Another Fantasy Premier League deadline is already upon us and Gameweek 32+ could be a particularly tricky one to navigate, with the matches spread over six days and dovetailing with the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Only five head coaches have given their official pre-Gameweek 32+ press conferences so far, although we have had a smattering of virtual media gatherings for the FA Cup and a bonus post-coronation conference call with Jurgen Klopp.
Other managers, namely Jose Mourinho, Eddie Howe, Graham Potter, Carlo Ancelotti and David Moyes, won’t be heard from until long after Saturday’s deadline has been and gone.
With that in mind, and with eight Premier League clubs in FA Cup action before they contest their Gameweek 32+ fixtures, there could be a lot of as-yet-unknown fitness issues developing after our Fantasy teams have been finalised, leaving us powerless to do anything about them.
Get those benches ready, then…
There was a stand-out quote from this afternoon’s Liverpool love-in, with Jurgen Klopp making some ominous – but not totally unexpected – comments about whether the Reds would be going all-out to achieve a record Premier League points total now that the title is in the bag.
In response, Klopp said:
Getting these kinds of [record] points tallies sounds pretty nice to me but I’m not sure it’s possible because six of the remaining seven games are played in a very short period of time. Every three days, we will have to make a lot of changes.
The Gameweek 32+ Pressers
Five of the six managers in action in the first three days of Gameweek 32+ have already spoken to the media, with Roy Hodgson being the exception.
Crystal Palace will be up against Burnley on Monday and the Clarets will be sweating on the fitness of Jay Rodriguez (hamstring/ankle), as they are already without Ashley Barnes (hernia), Chris Wood (Achilles), Robbie Brady (groin) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (calf)
Sean Dyche said :
He got a knock to his ankle but he felt his hamstring but we’re hopeful it’s nothing serious. We’re running out of players rapidly so we had to take him off. We’ll find out more today.
On his other injured players, Dyche said one or two might have an “outside chance” of being fit for Gameweek 33+ and added:
We are hopeful Robbie might train this week again. Woody is doing well and is in front of the curve but we are just being careful because we want him to be right. Barnesy’s behind the curve so that’s going to be a little bit yet. Johann is going well.
Ahead of Watford’s clash with Southampton, Nigel Pearson said:
Not [new] injury concerns but we’ll have a look again today at whether players have picked up anything that’s not necessarily a major problem… the loading of players playing in the heat is something we need to be aware of.
Sofiane Boufal (thigh) will be assessed for the Saints, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (ankle) also faces a late check after being forced off against Arsenal.
Talking of Hojbjerg and then of possible rotation, Hasenhuttl said:
We know that Pierre was a little injured yesterday when he stepped off with an ankle problem. We don’t know if it’s enough yet [to keep him out].
We will need some fresh players for the weekend. Yesterday was intense and we’ll be against a side fighting for their life.
Nuno Espirito Santo has a clean bill of health ahead of the trip to Villa Park so his main decision will likely once again be over his starting formation, with the Wolves boss having frequently alternated between a 3-4-3 and a 3-5-2.
Speaking of the congested fixture schedule, the Wolves boss said:
It’s been tough for everybody. I think the schedule is tiring. For us, it’s been tight since the beginning. 50 games in one season for us is many more than other teams, and it’s very demanding on the players.
Dean Smith hinted at rotation in the days and weeks ahead, saying on Thursday:
I think we’ll have to freshen it in certain areas. We’ve got a decent squad so we’re going to have to rotate at certain times, and this [game v Wolves] may be a time.
On John McGinn, Smith added:
We are having to manage him, he’s trying to recapture the form that he had previously. It’s very difficult to do that, because he has first got to get his match fitness. Each game he’s getting better at regaining that.
The FA Cup Press Conferences
Daniel Farke said that Norwich City are currently assessing Josip Drmic for a knock to his ankle but that there are no other new injury concerns.
Farke also suggested the Canaries will “have to rotate a bit” for this weekend’s FA Cup tie with Manchester United.
Those comments were echoed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said:
With the long lay-off we’ve had, looking after the players is one of our jobs and as you say rotation. We play Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday and Saturday again.”
Are there any new injuries? No. I think we came through unscathed. It’s still Axel [Tuanzebe] and Phil [Jones], they’re out. They are the only two absentees.
Arsenal reported that Kieran Tierney is available for the FA Cup quarter-final clash with Sheffield United after suffering cramp during Thursday’s win over Southampton.
Calum Chambers (knee), Pablo Mari (ankle), Gabriel Martinelli (knee) are out for the season but David Luiz is available after suspension.
Bernd Leno (knee) is targeting a return to full training in four to six weeks, while Cedric Soares (nose) is aiming to be available for Sunday’s FA Cup tie and Lucas Torreira (ankle) is hopeful of being back in training in the coming days.
Chris Wilder says that Lys Mousset (knock) should be fit to feature this weekend after being taken off against Manchester United as a precaution.
Jack O’Connell (knee) will be assessed over the next 24 hours and is “improving every day”.
Brendan Rodgers has reported no new injury concerns ahead of Leicester City’s FA Cup tie with Chelsea.
Steve Bruce said Newcastle United will assess Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie for muscle injuries ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final tie with Manchester City on Sunday, with the Longstaff brothers possible returnees.
Manchester City and Chelsea are also in FA Cup action this weekend and we may get some quotes from Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard released from embargo ahead of Saturday.
The City boss had said ahead of kick-off at Stamford Bridge last night:
We have Phil Foden injured, Joao Cancelo is injured, Sergio Aguero is injured.
Gabriel [Jesus] had a big kick, too, in the game against Burnley and the day after he could not train.
We have Newcastle and Liverpool, and we need him, so that’s why we decide to rest a little bit. He may help us for half an hour or an hour.
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 31+
- Leicester City 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 West Ham United
- Manchester United 3-0 Sheffield United
- Newcastle United 1-1 Aston Villa
- Norwich City 0-1 Everton
- Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth
- Liverpool 4-0 Crystal Palace
- Burnley 1-0 Watford
- Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
- Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City
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