Gameweek 22 is just around the corner so All Things FPL (ATFPL) presents the team news, focusing on Manchester City v Arsenal, Rémy Cabella, and Pulis’s West Brom.
Manchester City v Arsenal
The best news for Manchester City is the return of Sergio Agüero to full fitness and he is likely to start after coming in from the bench in the draw against Everton. Agüero’s fitness is key as Manuel Pellegrini will be without both Yaya Touré and new signing Wilfried Bony in their clash against Arsenal at the Emirates—both players are playing at the Africa Cup of Nations.
In further bad news, City will be without Samir Nasri who injured his calf during training and will be out for up to a month:
“We have some problems during the week with Samir Nasri. He has a calf injury so he will not be fit for the next game. All the rest of the team are fit.”
Pellegrini declared captain Vincent Kompany, Edin Džeko, and Stevan Jovetić fit.
With Nasri out, Pellegrini could elect to start either Džeko or Jovetić, but the more likely scenario is a 4-2-3-1 setup with Fernandinho and Fernando sitting back with Agüero up front, supported by David Silva, Jesus Navas, and likely James Milner.
Arsenal’s injury problems means they are likely to field inexperienced players at fullback positions, meaning City’s play could be focused on exploiting that weakness. Navas could be instructed to attack his defender and Silva can float around in attacking midfield, creating overloads.
Arsenal will likely feature in a 4-1-4-1 (or 4-2-3-1 depending on how far forward Ramsey or Cazorla will be instructed to venture) setup with Olivier Giroud up front and young Francis Coquelin in the sitting midfield position. Alexis Sánchez and Santi Cazorla will start, likely supported by Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arséne Wenger will have attacking options on the bench after he reported that, in addition to Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil are fit for the Sunday Clash. However, Danny Welbeck will be missing for a further two weeks and both Mathieu Debuchy and Mikel Arteta have been ruled out. Wenger on Debuchy:
“Mathieu had a surgery on his right shoulder following the injury on Sunday. It’s very unfortunate for Mathieu, it’s unbelievable because he’s had two surgeries in the same season. He just came back, he played seven games and he’s out again. I count three months out for Mathieu because contact will be a problem for the shoulder.”
“He had a limited mobility in his ankle and some persistent inflammation that had an impact on his calf. That meant we had to make the decision to have surgery and it’s a proper solution which gives him the best chance to recover.”
Following the injury to Debuchy, Wenger confirmed Arsenal are in the market for new defenders:
“Yes, we are more [in the market now]. We have [Calum] Chambers and we have [Hector] Bellerin, who is coming on well, and I want to give them a chance as well, but of course we are in the market like many other clubs.
We work really hard, morning until late night, to try to get one or two players in.
We are out in the market and we are working very hard everyday. All our scouts and our people are working very hard to find a defender.”
Cabella to Shine
This Gameweek’s Gut Pick, Rémy Cabella, played his best game for Newcastle in their loss against Chelsea last Gameweek. He looked more like the attacking fulcrum Fantasy Managers expected him to be for the the Magpies, as he caused havoc in the Chelsea defence with his electric dribbling. Cabella was happy with his performance and stressed that he was working on maintaining this form and that the team was ready for their match against Southampton:
“I want to repeat this every week. The only way I can do it is by working hard. We have been working hard to win against Southampton.”
John Carver, Newcastle caretaker manager, looked to have freed Cabella from the defensive responsibilities he had under Alan Pardew and was happy with his performance:
“If he performs like that then he can get our fans on the edge of their seat.”
In other Newcastle news, Mehdi Abeid and Siem de Jong remain ruled out.
For Southampton, manager Ronald Koeman has several injury concerns with Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama ruled out, as well as Toby Alderweireld who suffered an injury against Manchester United last week. However, Florin Gardos played well in that game and will deputise for the Belgian and James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reed, and Steven Davis are able replacements in midfield.
A Big Test for Pulis at Everton
West Brom’s game against Everton will be instructive for Fantasy Managers, especially on the viability of West Brom as an elite defence. Tony Pulis has Stephane Sessegnon and Saido Berahino in his side, two quick players that can hurt Everton on the break, so he will be more than happy to soak up the pressure and try to contain Roberto Martinez’s side.
Jonas Olsson is still out injured but Tony Pulis is likely to play Claudio Jacob after praising him in the media during the week:
“When I was at other clubs, Claudio was always a player that I rated highly. Since I have come here, his attitude around the place has been absolutely top-drawer. I thought he did well in the game on Saturday and I think he has an important part to play. What he does isn’t always glamorous, but he does a good job for the team and I was really pleased with him.”
If someone appreciates the not-so-glamorous it is Tony Pulis. Expect Yacob to be a staple of Pulis’s setup.
Martinez has several key players out injured, including Leon Osman, James McCarthy, Tim Howard, Darron Gibson. Tony Hibbert and Sylvain Distin are in contention to make their returns against West Brom:
“I would say that Tony Hibbert is the closest [to a return] and we will assess him over the next 48 hours. But we have to be careful that we don’t push him too early.
Sylvain should be training with the group tomorrow [Saturday] and again we will assess him just before the game to see if he can make the squad.
James McCarthy and Darron Gibson are not too far away, and Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are progressing well but they have a bit more of a longer-term recovery programme.
Tim Howard is well within the six to eight-week programme but won’t be available for the Monday game.”
In Other News
- Ciaran Clark is suspended for Aston Villa’s clash against Liverpool and Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos are ruled out. New signing, attacking midfielder Carles Gil, is expected to make his Premier League debut. For Liverpool, Raheem Sterling is back from his break and Glen Johnson is back to training. Daniel Sturridge is still out, and Kolo Touré is away at ACON duty. Steven Gerrard, Adam Lallana, and Joe Allen are doubts.
- Sean Dyche is without the services of Matt Taylor, Stephen Ward, and Kevin Long for Burnley’s game against Crystal Palace. Sam Vokes played 90 minutes in the FA Cup game against Spurs, but could start on the bench as Dyche is likely to recall Danny Ings and Ashley Barnes to the starting lineup. Alan Pardew has no fresh injury worries and could hand loan signing Yaya Sanogo his Palace debut.
- Danny Drinkwater returns for Leicester against Stoke, but Nigel Pearson is without Dean Hammond and Esteban Cambiasso. For Stoke, Erik Pieters is a doubt, but Steven N’Zonzi and Victor Moses are back in contention.
- Rio Ferdinand is missing for Harry Redknapp’s QPR as they welcome Manchester United to Loftus Road. However, Redknapp is boosted by the returns of both Sandro and Yun Suk-young. For United, Ashley Young is a confirmed absentee while Louis van Gaal has doubts on the availability of Marcos Rojo, Robin van Persie, and Rafael da Silva.
- Garry Monk is without Jefferson Montero, Jonjo Shelvey, and Ki Sung-yueng for Swansea’s game against Chelsea. Bafetimbi Gomis will start up front following the departure of Wilfried Bony. Chelsea’s only injury concern is César Azpilicueta who will likely miss January due to a groin injury.
- Mauricio Pochettino is missing three midfielders for Tottenham’s match against Sunderland. Erik Lamela and Ryan Mason are injured while Nabil Bentaleb is playing for Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. Sunderland are without suspended Liam Bridcutt, while Stephen Fletcher and Lee Cattermole are doubtful. New signing Jermain Defoe will be handed his Sunderland debut against his former team.
- Hull will face West Ham without the injured Nikica Jelavić, Abel Hernandez, Mohamed Diame, Andrew Robertson, Liam Rosenior, and Robert Snodgrass. In better news for Hull manager Steve Bruce, both Gastón Ramírez and Sone Aluko are back in training. For West Ham, Guy Demel and Winston Reid are back in training but doubtful, while Diafra Sakho is injured.