Both Chelsea and Liverpool lost their captains to injury this week, and subsequently their squad strength will be sternly tested with the busy holiday fixture list quickly approaching.
Steven Gerrard suffered a grade two hamstring tear during England’s 2-1 defeat to France in midweek, and he faces three to four weeks out.
The news will be a big blow to Liverpool, who are already feeling the heat following a sub par start to the season. A 2-nil victory against Chelsea two weeks ago looked like the beginning of a revival for Roy Hodgson’s men, but after a defeat against Stoke and a draw against Wigan, they find themselves right back in their previously poor form. The club is currently occupying 11th place in the league with the tough visit to White Hart Lane looming on November 28th – and now they will have to make do without their most influential player.
Meanwhile, the champions are coming off one of the worst league performances at home under the Roman Abramovich era after being thoroughly beaten by Sunderland last weekend. John Terry was sidelined for the match, and it was revealed this week that he faces “months” out because of a nerve injury to his right leg. He has reportedly been carrying the injury for some time, but the pain is now so severe the Chelsea skipper can no longer play with it. The exact injury is still unclear, but Terry has flown to Italy to see a specialist, and the schedule for recovery is as of yet undefined.
Chelsea have lost two of their last three Premier League matches, and with their lead at the top of the table cut to just two points, Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping that his skipper can find a quick fix for the injury.
Around the League
Wayne Rooney could make his return to the Manchester United lineup this weekend after spending some time recovering from an ankle injury in the United States. Rooney has not featured for the team since his recent contract fiasco, during which he announced that he wanted to leave the club only to sign a new five-year contract two days later. He was initially expected to be out for a few more weeks, but has reportedly improved rapidly during his training at the Nike World Campus in Oregon.
After spending some time in Spain, Robert Pires is making a return to the Premier League after signing with Aston Villa. Gerard Houllier lured the former Arsenal man on a six-month contract. Pires was available as a free agent after Villarreal released him this past summer, and he spent time training in London with Arsenal before being contacted by Houllier about a move to the Villains. Pires will provide much needed backup for the squad which has been hammered by injury, meaning that Houllier has had to rely mainly on Villa’s younger players to step up in the meantime. Even so, the club is in 9th in the league, just three points off fifth place in a very tight top half of the table.