All English Premier League team news and injury updates following the international break.
Saturday 15th October
The Premier League returns with an early kick-off between defending champions Leicester City and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Blues expect skipper John Terry to be fit to start after missing a month with an ankle ligament injury, no doubt coming as great news to Chelsea fans who have been left frustrated by the mistake-riddled Gary Cahill.
The Foxes have a full squad to choose from, and Claudio Ranieri will be keen to translate some good European form into domestic competition. Frenchman N’Golo Kante will run out against his old side for the first time since making the 32-million-pound move to Chelsea.
Manchester City entertain Everton in one of the weekends most intriguing clashes, with both sides having enjoyed strong starts to the campaign. Pep Guardiola found his first road block to the league title last time out, in the form of Tottenham, but will be boosted by the news of Kevin De Bruyne’s possible early return to the side. The Belgian midfielder injured his hamstring in their win over Swansea three-and-a-half weeks ago, but has progressed through rehab well enough to put him into consideration for Saturday’s clash. Guardiola will surely have one eye on the away trip to Barcelona following in mid-week, so perhaps he will be wise to rest the Belgian if he is not 100% fit.
Raheem Sterling injured his calf muscle prior to England’s World Cup qualifier with Malta, forcing him to return home early. City supporters will be eager for at least one of the two mentioned injured players to return, as they did not look the same side in a disappointing 2-0 loss to Tottenham recently. It appears there is no luck to be found with long-time servant Vincent Kompany, who the club have confirmed has a groin injury without specifying how long he will be out for.
Everton have mixed team news, with the international break leaving a mark on striker Romelu Lukaku. The powerhouse scored against Bosnia in a 4-0 win, but he sat out of the Gibraltar game with a thigh problem. Everton will be counting on his fitness, as they currently do not have another striker near the quality of Lukaku. In better news, Leighton Baines looks set to return from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the last two Premier League games.
West Ham’s injury problems are well known as they travel to face a Crystal Palace side who have enjoyed some consistency in recent weeks. The Hammers are without a number of key players, but the club remains optimistic going forward by reminding their fans of possible returns to action within the next few weeks. Aaron Cresswell has at least got himself into first team contention, while Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho are expected to be back within the next two weeks. Unfortunately, their club-record signing Andre Ayew is still around a month away from returning.
Crystal Palace’s Pape Souare is out for six months after breaking his thigh bone in a car accident, and is perhaps lucky to still be alive after having to be airlifted to hospital following the crash. Loanee Loic Remy has returned to owner club Chelsea to treat a thigh injury that will keep him out of action for the next two or three weeks.
Tottenham are on a five game winning streak in all competitions, scoring 11 goals and conceding one in the process. They play away to West Bromwich Albion, and will do so with the continued absence of Harry Kane. He is the only notable exclusion between the two sides, and despite early reports of a lengthy lay-off, he could return as early as the November 6 derby against Arsenal.
Speaking of Arsenal, they host a Swansea City side who are yet to build on an opening day victory, and Arsene Wenger is expecting the trio of Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey to return to the side. New signing Lucas Perez will miss out with a knee injury. The biggest inclusion for the Swans is new American manager Bob Bradley, who will make his Swansea and Premier League debut for the struggling Welsh side.
Struggling is something Stoke City and Sunderland have become recently accustomed to as neither have picked up a Premier League win yet this season, and the two will meet this weekend. Sunderland have some serious injury problems, as key players Lee Cattermole, Adnan Januzaj, Seb Larsson and Jordan Pickford all miss out. Stoke will be looking to build on a valiant performance that earned them a point away at Manchester United, and should cause some damage with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic in attack.
Saturday’s action will also see Bournemouth host Hull City, with Cherries duo Harry Arter and Marc Pugh missing out. Michael Dawson returns for Hull City after missing three months with knee ligament damage to bolster a threadbare Hull squad.
Sunday 16th October
Middlesbrough sit just a few positions above the relegation spots, in 16th place, and welcome mid-table Watford to the Riverside Stadium in Sunday’s first match. Summer signing Daryl Janmaat is the most notable exclusion between the sides, with the Dutchman’s shoulder injury likely to keep him out for six weeks.
Southampton did not escape the international curse, with England’s Ryan Bertrand coming off after just 19 minutes in their World Cup qualifier against Malta with a pulled hamstring. Jay Rodriguez offers better news, as he recovers from a groin injury and should be back in Southampton’s squad. The Saints play at home against injury-free Burnley, although they will continue to be without the suspended Andre Gray.
Monday 17th OctoberThe standout fixture of the Premier League this round is the battle between England’s two most successful clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United, which takes place at Anfield.
Liverpool have not come unscathed from the international break, with Georginio Wijnaldum picking up a hamstring injury in Holland’s World Cup qualifier against France. Adam Lallana did not travel with England for their two qualifying games as he continues to recover from the groin injury he sustained at Swansea in the last match before the break. The means that two thirds of Liverpool’s central midfield is in doubt for the clash, as the trio of Wijnaldum, Lallana and Jordan Henderson have started all of The Reds league fixtures this season.
Liverpool also feared that Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren would miss out on the Manchester United clash, as the defensive duo did not represent their respective nations for World Cup qualifying games. It appears manager Jurgen Klopp will be able to call upon their services if required; some decent news to come after potentially losing two midfielders for the next few games.
For Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are their two main doubts. Shaw has endured a mixture of illness and a groin injury and his availability remains unclear, though his absence is currently being covered admirably by the reliable Daily Blind. Mkhitaryan looked like he was off the pace in the Manchester derby, the last time he featured, and is currently nursing a thigh muscle strain.