We're finally back from the international break and excited to see all of those last minute acquisitions make their debuts for their new teams. We take you through each match-up and let you know who is fit to start, who is still lacking fitness and who the managers aren't willing to commit to one way or the other yet. We'll let you take it from there as you make those last minute tweaks to your fantasy line-up for Match Week 4 in the Premier League.
Arsenal – vs – Manchester City
Aaron Ramsey was the big doubt for this weekend but despite Arsene Wenger confirming the midfielder had “little chance” of playing the Welshman was pictured during training on Friday and looks to have recovered from an ankle problem. Mesut Ozil, Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta are all fit and available with Laurent Koscielny (head laceration) and David Ospina (thigh) in the Gunners squad to face Manchester City. Rumours of a return for Theo Walcott were a little premature, the England winger is targeting a date in October -Olivier Giroud and Serge Gnabry are long-term absentees. The in-form Danny Welbeck could make his debut with a likely place in his preferred central role making him an extremely appealing fantasy football acquisition.
Frank Lampard and Eliaquim Mangala are finally back to full fitness although a place in the eleven is highly unlikely with lots of competition in the City squad – the pair have travelled to The Emirates. Pablo Zabaleta recovers from an ankle injury following a “hard (Podolski) tackle” during the Argentina versus Germany international friendly - Fernando (groin) is expected to miss around two weeks with Stevan Jovetic absent through a minor hamstring problem – the striker could return next Sunday.
Chelsea – vs – Swansea
Just the one concern for Jose Mourinho with Barclays Player of the Month Diego Costa pencilled in for a late fitness test following his return from Spain with a slight hamstring issue - deadline day signing Loic Remy is waiting on standby should the striker fail to recover. Eden Hazard has been passed fit following the minor injury which kept him from joining up with his Belgium teammates.
Garry Monk has confirmed there are no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge after eleven players departed on international duty; the club are only waiting on the return of Wilfried Bony who should train on Friday afternoon. Leon Britton will hopefully be back in five weeks while Marvin Emnes (both knee) is “almost there” having participated in full training. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the player to watch -the Icelandic international has flourished since his move and is enjoying Swansea’s free-flowing football with Jonjo [Shelvey] and Ki [Sung-yueng] linking well. Rory Donnelly (ankle) is expected back in November.
Crystal Palace – vs – Burnley
Joe Ledley recovered from a groin strain midweek to play for Wales but Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) is at least seven day away; Dwight Gayle (ankle) has recovered and will look to build upon his four goals this season – Kevin Doyle and Andy Johnson could start from the bench. Bolasie and Guedioura will be assessed after their late return but “No one has come back injured.” Stuart O’Keefe (ankle) is still several weeks away.
Danny Ings has recovered from illness and will be available for Sean Dyche who visit Selhurst Park; deadline day signing George Boyd could come into the managers thoughts but England U21 internationals Nathaniel Chalobah and Michael Keane may not be risked as this “weekend might be too early.” Sam Vokes (ACL) steps up his rehabilitation on his five month anniversary but is still a few months away; Cameron Dummigan (thigh) remains out.
Southampton – vs – Newcastle
Ronald Koeman is “hopeful” Sadio Manéwill be available; the “very fast” Senegalese midfielder arrived back late after work permit issues but the Saints boss has admitted his involvement will be from the bench at best. Toby Alderweireld will be in contention and his qualities will “bring a lot of competition,” to the squad. Morgan Scheiderlin has had another interesting fortnight but will line-up to face the Geordies – the Southampton coach was quick to praise the professionalism of his French star who voiced his discontent over the break having seen a move away from St Mays’ vetoed. Sam Gallagher (knee) is still a little short of match-fitness with Lloyd Isgrove also likely to miss out. Jay Rodriguez (ACL) is a long-term absentee.
Newcastle released a statement last week confirming summer signing Siem de Jong (groin) will be out for a number of months and a decision will be made on whether the attacking midfielder will need surgery to aid his recovery. However the expected return of Jack Colback (calf) – who was withdrawn from England duty – and Cheick Tiote (hamstring) will help to soften the blow although the latter is likely to be on the bench. The in-form Rolando Aarons sustained a thigh injury while away with England (under 20s) and loanee Facunda Ferryera (back) is also out. Still no Papiss Cisse and Ryan Taylor who are closing in on a return -Davide Santon and Curtis Good remain long-term absentees.
Stoke City – vs Leicester City
No fresh injury concerns for Mark Hughes who must decide whether to tinker with the side that took three points from The Etihad last time out. Mame Diouf arrived back late on Friday so needs to be checked although there are no obvious problems - fatigue could be a factor. Stephen Ireland (ribs) is progressing but will probably fall short in terms of fitness with defender Geoff Cameron recovering from surgery to fix a hernia problem which should keep him out until October. Peter Odemwingie (ACL) will be lucky to return this season; Oussama Assaidi should be ready for at least 20 minutes with Victor Moses almost at 100% match-fitness.
Matty James has recovered from a recent shin problem but his “full week of training” is likely to leave him just a little short and it “may be too early for him.” However Esteban Cambiasso “will be part of the squad” after impressing in a friendly against MK Dons during the international break - he could be in line to make his debut along with Danny Simpson and deadline day signings Nick Powell and Tom Lawrence. Matthew Upson is still sidelined due to a foot injury.
Sunderland – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
No fresh injury concerns for Gus Poyet who is hoping to have a fully fit squad for the visit of Spurs - Seb Larsson, Emanuele Giaccherini and Jozy Altidore all impressed on international duty over the past week and the Argentine coach will be hoping that form can be carried into the Premier League. Sebastian Coates and Ricky Alvarez are in the Black Cats squad.
Roberto Soldado is still struggling with an upper back and neck injury so his involvement this weekend is very doubtful but Danny Rose will return after training with the England during the break. Eric Dier left the national team (under 21s) early last week but it is thought the player has now recovered although he will face a late test - the defender has been in great form since arriving at White Hart Lane. Kyle Walker is out after abdominal surgery – no timescale on his return but early indications are that the full-back is progressing well although after almost six months I’d suggest a return is not imminent. Pochettino confirmed "Everyone has come back from the international break in good condition, “but Emmanuel Adebayor and Nabil Bentaleb will arrive back late so they will be checked while Spurs could include two debutants at the Stadium of Light - defender Federico Fazio and midfielder Benjamin Stambouli.
West Bromich Albion – vs – Everton
Alan Irvine must have the biggest headache of all Premier Leagues coaches at the moment with up to eleven players currently being assessed although none have been ruled out at this point. The international break was supposed to provide some much needed game time for a number of Baggies players but West Brom have seen a steady flow of early returners over the past week. Goalkeeper Ben Foster jarred his thumb on England duty but an assessment revealed there was “very little swelling or bleeding” suggesting the problem was only minor while Graham Dorrans returned from Scotland with a bruised heel and was given “3/4 days to recover,” both players have trained ahead of the game and should be fine - they were joined by Gareth McAuley (ankle) and Chris Brunt (calf) who were injured during the win over Hungary. Only two players are yet to train – Youssouf Mulumbu (hamstring) & Victor Anichebe (hernia) – the former has struggled all season; the pair will face a late fitness test. Georgios Samaras and Silvestre Varela are closing in on a return “They will all be in the squad but I’m not saying they are 100 per cent fit as they have not done enough work with us.” Sebastien Pocognoli (thigh) and Joleon Lescott (knee) will be considered – the latter excelled in a friendly game against Hull City on Tuesday leaving Sebastian Blanco who “done some good work during the break.”
A mixed team news update from Roberto Martinez who confirmed Romelu Lukaku returned from Belgium ready after treatment on his ongoing toe injury; the big striker was part of Thursday’s main group at Finch Farm. However the Toffees will run the rule over Samuel Eto’o “at worst he will only miss the West Brom game,” and Leon Osman who was injured during a behind-closed-doors game which was used to help Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone step up their recovery from long-term injury – both played 55 minutes and are said to be “very, very close.” Ross Barkley is ahead of schedule and around halfway through his rehab meaning a return within a month is realistic. Martinez singled out Aidan McGeady for praise this week referring to him as “a magician” and a man in a “great moment of form;” definitely a player to watch along with Steven Naismith.
Liverpool – vs – Aston Villa
Injury problems mount for Liverpool as the international break adds to their ever growing list of players on the sidelines. Daniel Sturridge (thigh) provides the biggest headache but his injury means Mario Balotelli – after recovering from illness - gets an early opportunity to repay the faith shown by Brendan Rodgers. Emre Can picked up a late ankle injury for Germany (under 21s) but despite finishing the game the youngster could miss up to six weeks. Defensively Martin Skrtel (knee) is out although it is hoped he will “join up with the team when we train on Sunday,” but Glen Johnson (thigh) “has a wee way to go,” and Jon Flanagan (knee) is closing in on a return to fitness “but is not in the squad.” Adam Lallana is back having impressed against Wolves in a behind-closed-doors friendly and Joe Allen (knee) is expected to be fine after picking up a minor injury in Andorra on that pitch.
Libor Kozak is edging ever closer to a return to first team action following his broken leg earlier this year while teammate Christian Benteke (Achilles) is said to be slightly ahead – October would provide a realistic target for the pair. Tom Cleverley is expected to make his Villa debut and he could partner Fabian Delph who will be brimming with confidence after winning his first England cap on Tuesday. Ron Vlaar (calf) will have a late fitness test – defensive colleague Jores Okore played for Denmark midweek and could be in contention after recent knee problems.
Manchester United – vs – Queens Park Rangers
I wouldn’t worry too much about Manchester United’s injury crisis as the ‘nine’ players Louis van Gaal alluded to included James Wilson, Sam Johnstone and Reece James who only have one league appearance between them. Phil Jones (hamstring) is out along with Ashley Young - who had started the previous three games - Marouane Fellaini will miss at least a month with no timeframe on Jesse Lingard. The big news however comes in the form of the returners – Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Rafael – who could all play a part after coming through a behind-closed-doors friendly this week. Marcos Rojo has obtained a work permit with new signings Radamel Falcao and Daley Blind poised to make their debuts. Chris Smalling is training but lacking fitness.
QPR have a few issues going into Sunday’s match-up at Old Trafford but the extra day will help Harry Redknapp -Joey Barton will be assessed with “a few others” on Saturday before a final decision is made. Rio Ferdinand returns to his former stomping ground for the first time as an opposition player and Sandro is expected make to his debut “I can't wait to get him into the team” adding experience and influence to the team. Alejandro Faurlin underwent his third major knee procedure this week with a projected timeline on his recovery expected to extend beyond the typical nine months because it’s a “repair of a repair.”
Hull City – vs – West Ham United
James Chester has served his suspension and will return to the Hull City squad on Monday while ever present Andrew Robertson (calf) will be checked over the weekend. The extra days rest will help returning internationals Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohammed Diame and Sone Aluko – Abel Hernandez is still waiting for his visa and may miss out. Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez are primed and ready for action.
James Collins recovers from a hamstring problem and will travel to the KC Stadium but despite training this week "other injured players aren't available" which includes the likes of Matt Jarvis, Joey O’Brien and Carl Jenkinson. No fresh concerns after West Ham’s international players returned unscathed; Allardyce confirmed the break provided the ideal opportunity for new signings Morgan Amalfitano and Alex Song to “integrate” and “get up to speed,” but the West Ham manager confirmed Song is “very short on match fitness” and Amalfitano “didn't train for 14 days before his move,” so a place on the bench is likely. Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll are progressing with return dates in October and November respectively.