Ahead of Saturday's 2:00pm deadline, we have combed through all 18 Premier League press conferences [West Ham (embargo) and Manchester City (Saturday) are the missing two] to bring FPL managers the need-to-know team news, injury updates and predicted XIs for GW20.
GAMEWEEK 20 FIXTURES
Saturday 29th December
Brighton vs Everton (15:00)
Fulham vs Huddersfield (15:00)
Leicester vs Cardiff (15:00)
Spurs vs Wolves (15:00)
Watford vs Newcastle (15:00)
Liverpool vs Arsenal (17:30)
Sunday 30th December
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (12:00)
Burnley vs West Ham (14:15)
Southampton vs Man City (14:15)
Man Utd vs Bournemouth (16:30)
TEAM NEWS & PREDICTED LINE-UPS
Unai Emery was slack on team news considering the quick turnaround between games. The Spaniard said
yesterday: “We are playing a lot of matches in [the space of] a few days, and we need each day to test how the players are. Today, only we trained with the players who didn’t play yesterday. Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4m) may also be close to training with us, but today he worked alone but with good feeling. Tomorrow is the last training before we travel to Liverpool and we need to know who can play in training.”
On withdrawing Mesut Ozil (£8.0m) at half-time against Brighton on Wednesday, Emery explained: “It is one decision tactically, and also the decision is because we have [done] it before because we have a lot of matches away when it tactically changes something, not for the player but for the team. A lot of the matches when we play in the second half, for example Alex Iwobi (£5.5m), it helps us with a different situation tactically and helps us to win the matches. In other matches, when we changed for the second half we took the performance to go to win. Yesterday, my intention was the same, it is tactically to change one player for another and with our analysis before that in other matches, in the second-half sessions is the reason I do that. But for me, it is only tactically and not [down to the] player, and for me every player is the same. Sometimes I change Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m), sometimes I change Alexandre Lacazette
(£9.5m) and sometimes I change Matteo Guendouzi (£4.5m) - it happens to every player and sometimes the result is good and the other times it doesn’t give us the result on the pitch. But the decision is only tactical.”
Granit Xhaka (£5.3m) operated in a three-man central defence for the final period of the draw against the Seagulls. On that formation, Emery said
post-match: “We finished with Xhaka playing at centre back to help Stephan Lichtsteiner (£4.5m) and give Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.4m) more chances to go forward in more attacking moments, because his quality is more for that. But our process… I think this draw is not the best but also not the worst. We have another match on Saturday. We’re thinking about that, about recovering the players to be OK and to look at how Laurent Koscielny (£5.4m) is, how Mustafi is, if he’s OK for Saturday.”
The Arsenal boss did not mention Nacho Monreal (£5.4m), who missed out in GW19. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£6.7m) and Hector Bellerin (£5.4m) remain out, while Danny Welbeck (£6.5m) and Rob Holding (£4.4m) are long-term absentees.
Simon Francis (£4.4m) is facing between six and nine months on the sidelines after rupturing his ACL in the game against Spurs. Eddie Howe did not report any other fresh injury concerns. With Adam Smith (£4.4m) also sidelined, Francis’ injury may necessitate a switch to three at the back for Bournemouth. Howe is no stranger to the formation, often employing it against ‘bigger’ teams.
Josh King (£6.3m) will be aiming to replace Junior Stanislas
(£6.0m) in attack.
Mat Ryan (£4.5m) has departed for the Asian Cup. On which of David Button (£4.0m) and Jason Steele (£4.0m) will replace the Australian, Chris Hughton said: “I'll make the decision as to who replaces Maty this weekend. There's nothing that happens in the goalkeeping department that I don't know about. I want a tough decision and both keepers have worked really hard, pushing Maty to his high levels.”
On team news, the Seagulls boss added: “We have no additional injury concerns ahead of tomorrow. At the moment we have no fears going into this busy period. We'll have Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) back and we have good competition within the squad.” Both Jose Izquierdo (£5.9m) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£6.7m) are still sidelined.
Steven Defour (£5.3m) and Robbie Brady (£5.4m) are doubts
for the visit of West Ham. Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.6m) made his return from injury off the bench in GW19 as Burnley were hammered 5-1 by Everton. Dwight McNeil (£4.4m) is another wing option for Sean Dyche, while Chris Wood (£6.2m) and Matej Vydra (£5.7m) are options up front. Phil Bardsley (£4.2m) could return at right-back, with Kevin Long
(£4.2m) an alternative to recent returnee Ben Gibson (£4.8m) at centre-half if Dyche retains a three-man central defence.
Kenneth Zohore (£4.6m) is ruled out for Cardiff, while Neil Warnock confirmed he is waiting on the fitness of Callum Paterson (£5.2m).
Paterson would likely replace Bobby Reid (£5.2m) in Warnock’s XI if the Scotsman is ruled fit to play at Leicester. Aron Gunnarsson (£4.4m), Harry Arter (£4.9m) and Josh Murphy
(£4.8m) will be seeking instant recalls after being rotated to the bench in GW19. Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge
(£4.5m) has been omitted from the Philippines squad for the Asian Cup.
Pedro (£6.3m) is out for 10 days with a hamstring injury, while Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.2m) is unlikely to play on Sunday after picking up a knock in the win over Watford. Despite the two wingers being absent, Eden Hazard (£11.0m) could continue in the ‘false nine’ role. Maurizio Sarri said: “I cannot see a problem of Hazard in this role. He played three games as a fast number 9 and he scored three goals and got two assists.” The Italian did state that the Belgian could also play in a more familiar left-sided attacking role in the future.
If Hazard leads the line again, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.2m) [who did not make the GW19 matchday squad] could earn a start in attack. However, Alvaro Morata (£8.5m) – also omitted from the squad for the Watford trip – is available. Sarri added: “As I said in the last press conference, Morata is going very well. He is fit to play, it was only a tactical choice [to leave him out].” Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) is also seeking pitch time, while Ross Barkley (£5.4m) will aim to oust Mateo Kovacic (£5.8m) in midfield. Davide Zappacosta
(£5.1m) and Emerson Palmieri (£5.2m) are the alternatives in the full-back positions.
Christian Benteke (£6.3m) is the Eagles’ only unavailable player, so Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m) and Martin Kelly (£3.9m) return to contention. Roy Hodgson said: “No new injuries and Christian's progressing well. He's the only one still unavailable, the rest have recovered.” Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.4m) will be pushing for another start after logging 90 minutes and scoring in the 3-2 win over Man City in GW18.
On Chelsea star man Eden Hazard, Hodgson added: “Very difficult [to contain Hazard]. He's correctly regarded as one of the best in the world, a top player. He's got all the skills, but he's also wise and knows when to use them: when to pass, when to go.”
Marco Silva has no new injury concerns. Ademola Lookman
(£5.1m) returned to training yesterday, while James McCarthy (£4.4m) is “ready”. On Lookman, Silva said: “He has a problem in his ankle. Now he's really better. He did more work this morning, let's see how he is tomorrow and if he can start or not.”
The Everton manager added that “everything is OK” when questioned on the fitness of Andre Gomes (£5.4m), who came off after 74 minutes in the 5-1 thrashing of Burnley. Idrissa Gueye (£4.8m) will compete with Gomes and Gylfi Sigurdsson
(£7.3m) for a midfield spot if Silva retains a 3-4-3 formation. Asked about that setting up with wing-backs, the boss said: “Yes it's something we are now working more [with], something I've had in my mind since pre-season. It was not the first time we did it, let's see in the future if we do more times or not.”
On Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.3m), the Toffees chief stated: “I am happy with him but I want more, because he has the quality to give more to us as a team and to improve more. He has some specific skills I like in one striker. He started the last three matches because he deserves it.” Cenk Tosun's (£6.5m) omission from the GW19 matchday squad was a “technical decision”.
On rotating Richarlison (£7.0m) to the bench at Turf Moor, Silva explained
post-match: “Like you know, it is a busy December. They are humans, they are not machines. It is hard for them to play all the matches and a game every three days. “We have to manage their physical condition and Richarlison has been playing almost every minute of every game and we have different solutions so we can manage this situation. “I know how important he is for us but the others are working hard as well. He had a difficult week last week, he was sick and then played a difficult game against Tottenham and it wasn't his best performance and we had some problems. I am here to manage his physical condition.”
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (£4.4m) is the only unavailable member of the Fulham squad. Claudio Ranieri said
yesterday: “Only Frank Anguissa is not ready. The rest are all available.”
On the performance of Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.7m) against Wolves, the Italian added: “Mitro played very well. He was unlucky against Wolves, but that's the life of a striker. He's ready to score goals. He made a lot of sacrifices, closed the space, and was ready on the counter-attack.”
With just one goal conceded in two gameweeks, Ranieri could be tempted to go with largely the same team against Huddersfield. Having scored after coming on in GW19, Ryan Sessegnon (£6.0m) could start in attack or at left wing-back. Tom Cairney (£4.7m) will also be pushing for a place in the Italian’s XI. On rotation, he said: “It's important to have choices, and to give players chances. Everyone continues to work hard. It’s important for me to choose - maybe we’ll start with Andre Schurrle (£5.7m), or maybe we’ll start with Sessegnon, but the team remains the same. Schürrle is an experienced player, while Sessegnon is young and fresh. He’s young, needs experience, needs to play, look when he’s on the bench and improve his strength because when there is a tackle, he’s not so strong - he needs to be a little more aggressive.”
On team news, David Wagner said
today: “We still have a training session this afternoon, but we have no new injury concerns after the game at Man Utd as I sit here now.”
Jonathan Hogg (£4.4m) could make an instant return to the Terriers’ XI after being benched for the defeat to Man Utd. Juninho Bacuna (£4.3m) could also return in central midfield if David Wagner reverts to his usual 3-5-1-1 formation. Elias Kachunga (£4.8m) and Isaac Mbenza (£5.9m) are the players at risk of dropping out. Steve Mounie (£5.8m) will push Laurent Depoitre (£5.1m) for a start up front, while Chris Lowe (£4.4m) is an option at wing-back. Ramadan Sobhi (£4.7m) is set to join Al Ahly on loan when the transfer window opens on January 1.
Claude Puel has no new selection issues ahead of Cardiff’s visit. He said today: “No injuries. It is always difficult after two games, but I think all my players are ready to play and perform.” The manager may be tempted to name the same XI that beat Man City in GW19, with Demarai Gray (£5.4m) probably the player most likely to earn a start.
James Milner (£5.6m) has been ruled out of the Arsenal clash but could be in contention for the trip to Man City in GW21. Jurgen Klopp said: “He will not be available for tomorrow but hopefully the game after that. Alberto Moreno (£4.2m) trained first time completely pain-free yesterday, so will probably be in contention. Dom Solanke (£4.7m) has muscle problems, will not be involved.”
On Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.4m), the Liverpool boss added: “Best news, he has started outside. There was no reaction which is even nicer. No pressure on him but it looks like maybe February/March he could be back in normal training.”
Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.1m) and Fabinho (£5.5m) both scored against Newcastle on Wednesday, with the latter potentially replacing the former in Klopp’s XI if the German gaffer wants greater solidity against the Gunners. Naby Keita (£7.2m) is another option in central midfield. On Arsenal’s attack, Klopp stated: “Their counter-attacks are crazy quick. Outstanding strikers up front, quick on the wings, a really good team.”
Pep Guardiola’s pre-Southampton press conference is (unhelpfully for FPL managers) being held at 1.30pm tomorrow, though at least there should be some fresh Man City updates before the 2.00pm GW19 deadline.
Fernandinho (£5.4m) is considered a doubt for the tie at St Mary’s, while Fabian Delph (£5.3m) begins a three-match ban after seeing red in the GW19 defeat at Leicester.
Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) made his first league start at the King Power stadium, while David Silva (£8.5m) returned from a minor injury via the substitutes’ bench. Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) will be looking for a first start in three gameweeks ahead of Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) or Leroy Sane (£9.6m). Kyle Walker (£6.5m) is a likely returner to the starting XI in place of Danilo
(£5.1m), while Nicolas Otamendi (£6.1m) is the alternative at centre-back with Vincent Kompany (£5.2m) not fit. Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) may return to the matchday squad after missing GW19 with a knock.
Anthony Martial (£7.4m), Alexis Sanchez (£10.0m) and Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m) are all being assessed ahead of Bournemouth’s visit on Sunday. All three, along with Antonio Valencia (£6.4m), were pictured in training today. This morning, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “We've not had a lot of training since [the Huddersfield game]. We had yesterday off so today is the first day back. Romelu [Lukaku], Anthony [Martial] and Alexis were [in] light [training] yesterday so hopefully they can join part of the training today and let's see after they've come through. Marcos Rojo (£4.9m) and Scott McTominay (£4.2m) look like they can take part very soon as well, so it's looking better. Chris Smalling (£5.6m) has got a sore foot, so I don't think we'll see him until the New Year anyway –maybe not even before Spurs [on January 13] probably, around that time, but you never know.”
Ashley Young (£5.7m) and Ander Herrera (£5.0m) could be in line for starts against the Cherries after replacing Diogo Dalot
(£5.3m) and Fred (£5.4m) early in the second half of the win over Huddersfield.
Regarding team news, Rafa Benitez said today: “Ciaran Clark (£4.5m) and Karl Darlow (£4.4m) are still not available. The rest are available, including Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m).”
Ki Sung-yeung (£4.7m) is on international duty at the Asian Cup. Salomon Rondon (£5.8m) is expected to make an immediate return to Benitez’s XI after Joselu (£4.8m) began up top against Liverpool in GW19. Ayoze Perez (£6.1m) will also be hopeful of being reinstated. Shelvey could replace Isaac Hayden (£4.3m) in central midfield, while Christian Atsu (£5.1m) may earn a start on the wing.
Michael Obafemi (£5.0m) remains a doubt for the Saints after missing yesterday’s clash with West Ham, though Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£4.4m) returns after a one-game suspension. Ralph Hasenhuttl said
today: “Michael Obafemi's injury was picked up in training and is a real pity, because I need him. His speed can always make a difference. That's what I expect from Shane Long (£4.7m) also, so hopefully that'll come. You saw yesterday that Mario Lemina (£4.8m) was not 100%, he has problems with his stomach. It's a possibility to rotate, and bring in a few more younger players, so I'll have a look at that. Pierre is a very intelligent player, and he is very important for me. He reads the game very well and we need that.”
The Southampton defence may remain largely the same for Man City’s visit, with Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m) still sidelined and Cedric (£4.3m) not part of the GW19 squad. Long, Charlie Austin (£5.5m) and Mohamed Elyounoussi (£6.1m) are options in attack, while Hasenhuttl could be tempted to opt for an extra body in midfield or at the back due to City’s firepower.
Dele Alli (£8.9m) is “being assessed” ahead of Wolves’ visit. Of the midfielder, who was not in the GW19 matchday squad, Mauricio Pochettino said: “Dele yesterday was involved in the squad but after was out of the 18. But this morning he said to me, ‘Gaffer I’m going to be ready’. I said, ‘Relax, you need to train this morning and then we’ll see tomorrow and assess you’.”
On the possibility of Erik Lamela (£6.2m) starting tomorrow, Poch stated: “Maybe. We need to assess him too because yesterday he wasn’t in his best to play. He was on the bench but we preferred after, when the game was 4-0 or 5-0, not to take a risk with him.”
Serge Aurier (£5.8m) is back in training while Jan Vertonghen
(£5.9m), Mousa Dembele (£4.9m), Eric Dier (£4.8m) and Victor Wanyama (£4.9m) remain out.
Christian Kabasele (£4.4m) will miss GW20 after colliding with a post during Watford’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Wednesday. Will Hughes (£4.9m) and Alberto Penaranda (£5.0m) are both nearing returns. Javi Gracia said: “Both are ready. Maybe Will has trained with the team more times. He doesn't need to train a lot to be ready. Penaranda needs more time because he had to stop for longer. [Kabasele] is not training with the team. After the game he didn't feel very well. He is feeling some pain, but he will be ready soon. I can't tell you when he'll be ready as he has some pain in the shoulder, arm and back.”
Manuel Pellegrini held his pre-Burnley press conference following his post-match presser last night. That GW20 section is embargoed until 10am tomorrow, with doubts over four players for the Hammers. Pablo Zabaleta (£4.3m) missed the win over Southampton with illness, while Chicharito (£6.4m) and Fabian Balbuena (£4.5m) were also absent. Marko Arnautovic (£6.9m) was not fit enough to travel and remains a major doubt
for the Turf Moor trip. Six other long-term injuries meant that Pellegrini only named six substitutes last night. Mark Noble (£4.9m) will seek to earn his place back ahead of Pedro Obiang (£4.3m), while Grady Diangana (£4.5m) is also at risk of dropping out of the starting XI. Andy Carroll (£5.4m) will push for a start ahead of Lucas Perez (£6.2m), though Pellegrini could also pair the strikers in a 4-4-2 as he did for a period in the second half at St Mary’s.
Diogo Jota (£5.9m) will miss the trip to face Spurs after Nuno declared the attacker not yet “100 per cent”.Romain Saiss (£4.2m) will look to keep his place in midfield after scoring Wolves’ equaliser against Fulham in GW19, though Ruben Neves (£5.0m) could join the Moroccan and Joao Moutinho (£5.2m) in midfield if Nuno opts for a more defensive set-up at Wembley. Adama Traore (£5.2m) and Morgan Gibbs-White (£4.3m) are the players most at risk of dropping out, with Ivan Cavaleiro (£5.2m) and Helder Costa
(£4.8m) pushing for starts.
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