Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.4m) is back in full training after illness, while Alex Iwobi (£5.4m) and Stephan Lichtsteiner (£4.5m) require assessment ahead of tomorrow’s game. On rotation amid the fixture glut, Unai Emery said: “I want a performance in each match and our focus is tomorrow. Some players after playing Sunday with a very big intensity and energy, maybe can give us the same intensity and the same energy and I am going to find some players with this energy, this fresh intensity and also quality. But above all is to do the balance between all the individual qualities and capacities for finding the best performance tomorrow.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) looks set to come back into Emery’s XI after being rotated in GW27, possibly in a wide-left role if Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) continues up front. The Arsenal manager’s team selection could have one eye on the clash with Spurs in GW29 this weekeend, however, so there may be some surprises. Denis Suarez (£6.3m) will be pushing for minutes on the wing. On the loan signing, the Gunners boss explained: “I am very demanding of myself to find the best performance with the players. I think Denis Suarez is improving first with the adaptation every day and then his quality can give us a lot. I think it’s not okay today to play 90 minutes, because he needs rhythm, but one possibility is to start tomorrow knowing that. Or, stay on the bench and after he can help us.”
Mesut Ozil (£7.9m) may replace Aaron Ramsey (£7.1m) in the No 10 role. On the German, Emery added: “For Mesut Ozil, Sunday was a good challenge, like we spoke about before, to be in the bench and help us like he is doing in the last 30 minutes. It was a good performance with good spirit and I think we are stronger when every player is like that. His combination in the attacking third is important for us.”
Matteo Guendouzi (£4.4m) could earn a start in central midfield ahead of Lucas Torreira (£4.8m) or Granit Xhaka (£5.2m). Nacho Monreal (£5.4m) is an alternative to Sead Kolasinac (£5.1m) at left-back.
Steve Cook (£4.4m) and Junior Stanislas (£6.0m) join Callum Wilson (£6.3m) and David Brooks
(£5.0m) on the Cherries’ injury list, while Jefferson Lerma (£4.5m) starts a two-game ban. Eddie Howe said
this morning: “We have a few injuries, so many that I can’t remember! Junior will be out, Steve’s had a long-standing groin problem for a couple of months, having moments when it’s been better than in other moments and then in the build up to the game on Saturday it got too much for him. It was a real blow to lose him, he’s been one of the big leaders in our dressing room for some time and we really missed him. Callum and David are improving and doing well. But we haven’t seen them join in training yet and that shows you they won’t be ready for this game. I don’t have a date in mind, but they have to be right to perform for the team. It’s a case of trying to get them back fit for us.”
With options thin on the ground for the Bournemouth boss, Dominic Solanke
(£4.7m) could earn a second start in a row. Charlie Daniels (£4.1m) could come into a three-man backline if Howe opts for a more defensive system away to Arsenal.
On team news, Chris Hughton said on Monday: “Leon Balogun (£4.2m) is the only one not available. Glenn Murray (£6.3m), Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) and Jose Izquierdo (£5.9m) are all back - we have some decisions to make today. Solly March (£4.9m) is also fine and has trained in the last few days - as has Jurgen Locadia (£5.3m) yesterday, he's one we have to make a decision on too. Anthony Knockaert (£5.2m) has been playing well in the cup and we have a competitive squad at the moment. He very much comes into contention, the same as all my players - I was really pleased for him against Derby, I have a lot of decisions to make.”
Sean Dyche has reported that the Clarets have no fresh injuries. Robbie Brady (£5.4m) and particularly Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) – who assisted Ashley Barnes’ (£5.6m) winner against Spurs last Saturday – will be pushing for starts in wide midfield.
On his team’s return to form, Burnley boss Dyche said: “We had a tough first half of the season, with a lot of ups and downs; everyone knows that. But I did say at the end of that run that performances were getting stronger, both individually and collectively. The players have turned that into winning performances and they deserve a lot of credit. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but they continue to enjoy that work and their performances are showing that. We know the last one doesn’t owe us anything though and we have to go and earn anything we get from the next one. That’s always the biggest game.”
Victor Camarasa (£4.6m) looks uncertain to feature for the Bluebirds. Before GW27, Neil Warnock revealed
that Camarasa has his own medical team that are clashing with Cardiff over the midfielder’s fitness. And Warnock said
yesterday: “He’s a very important player to us. It’s been a really big disappointment if I’m honest. I’ve never come across the situation I’ve got at the moment. We’re having physios and medical people from abroad more or less telling us what we can do with him when he’s our player. It’s very difficult, not just for me but for the medical staff as well. When you see somebody flying around and yet they’re not fit it’s because the scan shows something up, I think it’s down to the player really to know. I thought he was fit 10 days ago. They’ve said they didn’t want him playing for 10 days. That’s up today I think.”
Asked if Bobby Reid (£5.2m) and Lee Peltier (£3.9m) are OK following illness, Warnock stated: “Yes, I think so. Pelts is probably the worst one. He ate something yesterday and hopefully he doesn’t bring it back up today!” On that note, the Bluebirds boss added: “We’ve got a bit of a bug going round. One or two lads haven’t been in for a few days, but you just don’t know with them, they could clear up overnight.”
Kenneth Zohore (£4.6m) is set to start with Oumar Niasse (£5.0m) ineligible against his parent club. Warnock said of the striker: “Ken’s been busting a gut to play a game so I’m looking forward to seeing him play. Expectations can’t be too high on him but I think it’ll be an opportunity for him after a few months of toiling.”
Maurizio Sarri has not decided whether or not Kepa (£5.5m) will start at home to Spurs after the keeper’s antics in the EFL Cup final. The Chelsea boss said: “I don’t know, I have to decide yes or no. I think so (he is fit), he only had a recovery yesterday but I think so. It will be the decision of the group, of all the players. I need to send a message to my group, whether Kepa is on the pitch or off it. I have to decide what is better for my group.”
On the absence of Marcos Alonso (£6.4m) from his cup squad, Sarri explained: “I didn’t want another left-back on the bench. At the moment Emerson (£5.2m) is doing very well so I have to use him. It depends on the condition. It is not a big problem to not have a great time at the top.”
Mamadou Sakho (£4.9m) is out for the Eagles, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.5m) remains a doubt. On Sakho, Roy Hodgson said: “We don't know yet, he's being assessed. We have to wait and see what the diagnosis is. But he won't be playing tomorrow, that I can obviously state. I can't yet comment on how serious or minor the injury is.”
Veteran defender Phil Jagielka (£4.3m) could earn a start for the Toffees with Kurt Zouma (£5.0m) suspended and Yerry Mina (£5.4m) only working his way back to fitness from a foot injury. Leighton Baines (£5.0m) is Marco Silva’s only other worry. The Toffees boss said: “Phil has been back working since the start of the break [from GW26]. Leighton, too, has been back but is a little bit doubtful [for Cardiff]. He has worked with us for the last two days and will be monitored. We have one more session so we will see how he is and I will make my decision.”
Claudio Ranieri kept it simple at his presser, stating: “Everyone's available.” Andre Schurrle (£5.5m) could earn a starting berth having recovered from illness.
On team news, Jan Siewert said: “Adama Diakhaby (£4.5m) is still not available; it’ll take time. Isaac Mbenza
(£5.9m) is still injured and Danny Williams (£4.5m) of course. We have some small problems. We are hopeful Erik Durm
(£4.4m) will be back. Alex Pritchard
(£4.8m) is available for tomorrow.”
Tommy Smith (£4.4m) is suspended and further changes sound likely for the Terriers, with the new boss adding: “The least that everyone deserves at this club is that everyone gives 100%. We have to run like hell and after Newcastle [in GW27] I was disappointed. I told the players I wasn’t pleased with that situation. We will need fresh legs against Wolves.”
Ben Chilwell (£5.0m) is available for the Foxes. First-team coach Mike Stowell said yesterday: “We’ve got a fit squad of 23 players. Chilly’s available again as well. Everyone’s fine from the weekend and Chilwell’s back in the squad.”
With Stowell in temporary charge after Claude Puel’s sacking following the 4-1 defeat to Palace in GW27, Leicester’s XI is tough to call – particularly during a midweek set of fixtures. However, Stowell did add on Monday: “Literally, we've had one training session with them because yesterday was a recovery day. We will tweak a few things here and there, but they're not playing poorly, by the way.” Chilwell should reclaim his left-back berth, while Demarai Gray (£5.4m) will be pushing for a start.
Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) could recover for the visit of Watford tomorrow, having been a first-half substitute in GW27 due to an ankle injury. Jurgen Klopp said today: “He looks good, we were obviously lucky. It is not as serious as we thought in the first moment - if Bobby goes down and leaves the pitch it is always a bad sign because he's a pretty hard boy. We play tomorrow and it will be very close for that, but there’s a big chance for the derby [against Everton on Sunday]. Because it’s Bobby, I would say ‘yes [there is a chance for Watford]’, but I don’t know if I would use that chance because we played Sunday and then Wednesday immediately. Writing Bobby off is a big mistake because he recovers pretty quick.”
If Firmino is not risked, Mohamed Salah (£13.6m) could move into the No 9 role. One of Daniel Sturridge
(£5.6m) or Divock Origi (£5.0m) are also options up front. Adam Lallana (£6.9m) offers an alternative pick in attacking midfield. On who might replace the Brazilian if he is ruled out, Reds manager Klopp was coy. He stated: “The players can’t do a lot in that week to show me they are ready. If you play in a club like Liverpool there is a lot of quality and if you need to change and few things then we will. It’s possible Bobby won’t be involved but we have options and we’ll use those at the start of the game and then possibly another option in the second half. Watford don’t know what we are doing.”
Naby Keita (£7.1m) missed training yesterday due to illness, while Dejan Lovren (£4.9m) remains out with a hamstring injury. Klopp explained: “Naby was ill yesterday, unfortunately, but I’ve heard now, I got a message, that he is back for today. We have to see how he is. [Dejan is] getting closer; they are all getting closer, thank God – the injuries don’t get more serious in our rehab. But no, not for tomorrow - nobody else coming back.”
On opponents Watford, the Liverpool boss said: “I don’t think at any time in the history of football a manager thinks about a Sunday game when they’re playing on Wednesday. Against the top six Watford don’t have a lot of possession but they defend deep and we have analysed that. They’re proactive and we need to be ready. We’ll have the ball in the game and we need to do something with that. This is a Premier League game against a good side.”
Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m), Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m), Fernandinho
(£5.3m) and John Stones (£5.2m) are all ruled out for Man City. Pep Guardiola said: “We were without John and Gab and we are still without them. And no Fernandinho and Laporte either. I think John and Gab will be back soon, but the others I'm not sure, maybe Swansea [on March 16, during BGW31]. Ferna can't play against Schalke [on March 12] as he is suspended.”
Benjamin Mendy (£6.1m) could be available for tomorrow’s clash with West Ham. Guardiola added: “Mendy is better, he has trained for the last few days and the reaction has been good. He could be fit.” On deputy left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko
(£4.7m), the City boss stated: “He has showed me the importance and value of being a good guy. At the beginning of the season he was close to making a transfer, and I never saw one bad face or training session from him. He is going to have a long career, here hopefully!”
Guardiola’s side played 120 minutes last Sunday before winning the EFL Cup on penalties against Chelsea. Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) stayed on the pitch for the entire game, so either or both of Leroy Sane (£9.5m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) could earn starts on the wings. Sergio Aguero (£11.6m) also lasted the full match at Wembley, though Jesus’ absence is a positive for the Argentine’s potential pitch time.
Marcus Rashford (£7.7m) could be available for United, though Jesse Lingard (£6.7m), Ander Herrera (£5.0m) and Juan Mata (£6.1m) are all sidelined after sustaining injuries in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Well, the three we had to take off [Herrera, Lingard, Mata], they're not going to be ready. As for Rashy [Marcus Rashford], we're going to work on him for as long as we can to see if he gets ready because that wasn't as bad as we first feared, so luckily I don't think we damaged it any more by him finishing the game. He might have a chance of playing. Then again I don't think there'll be anyone else coming back for this game. So there'll be a chance for the kids.”
That comment rules Nemanja Matic (£5.0m) out for a second gameweek, while Anthony Martial (£7.2m) is also sidelined. Solskjaer added: “Martial is not going to be ready for this one either. We can't risk it, so maybe [he'll be back for] Southampton [in GW29] but we're not going to risk another one too early. In hindsight maybe you can say Jesse was eager, he ticked all the boxes in training, had done all the recovery work and rehab, but maybe it was a couple of days too early, but then again it was Liverpool and he was desperate to be a part of it. Matteo [Darmian] trained the other day, I don't think he'll be ready yet, because he trained yesterday. Marcos [Rojo] has been training, so hopefully will be involved. The muscle injuries - it's still early to think about them. There are quite a few players out. Phil Jones (£5.1m) has been ill, so he's been out for a little while as well with an illness. Antonio Valencia (£6.4m) is a bit off, because he did his calf again, so he's still a few weeks off. He's started running, but he's still a few weeks off.”
If Rashford is not risked, youngster Angel Gomes (£5.0m) could potentially earn a start on the wing. Perhaps more likely is for Solskjaer to change system – Eric Bailly (£5.0m) could slot into a three-man central defence or Fred
(£5.4m) could be used in the 4-4-2 diamond formation that the United boss rolled out against Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Rafa Benitez has a “good problem” ahead of tonight’s home clash with Burnley. The Magpies boss said yesterday: “I said before that almost everybody is fit, we are winning, we played well (against Huddersfield Town), we created chances, so everybody is more or less happy. It’s a problem for me, because I have to make a decision in terms of the squad and the 11 starters. The only thing I can say is that the players who are not involved are training really well and you have to praise them because they are very good professionals.”
On new signing Miguel Almiron (£6.0m), who sustained a heavy challenge during an impressive debut in GW27, Benitez added: “He has no problem. Watching him in training sessions, he plays with the same style – he’s very quick, and he’s trying to also be in the tackle, so he’s not someone who is scared. Hopefully he won’t have this battle any more, but he can cope with that. He did really well. He knew that he could give us pace and energy, and he did it. He was fine on the ball too – he had a great chance, and it was a pity for him not to score. But everything we were expecting from him, he did it and he did it well.”
Michael Obafemi (£5.0m) has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, while Danny Ings (£5.4m) will not be risked at home to Fulham tomorrow. Ralph Hasenhuttl said
today: “It doesn't seem like it's possible to play Danny [against Fulham], the risk is too high. He isn't training with the team at the moment and now we also have a big injury to Michael Obafemi. With Michael we took a long time to reintroduce him. He didn't start from the beginning [against Arsenal] only the second half, but it's a completely different thing training for two weeks and playing in the Premier League. The intensity is much higher. So with Danny, we don't take any risks. It's a big blow for Michael; until the end of the season he won't play. Mario Lemina (£4.7m) is not training with the squad but he's working every day to return.”
Dele Alli (£8.8m) and Eric Dier (£4.7m) remain out
for Spurs. On Alli, Mauricio Pochettino said
today: “Still I don’t know. We need to assess and we’re doing so day by day. We can’t say if he will be available for Dortmund or Southampton [GW30]. Sure not available for tomorrow, after we’ll see.”
Kiko Femenia (£4.2m) remains out for the Hornets, while Jose Holebas (£4.8m) serves the second match of a two-game ban. Javi Gracia said
yesterday: “In this moment we only have Kiko injured. He is training and today he trained with the team but he is not fit. He needs more time to stay in the best condition, but he’s the only player not fit for the next game.”
On the Hammers’ injury situation, Manuel Pellegrini said: “We don't have any new injuries, we have the same players available. Fabian Balbuena (£4.2m) and Winston Reid (£4.4m) have started doing parts of the sessions with us so that is good news for them.”
On Manuel Lanzini (£6.4m), who made his injury return off the bench in GW27, Pellegrini added: “We must be careful with him. He did very well in his 15 minutes and the important thing was that he was not afraid and remembering his knee so we will see what the best way is to get minutes in every game. You must be careful when you give more minutes.”