Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, injury backlog and suspensions piling up. Those are the lyrics of Cliff Richard from his famous yuletide hit, and what a prescient little ditty that was.
Nearly every team in the Premier League has an injury list to speak of, and with the season now almost halfway through the number of suspensions recorded for the accumulation of five yellow cards are starting to increase too.
Ahead of the manic festive period, here is the latest list of Premier League injuries and suspensions relating to this weekend’s action.
Leicester City vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 12:30pm)
Leicester have lived something of a charmed life as far as injuries are concerned recently, and they are in high spirits again this week with their only two long-term absentees – Robert Huth and Matty James – back in full training.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah was substituted off for Crystal Palace against Watford; the Manchester United loanee suffered a hamstring strain, and is likely to miss the trip to Leicester. Luka Milivojevic picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and is suspended. Mahmadou Sakho (calf) and Joel Ward (groin) also remain out.
Arsenal vs Newcastle United (Saturday, 3pm)
Alongside Santi Cazorla, Arsenal have three injury worries: Shkodran Mustafi may play against Newcastle but it would be a ‘gamble’, according to Arsene Wenger, while Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott will definitely miss out.
Jonjo Shelvey obviously hasn’t done his Christmas shopping yet, as his stupid challenge against Everton in midweek has copped him a two-game ban. Otherwise it’s as you were for Newcastle, with Paul Dummett their sole absentee.
Brighton vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)
Brighton are enjoying a good run of health at the moment, and aside from Steve Sidwell they have a full squad to choose from. Izquierdo was subbed off after an hour against Spurs on Wednesday but only as a precautionary measure.
It looks like Ben Mee and Matt Lowton could return to the Burnley squad after little niggles, while the medical team at the Clarets are waiting to assess the damage to Stephen Ward before declaring him fit for the weekend. Dean Marney and Jonathan Walters are both nearing a return.
Chelsea vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)
Alvaro Morata sat out Chelsea’s trip to Huddersfield with a slight back injury, and he may not be risked here with the Blues’ hectic schedule to come over the festive period. David Luiz is working hard in the rehab of his knee injury.
With Cedric Soares returning to full fitness after missing the Arsenal game on Sunday, Southampton have a complete squad to call upon.
Stoke City vs West Ham (Saturday, 3pm)
Given their indifferent form Stoke could do with some good news on the injury front, but the bad news is that defenders Kurt Zouma (thigh), Glen Johnson (knee) and Bruno Martins-Indi (groin) are all likely to miss out here. Jese Rodriguez is on compassionate leave to be with his ill son.
Edimilson Fernandes joins Jose Fonte and Sam Byram on the West Ham treatment table. The young winger has hurt his ankle, and could be out for a couple of weeks. Cheikh Kouyate is touch and go to start on Saturday, but Winston Reid is suspended.
Watford vs Huddersfield Town (Saturday, 3pm)
To be honest, it is easier just to quickly note who won’t be in the Watford squad this week. There’s ten injured players – Chalobah, Hughes, Kaboul, Success, Cathcart, Hoban, Britos, Okaka, Kiko Femenia and Richarlison, plus two suspended: Tom Cleverley and Martin Zeegelaar.
Huddersfield have three long term absentees: Jon Stankovic, Michael Hefele and Philip Billing – the former pair could return by the year’s end.
Manchester City vs Tottenham (Saturday, 5:30pm)
Manchester City will be without a pair of key defenders for this one – Vincent Kompany and John Stones, while summer signing Benjamin Mendy is of course still on the sidelines.
Tottenham are also without two of their central defensive options in Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez, while midfield destroyer Victor Wanyama is still a fortnight or so away from a full return.
West Brom vs Manchester United (Sunday, 2:15pm)
Alan Pardew is hoping that Gareth Barry will be fit enough to start this game for West Brom, although Nacer Chadli may not be ready as his battle with a hamstring strain continues. Craig Dawson and James Morrison are targeting a Boxing Day return.
Paul Pogba serves the last game of his suspension for Manchester United, although Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini should be fit enough for Jose Mourinho’s consideration. Eric Bailly remains on the treatment table.
Bournemouth vs Liverpool (Sunday, 4:30pm)
There are no new injury concerns for Eddie Howe, which leaves Adam Federici, Tyrone Mings and Brad Smith in the physio’s room.
Joel Matip and Alberto Moreno’s absence hampers Liverpool’s defensive options, and Emre Can’s fifth yellow card of the campaign against West Brom on Wednesday means he misses out here. Daniel Sturridge, as ever, has a niggle but should be fit to play if required by Jurgen Klopp.
Everton vs Swansea (Monday, 8pm)
Big Sam Allardyce’s charmed start to life as Everton manager continues, with no new injury concerns. There’s still a lengthy queue for the treatment table though: Barkley, McCarthy and Bolasie could return before the year’s out, although Coleman and Funes-Mori are looking at a 2018 return.
Wayne Routledge and Wilfried Bony both have little knocks – the former missing out completely against Manchester City, the latter being subbed off, and so they will need to pass a fitness test. Kyle Bartley could offer his side a much-needed Christmas boost as he nears full capacity.