This weekend’s Premier League preview

by Kevin Coleman

Tottenham’s unbeaten run is under threat as they welcome Manchester United at the Lane, Birmingham and Villa clash in the local derby while Toure and Adebayor face their old side as Arsenal travel to Eastlands.

Football - Stoke City v Wigan Athletic Barclays Premier League

Saturday, 12th September 2009

Blackburn Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 3:00

With only one point from their opening three games, Blackburn will be determined to pick up their first win of the season against Wolves. The visitors lie in thirteen place, but are without a number of important players including Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Michael Kightly and Kevin Foley. Chris Iwelumo is also missing, but new signings Segundo Castillo and Stefan Maierhofer are both in line for debuts. Stephen Reid is a long term absense for Rovers, along with N’Zonzi and Salgado.

Prediction: Wolves to grab an away draw

Fantasy League pick: Kevin Doyle

Liverpool v Burnley, 3:00

Liverpool will be keen to improve on their sluggish start with a win over newly promoted Burnley who are on the same number of points. Fabio Aurelio is welcomed back for the first time this season and might feature in defense. Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva may be late arrivals after travelling with their national squads during the week, but the Reds have no new injury fears after the break apart from the long term injuries to Agger and Aquilani. Burnley also have a number of important players travelling home from duty, including Stephen Fletcher, Martin Paterson and Andre Bikey who didn’t train until Friday. Coyle is without Stephen Caldwell who is injured, while loanee David Nugent should make his debut.

Prediction: Comfortable home win, but not without conceding.

Fantasy League pick: Glen Johnson

Man City v Arsenal, 3:00

MANCHESTER CITY V GLASGOW CELTIC

Unbeaten Man City meet Arsenal at the Eastlands on Saturday, as the Citizens will be keen bring Arsenal to a standstill with their recent form. Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure both face their old club for the first time. City are sweating over the fitness of Robinho, while Carlos Tevez has been ruled out to join Roque Santa Cruz and Vincent Kompany on the sidelines. Andrey Arshavin is the biggest absense for Arsenal, while Tomas Rosicky might be struggling for fitness. Theo Walcott has returned to training, so he may feature.

Prediction: Hard to call, but we predict City to snatch a home win in a thrilling game.

Fantasy League pick: Shaun Wright-Phillips

Portsmouth v Bolton, 3:00

It’s 20th versus 19th as neither of these sides have picked up a point this season, but that will change tomorrow. David James will make his return for Pompey, as they have a number of debutants including Danny Webber, Tal Ben-Haim, Kevin Prince-Boateng, Jamie O’Hara, Mike Williamson, Aruna Dindane and Hassan Yebda. On-loan striker Ivan Klasnic will be included for Bolton, while Sean Davis is suspended. Johan Elmander will be fit enough to play, too.

Prediction: The new signings to take Pompey off the bottom.

Fantasy League pick: Aruna Dindane

Stoke City v Chelsea, 3:00

Chelsea sit top of the league unbeaten, while The Potters are placed surprisingly one spot outside the top four, in fifth. James Beattie is to undergo a late fitness test for Stoke, while Sidibe will miss out. Pulis welcomes back Glen Whelan and Liam Lawrence from international duty with Ireland, and they both should play. Chelsea are without Deco, Alex and Yuri Zhirkov while Joe Cole and Paulo Ferriera are not yet fit enough to be featured.

Prediction: Chelsea to stay unbeaten

Fantasy League pick: Didier Drogba

Sunderland v Hull City

Sunderland have picked up two wins so far this season, while Hull will look to add their second away win of the season. Steve Bruce will might have to debutise Trevor Carson due to injuries to Martin Fulop and Craig Gordon. George McCartney is out, while Michael Turner will line out after his move from Hull. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink should make his debut for Hull, but Jozy Altidore might miss out due to arriving late from duty with the USA. Ian Ashbee, Jimmy Bullard and Dean Marney are all long term absenses for Hull.

Prediction: Score draw

Fantasy League pick: Steed Malbranque

Wigan v West Ham

Wigan haven’t won since their opening day shock victory over Aston Villa, while the Hammers have only picked up one win and a draw this season. Wigan have a fully fit squad to choose from, welcoming back Olivier Kapo into the team. Jason Koumas has shaken off an injury and should feature. West Ham have concerns over Kieron Dyer, but Alessandro Diamanti should make his debut since joining from Livorno.

Prediction: West Ham win

Fantasy League pick: Mark Noble

Tottenham v Man Utd, 5:30

CHELSEA V MANCHESER UNITED

Tottenham are unbeaten so far, sitting second to Chelsea on goal difference. Man Utd have lost one game, but will be looking to pick up from their win against Arsenal. Luka Modric is the big absentee for Spurs, who broke his leg two weeks ago. Niko Kranjcar will make his debut, and Ledley King will undergo a late test on his groin. The visitors are without John O’ Shea as well as van der Sar but Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville return. Antonio Valencia may make the bench after a long travel home from international duty.

Prediction: A very close game, with Spurs edging it.

Fantasy League pick: Aaron Lennon

Sunday, 13th September 2009

Birmingham v Aston Villa, Noon

Birmingham have four points from four games, while Villa have picked up two wins from their opening three including victory over Liverpool. McLeish may have to hand Christian Benitez a full debut due to a ever lenghtening injury list. New Villa centre halves Richard Dunne and James Collins could make their debut as Curtis Davies is out. Emile Heskey is struggling with a tight hamstring after duty with England.

Prediction: Derby win for Aston Villa

Fantasy League pick: James Milner

Fulham v Everton, 4:15

Both these sides sit on three points with just one win in their opening three games. Andy Johnson returns to face his old side, while Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora are both set to make returns. However ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer is a doubt putting Pascal Zuberbhler on standby. Johnny Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will both make their debuts, Sylvain Distin will start in defense and Jo should feature up front.

Prediction: Score draw

Fantasy League pick: Steven Pienaar


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