Another international break, another weekend of Premier League inactivity, another week to worry about injuries for Fantasy managers. That is what we are here for – to scan the globe for the good performances, the awful ones and the major list of players who are hurt.
We begin our summary with the fallen. The most high profile injury is of course that unfortunate one suffered by Everton defender Seamus Coleman. The Ireland international is definitely out for the rest of the season as he begins his long road through rehabilitation. Another high profile casualty is Liverpool’s Adam Lallana. The midfielder played the full 90 minutes against Lithuania but has since suffered from a thigh injury that is expected to keep him out for a month.
Staying with the Merseysiders, Everton is also expected to lose the services of another defender in Ramiro Funes Mori. The Argentine played 36 minutes in his nation’s ill-fated game in Bolivia before being stretchered off with a knee problem. The full extent of his injury is yet to be ascertained.
League leaders Chelsea also endured a few scares after their trio of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa all reported back to the club with minor knocks. The latest, however, is that all of them are fit for their weekend game against Crystal Palace.
Elsewhere, John O’Shea needed stitches after his nation’s match but is expected to be fit as well.
Liverpool’s striking duo of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both enjoyed a great international week. The duo played upfront for their nation as Brazil secured two vital victories that helped them become the first nation to qualify for Russia 2018, some 15 months before the tournament proper. Coutinho also scored a wonderful goal against Paraguay in front of an endearing home crowd.
Back to Europe, where naturally many Premier League stars are in action. Diego Costa and David Silva were pivotal as Spain swept Israel aside by four goals to one. Costa is the form striker for Spain now, having scoring four in his last four caps.
Arsenal Olivier Giroud brushed aside his club’s woes with a brace against minnows Luxembourg. Man City this weekend may prove to be slightly tougher opponents though. Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurðsson, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Man United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan all scored crucial goals for their respective nations. It must have been particularly satisfying for Mkhitaryan, who last played in the Premier League on 11 Feb.
A player deserving special mention is of course Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe, who found the net for England in his first cap for his country in some 1,223 days. The 34-year-old is in superb form as his side takes on Watford this weekend.
In Asia, Southampton’s Maya Yoshida captained Japan for the first time as they picked up six points to move closer towards qualification. He is a certain starter for his club side as well.
Sergio Aguero will have another international outing to forget as he played a total of 90 minutes over two matches. He was not particularly effectual against Chile in the first of the two fixtures and was benched to make way for 22-year-old Angel Correa in Bolivia. Argentina now sits one spot away from automatic qualification and are going to play their next three qualifiers without the suspended Lionel Messi.
The Dutch had a particular awful outing as well, losing 2-0 in Bulgaria. The entire team performance were sub-par but Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum was particularly poor and was taken off at half-time. Manchester United’s Daley Blind played 90 minutes at left back in that defeat but suffered emotionally as his father was sacked as the national team coach a day after that defeat in Sofia. Netherlands now face an uphill task to qualify for Russia.