Welcome to Week 3 in the Premier League. This week features two top tier matches with Chelsea traveling to see their former forward Romelu Lukaku and Everton at Goodison Park. Liverpool will be traveling in the opposite direction and facing off with fast-starters Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from their thrashing at the Etihad while Spurs will be looking for some validation to their two wins against modest competition. The week kicks off with a team tipped for relegation...traveling to Burnley (I kid, I kid) - will the signing of Angel di Maria and the trouncing at MK Dons in mid-week wake Manchester United up to the fact that the season may be slipping away?
Before all of that happens, here is the latest from around the grounds on who is fit, who is suspended and who isn't going to make it for Week 3.
Burnley – vs – Manchester United
Burnley manager Sean Dyche will look to restore a number of players who were rested for the League Cup defeat by Sheffield Wednesday. Sam Vokes (ACL) remains the only long-term absentee with Dean Marney and Dean Jones both expected to recover from minor knocks.
The Clarets welcome Manchester United to Turf Moor on Saturday and Louis van Gaal will be hoping to erase the memory of his sides embarrassing midweek cup exit at the hands of MK Dons. Despite a number of changes his team included a wealth of experience with Jonny Evans back from injury while Kagawa started his first game of the season only to be replaced during the first half due to concussion. Chris Smalling (groin), Marouane Fellaini & Ander Herrera (both ankle) will miss out along with Carrick, Lingard and Rafael. Marcos Rojo is yet to receive international clearance and will not be eligible; Angel Di Maria looks set to make his debut "I think he is ready to play," after a move costing in excess of $100 million although it could take the Argentine a while to settle “He's a class player but we cannot expect he is the miracle after two days training. He can accelerate our play and he fits in our philosophy. Di Maria can excite fans, but maybe not in his first matches; he has to adapt to the team & the team to him."
Manchester City – vs – Stoke
Alvaro Negredo (metatarsal) is the only player currently being treated by the City medical team although Frank Lampard and Eliaquim Mangala – lacking match fitness - are not ready. Micah Richards, John Guidetti and Sinclair are no longer part of Pellegrini’s plans. Sergio Aguero is “absolutely 100%” following an enthusiastic Kolarov tackle in training on Thursday and Edin Dzeko recovers from a minor knock.
Mark Hughes confirms Victor Moses is in line for his first start after the Chelsea player impressed during the Capital One Cup although the Nigerian isn’t 100% fit. Geoff Cameron (groin) and Stephen Ireland (rib) will miss out but Bojan Krkic has recovered from injury. Phil Bardsley (knee) will be assessed in training on Friday while Glenn Whelan (ankle) is also a slight doubt.
Newcastle – vs – Crystal Palace
Newcastle entertain Crystal Palace at St James’ Park on Saturday with both sides hoping to secure their first win of the 2014/15 Premier League campaign. The Toon Army will be without the services of Ivorian Cheick Tiote (hamstring) although the midfielder has started running. Alan Pardew confirmed England’s newest recruit Jack Colback will be available along with Rolando Aarons – both players have recovered from minor knocks. Mike Williamson returns after his sending off last weekend while Papiss Demba Cisse is making good progress and may be back after the international break. Siem de Jong could start from the bench as he regains match-fitness following injury.
Palace midfielder Joe Ledley (groin) looks set to miss out after injuring himself during last week’s warm-up against West Ham United but Scott Dann (thigh) has returned to training and is in with a chance of being involved. New manager Neil Warnock could ring the changes as The Eagles look to overcome a disappointing start; loan signing Wilfried Zaha who returns to the club in a season long deal will feature.
QPR – vs – Sunderland
Charlie Austin returned to training on Friday after a hamstring problem ruled him out of the loss against Spurs; coach Harry Redknapp will make a late decision regarding his involvement. Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas is in Italy awaiting his work permit and the club “waiting to hear” whether his application will be processed in time. Devastating blow for Alejandro Faurlin who suffered his third serious ACL injury in as many seasons; initially the club were unconcerned after his withdrawal on Wednesday but sent the player for a precautionary scan - results revealed the full extent of the issue effectively ending his season.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet could have the luxury of a fully fit squad for Saturday after Giaccherini (groin) returned ahead of schedule for the Capital One Cup match. Adam Johnson is also fit after recovering from a bout of illness.
Swansea City – vs – West Bromich Albion
New defender Federico Fernandez is in line to make his league debut after Tuesday’s appearance against Rotherham with Jordi Amat the man likely to make way. Knee injuries side line Marvin Emnes (meniscus) and Leon Britton with the latter suffering a stress fracture; Rory Donnelly (ankle) is out until November.
Alan Irvine will be without Sebastien Pocognoli after the full-back injured his thigh last weekend but Victor Anichebe has returned to training following a minor groin issue. Graham Dorrans and Craig Gardner will be back in the Baggies squad after they were rested midweek but Saturday will come too soon for Joleon Lescott. Christian Gamboa and Brown Ideye both featured in the penalty win over Oxford United and will be in contention but Georgios Samaras and Silvestre Varela (lacking match fitness) are both out.
West Ham United – vs – Southampton
The Hammers will be looking to build-up upon last weekend’s emphatic victory at Selhurst Park when the Saints come to town. Sam Allardyce has a number of injury concerns heading into the game with potentially six first team members side lined. Carl Jenkinson (hamstring) and Matt Jarvis (thigh) will just miss out with Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan both long-term. James Collins has failed to recover from a hamstring problem while new signing Diafra Sakho suffered a slight back strain during the Capital One Cup and will have a late fitness test. Mauro Zarate looks set to start following his impressive display a week ago; Enner Valencia is also pushing for a place as he gradually regains his match-fitness.
Southampton are missing Lloyd Isgrove who picked up a knee problem during the win over Millwall on Wednesday - Koeman confirmed the player “is not physically good.” Sam Gallagher is progressing and may return after the international break with Jay Rodriguez the only long-term absentee. Shane Long is set for his first league start as Pelle adapts to the physicality’s of the Premiership. Florin Gardos is still lacking fitness.
Everton – vs – Chelsea
Romelu Lukaku has responded well to treatment on a toe injury and could face his former employers, the Belgium striker is one of a number of concerns ahead of the Chelsea game. Steven Pienaar (groin) joins Ross Barkley, Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo in the treatment room but Roberto Martinez may include new signing Samuel Eto’o who is eager to be involved “It is difficult. I tried to have that conversation and realistically I would have liked him to have 10 or 11 sessions before we put him in a competitive environment. But I quite quickly learned that I was wasting my time; he wants to be helpful to the team straight away and he wants to be involved.”
The main news concerning Chelsea this week is whether striker Diego Costa will be available following a muscular problem in training on Wednesday. The striker is rated as very doubtful but Jose Mourinho will give the Spanish international every chance “We are trying everything for him to play tomorrow. He didn't train for the last two days. He is a big doubt, let's see,” although the striker will travel and came through Fridays final training session unscathed. The Chelsea coach confirms the remainder of his squad will be available for selection meaning Andre Schurrle has recovered from the leg injury he suffered against Leicester City last Saturday.
Aston Villa – vs – Hull City
Just the two minor concerns for Paul Lambert’s squad who will be looking to bounce back after their disappointing cup exit midweek. Central defender Ron Vlaar (knee) and Aly Cissokho (ankle) both picked up injuries during the ‘bore draw’ with Newcastle but returned to training on Thursday. Christian Benteke (Achilles) is progressing well with a return to full training expected in September while Libor Kozak (broken leg) is not far behind.
No fresh concerns for Steve Bruce with Robert Snodgrass the only confirmed injury. James Chester is suspended with new signing Michael Dawson expected to fill the void.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Liverpool
Pochettino will recall a number of senior players who were rested for Thursday's Europa League win against AEL Limassol. Roberto Soldado (neck & back) will have a late fitness test; new signing Federico Fazio is available.
For Liverpool Balotelli will be included in Sunday’s squad after impressing during his short spell on Merseyside"Mario is fine and has settled in very well. He has looked fantastic in training," although a place on the bench is realistic. The striker will be joined by midfielder Adam Lallana (knee) who has recovered from injury but is still “well short of match fitness." Brendan Rodgers will check on a number of other first team players - Alberto Moreno (ankle) has responded well to treatment; Glen Johnson (thigh) will probably miss out with Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique facing a late fitness test although the latter "hasn't had a lot of minutes.” Jon Flanagan is targeting a return after the international break.
Leicester City – vs – Arsenal
Leicester are sweating on the availability of Esteban Cambiasso as the Argentine midfielder waits on international clearance; the former Inter Milan player is one of the most decorated players within the modern game and his addition could prove invaluable to the Foxes this season “Cambiasso is not a bums-on-seats signing. He is here to be a footballer and play football.” Nigel Pearson confirmed only Matty James and Matthew Upson are absent through injury meaning Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Dean Hammond are all in contention.
Mikel Arteta has been assessed and although his ankle injury is not serious the Arsenal midfielder won’t return until after the international break; Kieran Gibbs (hamstring) is also close but just misses out. Olivier Giroud underwent surgery midweek to fix his fractured tibia which will keep him side lined until 2015. Wenger will choose from Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo, Joel Campbell and / or Alexis Sanchez to lead the line although the latter is expected to get the nod after an impressive display in the Champions League. Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina returns to training but the manager has suggested that Sunday may come a little too soon. Theo Walcott will resume full training in mid-September.