The Late Fitness Check | Gameweek Thirty-eight


Many teams still have a lot to play for heading into the final round of fixtures on Sunday. And typically, on a notoriously tricky game week to predict line-ups, these are the teams I'd be targeting to minimise the impact on my side. If you can, try to make sure you have three starting placeholders.

So, for the last time this season. Good luck everyone. Thanks for following, thanks for reading and thank you for all your comments. Hopefully, we'll be back in 2022/23, fully refreshed and ready to take on a new challenge.


Emile Smith Rowe continues to manage a persistent groin problem that is hampering him in training, which could mean a recall for Gabriel Martinelli. On Monday night, Arsenal were outclassed, outfought, and outgunned at St James' Park. But with a threadbare squad, Mikel Arteta will not be able to make wholesale changes after handing the advantage to rivals Tottenham in the race for a Champions League qualification spot. Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White need to be checked after recent hamstring problems; however, Rob Holding is back in contention after serving a one-game ban. Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney won't play again until next season.

Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard rested Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings from the line-up on Thursday night, but the pair could be handed a recall as the former Liverpool captain tries to do the unthinkable and take at least a point from The Etihad. If they did, then his former employers will still be on for an unprecedented quadruple. Emi Martínez recovered from a minor knock in training to face Burnley. Calum Chambers will deputise again following the news that Ezri Konsa (MCL knee) will be sidelined for up to four months.


Thomas Frank expects to have the same squad that took three points from Goodison Park last weekend. It was hoped that Ethan Pinnock (hamstring) would make the game; however, the defender will not be risked. "He is not far away, but there's no point rushing him back." Saman Ghoddos (ankle) finds himself in a similar situation, and he remains sidelined along with Mathias Jorgensen. Frank Onyeka has been training, and he could be included on the final day.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Enock Mwepu has recovered quicker than anticipated, and the midfielder will be included on Sunday but "probably won't start", according to Graham Potter. The Seagulls could be unchanged for the third successive game. Jeremy Sarmiento is progressing well, although the final day fixture against West Ham comes too soon.


Mike Jackson said there is a possibility that a "couple" of players could return on Sunday. "It's day by day with them." Jay Rodríguez is one of those, and the interim boss gives him a "50-50" chance. "He has been with the physios and out on the grass. He has the best chance of returning." James Tarkowski came through the game on Thursday unscathed, and the club have appealed the red card given to Matt Lowton in time added on at Villa Park. "We think we have a strong case."


On Thursday evening, Thomas Tuchel made three changes from the energy-sapping FA Cup final penalty loss to Liverpool. The Blues drew 1-1, and Marcos Alonso believes the effects of a long hard season are beginning to catch up. "I don't know how many games we've played, but I think we must have played more than any team in the world this season, in a lot of competitions, and we are arriving at the end now, so it's getting tough. We were a bit tired physically and mentally." And with third place assured, barring an 18-goal swing, Tuchel could freshen his side with those on the fringes of the XI getting some final day game time. Mateo Kovacic remains a doubt, and the availability of Andreas Christensen due to personal reasons is unclear. N'Golo Kanté started against Leicester, and he could be protected following another injury-hampered campaign. "I think he is our key, key player, but key players need to be on the pitch. He plays only 40 per cent of the games, and it's maybe a miracle we arrive in third place because he is our Mo Salah, Van Dijk or De Bruyne. He is the guy who makes the difference, so if you only have him 40 per cent, it's a huge problem."

Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira believes his side began "to showboat a little bit" after going two goals up at Goodison Park. "We stopped playing simple, and this is how we lost the control of the game, and that comes with maturity and with discipline," he mused. Connor Gallagher was a surprise non-starter on Thursday, one of four changes made by the Frenchman and the defeat, plus the quick turnaround, could prompt more rotation. James Tomkins, missing for the last two games, is training and could return to the squad. James McArthur remains a doubt, with Nathan Ferguson and Michael Olise out until pre-season. Marc Guehi was seen leaving Everton on crutches with his foot in a protective cast, although there has been no official update from the club.


The Toffees guaranteed their top-flight status with a come from behind win over Crystal Palace on Thursday, and the victory ensures that Frank Lampard's side are now safe on 39-points in 16th position. Therefore, there is no need to risk anyone unnecessarily on the final day. Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph fall into that category, and both could miss out, along with Andros Townsend and Nathan Patterson. Jarrad Branthwaite returns after his ban, but Salomon Rondon is suspended.

Leeds United

Luke Ayling is currently serving a three-match ban, and the club have taken this opportunity to send the defender for surgery to remedy a "knee issue that he needs to sort out." His recovery could be in the region of 2-4 months, and he might miss the beginning of next season regardless of what division Leeds are in. Tyler Roberts returned to training for the first time on Friday, but he won't be available for selection. "He's ahead of schedule, and he will be ready for the start of next year." Patrick Bamford is likely to play some part, although Jesse Marsch will make that call after the final session. "He's looked good all week. Rupturing [his plantar fascia] was the best thing for long-term recovery. He feels better than he did. We will prepare him the best way we can for as many minutes as possible." Robin Koch is fine. "[We have] nobody else with problems."

Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers confirms Kasper Schmeichel will play in the final game after Danny Ward was a surprise starter at Watford. Hamza Choudhury, Ricardo Pereira and Papy Mendy returned to the squad at Stamford Bridge. As long as Youri Tielemans can overcome a minor knock on his knee, then Wilfried Ndidi and Ryan Bertrand will be the only two injuries. James Justin is hoping to shake off the sickness bug that saw him miss the game at Chelsea.


Imaging confirms Joe Gomez escaped serious injury at St Mary's on Tuesday, and Jurgen Klopp will decide on his involvement if he can come through the two remaining sessions. "The rest of the boys look good; what we do for the weekend, I don't know yet," the Liverpool boss said. Ideally, Klopp would like to see Mo Salah, Vigil van Dijk and Fabinho involved in the squad, even on the bench, but he won't be taking chances ahead of the Champions League final. "Mo doesn't want to take any risks, no doubt about that, but it looks good."

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola praised the club's "incredible doctors" after Kyle Walker and John Stones were seen on the training pitches this week. "It's good to have them back," he said. Rúben Dias is the only player currently receiving treatment.

Manchester United

Ralf Rangnick says United will be missing "quite a few" players for their final league game, although he didn't provide a breakdown of those at risk of not travelling to Selhurst Park. "I'm still positive we will have a strong starting 11, and we will finish on a strong note." Jadon Sancho and Phil Jones couldn't complete training on Thursday, "so we need to wait until after the [final] session," and Luke Shaw's wife has just given birth, meaning he may miss out again. Eric Bailly and Marcus Rashford have been working normally, while Paul Pogba (calf) is still training away from the main group.

Newcastle United

Jamaal Lascelles could come in for Fabian Schär, who was knocked unconscious in a collision with Eddie Nketiah on Monday night. The centre-back is currently going through the concussion protocol, and he needs to complete Stage Four before progressing to full-contact practice on Saturday to be considered. Elsewhere within the Newcastle squad, Chris Wood will attempt to train ahead of the match. Although the injury is not regarded as severe, there are no guarantees he will be available to face his old team. Joe Willock and Jonjo Shelvey are targeting a comeback in pre-season, and a late decision will be made on Javier Manquillo after chickenpox ruled him out of the last two. After feeling his hamstring on his return to the side, Ryan Fraser could miss out.

Norwich City

Ben Gibson is struggling with a back injury, but Dean Smith hasn't ruled the defender out yet, and he "might" train on Saturday. "(Billy) Gilmour rolled his ankle and has gone back to Chelsea for assessment." Mathias Normann is OK after being forced off at Molineux last weekend. Long-term casualties Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah are not expected to rejoin the group until early July in the second week of pre-season.


A back complaint will keep Fraser Forster out of contention, leaving Alex McCarthy to see out the Saints' season. Romain Perraud (fractured foot) will also miss Sunday's trip to Leicester. The Frenchman should be clear in around six weeks, but Tino Livramento is a more long-term absentee, and the full-back may not play again this year after reconstructive knee surgery.

Tottenham Hotspur

Antonio Conte confirms that Harry Kane has been feeling unwell, but he does expect his talismanic striker to be fully fit for the trip to Norwich. News initially broke on Friday morning after Kane pulled out of a media event sparking rumours of food poisoning. However, the club flat out deny these. "We have the same players as the last game against Burnley. Not less, not more," said Antonio Conte, which confirms Cristian Romero will not recover from a "traumatic [hip] injury", meaning Davinson Sánchez will continue to deputise.


Cucho Hernandez is one of several players who could potentially return to the Hornets squad on Sunday for Roy Hodgson's final game. The club confirms Samir (groin) and Tom Cleverley (ribs), plus Kiko Femenía and Joshua King, both illnesses, have all recovered to stake a place in the starting XI. Peter Etebo has played his final game for the club after picking up a new problem this week. Emmanuel Dennis, Ismaïla Sarr, Shaq Forde, Juraj Kucka and Imran Louza remain out.

West Ham United

"Saïd Benrahma should be fit for the game," David Moyes told reporters. Issa Diop (ankle) is "not quite right yet", and the defender will watch on from the sidelines with defensive teammate Angelo Ogbonna (ACL knee). Mark Noble brings to an end his 20+ year association with the club on Sunday. "He has played well enough to play in the team and be involved, so if the right opportunity comes along, then yes, but I'll only do what I think's right to get the best result. Obviously, it'll be a big day for him."

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves should have a similar squad to last weekend, with Daniel Podence pushing to be involved after being named on the bench against Norwich. Romain Saiss (knee) "doesn't recover from his injury", so he remains out with long-termers Nelson Semedo and Max Kilman. "Nothing new, just those things," Bruno Lage said when asked for the latest team news.


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