This week’s Premier League action

by Kevin Coleman

Fulham and Arsenal clash in a London derby, Manchester Utd and Chelsea both face away trips, Spurs clash with Burnley at the Lane and Liverpool host Hull at Anfield.

Saturday, 26th September

Portsmouth v Everton, 12:45 kick-off

Everton have picked up on their poor early form with two consecutive wins, and they host Portsmouth who lie rock bottom of the league without a point. Paul Hart, who stormed out of his press conference for this game earlier, should hand Steve Finnan his league debut his returning from Spain. Papa Bouba Diop is still missing, and Aruna Dindane – who scored in midweek – might be rested. Everton are to assess Yakubu who returned mid week to score against Hull, but was taken off due to a groin problem. Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka are still long term absentees for David Moyes.

We predict: Everton to beat pointless Pompey

Fantasy player pick: Yakubu

Birmingham v Bolton

Birmingham have been on fine form since their return to the top tier, and have been solid defensively with four clean sheets. They host Bolton at St. Andrews, who are sat in 17th place. Sebastian Larsson, Stephen Carr, Gregory Vignal and Lee Carsley are all available again. In addition, Teemu Tainio could return after being ineligible for the midweek Carling Cup tie with Sunderland. Sean Davis could miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, and is the only new absentee to Gary Megson’s side.

We predict: Birmingham in a tight game

Fantasy player pick: Joe Hart

Blackburn v Aston Villa

Blackburn Rovers will be looking to climb out of the bottom three in the Premier League as they host Aston Villa who are bidding for a fifth successive win. Gael Givet is Sam Allardyce’s only injury worry ahead of the game, after he picked up a knee injury last week. Nigel Reo Coker returns to the fold for Villa after a training ground fall out with manager Martin O’ Neill. Steve Sidwell is still missing, but Emile Heskey and Ashley Young are both fit to play.

We predict: Aston Villa to get an away win

Fantasy player pick: Gabby Agbonlahor

Liverpool v Hull City

Liverpool will be looking for their fourth straight win as they host Hull City at Anfield, who have lost four of their opening six games. Italian pair Andrea Dossena and Alberto Aquilani are the only absentees for Liverpool, as Rafa Benitez will revert to a strongest possible line-up after the midweek win against Leeds. Anthony Gardner returns to Hull for this game, as does Ibrahima Sonko who was cup tied during the week. Youngsters Tom Cairney and Liam Cooper could play a part after impressing against Everton.

We predict: Home win for Liverpool

Fantasy player pick: Glen Johnson


Stoke City v Man Utd

Manchester United will be aiming for a fifth successive win in the league as they travel to Stoke City who have won two of their last three matches at the Britannia Stadium. Strikers Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie are both big doubts ahead of the game, so Richard Cresswell could return to the fold. Ben Foster will keep his spot in goals after Alex Ferguson’s public vote of confidence, as United make wholesale changes after the midweek win in the Carling Cup against Wolves, with Evra, Rooney and Vidic some names returning.

We predict: Away win.

Fantasy player pick: Wayne Rooney

Tottenham v Burnley

Tottenham Hotspur aim to get back to winning ways as they host Burnley. After four successive wins, Spurs have lost their last two and now bid to bounce back at home to the Clarets who have yet to pick up a point on the road. Sebastian Bassong and Michael Dawson both return for this one but Jonathon Woodgate and Ledley King are both sidelined. Luka Modric, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Giovani Dos Santos are all missing for Spurs. Owen Coyle is hoping Brian Jensen will be fit enough for the game after suffering a dead leg during the week. Dave Nugent will play after being cup tied during the week, after his brace last weekend.

We predict: Home win, with lots of goals

Fantasy player pick: Jermain Defoe

Wigan v Chelsea

League leaders Chelsea aim to extend their 100 per cent winning record at the start of the campaign as they visit Wigan Athletic who have won two and lost four so far this season. Roberto Martinez has a fully fit squad to choose from, and may make a number of changes after the 4-0 loss to Arsenal last week. Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov could both make their debuts for this season, Didier Drogba is available after suffering cramp but Deco and Alex are both out for Chelsea.

We predict: Comfortable away win

Fantasy player pick: Ashley Cole

Fulham v Arsenal, 5:30 kick-off

Arsenal will be bidding to avoid an unwanted hat-trick of away defeats in the Premier League as they make the short trip to Fulham who will want to bounce back from their Carling Cup exit in midweek. Simon Davies suffered a set back in his recovery as Fulham could make a number of changes after making eleven in their midweek trip to Man City. Zolton Gera could keep his spot after the 25-yard strike. Andrey Arshavin returns to Arsenal after missing the last two games, as does Theo Walcott but Manuel Almunia is still missing.

We predict: Arsenal edge a tight derby

Fantasy player pick: Robin van Persie

Sunday, 27th September

Sunderland v Wolves, 4:00 kick-off

Sunderland are going for a third successive victory at the Stadium of Light as they meet Wolverhampton Wanderers who have lost their last two on the road. Steve Bruce will make a late decision of Lee Cattermole who has missed the last two games, but he hasn’t trained yet this week. George McCartney will also be involved along with Marton Fulop who has missed the last five games. A host of players are set to return for Wolves. Michael Mancienne, who was ineligible to play at Old Trafford in midweek, will return while strikers Kevin Doyle and Andy Keogh are both set to come into the starting line-up at the expense of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Stefan Maierhofer. Wales international Wayne Hennessey will return in goal to replace Marcus Hahnemann with Greg Halford taking over from Kevin Foley at right-back. Dave Edwards has also been pencilled in to return for winger Michael Kightly.

We predict: Score draw

Fantasy player pick: Darren Bent .. who else?


Monday, 28th September

Man City v West Ham, 8:00pm

Manchester City hope to pick uo on their first loss of the season last week against West Ham who have picked up four points from their opening five games. Emmanuel Adebayor is still out due to suspension, but Craig Bellamy is available after being cleared of any charges after pushing a fan. Robinho and Roque Santa Cruz are still unavailable, while Vincent Kompany might still be beyond a place in the team after a toe injury. Matty Upson is a doubt for Gianfranco Zola’s side after being taken off against Liverpool last week. Jack Collison and Luis Jiminez are both doubts ahead of the Monday kick off.

We predict: Man City home win

Fantasy player pick: Craig Bellamy

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