Game week 24 arrives quickly, and with eight press conferences still to come, getting a handle on the team news will be difficult ahead of the deadline.
Liverpool and West Ham ‘should’ be the big hitters this round as both are involved in the first double game week of the season following the Reds participation at the Club World Cup in December.
AFC Bournemouth – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion
Jefferson Lerma is managing an ongoing knee problem, and while the Colombian should make the squad, there are no guarantees he will be fit enough to start given the quick turnaround between matches. Lloyd Kelly played for the Under-21s on Friday night, but Eddie Howe will manage his integration into the first team with care, and a late call will be made on his inclusion. Steve Cook serves a one-match ban after 'that save' on Saturday which earned him a red card. Simon Francis is likely to return after he made way for Diego Rico at Carrow Road. Joshua King and Jack Stacey (both hamstring) are ruled out while Chris Mepham (knee surgery) is only one-week post-op and he could miss up to three months. David Brooks and Charlie Daniels are fighting to save their season after spending much of the last year in the treatment room. Tuesday will come too soon for Junior Stanislas (calf) and Arnaut Danjuma (foot) who has been receiving treatment in his homeland.
No fresh injury concerns for the Seagulls who came through Saturdays' 1-1 draw with Villa unscathed. "We have everyone apart from Dan Burn and José Izquierdo available,” confirmed Graham Potter. Shane Duffy is managing an ongoing groin problem and can be called upon if required; the defender was unused in GW23 while Solly March was omitted altogether. His absence was a tactical decision having recently returned after surgery.
Aston Villa – vs – Watford
Jonathan Kodjia has joined Qatari side Al-Gharafa on a two-and-a-half-year deal meaning Dean Smith will once again be forced into lining up without a recognised centre-forward. With Wesley (ACL knee) out for the season, and Keinan Davis recovering from a slight setback, it was hoped that the signing of Mbwana Samatta from Genk could be fast-tracked, but the paperwork was not be completed in time for GW24. Injuries to Tom Heaton (ACL knee) and Jed Steer (Achilles) saw the Villains dip into the market, and Pepe Reina will look to start his second game since arriving from Milan on-loan. John McGinn is the only other confirmed absentee.
Danny Welbeck is nearing a return, but Nigel Pearson was giving nothing away on Monday about his possible comeback. “Danny is getting closer and closer. Out of all [the injured players], he would be the one nearest to being ready for selection. We'll have to wait and see [if he's involved] at Villa Park.” Ismaïla Sarr has been ruled out after pulling up with an apparent muscle strain during the draw with Tottenham. “We are still waiting to see what the extent of it is,” said Pearson. “I can't give anything other than that. He is not going to be available for tomorrow's game. I really don't know [what the injury is].” Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes and Kiko Femenía are targeting a comeback next month, but there is no timeline on the potential return of Daryl Janmaat (knee) and Sebastian Prodl (shin).
Everton – vs – Newcastle United
Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that Richarlison trained on Monday, but the Brazilian won’t be considered as he is still feeling some discomfort in his knee. "He's doing well, but we don't want to take a risk." Gylfi Sigurdsson (groin) is also ruled out while the Toffees will make a late call on Michael Keane who missed out on Saturday due to a neck complaint. Alex Iwobi (hamstring) is making good progress but won't be a part of the squad, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin is training individually with a view to re-joining the team in the next few days.
“It’s what we feared," Steve Bruce said on the injury to Jetro Willems who may not play for the club again. "He’s ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL knee) and will miss, obviously, the rest of the season. He’s been a very decent player for us, and we’ll miss him.” A decision will be taken soon on whether the full-back returns to his parent club – Eintracht Frankfurt – for treatment. Paul Dummett may also miss the remainder of the campaign as the extent of his hamstring injury became clear. "It’s been a bad weekend!” mused the United boss. Newcastle should have more/less the same squad as Saturday – minus Willems – as the trip to Goodison Park will probably come too soon for Andy Carroll.
Sheffield United – vs – Manchester City
Chris Wilder is hoping David McGoldrick can recover from the foot problem which kept him out of the draw at Arsenal. "We will assess [it], he’s had the weekend to recover, and we’ll make that decision today for tomorrow’s game. Everyone else came through the weekend, so I’ll have a full squad to pick from." Mo Besic is pushing to make his full Premier League debut after impressing from the bench in recent matches.
Pep revealed John Stones suffered a “problem in his leg” during the final moments of Saturdays’ game against Crystal Palace. The centre-back will be assessed along with Benjamin Mendy, who is suffering from muscular fatigue. However, with Zinchenko and Angelino both available, it doesn’t make sense to risk the Frenchman. Aymeric Laporte could make his long-awaited return after weeks of work on the training pitches. “Every day he’s getting better. I don’t know [when he’s back]. I have to think later tonight," said Guardiola. Leroy Sané should return next month.
Crystal Palace – vs – Southampton
"Luckily all the players who played on Saturday have come through without any issue,” Roy Hodgson confirmed in Mondays’ press conference. The Eagles managed to take an unlikely point from the Etihad to all but end the Champions hopes of retaining the title. Max Meyer has recovered from an ankle injury, but no-one else is close. Luka Milivojevic serves the final game of his ban.
Ralph Hasenhüttl reveals Jan Bednarek is struggling with an Achilles injury and the centre-back likely to miss the game. Although the rest of the squad were “a little bit tired” there were no apparent issues, and the players were being checked in training after the press conference. The Saints boss suggested that he may bring in some new faces to help freshen his side. “This is the last time the calendar is that busy. Until now, we were lucky with injuries, and I hope it stays like this. Maybe this is the last game where we are a little bit rotating. We need to have the best performance, and therefore, the best team." Yan Valery is slightly ahead of schedule and has joined the team for the first time this week.
Chelsea – vs – Arsenal
Reece James has been cleared of serious injury, and he could feature against Arsenal which seemed unlikely after limping off at Newcastle. "It's settled down pretty quickly so far. I won't absolutely count my chickens, but hopefully, he'll be involved,” said Frank Lampard. N’Golo Kante might be managed having just returned from a hamstring issue while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic won’t be back until mid-February. Marcos Alonso has been passed fit.
Reiss Nelson (hamstring) and Sead Kolasinac (thigh) will not return until after the winter break. A decision on Sokratis (illness) will be made nearer kick-off and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (suspended) must sit this one out. Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney, ACL knee and dislocated shoulder respectively, are sidelined long-term.
Leicester City – vs – West Ham United
Brendon Rodgers would not expand on why Ben Chilwell and Hamza Choudhury missed the defeat at Turf Moor. Suffice to say, that neither was injured but they “missed a very important session” in the build-up to the game. The reason as to why remains “personal”, but they will be in contention for Wednesday with Christian Fuchs and Nampalys Mendy expected to make way. Wilfried Ndidi has returned to the training pitches following a minor surgical procedure on his knee; however, Saturday at Brentford in the cup offers a more realistic return to play.
Michail Antonio (hamstring) and Anderson (ribs) were unfortunate to miss out in GW23, and the pair should be closer following additional recovery days. Darren Randolph looks set to retain his place with David Martin backing up; Lukasz Fabianski “might” only be out for a few weeks after tests revealed he did not suffer a recurrence of the thigh injury which sidelined him for three months. Ryan Fredericks, Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko remain on the treatment table.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Norwich City
José Mourinho said the absence of Danny Rose at Vicarage Road was due to a calf problem that he sustained in training during the build-up to the match. Tanguy Ndombele has started to work again with the squad, and his involvement will be determined by his performance following an injury-ravaged start to his Tottenham career. Hugo Lloris is building fitness, and the captain is expected back in early February. Moussa Sissoko (knee) and Harry Kane (hamstring) are targeting a comeback in around three months after their respective surgeries.
The return of Ben Godfrey, Josip Drmic and Teemu Pukki on Saturday almost cleared the Carrow Road decks, a world away from how the season started when the Canaries counted 13 casualties at one stage. Only Timm Klose (knee) remains, although Ben Godfrey was dismissed on his return which resulted in a three-match ban.
Manchester United – vs – Burnley
Unless you’ve been in hibernation, then you would’ve heard the news that Marcus Rashford is set for an extended spell on the sidelines after tests confirm he suffered a stress fracture to his lower back against Wolves in the FA Cup replay seven days ago. Assuming his rehabilitation programme goes smoothly then, England can expect the striker to return ahead of Euro 2020, but his recovery must be handled very carefully. Luke Shaw will be assessed after pulling up with cramp on his return at Anfield, but Eric Bailly did make a return to the matchday squad after more than five months out. Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo are not due to return until after the winter break.
The Clarets will be buoyed by their win over Leicester, a first victory in five which helped ease growing relegation fears. Ashley Barnes went under the knife to repair his troublesome hernia, and while Johann Berg Gudmundsson is progressing, Wednesday is not realistic. Chris Wood, broken nose, came through last weekends’ encounter unscathed leaving Sean Dyche with close to a full squad to choose from.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – vs – Liverpool
A hamstring injury will keep Ruben Vinagre out for some time, but there is better news for Diogo Jota who should train ahead of the game after overcoming a calf complaint; the Portuguese star has missed the last three weeks. Willy Boly (ankle) continues to work his way back, but while Morgan Gibbs-White has been included in the matchday squad recently, the winger is still not 100 per cent after three months out.
Xherdan Shaqiri (calf) has suffered another minor setback, although he hopes to be available for the Reds’ second fixture of the game week at West Ham. Joel Matip and Fabinho were both included in Sundays’ squad to help bolster numbers, and the return of Dejan Lovren to the training pitches might be enough to put fantasy managers off Joe Gomez who offers low-cost entry into the Liverpool backline. Jurgen Klopp is waiting for the green light from the medical department for James Milner and Naby Keita, hamstring and groin, to resume normal activities.