Late Fitness Test - Match Week 31

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Neal Thurman
·6 min read
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The big injury news that hit this week was that Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has suffered a setback in his recovery and will miss this weekend and two further weeks. Not only does that submarine Grealish's value in salary cap and draft fantasy formats for the immediate future but it also reduces the value of the rest of the Villa attack which, their three-goal outburst in 20 minutes against Fulham aside, has struggled in Grealish's absence. We'll cover that and the rest of the Premier League injury news ahead of Match Week 31 below.

Fulham vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fulham don't have much to worry about on the injury front with Ademola Lookman having recovered from a hamstring injury. Wolves, on the other hand, have a mounting injury list with Willy Boly (positive COVID test) and Jonny (knee) joining Joao Moutinho, and Raúl Jiménez as regular starters who are missing from Nuno Espirito Santo's side. On the positive side, Daniel Podence rejoins the side as he, Pedro Neto, and Adama Traoré will all flank Willian José.

Manchester City vs. Leeds United

Manchester City continue to add "extremely healthy" to "extremely good" on their resume. As good as that is for their chances of an unprecedented quadruple, it isn't great for fantasy managers who have to figure out who is going to start. Things will only get more difficult for Leeds with Jack Harrison unable to play against his parent club. Otherwise, Marcelo Bielsa has a fit squad to face the presumptive champions.

Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

The home side will be without the usual suspects - Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, and Jordan Henderson - from among the usual starting group. We will find out if the return of Fabinho in midfield truly made a difference for Jurgen Klopp's side last weekend or if it was more a case of Arsenal playing poorly and helping paper over the cracks that injuries have caused at Liverpool.

As mentioned in the introduction, the big news for visiting Aston Villa is the continued absence of Jack Grealish. Otherwise, Dean Smith's side is healthy and should give Liverpool a run for their money at Anfield.

Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea

As we pointed out last week after he scored a late goal to rescue a point for Palace, Michy Batshuayi will miss out on this weekend's match due to the terms of his loan from Chelsea. James McCarthy and Tyrick Mitchell both return but Palace are still missing Nathaniel Clyne, Nathan Ferguson, James McArthur, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho, and Connor Wickham. Not a good situation for a side that is already pretty thin going up against a group as deep and talented as the Blues.

Not only are Chelsea deep and talented, they are also almost entirely healthy. There are certainly some doubts over Christian Pulisic's hamstring as there have been all year but Thomas Tuchel failed to mention him in his team news so Pulisic is presumably available to face the Eagles at Selhurst Park. The only player who Chelsea won't have is Thiago Silva who was sent off against West Brom last weekend helping to precipitate the 5-2 Chelsea loss. The former PSG man will miss this weekend's match and return in Match Week 32. Look for Andreas Christensen to get the start in Silva's absence.

Burnley vs. Newcastle United

Phil Bardsley and Erik Pieters return for the Clarets as the host Newcastle United on Sunday. Sean Dyche will be without Ashley Barnes, Kevin Long, and Robbie Brady.

More important for Burnley than their own injury fortunes are those of their opponents. Callum Wilson looks ready to return to the line-up after two and a half months out injured. Wilson's injury coincided with the Magpies slide down the table and Steve Bruce will be counting on his talisman to ensure safety from the drop. Assuming Wilson starts, Burnley's chances for a clean sheet drop markedly.

Tottenham vs. Manchester United

Ben Davies and Matt Doherty are both still missing for José Mourinho meaning that we have some certainty as to who will start on the defensive flanks for Spurs as they welcome the Red Devils. It'll be Serge Aurier and Sergei Reguilon for sure and the rest of the Spurs side should be fit as Mourinho faces off against his Old Trafford successor.

The Red Devils have a couple of concerns heading into the match. Anthony Martial will certainly miss out and could be gone for the season while Luke Shaw is a doubt after coming off early in United''s Europa League win on Thursday. Shaw hasn't been ruled out so there's not much clarity on what fantasy mangers should do with the left back spot for United.

West Ham United vs. Leicester City

The Hammers are without key contributors Mickail Antonio and Declan Rice for their top four clash with Leicester City. With Antonio the only real forward in the squad, it is likely that David Moyes will play three attacking midfielders to make up for Antonio's absence. Look for Jesse Lingard and Jarrod Bowen to be joined by Pablo Fornals.

The Foxes will hope to get Çaglar Soyuncu back after he had to isolate in Turkey due to COVID protocol coming off of the international break. Otherwise, long-term absentee Harvey Barnes is the only starter that Brendan Rodgers will be without for the trip to the London Stadium.

Sheffield United vs. Arsenal

Both sides in this one will be without significant contributors. For the visiting Gunners, it isn't the number of absences but the identity of the absentees with David Luiz and Kieran Tierney definitely out and Martin Odegaard doubtful. After a poor showing absent those three against Sparta Prague on Thursday, Arsenal will need more from the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, Cedric, and Rob Holding.

The Blades aren't missing any "big" names but in a thin squad, any absence is important and they will be without rumored Manchester City target Sander Berge along with Billy Sharp and Jack O'Connell. Chris Basham is doubtful but George Baldock should be available should he pass the final stages of the concussion protocol without a setback.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton

Conor Gallagher returns after missing last weekend's match with Chelsea due to the terms of his loan agreement. Dara O'Shea should be good to go as well. Branislav Ivanovic will miss out after coming on as a substitute last weekend and then having to leave injured not long after.

Oriol Romeu and Michael Obafemi are the only two confirmed absences with Kyle Walker-Peters questionable due to a minor knock. With Theo Walcott looking good last time out don't be surprised if he's in the starting line-up.

Brighton vs. Everton

Tariq Lamptey and Solly March are the two definite absentees for the home side. There are also late fitness checks for Dan Burn, Adam Webster, and Aaron Connolly.

Jordan Pickford, André Gomes, Alex Iwobi, and Allan are all liker than not to be available for the trip to Brighton on Monday while Bernard, Fabian Delph, and Abdoulaye Doucouré are all long-term absentees.

Enjoy the matches and be sure to check back here for line-ups and all the latest Premier League news as it happens.