he misses something people forgive him. He has a positive mental impact, with his physical impact as well.”
Despite playing away from home, expect Arsenal to give the Liverpool defence all kinds of problems. Giroud’s return has provided Fantasy Managers other options at Arsenal than the popular choice of Sanchez—the striker could be a fine investment for the holidays, despite a rather tough Arsenal schedule.
In Other News
- Bojan Krkić will feature for Stoke City against Chelsea, according to manager Mark Hughes.
- Tom Huddlestone is suspended for the Swansea match and defender Michael Dawson’s hamstring injury will keep him out of action for at least the rest of December.
- Southampton boss Ronald Koeman is without several key players for the clash against Everton. Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama and Florin Gardoș are all suspended while Dušan Tadić, Jake Hesketh, Jay Rodriguez, Sam Gallagher and Jack Cork are absent due to injury. Graziano Pellè and Steven Davis are doubts.
- Alan Pardew expects to have Moussa Sissoko and Papiss Cissé fit for Newcastle’s clash against Sunderland as they have recovered from a slight knock and illness, respectively.
- Alan Hutton, Philippe Senderos, and Nathan Baker are missing for Aston Villa’s defence for their matchup against Manchester United. In midfield, Ashley Westwood and Joe Cole are injured while Kieran Richardson and Tom Cleverley are suspended
- James McCarthy is a doubt for Crystal Palace and Marouane Chamakh will not feature against Manchester City as he’s set for a further scan on his injured hamstring.