Friday was a busy day on the team news and injury update front as 14 Premier League managers delivered their pre-match press conferences.
The head coaches of Brighton, Everton, Fulham, Huddersfield, Liverpool and Southampton all held their pressers yesterday and the stand-out quotes from those six managers – including Jurgen Klopp’s comments on Mohamed Salah and rotation – can be viewed here.
Pep Guardiola gave us more than he usually does in his own press conference on Friday, first starting with the latest on Manchester City’s injured contingent.
On Kevin De Bruyne (muscle), Guardiola said:
Still he is not fit. He’s getting better, but is not fit.
Asked about Fernandinho (knee), the City boss replied:
We will see tomorrow. Little bit of a problem in the knee but we will see tomorrow.
Guardiola also explained why John Stones was omitted from the match-day squad on Wednesday, saying:
We need for one typical game, more specific qualities for one central defender. I thought between Vinny and Nico, Vinny going back is a little bit quicker, the personality to play in Old Trafford. When it’s long balls, I prefer Nico and Vinny because they are so strong.
That above quote could be particularly relevant given that City are at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Guardiola also said:
When teams play so high, I need maybe Leroy, when they play deep, David Silva in the pockets is an incredible player.
The Clarets could welcome Phil Bardsley (gashed leg) back for Sunday’s match against City, meanwhile.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expects Ander Herrera to be available for the visit of Chelsea this weekend and will hand a late fitness test to Scott McTominay, while the United boss also said he had no plans to take David de Gea out of the firing line, saying:
No, not at all. I trust David and for me, he’s been the best player United have had the last six/seven years. Going through tough patches is just part of a footballer’s career.
Maurizio Sarri didn’t provide any update on Marcos Alonso (gluteal injury) but said Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) will be out for around three months.
The Chelsea boss also provided news on two of his other injured players:
Rudiger is OK, at the moment. We are trying to recover Kante but I am not sure at the moment.
Eden Hazard has occasionally been used as a false nine in matches against the “big six” this season, with Sarri having previously explained that he likes the Belgian’s defensive qualities in that role.
This fresh quote on Friday might be a hint that he will proceed with caution at Old Trafford:
We will try to win, of course. But we need not to lose.
Nuno Espirito Santo and Brendan Rodgers both reported no fresh injury concerns in their respective pressers.
Leicester are up against Arsenal, who welcomed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back to training on Friday after his “small procedure” on a sinus.
Emery said on Friday:
He trained today and, if tomorrow he can train, I think we can think he’s ready for Sunday. If he can train normally tomorrow, it’s a possibility [he could start].
Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Denis Suarez (groin) remain sidelined.
Mauricio Pochettino may secretly have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Ajax but his ability to rotate may be hindered by Spurs’ lengthy injury list: Serge Aurier (hamstring), Erik Lamela (hamstring), Moussa Sissoko (groin), Harry Kane (ankle) and Harry Winks (groin) remain unavailable for Saturday’s game against West Ham.
When asked about the possible distraction of Tuesday’s match, Pochettino said:
I think it’s a little bit unlucky we can’t recover players for the game tomorrow. Then we need to still assess some players this afternoon, we’ll see if some players can be available or not.
We come from a very busy period and of course, there’s a lot of fatigue in the team. But all our decisions are going to be focused on trying to win the game tomorrow. It’s the most important game. We cannot think of Tuesday.
All the decisions we are going to take for tomorrow’s game is because we need to provide the team with energy, the capacity to fight from the first moment. It is so important to provide the team with the best tools and fresh legs, fresh minds to win.
Meanwhile, Manuel Pellegrini revealed that Aaron Cresswell (unspecified), Manuel Lanzini (groin) and Javier Hernandez (ear) have returned to training this week but Samir Nasri (calf) remains out, with a comeback pencilled in for next week.
Rafael Benitez confirmed that Jamaal Lascelles (stomach illness) will miss out against Brighton, while Miguel Almiron (hamstring) is ruled out for the season.
The Magpies’ boss expects Isaac Hayden and Fabian Schar (knocks) to recover, however.
Crystal Palace will once again be without James Tomkins (groin), Mamadou Sakho (knee) and Jeffrey Schlupp (ankle) for their match against Everton, while Neil Warnock said Joe Ralls (hamstring) will miss the rest of the season and that Harry Arter (calf) remains a doubt for the trip to Fulham.
Eddie Howe confirmed that he has two new additions to an already lengthy injury list, saying:
The long-term injuries are still the same, we can now add to that list, Junior [Stanislas].
Adam [Smith] will definitely be missing tomorrow, we will have to wait and see whether he’ll play again before the end of this season. We hope he’s avoided a long-term injury.
Watford’s team news was the last to be revealed, with Javi Gracia’s press conference again embargoed until 5pm.
Sebastian Prodl (knee) and Domingos Quina (shoulder) remain sidelined but Gracia said he has everyone else available.