Late Fitness Check: Gameweek 5

·9 min read



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A Friday night game under the lights at St James' Park means the FPL deadline has been brought forward. We're only eight press conferences in, but with less than 24-hours to go, I thought it best to get the latest news out now with essential updates and amendments added throughout the build-up.

Arsenal

Rob Holding has returned to the training pitches after taking a blow to the knee, but the defender will not be ready for Saturday. Mo Elneny (hamstring) aims to be back with the group next week, and Granit Xhaka has recovered from COVID-19, although he remains out of contention due to his ban. Mikel Arteta was giving nothing away regarding his goalkeeper, insisting a decision would be made nearer kick off with Aaron Ramsdale and Bernd Leno vying for the No.1 spot. Alexandre Lacazette remains in the managers' thoughts despite slipping down the pecking order.

Aston Villa

Villa were much better than their 0-3 loss to Chelsea suggested, with Dean Smith's side maybe a little unfortunate not to get a share of the spoils. It was the first time Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings had started together, and I'd expect a similar set-up. Emi Buendía and Emi Martínez will return from Croatia on Friday, while Bertrand Traoré and Leon Bailey will benefit from another week of training, having recently recovered from hamstring strains.

Brentford

The Bees suffered their first defeat of the campaign in GW4, and it will be interesting to see how Thomas Frank responds. Does he keep faith in the majority of those players who started the season so well? Or does he consider those on the fringes of the XI, including Mathias Jensen, whose protracted start came about because of the Euros? Mads Sorensen (MCL knee) and Joshua Dasilva (hip) are both sidelined long-term.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Tariq Lamptey is not expected to return until the Carabao Cup later this month, which means Graham Potter has a problem on the right-hand side. Adam Webster (hamstring) was forced off at Griffin Park, and with Pascal Gross self-isolating, Joel Veltman will switch flanks while Jakob Moder may be called upon for cover. Enock Mwepu is another option, although the Zambia international was already trying to improve his fitness levels before being identified as a close contact, resulting in more time away from the training pitch. Aaron Connolly has been passed fit, but the game is expected to come too soon for Dan Burn.

Burnley

Nathan Collins comes into contention for the first time while another new signing, Connor Roberts, is edging closer to a return after completing 45-minutes of a behind-closed-doors game this week. Kevin Long is also approaching full fitness, but Sean Dyche confirms that Dale Stephens still has some way to go. Maxwel Cornet is likely to taste minutes from the bench in the coming weeks as he comes to grips with the English language and improves his fitness.

Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel rotated heavily ahead of the Champions League but having played on Tuesday with almost five days recovery; we should see the Blues near full strength. That would mean Marcus Alonso over Ben Chilwell again, plus we should see Mason Mount, Azpilicueta and Reece James back after his ban. N'Golo Kanté is fit following an ankle injury, but the derby will be too soon for Christian Pulisic, who was injured playing for the USMNT.

Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira will be pleased by his side's response following an indifferent start to the season, with the Eagles adapting to the managers' new attacking philosophy. I'd be surprised if Palace changed much this weekend - maybe Odsonne Edouard in for Christian Benteke - the only realistic switch after a great win over rivals Tottenham.

Everton

James Rodriguez is training fully with the team, and Rafa Benitez will make a call on his involvement after the final session on Friday. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been ruled out for around 2-3 weeks and may not return before the international break. The arrival of Salomon Rondon will help ease the burden on Richarlison, with the Toffees enjoying an excellent start to the campaign.

Leeds United

Marcelo Bielsa allayed growing injury fears over Patrick Bamford after the striker was overheard saying his hamstring was 'pinging' as he was being readied for a post-match interview last Sunday. Fortunately, the Argentine coach revealed there were "no difficulties" with the England international set to lead the Leeds attack. Robin Koch and Diego Llorente are both injured, and with Pascal Struijk suspended after the club failed to have his red card overturned, three out of four centre-backs will be missing forcing a reshuffle. Raphinha could be deployed in a more central No.10 role if Daniel James is handed his full debut.

Leicester City

Jonny Evans and Jannik Vestergaard were handed minutes in the Europa League as the pair work their way back from injury. Both centre-halves have been sidelined, with the former Saints defender slightly ahead in his overall fitness. Summer signings Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare were handed their first starts with Ayoze Pérez, suspended domestically, and Kelechi Iheanacho also coming into the side on Thursday. Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton were among those to drop out with one eye on a tricky trip to the south coast coming up.

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp confirmed Divock Origi was not injured in the Champions League, and the striker may be needed for cover with Roberto Firmino out with a hamstring strain. Harvey Elliott has successfully undergone ankle surgery, and the unfortunate youngster should be back at some point this season. Jordan Henderson is expected to sit alongside ThIago and Fabinho in a 4-3-3 as Liverpool welcome a Palace side brimming with confidence.

Manchester City

Pep named the same XI for three consecutive Premier League games for the first time in his City career, but he could be forced into a change with Aymeric Laporte flagged as a doubt. If John Stones fails to shake off the injury that kept him out of the win over RB Leipzig, Nathan Ake would be his replacement. Kevin De Bruyne returned midweek, but he may not be risked again from the off with such a quick turnaround between matches.

Manchester United

United will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday. The dismissal of Aaron Wan-Bissaka compounded the loss, but his ban does not include domestic competition. Edinson Cavani hopes to rejoin the group from Monday, and Scott McTominay is available if Solskjaer wants to utilise the Scotland international after groin surgery. Amad Diallo, Alex Telles and Marcus Rashford are all sidelined, with Phil Jones and Dean Henderson nearing a return, having played for the Under-23s at Arsenal last weekend.

Newcastle United

Steve Bruce refuses to put a timeline on the potential return of striker Callum Wilson. However, well-placed sources within the club believe he may not be back until after the international break. Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton could be tasked with leading the Newcastle attack. Javier Manquillo, Joe Willock and Ciaran Clark have all recovered from the knocks they suffered at Old Trafford, while Ryan Fraser is also in contention despite leaving the Scotland camp on crutches with his foot in a protective cast. Paul Dummett suffered a setback just as he was becoming a viable option at left-back, and Jonjo Shelvey has not progressed as hoped. Fit-again Karl Darlow could oust Freddie Woodman between the sticks after the 24-year-old admitted his performance against Manchester United was "not good enough", having been at fault for two of the four goals conceded.

Norwich City

Daniel Farke made some surprise selection decisions last time out, but his motives remain unclear. Whether it was a result of players being involved on international duty or whether he felt his side needed freshening up after a slow start remains to be seen. The Canaries cannot afford to lose this one if they harbour any real intentions of avoiding the drop this year. Dimitris Giannoulis (neck and back) and Josh Sargent (hamstring) have been spotted in training, but their availability will not be confirmed until Fridays' press conference. Recent signings Ozan Kabak and Mathias Normann are yet to taste minutes, and they may have to wait until the league cup on Tuesday before making their bow.

Southampton

Shane Long was back with the group following his positive COVID-19 test, although the Irishman only has one bench appearance in the league this season. Will Smallbone has enjoyed a whole week of training, but Ralph Hasenhuttl will not take any unnecessary risks after eight months out. Stuart Armstrong and Theo Walcott are still hampered by "minor" muscular problems that may take another 7-14 days to recover fully.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs injury problems continue after Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura picked up injuries during the Europa Conference game in Rennes. Nuno already had his work cut out facing London rivals Chelsea with question marks hanging over nine players. Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sánchez have been training in a green list country – Croatia – since returning from South America and they will not be back on British soil until the eve of the game. Heung-Min Son and Eric Dier, calf and thigh respectively, are significant doubts, and Japhet Tanganga begins a one-match ban.

Watford

Joao Pedro is not ready, having been sidelined since mid-July, and the Brazilian teenager will have to wait until GW6 before Xisco Munoz considers him for a place in the matchday squad. Kiko Femenía is back up to speed, and the defender could find himself named amongst the substitutes with goalkeeper Ben Foster (hamstring), who returns after missing the last two. Dan Gosling has been absent since August, with no mention of a comeback following an illness.

West Ham United

Michail Antonio helped the Hammers to a two-nil away win against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, but the striker will be sorely missed on Sunday following his dismissal at Southampton last weekend. Jarrod Bowen is one option for David Moyes, with Andriy Yarmolenko coming in for his first start after four substitute appearances. Kurt Zouma and Nikola Vlašić were handed their first starts on Thursday, two of five changes, but we should see a more familiar line-up against Manchester United as West Ham look to stretch their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In game week four, Wolves got their first points on the board, with new signing Hwang Hee-Chan breaking the deadlock following his second-half introduction. The former RB Leipzig attacker will hope his 30-minute cameo is worthy of a place in the XI with a home game against Brentford next up. Bruno Lage will feel his side can back up those three points with another victory, and with no change in the treatment room, only first-teamers Pedro Neto and Jonny remain out.