Son Heung-min and Erik Lamela are both trialled as “false 9s” as Harry Kane returns to action off the bench in Spurs’ win at Chelsea.
Southampton striker Charlie Austin is back in contention for the first time since Gameweek 19, Richarlison drops to the Watford bench, while Jose Mourinho shuffles his central defence for the 2-0 win over Swansea City.
After checking out the first ten teams yesterday, we turn to part two of Line-up Lessons, assessing the teamsheets and formations from
the Gameweek 32 matches, with one eye on what’s to come from the midweek European matches and beyond.
Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Laporte (Danilo 87); De Bruyne (Gundogan 77), Fernandinho, D Silva; Sterling (B Silva 64), Jesus, Sane. Subs not used: Bravo, Adrabioyo, Zinchenko, Nmecha.
- What we saw: Pep Guardiola continued with his favoured 4-3-3 formation for the trip to Everton, handing a start to Aymeric Laporte in the slightly unfamiliar position of left-back. Laporte was forced off late on with a foot injury, however, seeing Danilo finish the match on the left side of the City defence.
- What we learned: The City boss chose not to rotate at Goodison Park, but now faces two matches against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, along with Saturday’s Manchester derby, in the space of seven days. With Kompany a probable starter on Wednesday night, he could miss out to either Laporte or John Stones (concussion), providing either player is passed fit. Fabian Delph is expected to be available for midweek, and certainly the weekend, so he, Danilo and Oleksandr Zinchenko provide options at left-back. Should the City boss look to freshen things up against Jose Mourinho’s side, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva should come into contention, with the likes of David Silva, Raheem Sterling or Leroy Sane potentially rested. Regardless of whether Sergio Aguero starts against Liverpool in midweek, Gabriel Jesus would seem likely to lead the line against United.
Current Status: Fairly settled
Risk Areas: Central defenders, left-back, central striker
Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Pogba; Mata (McTominay 90), Lingard (Herrera 75), Sanchez (Rashford 75); Lukaku. Subs not used: Pereira, Bailly, Shaw, Martial.
- What we saw: Jose Mourinho recalled Paul Pogba for the home clash against Swansea City, with the Frenchman joining Nemanja Matic in the double-pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Juan Mata (right), Jesse Lingard (No 10) and Alexis Sanchez (left) formed the attacking midfield trio, while Victor Lindelof was somewhat surprisingly preferred to Eric Bailly in central defence. Mourinho switched to a 4-3-3 following the introductions of Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford, with the Spaniard helping shore up the midfield on his return from injury.
- What we learned: Up next is the Manchester derby at the Etihad, with Mourinho likely to have something up his sleeve tactically in order to try and nullify Pep Guardiola’s rampant City side. Herrera, Scott McTominay or possibly Marouane Fellaini could be options to start in central midfield in a slightly more defensive 4-3-3, with Mata the player most likely to drop to the bench in such a scenario. But if he sticks with a 4-2-3-1, Rashford or Anthony Martial may be options to replace Mata out wide. Bailly is expected to return in central defence at the expense of Lindelof. A three-man defence could also be an option, with all three centre-backs then in with a chance of starting. Phil Jones offers another alternative.
Current Status: Fairly settled
Risk Areas: Central defence, central midfield, flanks
Starting XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Ritchie (Atsu 67), Shelvey, Diame (Hayden 79), Kenedy; Perez; Gayle (Slimani 75). Subs not used: Clark, Murphy, Manquillo, Darlow.
- What we saw: Rafa Benitez named the same side that beat Southampton in the previous league match for the visit of Huddersfield Town to St James’ Park, with the Magpies lining up in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Islam Slimani was fit to make his Newcastle debut as a substitute, replacing Dwight Gayle as the lone striker.
- What we learned: Following another victory, Benitez could again name the same starting XI for Saturday’s trip to Leicester City. On-loan forward Slimani is ineligible to face his parent club, so Gayle should again spearhead the Newcastle attack. Christian Atsu and Jacob Murphy provide possible alternatives to Matt Ritchie on the right flank.
Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Right wing
Starting XI: McCarthy; Cedric Soares, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand; Tadic, Lemina, Hojbjerg, Redmond (Boufal 67); Austin (Carrillo 83) Gabbiadini (Long 46). Subs not used: Forster, Yoshida, Romeu, Ward-Prowse.
- What we saw: Mark Hughes stuck with the 4-4-2 formation that yielded a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic in his first match in charge for the trip to West Ham United. The Saints boss was able to call upon Charlie Austin, who returned from injury to partner Manolo Gabbiadini up front. Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond started out wide, with Sofiane Boufal only appearing as a second-half substitute.
- What we learned: Following a bitterly disappointing display and result, Hughes is likely to make some changes for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal. If he sticks with a 4-4-2, Shane Long or Guido Carrillo may replace Gabbiadini, while in a 4-2-3-1, Boufal could be a viable starter in place of the Italian. James Ward-Prowse provides a different option both out wide and in central midfield, while Oriol Romeu offers another alternative. Changes are perhaps less likely in defence, but Maya Yoshida could be considered at centre-back.
Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Central midfield, flanks, attacking midfield, forwards
Starting XI: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Allen, N’Diaye; Bauer, Shaqiri, Sobhi (Crouch 79); Diouf (Berahino 61). Subs not used: Ireland, Cameron, Haugaard, Campbell, Sorensen.
- What we saw: Paul Lambert opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation for the trip to Arsenal, with the fit-again Mame Biram Diouf stationed as the lone striker. Xherdan Shaqiri started in a central support role, while Moritz Bauer operated in a slightly unfamiliar position on the right side of midfield. At the back, Bruno Martins Indi and Erik Pieters replaced the injured Kurt Zouma (knee) and Konstantinos Stafylidis (broken rib) at centre-back and left-back respectively. Stoke ended with substitutes Saido Berahino and Peter Crouch up front, with Shaqiri given a free role in more of a 4-3-1-2.
- What we learned: Another encouraging display failed to produce any points for the Potters, but given the lack of options available to Lambert, few changes are expected for Saturday’s home clash against Tottenham Hotspur. The Stoke boss has favoured Diouf in attack when the Senegal international has been available, but following his knock at the Emirates Stadium, both Berahino and Crouch could be considered for starting berths. Shaqiri would provide a more attacking option on the right wing, which would then leave Bauer and Glen Johnson competing to start at right-back. If Zouma and Stafylidis remain out, the rest of the back four could stay unchanged. Geoff Cameron provides the main alternative in the middle of the park.
Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Defence, right wing, forwards
Starting XI: Fabianski; Naughton, van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Dyer (Abraham 46), Ki Sung-yueng (Carroll 46), King; Clucas (Routledge 55); A Ayew. Subs not used: Narsingh, Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roberts.
- What we saw: Carlos Carvalhal rolled out his defensive 5-4-1 formation for the trip to Manchester United, with Andre Ayew preferred to Tammy Abraham as the lone striker in the continued absence of the suspended Jordan Ayew. That meant Nathan Dyer was handed a start on the right side of midfield. But following an ineffective first-half display from Dyer, he made way for Abraham at half-time. The substitute played as the lone striker, with Andre Ayew moving to an inside right position. Carvalhal’s final change saw Wayne Routledge replace Sam Clucas on the left, after the latter suffered a twisted knee.
- What we learned: After impressing off the bench, Abraham is likely to be recalled for Saturday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion in the continued absence of the suspended Jordan Ayew. His brother Andre could start on the right, then, with Tom Carroll, Routledge and perhaps Dyer options to line up on the left should Clucas be ruled out. Carroll also provides cover in the middle of the park for the Swans.
Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Central midfield, flanks, lone striker
Starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier (Wanyama 81), Dembele; Lamela (Sissoko 88), Alli, Eriksen; Son Heung-min (Kane 73). Subs not used: Vorm, Rose, Aurier, Lucas Moura.
- What we saw: After making a swift return following an ankle injury, Harry Kane was named among the substitutes for Spurs’ trip to Chelsea. Son Heung-min started as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Kieran Trippier was preferred to Serge Aurier at right-back. Mauricio Pochettino changed things around at half-time, though, with Son moving out to the right, seeing Lamela take over as a false nine. Kane made his comeback with 17 minutes left, replacing Son, seeing Lamela return to a position on the right flank.
- What we learned: While Pochettino revealed Kane still has some work to do before returning to full fitness, it’s likely the striker will push for a start for Saturday’s trip to Stoke City. That would leave Son and Lamela battling for one spot in the attacking midfield positions. Aurier could push for a start at right-back in place of Trippier, but unless Pochettino looks to rotate further, other changes appear unlikely.
Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Right-back, flanks, lone striker
Starting XI: Karnezis; Janmaat, Mariappa, Prodl (Cathcart 64), Holebas; Capoue, Doucoure; Femenia (Richarlison 81), Hughes (Okaka 75), Pereyra; Deeney. Subs not used: Gomes; Gray, Lukebakio, Ndong.
- What we saw: Javi Gracia kept faith in the usual 4-2-3-1 formation for the visit of Bournemouth to Vicarage Road, but he did make one headline selection. The Hornets head coach dropped Richarlison to the bench, with Will Hughes recalled in the No 10 role. Roberto Pereyra (left) and Kiko Femenia (right) completed the attacking midfield trio. Watford finished the match in a 4-4-2, with Stefano Okaka joining Troy Deeney up front, while Richarlison was brought on to replace Femenia on the right wing.
- What we learned: Gracia has stuck with a fairly settled side since taking charge back in January, and he’s likely to name a similar starting XI for Saturday’s home fixture against Burnley. Hughes impressed on his return to the side and should retain his start, so Richarlison may have to settle for a place on the bench once more. Sebastian Prodl was replaced last weekend mainly due to being on a yellow card, but Craig Cathcart and potentially Miguel Britos, providing he recovers from illness, offer alternatives in central defence.
Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Central defenders, flanks
West Bromwich Albion
Starting XI: Foster; Dawson, Evans, Hegazi; Nyom, Livermore, Yacob, Brunt, Gibbs (Phillips 46); Rodriguez (Burke 74), Rondon. Subs not used: Myhill, McClean, Gabr, Krychowiak, McAuley.
- What we saw: Alan Pardew named the same side that lost 2-1 to Bournemouth for the home encounter against Burnley, with the Baggies lining up in a 3-5-2 system. But Pardew opted to bring on Matt Phillips for Kieran Gibbs at half-time, switching to a 4-5-1, with Phillips (right) and Jay Rodriguez (left) operating out wide. The change saw Allan Nyom move to left-back, with Craig Dawson lining up at right-back.
- What we learned: After West Brom parted company with Pardew yesterday, it was announced that first-team coach Darren Moore will be in charge of first-team affairs until further notice. The interim boss is likely to be at the helm for Saturday’s home meeting with Swansea City, then, with changes likely against the Welsh outfit. If Moore plays with wingers, the likes of Phillips, Oliver Burke and James McClean could push for recalls, while if he’s passed fit, Sam Field may be an option in central midfield. Gareth McAuley provides the main back-up option in central defence but looks an unlikely starter. Hal Robson-Kanu had seemingly been out of favour under Pardew, but he is another who could come back into the fold. Both Nacer Chadli (thigh) and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) are close to first-team returns and may be back in contention.
Current Status: Very Unsettled
Risk Areas: All Positions
West Ham United
Starting XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Antonio (Fernandes 9), Noble, Kouyate (Cullen 89), Masuaku; Joao Mario, Arnautovic (Hugill 80). Subs not used: Adrian, Evra, Pask, Diangana.
- What we saw: Hammers boss David Moyes stuck with a 3-4-2-1 formation for the home meeting with Southampton. Marko Arnautovic was stationed as the lone striker, supported by Michail Antonio and Joao Mario in the central attacking midfield spots in the absence of the injured Manuel Lanzini. Arthur Masuaku returned from his six-match ban at left wing-back, while Declan Rice started on the right of the three-man defence, with James Collins ruled out with a hamstring injury. But Moyes was forced into making an early change after Antonio had to be replaced due to a hamstring injury. The returning Edimilson Fernandes took his place, providing a slightly more defensive option in midfield, leaving Mario and Arnautovic in attack.
- What we learned: With Antonio reportedly ruled out for the rest of the season, Moyes will be forced into making at least one change for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea. Given how well the team played against Saints, there could be a temptation to start Fernandes. But if Lanzini (knee) is fit to return, he will surely get the nod. Collins remains more of a doubt, but if he is passed fit, the Welshman is a possible alternative to Rice in the back three. Chicharito missed out at the weekend due to illness, but he could be back on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Central defenders, attacking midfield