Gameweek 26 has the potential to deliver a nasty surprise or two on the team news front, with the Premier League fixtures spread out over ten days.
We’ve only heard from eight Premier League managers ahead of Saturday’s deadline, with the other 12 top-flight head coaches not facing the media until well into next week.
For the press conference round-up below, we’ll summarise what we’ve heard on this weekend’s matches before running through what we know about the other six games.
THIS WEEKEND’S MATCHES
Manchester City v West Ham
Pep Guardiola confirmed that Raheem Sterling would miss the visit of West Ham United on Sunday due to the hamstring injury he sustained in the defeat to Spurs last weekend.
Speaking on Friday, Guardiola said:
It’s a hamstring injury, like you know. We’ll see. It takes weeks, we’ll see if before Leicester, Madrid and the rest of the games – I don’t know right now.
The City boss also said that Benjamin Mendy and John Stones don’t have any injury problems after their recent omissions and are both in training, as is Leroy Sane (knee) – although Guardiola revealed the German winger would not be ready for a playing return just yet:
He started to train with us. When you have an injury especially like this one, for six months, it’s not training for one week and immediately you are there. You need to recover rhythm, tempo, confidence. He needs weeks.
David Moyes reported one or two unspecific niggles in his pre-match press conference on Friday but Felipe Anderson (back) and Andriy Yarmolenko (thigh) have stepped up their recoveries, with the Brazilian indeed back in full training over the past few days.
Sheffield United v Bournemouth
Chris Wilder revealed that David McGoldrick (foot) has been out on the grass this week, while everybody else in the Sheffield United squad came through the Crystal Palace game unscathed.
Fantasy managers hoping for some kind of clue as to the first-team prospects of a certain ‘out of position’ FPL defender were left disappointed, with John Lundstram not mentioned in the broadcast section of Wilder’s press conference. Anything embargoed won’t be released until Saturday evening, either.
The quote below from last weekend at least offers a modicum of hope, although a lot of doubt still remains about Lundstram’s chance of a start against the Cherries:
🗣 | Wilder: “I thought the performance of John (Lundstram) and (Lys) Mousset when they came on was just typical of their attitudes. Lunny has been out for some games but he came roaring back and the togetherness of the group was first class.”#FPL #FantasyPL #FFScout #GW26 #sufc pic.twitter.com/ci5yDqfL3n
— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) February 4, 2020
Eddie Howe reported on Friday that Jack Stacey (hamstring) and Josh King (hamstring) were “close” to a return, so the pair could be in contention for a place in the matchday squad come Sunday:
Josh King and Jack Stacey have trained this week so they’re both getting close. We’ll have to make decisions on whether we’ll involve them or not, but pleased with their progress.
Jefferson Lerma is suspended.
Crystal Palace v Everton
Fabian Delph (suspended) will join Andre Gomes (ankle) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh) in missing Saturday’s game, with Carlo Ancelotti confirming that two of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Davies will play in the centre of midfield.
Gomes will feature in a friendly during the winter break in a bid to get him fit for Gameweek 27.
Martin Kelly (calf) has joined Mamadou Sakho (hamstring), Jeffrey Schlupp (muscle) and Cenk Tosun (hamstring/ineligible) on the sidelines ahead of Palace’s trip to Everton but the injury situation is otherwise unchanged for Roy Hodgson’s side going into Saturday’s game.
Brighton v Watford
Nigel Pearson reported that Tom Cleverley (Achilles) is “in contention” for Gameweek 26 but Ismaïla Sarr (hamstring) and Kiko Femenía (hamstring) face further assessment.
Daryl Janmaat (knee) will be back on the grass next week.
Pearson said on Thursday:
Kiko [Femenia] is making really good progress, so if he doesn’t make this week then hopefully, after the short break, he will be available, which is again good news for us. Tom Cleverley is training with us continually now, so he’s in contention. We’ll assess Sarr a bit more tomorrow [Friday] and make decisions on that. Janmaat is going to be back out on the grass with us next week, which is again very positive for us.
On Sarr, Pearson added:
I think it’s always a danger to put players at risk with soft tissue injuries. With sprinters, and he is certainly a sprinter, there is more danger.
Jose Izquierdo (knee) is Brighton’s only confirmed absentee ahead of the visit of Watford, with Shane Duffy (shin) back in training after a brief period on the sidelines and longer-term injury victim Dan Burn (shoulder) making good progress.
On Glenn Murray, who ousted Neal Maupay from the starting XI last weekend, Graham Potter said:
He played well in the [West Ham] game, contributed even before his goal. It’s good to have someone of his experience, of his quality. He’s relatively fresh in terms of game-time, which is a bonus for us.
NEXT WEEKEND’S MATCHES
Wolves v Leicester
Adama Traore (calf) is among the cluster of players currently flagged who we won’t get an update on ahead of the Gameweek 26 deadline although the FPL midfielder has travelled with the rest of the Wolves squad for some warm-weather training in Marbella and Nuno Espirito Santo said the winger will “hopefully be OK”.
Wilfred Ndidi (knee) pulled out of the Leicester squad in Gameweek 25 but Brendan Rodgers didn’t think the influential midfielder’s injury was serious when interviewed last week:
🗣 | Rodgers: “Ndidi has pain in his knee, he recently had an operation but was alright vs Villa. We had him to play but it’s become very sore. Rather than him go out in the warm-up we thought we’d leave it. We don’t want long term problems.”#FPL #FantasyPL #FFScout #GW25 #lcfc pic.twitter.com/X3bGYIR7bd
— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) February 1, 2020
Norwich v Liverpool
Sadio Mane (muscle) could well return for the Norwich City match a week on Saturday, with Klopp having previously said that the Senegalese winger “should be fine” and that the winter break is “perfect for him to get back on track”.
Those quotes, of course, are now well over a week old.
Mane has been rehabilitating at Melwood this week, with James Milner (muscle) also expected to be close to featuring at Carrow Road.
Timm Klose (knee) is the only confirmed absentee we know of at present for the Canaries.
Chelsea v Manchester United
Frank Lampard provided an update on Christian Pulisic (tendon) earlier this week, which could boost his chances of featuring in Gameweek 26:
🗣️ Frank Lampard on Christian Pulisic: “We tried to get him out there last week, step it up a little bit, but we had to pull out of that. The break might have come at a good time, it buys us a couple of weeks.”#FFScout #FPL #GW26 #ChelseaFC #FantasyPL pic.twitter.com/5Hv38d5vPy
— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) February 3, 2020
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles) played 60 minutes of a friendly, meanwhile, on his long road to recovery.
Marcus Rashford (back) won’t be back for that match but Scott McTominay (knee) and Paul Pogba (ankle) are further along in their recoveries and have stayed behind during the winter break to work on their fitness.
Aston Villa v Spurs
The injuries that caused Giovani Lo Celso (thigh) and Erik Lamela (groin) to miss Spurs’ FA Cup fourth round replay are thought to be minor, while Ben Davies is back in training and may put Japhet Tanganga‘s security of starts in some doubt given what Jose Mourinho had said previously about the importance of the Welshman to his system.
Danny Drinkwater missed Villa’s defeat to Bournemouth with a calf problem, while Ezri Konsa was taken off with a muscle issue in that match.
Southampton v Burnley
Moussa Djenepo (illness) missed out on Southampton’s FA Cup defeat to Spurs in midweek, while James Ward-Prowse was stretchered off with a knee injury in the first half of that match.
Ward-Prowse was subsequently only deemed to have suffered a bad cut, with Ralph Hasenhuttl expressing hope that his ever-present midfielder would be fit enough to return against Burnley in Gameweek 26.
It remains to be seen if Ashley Barnes (hernia) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (hamstring) recover for that clash, with the pair having spent much of 2020 on the sidelines.
Arsenal v Newcastle
Steve Bruce had previously hinted that Dwight Gayle (hamstring), Yoshinori Muto (hip) and Andy Carroll (hip) could all be fit for Gameweek 26, although Joelinton (rib) is a fresh doubt after picking up a knock against Oxford last week.
Sead Kolasinac (thigh), Cedric Soares (knee) and Reiss Nelson (hamstring) had previously all been pencilled in for a comeback after the winter break, so could feature for the Gunners.
More detailed information and predicted line-ups can be found in the Team News tab, which will be refreshed this evening.
A video round-up with Neale and Andy can be viewed below.
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