Plenty of news with a bit of the news focused on injuries that require the attention of Mssrs Wenger and Pardew. First we’ll address Arsenal where Arsene Wenger is dealing with a raft of injuries to key starting XI players:
He will have a test on Friday morning and we will go from there. At the moment he is 50:50. It is a small muscular problem that is very minor. But of course we are in the situation that, because we play so many games now, should we take a gamble or not with him? We are playing on Saturday, on Tuesday and then we go to Manchester City.
The only problem we have at the moment is that Theo Walcott is in bed with a virus. He missed the England game with a virus. He should be back today, so we will have to see how well he has recovered from that.
Wenger also notes that Szczesny is fully fit and ready and that Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky are two or three weeks away. Walcott first: for fantasy EPL purposes the England winger has been beyond useless. His high price (£9.0 at open, down to £8.8m) coupled with a 95′ of playing time – just 19′ in GW 2 and 3 combined – has left fantasy EPL managers invested to the hilt while returning four total points in Fantasy Premier League. Walcott had a spectacular season last year, scoring eight goals, assisting 11 goals and was a pres-season buy. However, the addition of Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski has seen Walcott dropped to third or fourth option in Wenger’s midfield. At this point he should not be owed but news of his virus solidifies the value of Cazorla and Podolski heading into the weekend.
In the absence of ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny will likely see Vito Mannone dropped back to the bench. Unfortunate development for fantasy EPL managers as the £4.5m GK was an excellent value proposition over the past two gameweeks, posting back-to-back clean sheets.
From NUFC we get confirmation that Tim Krul is set to miss at least the matches with Everton and Norwich:
Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul will miss the next “two or three games” with an elbow injury, manager Alan Pardew has confirmed. ”We’ve lost three of our back five who started the season, because Danny Simpson is injured too, so that’s a significant blow for us,” he said. ”Coloccini has hurt his hamstring and will be struggling for Monday.”
With the late start on Monday, we’re not expecting fantasy EPL managers to express any confidence in Coloccini returning to fitness and the patch-work Magpies defense will be ripe for Everton to pluck. All of your Toffees must be started as we expect David Moyes’ men to press from the opening whistle and could well see them hit three against their under-strength opponents.
The Birmingham Post has quotes from Gabby Agbonlahor as the oft-injured forward confirms the competition for first team places is fierce:
“I think this season it’s going to be interesting because there’s a lot of the young strikers doing really well in training,” explains Agbonlahor. “It keeps the older lads, not just myself, but in every position, on their toes and gives us all competition. The gaffer said he was going to try and bring in a few more faces to help the squad so it’s going to be good competition.”
Aston Villa face Swansea, Southampton and West Bromwich in their next three Barclays Premier League fixtures. Darren Bent (£8.3m) and Agbonlahor (£6.9m) have seen their prices drop since the opening match, but until either player shows glimpses of the top form from last fall, we’re unable to recommend investing in either.
Sunderland Echo with the news that two players are fighting to return to fitness:
Martin O’Neill admits Phil Bardsley (ankle) and Wes Brown (knee) are finally starting to dream about a first-team comeback after their false starts to the season. The former Manchester United defensive duo have both been on the treatment table far longer than originally envisaged after suffering injuries during pre-season.
The duo is engaged only in light workouts and should not feature this weekend, and may not get a competitive match midweek either:
O’Neill admits though that neither Brown or Bardsley are likely to feature in Tuesday’s Under-21 derby at Newcastle as overage players after watching them complete some light work yesterday with the recovering Adam Johnson.
Adam Johnson (thigh) is priced £7.0m and selected in 2.5% of Fantasy Premier League sides. The former Manchester City winger was returned to his club following injury on international duty and SAFC official has the prognosis:
Martin O’Neill says he’s not yet sure whether Adam Johnson will be fit to face Liverpool this weekend. The winger was named in the England squad for the recent internationals but returned to Wearside with an injury.
Ah, well less than clear and this isn’t helping the situation:
“He’s done some work with a couple of the other injured players, including Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown. “It’s too early to know whether he’ll be available but it would be great if he could make it.”
Johnson could well be worth a mid-level price if he is able to earn consistent playing time. Johnson’s stats over the past two seasons in limited duty with Man City are staggering. In 2010 he played 1542′ with four goals and seven assists and followed that with six goals and six assists in 1147′ last term. The 2011-12 season set a pace unlikely to be sustained over a full season’s worth of minutes, but we like Johnson to threaten double-digits in both goals and assists once he is healthy and fully integrated into the Black Cats attack.
No official word, but there is speculation that Cheik Tiote is also set to miss Monday’s fixture.
Finally, Tony Pulis has some words with StokeCityFC.com about the selection of Michael Owen:
One player that the Britannia Stadium crowd will be eager to see is Michael Owen after a productive first week of training, but Pulis kept his cards close to his chest when asked about the possibility of him playing a role in the game. “He’s come back a lot fitter than we thought he would, but it’s too early to say whether he can play straight away,” said City’s manager.
There are a number of other players slated to play in Pulis’ new-look starting XI. This could not be a worse time to invest in Potters. Their next five EPL fixtures run: Man City, Chelsea, Swansea, Liverpool and Man United:
Steven N’Zonzi will be keen to make his debut for the Club after his deadline-day signing from Blackburn Rovers, while Maurice Edu will be in the squad after playing for the United States in their crucial CONCACAF match against Jamaica. Charlie Adam could feature too after coming on as a second-half substitute for Scotland in their midweek draw with Macedonia, and Pulis says the rest of the squad’s international absentees are all in good shape after their travels.
We’ll discuss Adam briefly in the Last Minute Tinkers, but we expect that he does not reach value as long as Jonathan Walters continues to earn full playing time.
Quick note from MCFC – Micah Richards discusses his immenant return from injury:
The 24-year-old has been side-lined since sustaining an ankle injury while playing for Team GB at the London Olympics, but he says things are looking good. “It’s probably going to take about two more weeks,” Micah revealed.
Where he features – rather how frequently he earns starts – still very much a question with manager Roberto Mancini fielding several different defensive lines and making frequent defensive substitutions already in this young season. We can not justify owning any City defenders until Mancini shows selection consistency and the ability to keep a clean sheet.