Firstly, thanks to Neal for covering AM's Player Picks for Week 17. It was nice of him to spend so much time worrying and writing about Tottenham, I knew he loved them really! In all seriousness it was a well-balanced run-through of the situation and he echoed many (if not all) of my own opinions, before concluding correctly that we'll probably never know the whole truth about the AVB saga.
Anyway, in return, my Christmas gift to him is to cover this week's Premier League team, injury and suspension news ahead of tomorrow's fantasy deadline. The manager's press conferences are finished now so we have all we're going to get out of them, and this is what we know.
Man Utd v West Ham
What we wanted was a clear "Wayne Rooney is fit" or "Wayne Rooney is injured" from Manchester United manager David Moyes. What we got was "he has a chance, we'll see tomorrow". Hugely unhelpful, and he has to be considered a massive risk. Danny Welbeck should play regardless of the final decision, with Javier Hernandez only likely to feature if Rooney sits it out. Nani is out injured so Antonio Valencia and Adnan Januzaj should remain on the wings, while Marouane Fellaini and Nemanja Vidic are both doubts so Phil Jones will start in either midfield or defence. Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie are long term absentees.
West Ham's captain Kevin Nolan is still suspended, so Ravel Morrison is expected to start and Modibo Maiga will battle it out with Carlton Cole for a start upfront, but you shouldn't be considering any Hammers players for such a difficult match.
Liverpool v Cardiff City
Brendon Rodgers is still without the injured trio of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Jose Enrique so expect to see the same XI that crushed Tottenham in Week 16. If you need reminding, that would mean: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flangan, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez. This match is the early kick-off on Saturday so we'll see the line-up before the Yahoo deadline anyway. I'll ensure the teams are tweeted out prior to 12:45GMT, so feel free to follow me if you'd find this information useful.
Given the home side's form you don't want to be selecting any Cardiff players unless you're expecting a big defensive display from Steven Caulker. FYI Craig Bellamy could get a run out against his former club.
Fulham v Man City
The short of it is Fulham have a fully fit squad with the exception of Brede Hangeland and Matthew Briggs, but you shouldn't care about any of that because Fulham players must be avoided like the plague this weekend. Why? Because Manchester City are in London town.
Manuel Pellegrini isn't without problems, as injuries to key players are mounting. Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Stevan Jovetic, Matija Nastasic and Micah Richards are all out, but the depth of City's squad means the impact is limited. Edin Dzeko could come in for Aguero, but some people in know are suggesting David Silva will be pushed up to support Alvaro Negredo, and both men (Silva and Negredo) are terrific options this week. Dedryk Boyata should start at right back and Martin Demichelis will partner Vincent Kompany in the heart of defence. Costel Pantilimon is expected to start ahead of Joe Hart once again.
Arsenal v Chelsea
Jack Wilshere is suspended for two matches for being a naughty boy which means Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla should be handed the wide roles. Laurent Koscielny is out with that nasty looking cut to his knee so Thomas Vermalen will come in, while Mathieu Flamini is battling it out with Mikel Arteta for the right to partner Aaron Ramsey in midfield. Mesut Ozil too slot in behind Olivier Giroud, and Lucas Podolski could find himself back on the bench.
Jose Mourinho has confirmed Cesar Azpilicueta is fit and will start on Monday, along with Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry, meaning Ashley Cole will be on the Chelsea bench again. The experienced Frank Lampard could start this one along with Oscar and Eden Hazard, while Fernando Torres is being tipped to start in attack.
Southampton v Tottenham
Jose Fonte and Adam Lallana should both come back in to the Southampton starting XI after missing the trip to Newcastle in Week 16. Artur Boruc is still injured so Paulo Gazzaniga will start in goal and Nathaniel Clyne is a slight doubt, but aside from that Mauricio Pochettino has a full fit squad to choose from.
At Tottenham it's anyone's guess as interim manager Tim Sherwood takes the reigns for a second game. He went with a very old fashioned (dare I say it, outdated) 4-4-2 against West Ham in midweek and we could see the same here, with Emmanuel Adebayor possibly partnering Roberto Soldado. Danny Rose and Vlad Chiriches are both back but Paulinho, Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul and Andros Townsend are out. I'll admit I have a bad feeling Spurs are going to fall to another defeat, so I'll be avoiding their players.
Swansea v Everton
The Swans may need to play this game without their talisman Michu, who is still struggling with that ankle injury and will require surgery sooner rather than later. Michel Vorm, Nathan Dyer and Angel Rangel are out too, which is not good news.
In-form Everton are still without Leighton Baines and Gerard Deulofeu is out with a hamstring injury, so Bryan Oviedo and Kevin Mirallas will both start. James McCarthy should come back in to midfield with either Leon Osman or Ross Barkley dropping to the bench.
Stoke v Aston Villa
Mark Hughes will be without Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross is a big doubt, so Stoke's defence appears a lot less secure than usual. Stephen Ireland can't play against his parent club so Jon Walters should come back in to the starting XI, while Peter Crouch and Matthew Etherington are also slight doubts.
Aston Villa could be without captain Ron Vlaar and Charles N'Zogbia is injured, but aside from that Paul Lambert has a fully fit squad to choose from. Mark Albrighton is expected to continue after playing well against Manchester United and Christian Benteke will lead the line as he continues his search for that elusive goal.
Sunderland v Norwich
Gus Poyet has to decide whether to recall Stephen Fletcher to partner Jozy Altidore upfront but apart from that there isn't a lot of relevant news for Sunderland.
Norwich are expect to stick with the same starting XI for the third Premier League match running, which would mean: Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Olsson, Snodgrass, Fer, Howson, Redmond, Elmander, Hooper.
West Brom v Hull City
With Steve Clark sacked last week it's impossible to predict what we'll see from West Brom, so you should avoid them.
For Hull, Robbie Brady is out again as he continues to struggle as a result of being rushed back too quickly from hernia surgery, so Steve Bruce may also name an unchanged side in his new look 3-5-2 formation. That would mean: McGregor, Chester, Davies, Bruce, Elmohamdy, Livermore, Huddlestone, Figueroa, Meyler, Sagbo, Graham.
Crystal Palace v Newcastle
Not much worthwhile news coming out of the Palace press conference, so all you need to know is Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Mile Jedinek and Marouane Chamakh are fit and will start.
For Newcastle, Yohan Cabaye is back from suspension and should replace Anita but the rest of their side should stay the same, with Loic Remy looking to break his mini goal-drought.
That's about it for now, but we'll add any news that filters in tonight / tomorrow morning via the main news blurbs on the Rotoworld Premier League front page.
Here's the team I'm 99.9% going with tomorrow.
First XI: Mignolet, Oviedo, Debuchy, P.Jones, Barkley, Ramsey, Silva, Coutinho, Welbeck, Negredo, Suarez (C)
Subs: Bardsley, Ozil, Spence, Harper
Negredo comes in for Aguero and the uncertainty over Rooney means Welbeck is likely to snatch a place in my team for the first time ever. I was planning on benching Ozil to give Barkley a chance to impress at Swansea but a few of the predicted line-ups are saying the Everton midfielder could be benched, so I'm now a bit nervous about that decision.
How's your team coming along?
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- Danny Welbeck
- Sergio Aguero
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- Lucas Podolski