Friday, September 21, 2018
The mysterious case of the missing Mendy was solved on Friday, well almost, as Pep responded tersely to questions about the French full-back. His knee, no ankle, no foot injury is only believed to be minor, but Guardiola wasn’t giving any clues on a potential return. City will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing Champions League defeat which earned them the unwanted accolade of becoming the only English team in the competitions history to lose four consecutive matches.
Tottenham were hoping a break in Premier League proceedings would provide a badly needed confidence boost, but two late set-pieces goals in Milan sent Spurs packing with nil points. The normally unflappable Pochettino is clearly feeling the pressure following his sides third straight loss.
We’re only five matches in and the Top Three already looks done and dusted while the Bottom Four doesn’t look too far off either.
Fulham – vs – Watford
Slavisa Jokanovic vows to continue his attacking approach despite conceding 12-goals already this term, the most in the top-flight. “People criticise other coaches because they are so defensive to try to win the game. In our case, people ask if we can be more pragmatic. For me, being pragmatic is to be more brave and to choose the best way to win the game.” Tom Cairney and Neeskens Kebano are still recovering from respective ankle injuries. Defender Tim Ream will also miss out, but he has started working with the squad. “Which is great news for the team and supporters.”
Deulofeu is edging closer to making his first appearance of the campaign. Foot [and groin] problem(s) have kept the winger out of the matchday squad so far, however… “Gerard is training, but not with the team. I think after one test [on Saturday], we’ll see if it is possible [that he can rejoin the group] next week.” He may even be considered for the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. Tom Cleverly [Achilles] is the only other confirmed absentee as he battles his way back from surgery.
Burnley – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Sean Dyche says Burnley have “gone full circle” in a very short time following a disappointing start to the season. The Clarets are back to being underdogs as they target their first win of the Premier League campaign. Steven Defour and Robbie Brady played in a behind-closed-doors game this week, but neither is ready to be involved with the first team, however, they are getting closer to a return. Centre-back Ben Gibson is expected to be side-lined for a “few weeks” after successfully undergoing a hernia operation.
Generally, the Cherries are in pretty good shape, but Eddie Howe admitted there are a one or two concerns. “Charlie Daniels [knee] is still a doubt and Kyle Taylor looks like he’s picked up a calf problem.” Stanislas ‘could’ feature after playing his first minutes of the season for U21s on Tuesday. “I’m really pleased for Junior,” the Bournemouth boss said. “He’s had a long time out of action, but it didn’t look like that. He did well [but] you’ll have to wait and see what if he features.”
Cardiff City – vs – Manchester City
Neil Warnock confirms there are “two or three lads we’ll have to make decisions on” due to little niggles and a “bit of a virus” which has spread through the Cardiff camp this week. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing [PCL knee injury] remains out long-term while Josh Murphy [hamstring] will face a late fitness test. Harry Arter is over the bout of sickness which forced him off at half-time during the loss to Chelsea. The Bluebirds boss reveals Gunnarsson has suffered a setback in his recovery from an ongoing knee problem. “Aron picked up another knock in midweek. We’ll have to wait, I don’t know the extent.”
Benjamin Mendy has been ruled out again. Initially reported as a knee problem, Pep now states that the full-back has a foot injury – or more specifically a bruised metatarsal – which could keep Mendy out for days, weeks or even longer. The problem is believed to be minor, and if true, I’d expect him to be playing again before the international break. Guardiola was reluctant to put a time frame on the return of Kevin de Bruyne despite the player himself advising that he is targeting the Manchester Derby in November. “The doctor says he’s doing so well, doing good, but we have to see how he reacts on the training pitch.” Danilo and Claudio Bravo are ruled out while Philippe Sandler has stepped up his recovery from knee surgery.
Crystal Palace – vs – Newcastle United
Roy Hodgson says there are no fresh injury concerns, and apart from Christian Benteke [knee], the Eagles have a clean bill of health. However, that’s not entirely true as Scott Dann and Connor Wickham remain out with knee and calf injuries respectively. Pape Souaré [muscular] has been training with the group.
Florian Lejeune [ACL knee] is the only confirmed injury absentee for Newcastle who travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday. Jamaal Lascelles [twisted ankle] missed sessions earlier in the week, but he is training again and will be fine. Jonjo Shelvey is hoping for his first start in over a month after overcoming a thigh injury. “It was a big risk to play him [vs Arsenal] he would give everything – and maybe that would be more dangerous because he could be injured for a long time.” Salomon Rondon had to settle for a place on the bench last weekend following his late return from international duty, but he is back in contention.
Leicester City – vs – Huddersfield Town
Claude Puel must consider his options at centre-back after Wes Morgan was sent-off against Bournemouth. “They [Çağlar Söyüncü and Jonny Evans] are both match fit [and] I will make a decision. I am happy with the work from both. Jonny deserves to play, he is a very experienced player.” The Leicester boss could also drop Maguire who looked jaded at the Vitality Stadium. “Harry has played a lot of games, but I will analyse it,” he said. “If I rest him for this game and we lose, I know I will be criticised.” Matty James [Achilles] is recovering from surgery. “We have patience. We want him to come back with a smile.”
“Everyone is healthy apart from Ramadan Sobhi,” revealed David Wagner. “We have the hope that shortly before the international break he will be back in team training.” Kongolo has been working with the group after shaking off a minor knock. Erik Durm is “ready” to be called upon if required. The German defender picked up a minor back problem on the eve of last weekend’s game and missed out altogether. “He’s shown the quality he has and he’s in full contention.” Jonathan Hogg returns following his recent ban. “He’s one of our leaders. It’s important he’s back in our group. He will help us for sure tomorrow, but for how long we will see.”
Liverpool – vs – Southampton
Saturday comes too soon for Dejan Lovren, but the centre-back is “close” to a return. He worked on grass this week and looks “really fit” said Klopp. Dominic Solanke trained for the first time on Friday having suffered concussion while playing for the development side, but Divock Origi is still feeling the aftereffects of his ankle injury and he won’t rejoin the team until Sunday. Adam Lallana [groin] is getting closer and closer. “He is not too far away from the team for sure.” Roberto Firmino is fit and ready to start the game and Klopp hinted that the Brazilian could play alongside Daniel Sturridge as some point. The Liverpool manager is not concerned by Mo Salah’s lack of goals. “It’s completely normal for an offensive player that you have times when you’re not scoring. He’s in a good shape. Finishing is something you never can take for granted.”
Mark Hughes reveals the Saints have a “couple of issues” ahead of Saturdays game. “Our main concern is Manolo [Gabbiadini], who unfortunately pulled up in training. It looks like he has an issue with his lower hamstring behind the knee; we think it might be a neural thing. We’ll check in the morning to see if it’s settled down.” Danny Ings sits this one out due to the terms of his loan agreement.
Manchester United – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Diogo Dalot won’t be involved this weekend, instead Mourinho will keep the youngster fresh for the Carabao Cup tie on Tuesday evening. “It’s difficult enough for a 19-year-old kid to come from another country to play for United, without accumulation of matches.” Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic are both serving domestic bans. Phil Jones has recovered from a hamstring strain but Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof are expected to retain their places. “The team is more compact and solid. Communication has improved. Good results bring confidence.” Ander Herrera [ankle] and Marcos Rojo are both ruled out.
Nuno Espírito Santo has no fresh injury worries to contend with as the Portuguese boss goes up against a familiar advisory. The Wolves boss was part of the Porto squad that Mourinho led to Champions League glory in 2004. Adama Traore is pushing for a start, but the newly promoted side have been unchanged all season, and with back-to-back wins it seems likely that it will stay that way at Old Trafford. Loan signing – Leander Dendoncker – is yet to make the matchday squad, and unless there are any late withdrawals, the Belgium international will probably be omitted from the 18 again. Ivan Cavaleiro is still struggling due to a persistent back complaint.
Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
The Seagulls came from two goals down to grab a draw at St Mary’s on Monday night and will fancy their chances against a Tottenham side lacking in confidence. The only player currently ruled out is Pascal Gross – ankle – but there are a couple of doubts. “Andone and Izquierdo are ones we’ll have to make decision. Neither have had first team minutes aside from friendlies but they’re in good shape at the moment.”
Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli [both hamstring] are back in full training, but Pochettino will leave a decision on their involvement until the last moment. Hugo Lloris continues his rehabilitation from the thigh injury he suffered prior to the international break. “We hope [he will be playing] as soon as possible, but we think next week, if everything goes to plan in training.” Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier will return to the matchday squad after they missed the midweek trip to Inter Milan due to “technical reasons”.
West Ham United – vs – Chelsea
Marko Arnautovic was replaced at Everton because of a problem with his knee and Pellegrini will wait and see if his in-form striker is fit for Sunday. “He played well, and we hope he will recover.” Javier Hernandez is still sick, and Wilshere has a problem with his ankle which could keep him out for around 6 weeks. “The doctor can say more about Jack. He has a screw in his ankle from his last surgery years ago.” Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid and Andy Carroll are long-term. Yarmolenko is looking to add to his two-goal haul at Goodison Park. “I said before that it would take him a few weeks to get used to the Premier League. He has a lot of quality and he demonstrated that. This performance showed he is a top player,” beamed Pellegrini.
Pedro was injured in Greece on Thursday and the winger faces a late fitness test. “The problem is [his] shoulder, but I don’t know exactly the situation,” said Sarri following the 1-0 win. “The doctor told me that probably it’s not a very serious injury.” Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovacic should be available despite limping off during the win over Cardiff City. His thigh injury – a dead leg – is “nothing serious.” Cesc Fabregas [knee] was handed valuable minutes vs POAK while Ruben Loftus-Cheek [shin] was named in the matchday squad.
Arsenal – vs – Everton
There’s not a great deal of change in the Gunners treatment room. Sead Kolasinac is progressing well and aiming for a return to play by mid-October. Ainsley Maitland-Niles [fractured fibula] is working on a similar timeline. Carl Jenkinson [ankle] won’t return until November and Laurent Koscielny [Achilles] should be back with the group in around 6-8 weeks. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played 90 minutes against Vorskla in the Europa League on Thursday, but he sustained a right ankle injury and needs to be assessed. Similarly, Lucas Torreira, who was seen icing his right knee following his withdrawal on the hour mark. “He got two hits on his leg. I hope tomorrow and Saturday he is good to be OK for Sunday.”
On the Everton injury front – Phil Jagielka [knee], Andre Gomes [hamstring] and Seamus Coleman [foot] remain out but Richarlison is back from suspension. Michael Keane [fractured skull] has started training with the first-team. “I want all of them in a good condition to have more competition and be stronger in the training ground,” said Marco Silva. Summer signing Yerry Mina has been working all week with the squad, but the Everton boss wouldn’t be drawn on whether the Colombian would finally make his debut. “He is getting better every day,” having been side-lined through injury since his arrival.