AFTER all the excitement of last week when the FA Cup caused mayhem for punters we’re back to the bread and butter of the Premier League.
The big game is of course Chelsea v Man City but with Diego Costa handed his three-match stamping ban the Blues have a few problems with Andre Shurrle and Mo Salah set to leave after the signing of Juan Cuadrado was confirmed.
Team news is always vital and have a read at this before you pick your teams.
Chelsea v Man City (5.30pm)
Chelsea striker Diego Costa will miss the Premier League leader’s showdown with as he starts his three-match suspension for violent conduct. Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Filipe Luis (calf) and Branislav Ivanovic (foot) are doubts after suffering injuries in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final defeat of Liverpool, in which Costa was adjudged to have stamped on Emre Can. Gary Cahill is expected to be a sub once more, with Kurt Zouma continuing in defence, while Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah are likely to miss out as reports intensify of imminent moves for the out-of-favour pair.
City playmaker Samir Nasri could have a chance of featuring at Stamford Bridge. The Frenchman has missed the last two games with a calf injury but has made good progress and will be assessed. Defender Eliaquim Mangala will also have a shoulder problem checked while midfielder Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony are away at the African Nations Cup.
Crystal Palace v Everton
Crystal Palace midfielder Jordon Mutch is set to make his debut after joining the Eagles from QPR. Mutch is fit and ready to play against the Toffees but fellow new signing Shola Ameobi will need longer to regain match fitness after leaving Turkish side Gaziantepspor in December. Palace winger Jerome Thomas has suffered a minor knock and will be unavailable while Yannick Bolasie and Mile Jedinak are still away on international duty with DR Congo and Australia respectively.
Everton are hoping to have midfielders James McCarthy (hamstring) and Darron Gibson (knee) and defender Sylvain Distin (groin) back in contention. Winger Kevin Mirallas is expected to be fit after being substituted with a hamstring injury soon after controversially missing a penalty in the goalless draw against West Brom last time out. Goalkeeper Tim Howard (leg) and midfielders Leon Osman (foot) and Steven Pienaar (knee) remain on the sidelines.
Hull v Newcastle
Hull should welcome back strikers Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez. The duo were both forced off in the early exchanges of the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal at the beginning of the month with knee and groin injuries respectively. A warm weather break in Portugal has also proved restorative for the Tigers’ back line with Andy Robertson and Alex Bruce now available for selection, but Liam Rosenior (hamstring) and James Chester (shoulder) remain on the sidelines.
Newcastle head coach John Carver hopes to have top scorer Papiss Cisse available at the KC Stadium. The Magpies were hoping to rush the striker back from the African Nations Cup where his nation Senegal were eliminated in the group stages. Gabriel Obertan and Mehdi Abeid should be fit to return from thigh and toe problems respectively, but the game is likely to come too soon for Dutchman Siem de Jong.
Liverpool v West Ham
Striker Daniel Sturridge is likely to make his first appearance in five months. Sturridge, who has not played for the Reds since August due to thigh problems, is in “top-class condition” according to manager Brendan Rodgers, who will decide whether to start the England forward or put him on the bench. Liverpool will also assess defender Mamadou Sakho who suffered a back injury in the Capital One Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday.
West Ham could be without a host of first-team regulars, with Carl Jenkinson, James Tomkins and Alex Song all suffering with unspecified problems. Joey O’Brien (hamstring) and James Collins (groin) could add to manager Sam Allardyce’s defensive woes but Senegal’s exit from the African Nations Cup may see Cheikhou Kouyate return in midfield.
Manchester United v Leicester
Midfielder Michael Carrick has been ruled out for at least four weeks with a muscle injury. Wing-back Ashley Young is closing in on a return from a hamstring injury but midfielder Darren Fletcher has been omitted from the squad as his transfer to West Ham neared completion. Defenders Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling could return after missing the 0-0 draw against Cambridge due to unspecified injuries.
Matt Upson could make his first appearance in the Leicester squad after being sidelined since July with a foot injury. Kasper Schmeichel is still out with his broken foot but is on course in his recovery while Chris Wood is unavailable because of ankle ligament damage. Matty James is banned after his sending-off in the 1-0 win over Aston Villa earlier this month and Riyad Mahrez remains on African Nations Cup duty with Algeria.
Stoke v QPR
Stoke will be without Bojan Krkic but look set to have fellow forward Mame Biram Diouf back in their matchday squad. In the same week as Bojan was ruled out for the rest of the season by the serious knee injury he sustained in Monday’s FA Cup game at Rochdale, Diouf has returned to the Potters from African Nations Cup duty with Senegal and trained with his club-mates. Defender Erik Pieters remains unavailable as he recovers from a hernia operation.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp is expected to have both Yun Suk-young and Richard Dunne available again. Yun has been out with an ankle injury and has not played since December 20 while Dunne came off against Manchester United with a groin strain two weeks ago, but has recovered. The match will come too soon for Sandro, who is close to returning from a knee problem, and Alejandro Faurlin remains out with a cruciate ligament injury.
Sunderland v Burnley
Lee Cattermole will be missing once again as Sunderland attempt to boost their own chances of safety by denting those of Burnley. Cattermole, who has been struggling with groin and knee injuries in recent weeks, is still not fit and will be joined on the sidelines by fellow midfielder Jack Rodwell, who is suspended following his sending off in the 0-0 FA Cup fourth round draw with Fulham last weekend. However, defender Wes Brown (knee) and winger Adam Johnson (calf) will return to the squad after sitting out against the Londoners.
Burnley have no new injury worries. Matt Taylor was unable to take part in a development game this week as he continues his recovery from Achilles surgery but boss Sean Dyche is confident he remains on track for an imminent comeback. Stephen Ward (ankle) is making good progress and is also not far away from returning, leaving defender Kevin Long (knee) as the only long-term absentee.
West Brom v Tottenham
New signing Callum McManaman goes straight into the squad for West Brom following his arrival from Wigan this week. Goalkeeper Boaz Myhill damaged his finger in last weekend’s FA Cup win at Birmingham and is now out along with midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu (international duty) and defender Jonas Olsson (Achilles). Olsson is back in training after four months on the sidelines but Albion boss Tony Pulis has conceded the Swede is not yet ready to be included in the squad.
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has almost a full squad to select from. The Capital One Cup finalists have a daunting fixture schedule in the coming weeks and Pochettino will be happy to have all but one player at his disposal as Nacer Chadli comes back into contention. Chadli had been away after a family bereavement but Nabil Bentaleb is still at the African Nations Cup after Algeria progressed to the last eight.
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