Team News

Line-up Lessons – Gameweek 27 – Part One

Olivier Giroud is handed his first start for Chelsea as Marcos Alonso misses out again. Riyad Mahrez marks his return to the Leicester squad with an appearance off the bench at Man City, while Gylfi Sigurdsson justifies his first-team recall with a goal as Everton see off Crystal Palace at Goodison Park.

Here’s part one of Line-up Lessons, assessing the teamsheets and formations from Gameweek 27, with one eye on what’s to come over the midweek Champions League and Europa League knockout stages, weekend FA Cup fixtures and beyond.

Arsenal

Starting XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Wilshere, Elneny (Iwobi 65), Xhaka (Welbeck 86); Ozil, Mkhitaryan (Lacazette 65), Aubameyang. Subs not used: Ospina, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac.

  • What we saw: Arsene Wenger decided to use a three-man midfield against Tottenham Hotspur, with Mohamed Elneny and Jack Wilshere starting alongside Granit Xhaka in the absence of the injured Aaron Ramsey. Mesut Ozil (right) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (left) flanked Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack. Petr Cech recovered from a calf injury to start in goal. The introduction of Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette saw the Gunners switch to a 4-2-3-1, with Iwobi on the right, while Lacazette played as the lone striker, seeing Aubameyang drift across to an inside-left position. Danny Welbeck entered the fray late on as Arsenal pushed for a late equaliser.
  • What we learned: Considering that the Gunners aren’t scheduled to play their Gameweek 28 fixture against Manchester City until Thursday March 1, Ramsey should have enough time to recover from a minor groin problem to be available to face the leaders. But Arsene Wenger’s side face two legs of their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 ties against Oestersunds FK before then, as well as the EFL Cup final against City. Wenger has indicated that, following the FA Cup exit, he will field a far stronger line-up in Europe though he will be hampered up front with news today that Alexandre Lacazette is ruled out for four to six weeks having undergone minor knee surgery. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied, so it will likely be Danny Welbeck taking the striker’s role on Thursday. Come Gameweek 28, Ramsey could replace Elneny in midfield, with other changes perhaps unlikely providing no fresh injuries are sustained. That is, of course, presuming that the Gunners’ clash goes ahead; it will need to be rescheduled should Man City draw with Wigan in the FA Cup next Monday night, as they would be required to play their replay against the Latics in that midweek slot instead.

Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Central midfield

Bournemouth

Starting XI: Begovic; Francis, S Cook (A Smith 70), Ake; Fraser, L Cook, Gosling, Daniels; Ibe (King 58), Wilson, Stanislas (Mousset 65). Subs not used: Boruc, Surman, Arter, Simpson.

  • What we saw: With Steve Cook passed fit following a hamstring injury, Eddie Howe decided to stick with the 3-4-2-1 formation he’s favoured in recent matches against Huddersfield Town. Ryan Fraser retained his start at right wing-back, although Adam Smith was fit to return to the bench after recovering from a thigh problem. With his side trailing 3-1, Howe decided to switch to a 4-2-3-1 system, with substitutes Josh King and Lys Mousset joining Fraser in the attacking midfield positions, while Adam Smith came on to play at right-back.
  • What we learned: After suffering a disappointing 4-1 defeat, Howe may consider starting with a 4-2-3-1 formation against Newcastle United in Gameweek 28. That change in system would boost King’s chances of earning a starting berth, with Steve Cook or Simon Francis perhaps making way. Francis could also challenge Adam Smith for the role right-back in a four-man defence, with Fraser offering an alternative to Jordon Ibe and Junior Stanislas on the flanks. The likes of Andrew Surman and Harry Arter could be considered for recalls in central midfield should Howe look to ring the changes.

Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Right-back, central defenders, central midfield, flanks, attacking midfield

Brighton & Hove Albion

Starting XI: Ryan; Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; March (Knockaert 86), Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo; Gross (Kayal 78), Murray (Ulloa 71). Subs not used: Krul, Bruno, Goldson, Locadia.

  • What we saw: The Seagulls lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for the trip to Stoke City, with the only change seeing Solly March return on the right of the attacking midfield trio in place of Anthony Knockaert.
  • What we learned: The Brighton line-up continues to look settled, although Chris Hughton now has plenty of options in attack. March and Knockaert look set to continue battling for one spot out wide, given the form of Jose Izquierdo, while Leonardo Ulloa and Jurgen Locadia, who was an unused substitute at the weekend, are alternatives to Glenn Murray up front. Bruno and Markus Suttner are possible options in the full-back areas, although Ezequiel Schelotto and Gaetan Bong appear to be Hughton’s favoured duo.

Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Right wing, lone striker

Burnley

Starting XI: Pope; Lowton, Long, Mee, Taylor; Lennon (Arfield 74), Cork, Hendrick, Gudmundsson (Nkoudou 85); Barnes, Vokes (Wells 81). Subs not used: Lindegaard; O’Neill, Ward, Westwood.

  • What we saw: Sean Dyche only made one alteration for the trip to Swansea City, with Matt Lowton replacing the injured Phil Bardsley at right-back. The Clarets lined up in a 4-4-2, with Ashley Barnes partnering Sam Vokes up front. As was the case in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Aaron Lennon switched flanks at half-time, having started on the left and right side of midfield respectively.
  • What we learned: Given that Burnley’s next match, at home to Southampton, is on Saturday 24 February, Dyche will hope some of his injured players are available for selection. Stephen Ward was back on the bench at Swansea and should be an option to replace Charlie Taylor at left-back, while, if he recovers from a hamstring injury, Bardsley could challenge for a recall at right-back at the expense of Lowton. James Tarkowski is another who may have a chance of returning following a groin problem, putting Kevin Long’s start at risk. Chris Wood’s knee injury is perhaps more of a concern, so Barnes and Vokes could continue in attack, with the alternative seeing Jeff Hendrick return to a central support role, allowing Ashley Westwood a spot in midfield. Scott Arfield and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou are the alternatives out wide, while the two-week break should allow Tom Heaton to build up his fitness to potentially push for a recall in goal in place of Nick Pope.

Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Goalkeeper, full-backs, central defenders, central midfield

Chelsea

Starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen (Cahill 74), Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Pedro (Willian 80), Giroud (Morata 61), Hazard. Subs not used: Caballero, Ampadu, Emerson, Drinkwater.

  • What we saw: Antonio Conte handed a first start to Oliver Giroud against West Bromwich Albion, with the Frenchman fielded as the lone striker in the usual 3-4-2-1 formation. That meant Eden Hazard returned to a support role flanking the lone striker, with Pedro alongside him. Cesc Fabregas came in for the suspended Tiemoue Bakayoko in central midfield. Antonio Rudiger and the fit-again Andreas Christensen replaced David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the three-man backline, while Marcos Alonso twisted an ankle in training on Saturday, so Davide Zappacosta retained his start at left wing-back. Alvaro Morata made an earlier than expected return to first-team action following a back injury, taking over from Giroud as the lone striker for the final 30 minutes.
  • What we learned: Considering that Chelsea’s next league match is against Man United, it’s very likely that Conte will field his strongest possible line-up if possible. In terms of schedule, Chelsea face Hull in the FA Cup on Friday, while their Champions League clash with Barcelona – which takes place four days later – is five days before their trip to Old Trafford on Sunday February 25. They then have another week before facing Man City in the league, though if they draw against Hull, the cup replay would need to be played between the two Manchester matches. Alonso would seem unlikely to be risked against Hull but should be in line to return for Gameweek 28 depending on whether he appears and comes through the Barcelona tie. Elsewhere, Giroud and Morata may now alternate in the role up front with Friday’s line-up sure to offer some early clues on that. Willian will continue to threaten Pedro’s minutes, although if Conte switches to the more defensive 3-5-1-1 system, both players could miss out, with Danny Drinkwater or Bakayoko coming into the midfield.

Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Left wing-back, central midfield, attacking midfield, lone striker

Crystal Palace

Starting XI: Hennessey: Ward, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Van Aanholt: Cabaye, Milivojevic, McArthur: Sorloth, Benteke, Townsend. Subs not used: Henry, Chung-yong, Souare, Delaney, Wan-Bissaka, Rakip, Riedewald.

  • What we saw: The loss of Wilfried Zaha to a knee injury meant that Roy Hodgson opted for 4-2-3-1 formation for the trip to Everton. Alexander Sorloth was handed his Premier League debut on the left flank, while James McArthur took up a central support role, with Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic in central midfield. In the absence of the injured Martin Kelly and Mamadou Sakho, Hodgson decided to move Timothy Fosu-Mensah into central defence, allowing Joel Ward to return at right-back.
  • What we learned: Although the vast majority of Palace’s injured players are sidelined with long-term issues, Hodgson is hopeful of having Kelley and Sakho back in contention for the home fixture with Spurs. Either player’s return would put Ward’s start at risk, with Fosu-Mensah possibly returning at right-back. Jairo Riedewald is an option in a defensive midfield role should Hodgson look to shore things up in midfield against Spurs otherwise Sorloth is set to retain his start.

Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Right-back, central defenders

Everton

Starting XI: Pickford: Coleman (Kenny 46), Keane, Mangala (Williams 44), Martina: Rooney, Gueye (Schneiderlin 80): Walcott, Davies, Sigurdsson: Niasse. Subs not used: Robles, Bolasie, Tosun, Calvert-Lewin.

  • What we saw: After using a 3-4-3 system in the 5-1 defeat to Arsenal, Sam Allardyce decided to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation for the home encounter against Crystal Palace. Wayne Rooney returned in a deep-lying midfield role, with Tom Davies preferred in the No 10 position. Gylfi Sigurdsson returned on the left of the attacking midfield trio, while Seamus Coleman came back into the side on the right of a four-man defence. Michael Keane and Eliaquim Mangala formed the centre-back partnership.
  • What we learned: Mangala and Idrissa Gueye were both forced off with knocks against the Eagles, while Coleman had to be replaced due to a muscle injury. They’ll be assessed ahead of the trip to Watford, although the two-week break means they should have a good chance of recovery. Ashley Williams provides cover in central defence, along with Mason Holgate and Phil Jagielka, while Morgan Schneiderlin is the main back-up in central midfield. Jonjoe Kenny is the alternative to Coleman at right-back, with other changes unlikely after getting back to winning ways. Leighton Baines could be back in training next week following a lengthy lay-off with a calf injury, but the Hornets clash is expected to come too soon for the defender.

Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Right-back, central defenders, central midfield

Huddersfield Town

Starting XI: Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Jorgensen, Schindler, Malone (Kongolo 52); Hogg, Mooy (Billing 76); Ince (Quaner 65), Pritchard, Van La Parra; Mounie. Subs not used: Coleman, Sabiri, Williams, Hefele.

  • What we saw: After using more defensive formations against both Liverpool and Manchester United, David Wagner switched back to his preferred 4-2-3-1 system for the home clash against Bournemouth. Florent Hadergjonaj shifted to right-back, while Scott Malone returned at left-back. Aaron Mooy was handed a recall in the double-pivot, while Tom Ince (right) and Alex Pritchard (No 10) returned in the attacking midfield positions. With Laurent Depoitre ruled out with a foot injury, Steve Mounie was stationed as the lone striker.
  • What we learned: Aaron Mooy was forced off with a deep cut to his knee, but the two-week break, it remains to be seen if the Australian can recover for the trip to West Bromwich Albion. Billing and Danny Williams provide options in the middle of the park. Following such an impressive performance, changes are unlikely, with Terence Kongolo and Chris Lowe possible alternatives to Malone at left-back, while Tommy Smith is a potential replacement for Hadergjonaj at right-back if, as expected, he is available following a concussion. Even if Depoitre is ready to return, Mounie may well retain his start after starring against the Cherries.

Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Full-backs, central midfield

Leicester City

Starting XI: Schmeichel; Dragovic, Maguire, Fuchs; Albrighton, Silva (Simpson 46), Ndidi, James, Chilwell (Iheanacho 62); Vardy, Diabate (Mahrez 62). Subs not used: Jakupovic, Benalouane, Iborra, Gray.

  • What we saw: Claude Puel decided to adopt an unfamiliar 3-5-1-1 system for the trip to Manchester City, using Marc Albrighton and Ben Chilwell as wing-backs. Christian Fuchs started on the left of the three-man defence, while Fousseni Diabate joined Jamie Vardy in attack. But despite being level at 1-1 at half-time, Puel then decided to switch to a four-man defence, with Danny Simpson coming on to play at right-back. Marc Albrighton moved to the right side of midfield, before switching to the left after Riyad Mahrez was brought on shortly after the hour mark. Fellow substitute Kelechi Iheanacho was stationed in a central support role behind lone striker Vardy in a 4-4-1-1 system for the final 30 minutes.
  • What we learned: With the Foxes hosting Stoke City in Gameweek 28, Puel is expected to revert back to the 4-4-1-1 formation. After being reintegrated back into the squad, Mahrez could return on the right wing, with Albrighton likely to play on the left. Simpson and Chilwell are the projected starters in the full-back positions, although Fuchs is a possible alternative at left-back. Matty James and Adrien Silva look set to continue battling for one spot in central midfield, while with Shinji Okazaki likely to be touch and go for the Stoke clash due to a knee problem, the likes of Diabate, Iheanacho and Demarai Gray are expected to compete for the central support role. Wes Morgan may have an outside chance of returning providing he can prove his fitness over the next two weeks, putting Aleksandar Dragovic’s start at risk.

Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Full-backs, central defenders, central midfield, flanks, support striker

Liverpool

Starting XI: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Milner 60), Emre Can, Wijnaldum; Salah (Lovren 89), Firmino (Lallana 79), Mane. Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Ings, Solanke.

  • What we saw: Reds boss Jurgen Klopp handed a recall to Joel Matip for the trip to Southampton as Dejan Lovren dropped to the bench. Ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Porto in the UEFA Champions League, Klopp decided to leave both Jordan Henderson and James Milner out of the starting XI, allowing Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to return in central midfield. After Roberto Firmino was withdrawn, Mohamed Salah played as the central striker, before Liverpool ended the match in more of a 3-5-1-1 system. Substitute Adam Lallana was stationed in a central support role behind lone striker Sadio Mane, while Lovren was brought on to shore things up in a three-man defence.
  • What we learned: As the Reds are out of the FA Cup, they have over a week to prepare for the home meeting with West Ham United once Wednesday’s first leg Champions League tie with Porto is done. That should lessen the threat of rotation in Gameweek 28 though Gameweek 29 – three days before the second leg with Porto – remains the hotspot. Klopp’s prefered back four looks to be our main concern, with evidence that he may continue to rotate at full-back and centre-back. The teamsheet in Portugal may offer some clues as to the pecking order and his likely personnel in European ties going forward, which, in turn, knocks on to the league line-ups. News today revealed that Joe Gomez will be assessed for Wednesday’s tie, while Ragnar Klavan has returned to contention. Nathaniel Clyne is also back in full training but still some way off being considered for first-team action.

Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Full-backs, central defenders, central midfield

Part two of Line-up Lessons, assessing the remaining ten teams, will follow tomorrow.

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681 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Brigadier Gerard
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    10 days, 22 hours ago

    Five of the top eight owned players in the FPL strutting their stuff tonight!

    1. Hotdogs for Tea
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      10 days, 22 hours ago

      Injuries galore a possibility before the next PL game

  2. Flynny
      10 days, 22 hours ago

      Time to ditch son?

      Looks like big rotation risk now that he doesn't start tonight ...

      1. Do I Not Like Orange
          10 days, 22 hours ago

          See my question below. Not starting in CL might not be a bad thing for his league minutes, though...

      2. Do I Not Like Orange
          10 days, 22 hours ago

          Anyone think Son > Mahrez is worth a punt for next GW?

          1. FantasyNik123
              10 days, 22 hours ago

              That's what I'm thinking of, because I don't really like the prospects of any other midfielder in that category (not a fan of Walcott and Mkhi)

            • Spike ⚽️
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              10 days, 22 hours ago

              If Son plays 90 mins agst Rochdale then yes

          2. Tazah
              10 days, 22 hours ago

              if city really do win the quadruple or even just the triple i seriously can see kdb getting the ballon d'or.... ronaldo been off it and messi not really doing anything special.

              of course will all depend on their world cups too...... had enough of this ronaldo/messi monopoly

              1. Hazard is an FPL legend
                  10 days, 22 hours ago

                  Well ribery and sneijder didn't get it even with trebles

                  1. Tazah
                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                      the german and italian league werent considered very tough back then

                      1. Hazard is an FPL legend
                          10 days, 22 hours ago

                          Well winning ucl means they were part of the best team in Europe. If neymar wins ucl then by this logic he wouldn't get balondor right as French league is weak

                          1. Tazah
                              10 days, 22 hours ago

                              history proves that to be true, but if he wins the world cup, he'd for sure win it

                              1. Hazard is an FPL legend
                                  10 days, 22 hours ago

                                  Winning treble and WC is unprecedented i think and. It needs a hell of a lot of luck

                                  1. Tazah
                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                      khedira, roberto carlos, karembeu did it....didnt mean anything in the end.....just have to give stand out performances when everyone's watching

                                      1. Hazard is an FPL legend
                                          10 days, 22 hours ago

                                          Ya

                            • I Member
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              10 days, 22 hours ago

                              How has Messi not been special this season?

                              1. Tazah
                                  10 days, 22 hours ago

                                  been watching him.... he hasnt been his usual, team winning, but he's started losing the ball a lot this year

                                  1. I Member
                                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                    10 days, 22 hours ago

                                    I've been watching him too. He's been brilliant.

                                    1. Tazah
                                        10 days, 22 hours ago

                                        fair enough, your opinion

                                • Rik Waller
                                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                  10 days, 22 hours ago

                                  "Messi not really doing anything special"
                                  Greatest player of all time just dismissed like that, deserves a lol

                                  lol

                                  1. Tazah
                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                      in that case maradona should win it this year..... just because you 'were' the best doesnt mean you 'are' the best

                                      1. Rik Waller
                                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                        10 days, 22 hours ago

                                        Don't forget Pele. Could be any of those three to take home the award this year

                                        1. Tazah
                                            10 days, 22 hours ago

                                            lol

                                    • dark91 - Messidonia
                                        10 days, 22 hours ago

                                        Stopped reading at "Messi not ...". The Serie A in 2010 was much stronger than the Ligue 1 nowadays and Sneijder back then even reached the World Cup final. I don't see Neymar getting it this year even if they somehow win the CL

                                        1. Tazah
                                            10 days, 22 hours ago

                                            neither do i, but i was talking about kdb

                                            1. dark91 - Messidonia
                                                10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                If they do win the triple and Belgium reaches the semis or the final in the World Cup I can see him making it to the final 3 for sure and Cristiano might finally be omitted from the final 3 this year. But will depend on the winner of the CL and the World Cup as you mentioned above

                                              • Hazard is an FPL legend
                                                  10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                  Kdb is not such a player capable of winning popularity among judges for balondor and I cant see Kdb winning it. He has not even won Belgian player of the year

                                                  1. Tazah
                                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                      unfortunately this is true

                                                  2. Hazard is an FPL legend
                                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                      If Belgium have to do well in WC they rely on hazard more than Kdb. Cant see Kdb keep hazard in his shadow in the wc

                                                  3. Hazard is an FPL legend
                                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                      Thiss

                                                • Hazard is an FPL legend
                                                    10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                    Son to Eriksen on a free transfer??

                                                    1. Spike ⚽️
                                                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                      Not yet

                                                    2. Super Saints
                                                        10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                        Yes but not yet

                                                    3. Tazah
                                                        10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                        juve missing a lot of players.... dat squad doe

                                                      • We Will Klopp you
                                                          10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                          Fabianski (Hennessey)
                                                          Robertson Mee Fernandez (Simpson Van Der Hoorn)
                                                          Salah KDB Sterling Mahrez Eriksen
                                                          Kane Firmino (Niasse)

                                                          Any suggested changes to this WC team?

                                                          1. Super Saints
                                                              10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                              Lovely except the double swans defence and simpson is a horrible pick, he will do absolutely nothing for you(trust me i owned for too long). I would rather Vardy than Mahrez. Niasse > Vardy, Mahrez > .... Itb?

                                                              1. Super Saints
                                                                  10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                  Milivojevic

                                                                • We Will Klopp you
                                                                    10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                    Cheers. I'll double up on Burnley with Lowton instead then. Swans defence is mainly for bench boost gw34. I'll try my best to keep them on the bench. Prefer Mahrez to Vardy and Niasse will offer more on bench boost than a cheaper mid (as long as he doesn't get big sammed)

                                                                    1. Super Saints
                                                                        10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                        No way Vardy and Milivojevic over Niasse and Mahrez all day!

                                                                  • ZICO SENNA
                                                                      10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                      Hey man! i do like it! I wouldn't of thought you'd be wildcarding at this stage? Any reasons as to why? (because i want to as well haha!)

                                                                      1. We Will Klopp you
                                                                          10 days, 21 hours ago

                                                                          Team needed a reboot and I think we know enough to be able to play a successful wildcard at this point. Ideally I'd have saved but so much needed changing, Sanchez, Wilson, Ota, Alonso, Romeu, the rest of the defence

                                                                          1. ZICO SENNA
                                                                              10 days, 18 hours ago

                                                                              Ah ok cool, and i see why you wanted to sort those players out. I do have Ota, Wilson, and Alonso as well, eek! I'll see maybe next week if i'm going to wildcard, hope it proves successful man 🙂

                                                                              1. We Will Klopp you
                                                                                  10 days, 15 hours ago

                                                                                  Much appreciated and same to you if you do decide to wildcard

                                                                        • PlayPercentage
                                                                            10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                            All these people selling Alonso.
                                                                            You are getting rid of a 7.2 goal-scoring midfielder who plays for a top four club. He gets 6pts for a goal and 4pts for a clean sheet. He takes free kicks and will be fresh for the run-in.

                                                                            1. Rik Waller
                                                                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                                              10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                              Not unless he's injured

                                                                            2. Super Saints
                                                                                10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                                Haha not if he doesn't play

                                                                            3. 420king
                                                                                10 days, 22 hours ago

                                                                                Sorry if I'm repeating the same question over: what's the chance Jones gets dropped for the UCL game?