Late Fitness Check - Week 3

Neal Thurman
Ben Dinnery is back with all of the latest team news ahead of what promises to be an exciting midweek of Premier League fixtures

Late Fitness Check GW31

Ben Dinnery is back with all of the latest team news ahead of what promises to be an exciting midweek of Premier League fixtures

What a great program of matches this weekend.  The North London Derby and Liverpool vs. Manchester United are the headliners and, with the exception of Manchester City vs. Hull City, there aren't really any big mismatches.  This makes for potentially great viewing but it makes fantasy roster management a bit more difficult.  The absence of Chelsea and Aston Villa add to the difficulties.  This makes the latest injury and suspension news that much more important.  Here's the match-by-match rundown with notes about impact for your selections:

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Cardiff City v Everton - Andreas Cornelius is back on the sidelines but Cardiff are otherwise healthy and on a huge high.  Everton are generally healthy as well and assuming that Baines and Fellaini aren't transferred to Manchester United before tomorrow then the only meaningful absence will continue to be Darron Gibson who is important because his absence is keeping Fellaini further back in the formation and making him a mediocre fantasy choice at best. 

Manchester City v Hull City - Matija Nastasic is back which along with Javi Garcia not being played at CB is great news for everyone on the City defense against a newly promoted team.  This news means Joe Hart, Jolean Lescott, Nastasic and Gael Clichey are all very much playable as fantasy options.  Zab is also an option I suppose but his propensity for picking up cards always makes me wary even if I'd really like to have him on my real life team if, you know, I had a real life team. Expect the Blues to take out last weekend's Cardiff disappointment out on Hull City. 

Newcastle v Fulham - Not much of interest here other than some, probably baseless, speculation about whether Yohan Cabaye might feature this weekend despite continued transfer speculation. 

Norwich City v Southampton - The only mildly interesting news here is that Dani Osvaldo could well make his first start for the Saints.  If you want to do something a little bit different then he could be an interesting fantasy start against a struggling Norwich City side that would also help you afford more of the City defense. 

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Crystal Palace v Sunderland - Not much of interest from Selhurst Park but Sunderland might get Steven Fletcher back after a long injury layoff.  It will be interesting to see how the attack is organized with Stephane Sessegnon's absence due to his drunk driving arrest and the possibility of fielding two more traditional forwards in Jozy Altidore and Fletcher.  If I were more confident that Fletcher were going to start vs. be worked back slowly after a long layoff, I'd be inclined to start him this week. As it is, I'll be watching intently to see how Sunderland approach his return. 

West Ham United v Stoke City - There aren't any injury or suspension issues with anyone you should ever have in a fantasy line-up.  Honestly, the most interesting sentence in the news ahead of this match is that Peter Crouch is back in contention after missing the mid-week match due to illness. Yikes. 

Also be sure to check out Nik's Player PicksThe Danger Zone - Players to Avoid | First XI: Week Two

Liverpool v Manchester United - Aly Cissokho went from new arrival to crocked pretty quickly and will not be available (although why you'd pick him against Manchester United is beyond me) and more worrying for Liverpool their other new summer defensive reinforcement - Kolo Toure, who has been playing very well - is also a doubt.  Martin Skertl is set to return for Toure but the unsettled nature of the back four has me thinking that Manchester United's attack, especially RvP, is just that much more valuable against their old rivals.   

West Bromwich v Swansea City - Nicholas Anelka seems likely to be back and able to feature in place of the injured Matej Vydra.  Ben Foster is out until around the end of 2013 meaning Boaz Myhill will likely start despite a minor injury of his own.  Sounds to me like this could be a big weekend for Swansea given the form the Baggies have shown thus far (zero goals in two matches) and the concerns in the net. Neil Taylor and Nathan Dyer are the only absences, and not terribly important ones given Swansea's depth.  The big question here is whether you a) want to pay the money for Michu or b) you think Wilfried Bony will finally get a start.  Both would be solid plays given the weakness at the Hawthorns thus far.  

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Laurent Koscielny is back from his injury/suspension and will presumably partner Per Mertesacker in the North London Derby.  That would presumably put Bakary Sagna back out on the right and either Kieran Gibbs or Nacho Monreal on the left.  It is possible that Arsenal will start the same way that they ended against Fenerbahce with Gibbs slotting in for Podolski and Monreal playing at left back.  On the other side of North London, Aaron Lennon, Emannuel Adebayor, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are fitness-related doubts but given all of the transfer work at White Hart Lane over the summer, they should probably get comfortable on the bench alongside Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby, Jermain Defoe, Andros Townsend (who may get one more start before making way for new signings), and others depending on how the final couple days of the window play out.  I'm likely to avoid all but some obvious players for this match.  Theo Walcott and Roberto Soldado are currently in my squad from last week and I don't see any reason to sell them off but I'm certainly not investing heavily in what will likely be an even more unpredictable match than usual in the Premier League. 

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