Petr Cech and John Terry both limp out of Chelsea’s goalless draw with Atletico in Spain, with the keeper now ruled out for the season. Everton’s Kevin Mirallas will also miss the remaining matches due to a groin injury, whilst Sylvain Distin is a big doubt for the Toffees. Etienne Capoue is back in training for Spurs and Chris Brunt is set to be fielded as left-back for West Brom this weekend:
Jose’s Stalemate in Spain
Chelsea were without the services of Eden Hazard last night as they held Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw in their Champions League semi-final first-leg. Ashley Cole was handed a rare start at left back in place of the suspended Branislav Ivanovic, whilst Fernando Torres led the line against his former club in a 4-3-3 formation that saw Jose Mourinho start with three defensive midfielders in an effort to keep out his opponents.
Whilst there were no goals to light up the game, the big news came in the form of injuries to two of Chelsea’s most experienced players. Both Petr Cech and captain John Terry were forced off with problems, with Mourinho confirming post-match that the former won’t feature again this season and the latter likely to face a similar fate:
“Petr Cech’s season’s over. Don’t ask me technically, but season over. And John – we have to play the final for him to play with us.”
The Blues boss also hinted that he may field a weakened side for Sunday’s vital trip to Liverpool. With the second leg of the Atletico clash just three days after the Anfield encounter, Mourinho suggested he could make wholesale changes to his starting XI and focus on Europe instead:
“I would play with the players that are not going to play Wednesday. This is not a decision the manager can make on his own. I’m just a piece in the big club and I have to go with the decision we make collectively. If the club decides to go with everything in the direction of the Champions League, I’m ready for that. We have a big match on Wednesday to play, a big match that can give Chelsea another Champions League final.”
The Scout Says: Job well done for Jose – but at what cost? The losses of Cech and Terry look set to be a massive dent in his side’s European and domestic hopes and will also have ramifications for the Fantasy landscape over the final few weeks of the season. Chelsea’s rearguard have the highest joint ownership of any defence in the Fantasy Premier League game, having provided a constant source of returns during the second half of the season, but that could all be set to change without their captain controlling the backline and their number one goalkeeper between the sticks. Consequently, owners of Liverpool’s attacking assets will be licking their lips at the thought of the likes of Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling coming up against an under-strength Chelsea defence this Sunday, with the away side likely to rely on the inconsistent David Luiz to fill in at the back. For those who still believe Mourinho’s men can continue their defensive form for the last three games of the campaign, Mark Schwarzer’s budget 4.5 price-tag and certainty of starts will entice.
INJURY PROBLEMS FOR EVERTON
Roberto Martinez has confirmed that Kevin Mirallas will miss the last three fixtures of the season after limping out of Sunday’s victory over Manchester United. The Belgian sustained a groin injury in the latter stages of the match and will now sit out the remainder of the campaign.
“Kevin’s scans came back and they have revealed a small tear in his groin. He is going to be out for the season which is a real disappointment and a shame because he was in a phenomenal moment of form. It is not a major injury. It could be anything up to five or six weeks, and that’s looking at the worst-case scenario. Kevin is a quick healer and I would be surprised if he is not available after three or four weeks.”
Martinez also revealed that Sylvain Distin is a doubt for this weekend, having been withdrawn at half-time on Sunday with a hamstring injury:
“It’s very much doubtful. The scans revealed something of a problem but until the swelling clears it is impossible make the right diagnosis. In the next 48 hours we will find out how long Sylvain is going to be out.”
The Scout Says: Yesterday’s news will have come as a bitter blow for Mirallas’ 12% ownership, especially the 12,000 managers who snapped up the Belgian following his goalscoring performance last weekend. Attacking returns in each of his last five performances has seen the wide man acquire something of a late-season bandwagon, despite his continued risk of rotation. The midfielder’s injury now brings the 5.4-priced Gerard Deulofeu firmly back on to our radars; the on-loan Barcelona youngster is likely to replace Mirallas in the starting line-up for the remaining three fixtures of Everton’s season and will be keen to end his loan spell with a flourish. However, his classification as a forward is still a huge stumbling block. Meanwhile Distin’s hamstring complaint could be set to further frustrate his owners, with the centre-back having already missed out on clean sheet points against Manchester United due to his early withdrawal. John Stones is available for a meagre 4.2 and looks the perfect alternative to Distin for those wanting a slice of the Toffees’ in-form defence, who don’t have budget to spare.
CAPOUE RETURNS TO TRAINING
Tottenham midfielder Etienne Capoue back in training, having failed to feature since a 1-0 loss to Norwich in February. Spurs boss Tim Sherwood was, however, quick to emphasise the need to ease the Frenchman back into action after his ankle injury.
“‘It’s great to see him back in training but he has been out for two months, so we have to be careful. We’ll continue to monitor him closely.”
The Scout Says: Despite Capoue returning to full training, Sherwood’s stressing of how “careful” he needs to be with the midfielder means that he looks unlikely to challenge Nacer Chadli or Paulinho for a role in the centre of midfield in the remaining weeks of the season. The 7.1-priced Cristian Eriksen remains the most enticing option in the Spurs midfield, although Aaron Lennon – with two assists in his last two games – looks a decent differential for his side’s strong closing schedule (sto, whm, AVL).
Brunt Set for Defensive Stint
West Brom boss Pepe Mel has admitted he is likely to play Chris Brunt at left-back in the weekend home encounter against West Ham, with Liam Ridgewell almost certain to be ruled out with a knee problem:
“I think he can do a good job in that position. He’s the best option right now. It really is the most important of games for us. It’s a cup final and can be THE game to spur us on and give us life. It’s vital.”
The Scout Says: Having returned from injury in time for his side’s previous home game with Spurs, Brunt grabbed a goal in the 3-3 draw to suggest he could yet play a pivotal part in the Baggies’ last few matches. A shift to defence will more or less kill any appeal, with Graham Dorrans and Morgan Amalfitano the best options amongst the West Brom midfield – both have notched twice in the last four and, priced at 4.4 and 4.2 respectively, have a double Gameweek 37 on either side of home encounters with the Hammers and Stoke.