Blink, and you may have missed it. The first full slate of midweek fixtures has been and gone, and as with week fifteen, you can expect the odd surprise here and there over the next three days.
Not many could’ve predicted in-form striker Lys Mousset dropping to the bench, while Jurgen Klopp didn’t see the need to risk Mo Salah in the Merseyside derby. Frank Lampard changed five for the win over Aston Villa, and of the 20 Premier League sides, only Norwich and Everton stuck with the same XI.
Everton – vs – Chelsea
Interim Head Coach Duncan Ferguson confirms that Seamus Coleman and Fabian Delph are out of the early kick-off. Yerry Mina faces a fitness test, but the centre-back is expected to recover after taking part in some light work on Friday morning. Long-term absentees Cuca Martina (knee), André Gomes (ankle) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh) remain out for the Toffees.
Antonio Rüdiger is closing in on a return, and the defender will look to build fitness/sharpness in training this weekend. That should give him a chance of being available for the Champions League, or failing that, round seventeen. Tammy Abraham hasn't been working much between games due to his hip injury, but Frank Lampard reports that the striker will be involved. Ross Barkley (illness/injury) is back after nearly six weeks out, although he is unlikely to start against his former employers. Callum Hudson-Odoi must show when coming from the bench, “what he can do” if he wants to start more games and displace Christian Pulisic. There was a suggestion that Willian had picked up a knock in the win over Aston Villa, although there was no mention during Fridays’ press conference.
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Liverpool
Adam Smith left Selhurst Park with his foot in a protective boot midweek, and the full-back won't be fit for the game – Jack Stacey is the player who could deputise. Joshua King (hamstring) hasn’t recovered as hoped, and Steve Cook (fractured wrist) will meet with a specialist on Friday. No Harry Wilson - ineligible – as he is unable to face his parent club. Junior Stanislas has taken his first tentative steps back on the training pitches, but Eddie Howe doesn’t expect the winger back until the new year. David Brooks could follow a similar timeline following several setbacks in his recovery from ankle surgery in the summer. Andrew Surman is training but isn’t up to speed yet, and Charlie Daniels remains out long-term. Lloyd Kelly was said to be “progressing well” ahead of week fourteen, but there has been no update since.
Jurgen Klopp had a line up in mind for the game at The Vitality before he “heard about some little concerns." That said, no-one had been officially ruled out from midweek, with the squad due to train on Friday afternoon. “Everybody looks okay." Joel Matip (knee), Fabinho (ankle) and Nathaniel Clyne (ACL) are the three confirmed absentees for the trip to the south coast.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Burnley
There is no change in the Tottenham treatment room, despite concerns on Wednesday that Harry Winks had picked up a knock at Old Trafford. Ben Davies (ankle), Erik Lamela (hamstring) and Michel Vorm (calf) are ruled out as they continue with their recoveries. Club-captain Hugo Lloris is targeting a return in early 2020 following surgery on his elbow.
Sean Dyche has a few injury doubts heading into this weekends' game. A niggling groin problem restricted Ashley Barnes to a role from the bench on Tuesday while Ashley Westwood is suffering from a similar issue which prevented him from lining up against the Champions. Both players will be checked closer to kick-off. Charlie Taylor (hamstring), Kevin Long (hip) and Phil Bardsley all missed training on Thursday and could struggle to recover in time. Johann Berg Gudmundsson is already ruled out due to the muscle injury he sustained with his national team in October.
Watford – vs – Crystal Palace
Christian Kabasele and Roberto Pereyra are back in contention for Hayden Mullin’s first home game in charge. “They came through [Thursdays’ session] fine [and] unless anything happens in between now and Saturday, they'll be ready.” José Holebas, Tom Cleverley and Sebastian Prödl remain out, but there was no mention of Daryl Janmaat. Craig Dawson is nearing a return following stitches in a head wound, but the Palace game will come too soon for the defender. Deeney managed 87 minutes on Wednesday in his first start since August, and the skipper should be better for the run out. “Troy is massive for the football club,” said Mullins. “He's a leader and leads in every sense of the word. He's great to have in and around at this time.”
Roy Hodgson reveals that Patrick Van Aanholt has a hamstring issue, although the extent of the damage is still not known, and tests will continue. Jeffrey Schlupp, who came on midweek, scoring the winner against Bournemouth, is expected to deputise. The Eagles boss hasn’t given up hope that Gary Cahill (knee) and/or Scott Dann (ankle) will be ready after missing out midweek, and with Mamadou Sakho beginning a three-match ban, both players will be afforded every opportunity to prove their fitness. Cheikhou Kouyaté could play as a makeshift centre-back as he did on Tuesday. Víctor Camarasa will keep his place amongst the substitutes as Max Meyer has been struggling due to sickness all week.
Manchester City – vs – Manchester United
Ilkay Gundogan returns for the derby after missing the win at Turf Moor through suspension. If selected, then Pep is likely to switch from a 4-3-3 with the German sitting alongside Rodri in the holding role (4-2-3-1). Oleksandr Zinchenko has trained normally this week, but a lack of match fitness probably means a place on the bench is the best he can hope for. Sergio Agüero has been ruled out, and there is no definitive timeline on when the Argentine will return. Striking responsibilities will, therefore, fall to Gabriel Jesus, who scored two excellent goals against Burnley.
Ole is hoping to have Anthony Martial available for the derby; the Frenchman may not be able to start, but he will "definitely" be an option from the bench. No timeline for Paul Pogba, although he is expected to be back this year following a return to the training pitches. No mention of midfielder Nemanja Matic who was said to be close for the game at Tottenham, or Marcos Rojo who was initially ruled out for two weeks. Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Diogo Dalot are working towards a return around Christmas.
Aston Villa – vs – Leicester City
Anwar El Ghazi should train on Saturday giving Dean Smith a selection headache after his replacement at Stamford Bridge – Trezeguet – scored his third goal in as many starts. Other than those sidelined long term, everyone else is expected to be fully fit. Jed Steer (Achilles) will be back around February or March, while Keinan Davis (hamstring) has stepped up his recovery recently and he should be back within 10-14 days.
Ben Chilwell is targeting a comeback at Villa Park. "Hopefully, he’ll be okay for the weekend," Brendan Rodgers revealed after the win over Watford. "He had a slight problem at the top of his leg, his hip area. We’ll see how he goes over the next couple of days, but hopefully, he’ll be okay." Demarai Gray is fully fit and ready to face Aston Villa after missing the last two games through illness. Other than that, there are no new injuries within the Leicester camp.
Newcastle United – vs – Southampton
Allan Saint-Maximin was interviewed with his left ankle iced following the win at Bramall Lane, and when asked for an update, the winger played down the problem although the injury could evolve over the next 24-48 hours. Andy Carroll started his first Premier League game in 11 months, and it was his flick-on for Jonjo Shelvey which helped secure another three vital away points. Steve Bruce will want to make sure he has no adverse reaction before looking at his side for Sunday – Joelinton was the player to make way. Defensively, United have looked solid, so much so, that Fabian Schär is struggling to break back into the side, and the absence of Jamaal Lascelles has not been felt. Florian Lejeune can be called upon if needed, but given his recent knee problems, Bruce will bide his time. “I had a conversation with him a week ago. I said. ‘You’ve had two big injuries, so, the longer he trains, the better physically and mentally he becomes.’” DeAndre Yedlin has worked and may return to the squad.
Ralph Hasenhüttl reveals Sofiane Boufal is still struggling with a toe injury, although he is expected to train on Saturday for the first time. "There's still a problem with him. In the last game, he was on the bench, and there was no reason to bring him in. [On Saturday], we will see how he is.” The Saints also have a “few issues” from the win over Norwich. Stuart Armstrong (hamstring) is the only confirmed absentee, although he should be an option after the Newcastle game.
Norwich City – vs – Sheffield United
No fresh injury concerns from the loss at St Mary’s on Wednesday evening. "It seems like everyone is okay [but], we [still] have a few training sessions [before Sunday],” Daniel Farke told the press. Alexander Tettey, who was a slight doubt prior to kick-off, came through the game, okay, and it was his assist for Teemu Pukki which saw the Finn score for the second successive match. Timm Klose (knee) faces a race against time to play again this season while Josip Drmic (hamstring) should be back in early 2020. Grant Hanley (groin) is expected to re-join the group on the training pitches from next week.
Chris Wilder reveals the Blades have no fresh injury concerns following the loss to Newcastle. "Everyone has come through unscathed, so we have a full squad to choose from this weekend at Norwich." Lys Mousset and David McGoldrick are options to come back into the team after the Blades started with Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp in attack on Thursday.
Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Players were still being assessed at the time of Graham Potter’s press conference on Friday. "We're in today for a body count and recover in the best way we can. So far, we have no problems to report," he told the Press. Neal Maupay helped the Seagulls to a well-deserved win at the Emirates, and Potter will be hoping to back that up with another solid performance which could see Brighton break into the Top Ten. Solly March has been managing a minor groin issue in recent weeks, and his status remains unclear. José Izquierdo (knee) is the only definite absentee.
Wolves are unbeaten in ten Premier League matches, their best run in 47 years, but Nuno Espírito Santo believes his side can continue to improve so there will be no letting up at the Amex Stadium. "Everybody is okay," after the win over West Ham. Ryan Bennett did return to the matchday squad, but Belgium international Leander Dendoncker kept his place in a back three and returned his first goal of the season. Willy Boly is “improving” and should return early in 2020 while Morgan Gibbs-White is assessed day-by-day due to a persistent back injury. “First, we have to take care of his pain, but he is improving, and hopefully, he can join us soon."
West Ham United – vs – Arsenal
Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Lanzini will continue with their recoveries in the hope of returning by the end of the month. Michail Antonio is expected to be okay after he was rested midweek. "[He] is coming back from a long injury, a surgery, so we must be very careful. We’ll decide with the medical staff what we’ll do with him, but we must be careful not to force him too much in these first games." Jack Wilshere and Winston Reid have started to work with the squad, but any involvement would be from the bench after so long on the sidelines. No mention of Robert Snodgrass who looked to have picked up a knock at Molineux…
There was no press conference from interim boss Freddie Ljungberg on Friday following the disappointing loss to Brighton. The Gunners have been on a terrible run of late – no wins in nine – and look devoid of confidence. Callum Chambers, Nicolas Pepe, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney and Matteo Guendouzi are among those vying for a place in the starting XI, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ljungberg ring the changes. Dani Ceballos (hamstring) is the only confirmed injury doubt, but it has been a month since Rob Holding was last seen with the first team leading many to speculate that he has suffered another setback.