Another round of qualifiers being played midweek and a number of high-profile names are returning to their clubs with possible knocks. Leading the way are Manchester United’s star duo of new boys: Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa. Van Persie was a 45′ substitute for Holland as the Oranje took a 4-1 win over Hungary. There are some reports from the post-match commentary that have head coach Louis Van Gaal dismissing the substitution as precautionary:
“We took off Robin for precautionary measures,” Van Gaal told Dutch broadcaster SBS6. “It doesn’t seem to be too serious, but you never know. We didn’t want to take any risks.”
Fantasy EPL managers should not rush to sell, but this is a reminder that 2011-12 was an abnormal season for Van Perise as he was able to stay on the field for the vast majority. Any injury concern for the Dutch talisman requires careful monitoring. Earlier in the day Shinji Kagawa was withdrawn from the Japanese starting XI after questions about his lower back pain arose. Goal.com with a pair of quotes pulls the issues together nicely:
A Japan Football Association official told Daily Sports: “He felt uncomfortable in his lower back in practice yesterday, and we decided to wait a night and see how it looked, but he’s not at 100 per cent so we’re leaving him off. He didn’t go to the hospital.” Kagawa himself has played down fears that he could be missing for some time for the Premier League champions, stating that he should be back soon. ”It [the injury] happened in yesterday’s practice,” he told Nikkan Sports. “I was holding the ball and went to make a move and in that instant it started to hurt.”
Manchester United have already dealt with a spate of injuries, including the recent news that Phil Jones will miss another 6-8 weeks. In their attacking ranks, Wayne Rooney continues to recover from his leg gash while Ashley Young is rehabilitating his knee injury. Manchester United will likely continue to turn to Antonio Valencia in Young’s absence, a move the England winger endorses:
Young told Inside United: ‘Last season he had everything. He attacks, he defends, he can shoot, he can cross, he can pass… he has it all and that’s why he scooped up everything at the end-of-season awards. It’s why the players voted for him and it’s why the fans voted for him.” [Valencia] was sent off for his country against Uruguay for a foul on Diego Godin during the 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
A reminder, Young suffered a knee injury which, at the time, Sir Alex Ferguson said was not serious:
“It was nice of the FA to let everyone know that Ashley Young is injured,” Ferguson said. “There is no point giving them any information now. He’s out, he got a knee injury last week, although it’s not serious. Obviously he will be ready for a couple of weeks’ time.”
Well wait and see what this means for the United attacking players as the get set to line up across from Wigan 15 September. Kagawa certainly has to be considered a risk, while Valencia should be a lock to start. We’re expect that Van Persie does get the nod as well, leaving the question of Nani or Ashley Young as the other attacking winger. Nani looks set to see out his contract with United following questions of the Portuguese winger pricing himself out of a move away from Old Trafford. We expect that he will play, it seems ludicrous for SAF to freeze out such a talented player, but his current Fantasy Premier League price of £8.7m leaves little room for questions over playing time. Fantasy EPL managers looking to invest in United’s midfield would do well to avoid Nani at this time and focus their funds on either Young or Valenica.
Valencia created 65 chances lasted season, recording 13 assists – opta stats via EPLIndex.com – and being credited with 14 assists for Fantasy EPL purposes. He remains a solid play in Fantasy EPL in part because of low ownership numbers. The Fantasy Premier League sees the Ecuadorian selected in 4.6% of sides while Kagawa sets the pace for United midfielders claiming 18.2% selection. This weekend will be a vital one for assessing both Valencia and Nani – should Young and Kagawa miss out through injury it is possible that Ferguson would turn to either or both of Scholes and Giggs ahead of his out-of-favour Portuguese play-maker. For his own part, Valencia should be getting another start in midfield, instead of being relegated to the back line as cover for United’s injury-ravaged back line.
The other half of Manchester looks to welcome back last season’s title-clincher Sergio Aguero. ESPN’s Richard Jolly reporting that Kun’s fitness for the EPL fixture this weekend is taking a backseat to the Champions League tilt against Real Madrid midweek next:
Manager Roberto Mancini has since said he hoped Aguero would be fit after the international break although it remains to be seen if the forward can make his comeback in time for Saturday’s trip to Stoke. ”I was never on the winning side against [Real Madrid] so let’s hope with City we can beat them,” [Aguero] said. “It will be difficult. Right now Real and Barcelona are among the best teams in the world, but we have a great team too.”
Aguero has been in training with City after returning from Argentina where he attempted to find fitness and earn playing time for his home countries World Cup qualifiers. The move was reportedly ill received by Mancini and we’ll see if Kun’s inter-continental flight earns a reprimand from the boss. In Kun’s absence, Carlos Tevez has shined. Three goals and thee assists – one goal in each of the three Barcalys fixtures – have Tevez leading all forwards and third in overall points behind only Michu and Hazard. A return for Aguero should not devalue Tevez for Fantasy EPL purposes, but we would expect that both Dzeko (£7.5, 4.1% selected, 1goal and 1assist last v. QPR GW3) and Balotelli (£8.9m, 1.3% selected, 80′ this season) would lose substantial value. Dzeko was our pick to replace Kun following the injury and he recorded a 10 point FPL performance in 90′ v. QPR gameweek 3 after playing 29′ v. Liverpool in gameweek 2.
More important injury news, this time via The Guardian, as John Terry and Ashley Cole both race to find fitness ahead of Chelsea’s fixture at QPR 15 September:
John Terry’s participation in Saturday’s potentially combustible west London derby at Queens Park Rangers remains in some doubt as the centre-half continues to undergo treatment on his injured right ankle at Chelsea.
Ashley Cole, who suffered an ankle injury during Chelsea’s European Super Cup defeat to Atlético Madrid which ruled him out of both England fixtures, was also absent from the Chelsea shadow squad which trained on Tuesday. This also renders him a doubt for the QPR game given the relative lack of preparation time available to Roberto Di Matteo ahead of the Loftus Road encounter.
Anton Ferdinand looks set to recover from his own knock and is reportedly set to snub a handshake with Terry should the one-time England captain also start the match. We all know why. The fact that both Cole and Terry could miss out raises additional concerns about Chelsea’s defenses. Petr Cech is also dealing with an injury, one that has him facing surger in the summer, Guardian quotes:
Chelsea are hoping to manage Cech through the season and they have asked the Czech Republic to rest him from friendly internationals, a request to which Michal Bilek, the national coach, has acceded. ”We are going to grant their wish and rest him. Petr cannot stretch the arm properly. If he has to stretch the elbow, it hurts him sometimes. There is nothing to be worried about, though. There is basically nothing that could make this problem worse,” team doctor Petr Krejci told the Czech news agency CTK.
This is the same Chelsea side which we last saw getting torn to shreds by Falcao and the rest of Atletico Madrid. Chelsea has kept clean sheets in two of their opening three EPL fixtures, but Fantasy EPL managers would be wise to consider selling and of Terry, Cole and Ivanovic and investing in less expensive options. Di Matteo’s side will face QPR and Stoke in their next two before entering an eight match stretch that see’s the Blues play: Arsenal, Tottenham, Man United, Liverpool and Man City while also facing tricky away fixtures with Swansea and West Bromwich. The only expectation of a clean sheet could be when they host Norwich in gameweek 7.
Ivanovic (20.7% selection), Cole (19%) and Terry (5.75) will be reliant on goal-scoring opportunities to justify their high prices. Cole (o goals, 6 assists, 9 cleansheets, 111 FPL pts – 2011-12) and Terry likely do not merritt continued ownership while they fight for fitness while Ivanovic can be owned for the next two fixtures, he should be sold to lock in profit ahead of the difficult eight week stretch.