Leighton Baines has been ruled out for Everton this weekend. Mikel Arteta may be out for the season with an ankle problem, Cheick Tiote is expected to return for Newcastle, while Martin O’Neill hints at changes for Sunderland over the final few changes of the season:
Leighton Baines is out of this week’s trip to Old Trafford. Everton confirmed earlier today that the left-back will miss out after sustaining a hamstring problem towards the end of last Saturday’s FA Cup Semi-Final defeat to Liverpool. One of the most consistent starters in the Premier League, Baines played every minute for the Toffees last season and has missed just one match this time round – ironically, the Gameweek 33 match with Sunderland, as David Moyes chose to rest him ahead of the Wembley showdown.
While some local media reports suggest the left-back could be out for the season, the Toffees haven’t been quite so pessimistic with their prognosis but his absence at the weekend will significantly weaken their left flank – good news for owners of Antonio Valencia, then, with the flying winger likely to be up against Phil Neville. The news is a huge concern for Baines’ 7% of Fantasy owners ahead of the upcoming double Gameweek 36, with the left-back pencilled in by many ahead of clashes with Fulham and Stoke. Baines’ possible absence would boost Nikica Jelavic’s appeal further for Fantasy managers; the 5.8 price forward is likely to be the first-choice free-kick and penalty taker in his absence.
Reports suggest Mikel Arteta could be out for the season after picking up an ankle injury in Arsenal’s home defeat by Wigan on Monday night. The Spaniard was subbed off after just eight minutes of the Latics game, with Arsene Wenger admitting after the match the problem could be “very serious”. The Gunners are faced with something of a midfield headache ahead of this Saturday’s home clash against Chelsea – Yossi Benayoun is ineligible and Abou Diaby is short of match-fitness, meaning Aaron Ramsey is likely to cover in the middle, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battling it out with Gervinho for a place on the left.
Cheick Tiote is expected to be available for Newcastle’s home clash with Stoke this weekend. The midfielder has returned to full training after overcoming the hamstring problem that has hampered his recent game time – his comeback is a timely boost as the Magpies push for a European place. Alan Pardew is sweating on the fitness of both James Perch and Danny Guthrie, though; the pair face late fitness tests to overcome thigh and calf problems respectively. Pardew also revealed Tim Krul missed training earlier today with a jarred back, but is expected to be fit in time for Saturday’s showdown.
Jermaine Pennant is a doubt for Stoke ahead of their trip to Tyneside. The winger has been struggling to shake off a flu bug picked up over the last few days – Fantasy owners of Ryan Shotton will be hoping the 4.0 priced defender is afforded further opportunity on the right flank in Pennant’s possible absence ahead of the double Gameweek 36 home clashes with Arsenal and Everton. Today’s news that Andy Wilkinson is available after a recent groin strain could further Shotton’s chances of a move to midfield; with the former offering coverage at right-back, Shotton could return to a role on the right wing.
David Luiz is out of Chelsea’s trip to Arsenal this weekend. The centre-half missed last night’s Champions League win over Barcelona, with Gary Cahill partnering John Terry after recovering from a minor foot problem. Roberto Di Matteo confirmed Luiz will miss the second leg of the Barca tie next midweek and, with doubts over his availability, Cahill could prove to be a strong short-term prospect, with the Blues facing three home games in the final three Gameweeks of the campaign.
Roberto Martinez revealed earlier this morning that Shaun Maloney could return for Wigan ahead of this weekend’s trip to Fulham. Maloney’s absence was hardly felt last Monday at Arsenal, though, as replacement Jordi Gomez returned a goal and assist in the 2-1 win – even if the Scot is available, Martinez clearly has a selection dilemma on his hands. Both Hugo Rodallega and Albert Crusat will miss out, though; the latter is likely to be sidelined for a fortnight with a calf problem picked up in training.
With Sunderland’s top-flight safety firmly secured, Martin O’Neill has admitted he is now looking to run the rule over his squad as he assesses his options ahead of next season. The Black Cats have been somewhat lacklustre in recent weeks, failing to score in each of their last three fixtures, and the Irishman revealed yesterday he is looking to freshen things up ahead over the last four games of the season:
For us to strengthen, of course, we would have to look at it. I wouldn’t mind some of the younger players who probably under match conditions, I maybe don’t know enough about- I would like to see them maybe get a little bit more match-time. How do you approach that with trying to get results at the same time? It’s a balancing act at the moment where I have got to just maybe look at the bigger picture.
Matt Jarvis is set for a return to the Wolves first XI this weekend as the midlands outfit square up to City. The winger dropped to the bench at Sunderland last time out and was afforded a half-hour sub role but Terry Connor revealed today it was just a precautionary measure, with the midlands outfit playing three games over the space of eight days.
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For Gameweek 38
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