Ben Dinnery

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Late Fitness Check GW22

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Premier League is back after a brief pause in proceedings. Liverpool lead the pack, but a defensive crisis threatens to derail their title charge. Fabinho could come to the rescue of Jurgen Klopp to play alongside Virgil van Dijk if the German decides that Joel Matip is too much of a gamble after a month out.


City on the other hand are looking better than they have done all season and they could be more/less injury-free before the end of the month. Sergio Aguero is a slight doubt for the Champions, but with a four-goal haul midweek, and an upturn in form (which coincided with a family visit from Brazil), Pep will have no qualms about starting Gabriel Jesus.


Third placed Tottenham have bounced back nicely following the shock home defeat by Wolves (GW20) winning three on the spin, and maximum points on Sunday would move Spurs back into second spot for at least 24 hours. But, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are up against a United side full of confidence and with Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele all missing from midfield, the home side will have it all to do as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer targets a sixth consecutive victory.   


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West Ham United – vs – Arsenal

No fresh concerns which means Marko Arnautovic will be available for the early kick-off. "Injured players are exactly the same as last week, so we don't have any news about that!" Manuel Pellegrini confirms former Gunner Samir Nasri will be included in the matchday 18. "I think it was very useful for him to play 60 minutes in the FA Cup. He has demonstrated he is able to be involved against Arsenal, at least in the squad list." Javier Hernandez (back and hamstring) won't recover and Fabian Balbuena is set for more time out following a setback in training. The defender had surgery on his left knee earlier this week and has been ruled out for between 6-8 weeks.


Hector Bellerin (calf), Laurent Koscielny (back spasm), Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring), Nacho Monreal (hamstring) and Mesut Ozil (knee) have all been working with the team this week. "We need to do the last [session] before West Ham [to see who can play]," said Unai Emery. Dinos Mavropanos (groin) could play for the U23s on Monday night.



Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Liverpool

Bernardo will remain sidelined with Gaetan Bong due to start in the league for the first time in two months. "It is a hamstring strain that he has - a minor one - which is the good news, so it is going to be about how he responds." Jose Izquierdo (knee) remains out while Mat Ryan and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are on international duty (Asian Cup). "No other fresh injuries."


Joel Matip (fractured collarbone) trained for the first time with the team on Thursday "but we have to see.” The centre-back says he “feels good” and Klopp may be tempted to throw him straight back in. “[We] decide day-to-day.” Jordan Henderson (calf) re-joined the group on Friday but Joe Gomez (lower leg) and Adam Lallana are ruled out along with team-mate Dejan Lovren. “[His hamstring injury] is serious otherwise he would play, but it is not that serious. It is a muscle thing and I would expect him back after maybe Crystal Palace.”



Burnley – vs – Fulham

Sean Dyche confirms that Lowton and Bardsley could be available for the visit of Fulham. "Matt is settling down, I think he’s got a good chance, and Phil has a decent chance as well. Lowts is probably just in front of him.” Gudmundsson faces a late fitness test. “Johann has a minor one (injury), but we’re hopeful. He finished the game but has missed a few days with his thigh." Nick Pope, Stephen Ward and Steven Defour returned to the matchday squad in the FA Cup and all three came through the tie "with no reactions." Aaron Lennon (knee) is ruled out through injury while Robbie Brady is suspended.


Alfie Mawson (knee) will remain on the sidelines as the club are still waiting for an exact diagnosis of the injury which he suffered against Huddersfield Town (GW20). No timeline on a possible return. "He has started rehabilitation. We will see day-by-day." Fulham could cut Timothy Fosu-Mensah's loan agreement short as Claudio Ranieri looks to bring in some experience. "It’s much better for him to find solution because here it is a bit closed." Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is available after missing the previous 5-matches while Neeskens Kebano could shake off a minor injury.


Cardiff City – vs – Huddersfield Town

"We’ve got a few players with knocks," confirms Neil Warnock. "[But] most of them trained yesterday, so we’ll have to wait and see." The list includes Harry Arter and Victor Camarasa who missed the FA Cup defeat at Gillingham. Kadeem Harris will be monitored after he was taken to hospital to have a shoulder problem checked while Danny Ward suffered an injury during the same game. "He was headbutted in his cheekbone as he's gone to flick it on." Kenneth Zohore (thigh) is looking sharp. "He starts full-time training next week. His eyes are bright and it’s nice to see. He’s worked really hard. It was disappointing to lose him on the Man United." The striker has an outside chance of being involved at Newcastle (GW23). "He’ll be struggling to get back for next weekend. He might get on the bench."


Tommy Smith (hamstring) began working with the team on Wednesday without issues. Hamid Sabiri (fractured collarbone) is taking part in aspects of the training and could re-join the group fully after his X-Ray. Aaron Mooy (knee) might return before the end of January but Danny Williams is expected to be sidelined until March. Christopher Schindler returns to the matchday squad after completing his one-match ban in the FA Cup.



Crystal Palace – vs – Watford

Roy Hodgson refused to rule out Christian Benteke following a return to full training. "He's short of match practice and sharpness that you get from playing games. It would be a risk to some extent, but there's no reason to write him off." Pape Souaré has had surgery after dislocating his shoulder in the FA Cup. The defender is targeting a return to play in March. “Our squad has been reduced by letting five players go, which is a lot to lose. But we still have 22 players. Three goalkeepers and 19 outfield players and I believe strongly in that group. We have to hope that we will not get injuries.”


Andre Gray and Christian Kabasele have returned to full training meaning Sebastian Prödl (knee) is the only member of the squad currently injured. "We have 26 players ready," said Javi Gracia ahead of the Palace game. "This is good news for us." However, neither player is expected to feature at Selhurst Park. "It's a little bit soon for them to play in one or two days, but we'll see," the Watford boss revealed. "We have more options and I think it will be better if we continue, keep training and we'll see their evolution."



Leicester City – vs – Southampton

A broken toe rules Jonny Evans out of the game. "We will try to manage for a few weeks. He needs to have 45 days' recovery, but I hope we can use him earlier." Apart from Daniel Amartey (broken ankle). "We have no other problems." Harvey Barnes has been recalled from his loan spell at West Brom and Claude Puel confirms the 21-year-old will be available for tomorrow. “He can add to us. I’m happy about his progress. He played very well. It is a good moment for him to come home and help his teammates."


Ryan Bertrand trained on Thursday following his recovery from back surgery, but the Leicester game "is much too early." The 29-year-old must build fitness before Ralph Hasenhüttl will consider him for the first-team. Michael Obafemi is taking "longer than we first thought" to recover from a tendon injury leaving the Saints a little short of attackers after Manolo Gabbiadini joined Sampdoria on Friday. Meanwhile, Danny Ings (hamstring) "can be an option for the Everton game" and Sam Gallagher won’t be too far behind as he is back on the training pitches. "[He had] two sessions this week, not 100 per cent, but most of the [time] he was with the team and he looks good." Stuart Armstrong (ankle) is expected to be available, however, the club are should hear from the Football Association soon regarding a potential ban for Charlie Austin. It relates to an 'abusive and/or insulting' hand gesture made during the game against Manchester City. Maya Yoshida is at the Asian Cup. Mario Lemina (abdominal) and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (suspended) will also miss out.



Chelsea – vs – Newcastle United

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is out of tomorrow's game but Alvaro Morata has recovered from a minor hamstring problem and "maybe able to play". Chelsea confirm Cesc Fabregas has now left the club signing a 3.5-year deal with Monaco. Maurizio Sarri describes Willian as an important player and that it is "impossible" to lose him during the January window - reports on Friday suggest Barcelona are interested in the Brazilian. The Blues boss believes the winger can still be better. "His potential is high, he can score more and his movement off the ball [can improve]." Callum Hudson-Odoi will be assessed. The winger looked tired in training after two games in three days.


Federico Fernandez (hip) and Ciaran Clark (ankle) have been passed fit for the game at Stamford Bridge. Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett, who were in Barcelona this week meeting with a specialist, are ruled out. Florian Lejeune came through the FA Cup tie versus Blackburn unscathed and will come into Rafa Benitez's plans. The United boss admits that one/two players still need to be assessed but Karl Darlow (elbow) remains on the sidelines. Kenedy is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement. No word on Mo Diame who could miss out. Benitez was hopeful immediately after the Manchester United clash (GW21), but the midfielder hasn’t been seen on the training pitches. “It is in the hip and the groin. He has had this problem before and we hope it will not be serious. Normally he is fine in a couple of days.” Ki Sung-Yeung and Muto are at the Asian Cup.



Everton – vs – AFC Bournemouth

The Toffees can boast a clean bill of health after Ademola Lookman made a goalscoring return to the side in last weekends’ FA Cup third-round win over Lincoln City. James McCarthy was an unused substitute in that game, but despite the midfielder needing minutes after a year out, Marco Silva will not consider moving him out on-loan. Leighton Baines could be in line for his first league start since August with Lucas Digne being deployed in a more advanced left-wing role to help accommodate the veteran defender. “Let's see what decision I make."


Eddie Howe says Joshua King (illness) faces a late fitness test. Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser are also managing minor issues, although the latter has been seen on the training pitches. A final decision is likely to be made after the session on Saturday. "Nathaniel (Clyne) has settled in well. He's trained very well, and I was pleased with his performance last week. We haven't seen Dominic in training just yet.” The £17m signing is working individually and is not expected to be available until February. Club captain Simon Francis goes under the knife after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on Boxing Day. "He had an operation on Monday and it was a success. He has started his recovery and we send our best wishes to him.”



Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Manchester United

Despite a return to training, Sunday comes too soon for Eric Dier (appendicitis). Victor Wanyama is the only other definite absentee while Lucas Moura faces a fitness test on the knee injury which kept him out of the Carabao Cup tie (vs Chelsea) midweek. Jan Vertonghen (thigh) and Mousa Dembele (ankle) are training with the group although the pair lack match fitness. Pochettino will make a late decision on whether either player will be included in the squad as there are other options.


Ole Gunnar Solksjaer reveals Paul Pogba is likely to make Sundays' trip to Wembley. “He looked okay towards the end [of the training camp], so he'll be fit,” said the caretaker boss. “He did have some problems, but he came through the last couple of sessions well, so he should be okay.” Marcos Rojo has returned to his homeland. “He's gone back to Argentina for a while with his injury. For him, it's mentally important to get away and come back fresh again.” No mention of Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) who trained away from the main group in Dubai. Chris Smalling (foot) faces a late fitness test having been sidelined for almost a month – Eric Bailly serves the final game of his three-match ban.



Manchester City – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Pep says Sergio Aguero was sick immediately after the win over Liverpool (GW21). "Today was his first training session." Vincent Kompany is recovering. "He’s getting better," Guardiola said. "But I don't know if they'll be ready for Monday.... I hope so." Benjamin Mendy (knee) could return before the end of the month. Claudio Bravo (Achilles) is ruled out. "The rest are fit."


No injury concerns for Nuno Espírito Santo ahead of the game on Monday night. Diogo Jota and Adama Traore (both hamstring) have shaken off niggles in recent weeks while Romain Saïss (knee) is also available.

Ben Dinnery is a leading expert on Premier League injuries and the Founder of Premier Injuries. He is the man behind the PL Injury Table at as well as a contributor of injury commentary to The Huffington Post UK,, @MetroUK, @EurosportCom_EN, Fantasy Football Pundits, talkSPORT and @bbc5live. He can be found on Twitter @BenDinnery.
Email :Ben Dinnery

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