This weekend’s Premier League preview

The top two sides in the Premier League go head-to-head in a mouth watering clash at Stamford Bridge, Darren Bent returns to his old stomping ground of White Hart Lane with Sunderland and Wolves host in form Arsenal at the Molineux.

Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers 15:00 Villa Park

Aston Villa will be aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of their last-gasp defeat at West Ham in midweek. Villa will be without skipper Stiliyan Petrov and defender Habib Beye through suspension for Saturday’s match with Bolton. Petrov collected his fifth booking of the campaign during the midweek defeat at West Ham – a match in which Beye was also sent off. Nigel Reo-Coker will be a strong candidate to replace Petrov after impressing as a substitute against his former club while right-back Carlos Cuellar will return after a one-match ban and is likely to take over from Beye. Emile Heskey (back), James Milner (calf) and Craig Gardner (groin) are major doubts. Paul Robinson is set to deputise for the suspended Jlloyd Samuel in the Bolton defence. Samuel was sent off in last week’s 4-0 defeat against Chelsea after bringing down Didier Drogba. Danny Shittu and Mustapha Riga are both doubts with hamstring problems, while Sean Davis and Joey O’Brien are long-term absentees with knee injuries.

Fantasy Player Pick: Richard Dunne
Prediction: Villa backlash after defeat midweek, home win.

Blackburn Rovers v Portsmouth 15:00 Ewood Park

Portsmouth have the chance to move off the bottom of the League. Victory at Ewood Park would see them leapfrog Hull City as well as their opponents – and could even lift the south coast club out of the relegation zone. Benni McCarthy has returned to training ahead of Saturday’s match. The South African is back in the Rovers fold after recovering from swine flu. Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has virtually a full squad to choose from with only Vince Grella (thigh) missing. Portsmouth will be without right-back Steve Finnan for their trip to Blackburn. Frederic Piquionne should be available, despite being carried off against Wigan Athletic last Saturday after taking a knock to his neck. Papa Bouba Diop (hamstring) and Hermann Hreidarsson (foot tendon) are still on the road to recovery and will not play at Ewood Park.

Fantasy Player pick: Aruna Dindane
Prediction: Portsmouth to continue their recent form against struggling Rovers

Manchester City v Burnley 15:00 Eastlands

Burnley go in search of their first away point of the season as they travel to Manchester City who have drawn their last four League matches, although three of those have been away from home. Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure look certain to return. The both missed Sunday’s goalless draw at Birmingham City with ankle and heel injuries respectively, yet have trained without issues over the past two days. Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz are doubtful and rated as 50-50 by City manager Mark Hughes with knee and ankle problems. Burnley manager Owen Coyle could be tempted to name an unchanged side. Stephen Jordan is expected to face his former club after overcoming a thigh problem sustained in the victory over Hull last weekend. Burnley are still without Martin Paterson, Chris McCann (both knee) and Jay Rodriguez (ankle) through injury as they aim to pick up their first point on the road.

Fantasy Player Pick: Craig Bellamy
Prediction: Comfortable home win by a few goals

Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland 15:00 White Hart Lane

In-form Sunderland striker Darren Bent returns to White Hart Lane for the first time since his summer transfer to the north-east. Aaron Lennon could return for Tottenham from an ankle injury. Luka Modric is still recovering from a fractured fibula and is absent, while defender Sebastien Bassong’s hamstring injury will keep him sidelined for another couple of weeks. Jermain Defoe is available again after serving a three-match suspension. Sunderland manager Steve Bruce faces a major selection headache ahead of the game. Kenwyne Jones is suspended after being sent off during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United, while skipper Lorik Cana, who picked up his fifth booking of the season in the same match, also misses out. Fraizer Campbell is expected to shake off a thigh problem, but Cana’s absence is a real blow with Lee Cattermole (medial ligaments) also sidelined. John Mensah (calf) and Bolo Zenden (hip) are again likely to be missing, and youngsters David Meyler and Adam Reed are included in the squad.

Fantasy Player Pick: Andy Reid
Prediction: Plenty of goals, for both sides, with Spurs taking it.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal  17:30 Molineux

Wolves striker Chris Iwelumo has been ruled out after he suffered a recurrence of a metatarsal problem during his full Premier League debut at Stoke last weekend – although there is no repeat of the close season fracture. Mick McCarthy has already confirmed that last season’s top scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will return to the starting line-up against Arsene Wenger’s side. Blake was dropped from the first XI for the trip to the Britannia Stadium despite scoring his first Barclays Premier League goal, albeit from the penalty spot, against Aston Villa a fortnight ago. Arsenal will again be without defender Gael Clichy (back) and striker Nicklas Bendtner (groin) for Saturday’s trip to Wolves. Armand Traore and Carlos Vela (both groin) are close to fitness but will not be included, neither will Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Lukas Fabianski (thigh). Brazilian midfielder Denilson (back) and England forward Theo Walcott (knee) should resume training following the international break, but centre-back Johan Djourou (knee) remains out.

Fantasy Player Pick: Cesc Fabregas (or Robin van Persie!)
Prediction: Arsenal fire past a few goals in trademark fashion

Gabriel Agbonlahor (L) of Aston Villa runs off Scott Parker of West Ham during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Aston Villa at Upton Park on November 4, 2009 in London, England.

Sunday 8th November 2009

Hull City v Stoke City  13:30 Kingston Comms Stadium

Hull City are bottom of the current form table and host a Stoke City side who are fourth on form after two wins and two draws from their last four fixtures. Geovanni and Boaz Myhill will miss Sunday’s match. Geovanni is suspended after his red card at Burnley last week while goalkeeper Myhill is still troubled by a knee injury. Record signing Jimmy Bullard is included in the squad and could make his long-awaited home debut. The £5m midfielder has missed two matches with a shin problem since returning from a nine-month knee injury lay-off. Craig Fagan could be recalled after being overlooked for five matches while Ian Ashbee (knee) is the club’s only other significant absentee. Andy Wilkinson will be hoping to have done enough to keep Robert Huth out of the Stoke side. Huth returns to the Potters squad after serving a three-match suspension, but Wilkinson has impressed at right-back in his place and manager Tony Pulis has a tough decision to make. Mamady Sidibe has been struggling with a hamstring problem but could be in contention after taking part in training on Friday. Salif Diao also trained with the squad but remains a doubt due to the calf injury that forced him to miss the match with Wolves last week, while Amdy Faye has a back problem and is unlikely to feature.

Fantasy Player Pick: Matty Etherington
Prediction: Away win for Stoke

West Ham United v Everton  15:00 Boleyn Ground

After beating Aston Villa in midweek to claim their first victory since the opening day of the season, West Ham United now aim to make it two wins in a row as they host Everton who have gone four matches without taking three points. West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is awaiting news on Herita Ilunga and Carlton Cole ahead of Sunday’s match with Everton. Both players were forced off with suspected hamstring injuries during Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Aston Villa and Jonathan Spector and Zavon Hines are standing by to step into the starting XI. Fabio Daprela and Frank Nouble will also be added to the squad. Radoslav Kovac is available again after serving a one-match ban but Luis Boa Morte (knee), Dean Ashton (ankle) and Calum Davenport (leg) remain long-term absentees with no date set for their return. Everton winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is suspended. Former West Ham captain Lucas Neill and Dutchman John Heitinga, both ineligible for the Benfica match, come back into the squad but Louis Saha (calf) could miss out. Tony Hibbert returned for the European match after flu but Everton will still be without long-term injured players Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan and Leon Osman.

Fantasy League Pick: Zavon Hines
Prediction: Midweek’s win will give West Ham plenty of confidence, home win.

Wigan Athletic v Fulham  15:00 DW Stadium

After their fine 3-1 win over Liverpool, Fulham aim to stretch their unbeatenrun to five matches against a Wigan Athletic side bidding to bounce back from their 4-0 defeat at bottom club Portsmouth. Swedish full-back Erik Edman could return to the Wigan side against Fulham at the DW Stadium on Sunday. Edman has returned to training after a bout of concussion and is in line to make his comeback Wigan are aiming to get back on track after losing to Portsmouth but will again be without Maynor Figueroa, who has a knee injury. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is likely to be without key duo Andrew Johnson and Danny Murphy. Johnson (shoulder) and captain Murphy (knee) both missed Thursday’s Europa League defeat against Roma which could mean a start for Bobby Zamora in attack. Dickson Etuhu could start after recovering from a knee injury while Damien Duff will be given a fitness test to see if he has overcome an Achilles injury.

Fantasy League Pick: Clint Dempsey
Prediction: Away win

Chelsea v Manchester United 16:00 Stamford Bridge

The top two sides in the Premier League go head-to-head in a mouth-watering meeting at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have just one player missing from their squad: full-back Jose Bosingwa is still suffering from his knee problem and is unavailable. But Yuri Zhirkov and John Mikel Obi are in the squad along with goalkeeper Hilario. Nemanja Vidic is set to return for Manchester United’s eagerly-anticipated visit to Chelsea on Sunday. The Serbian has missed two matches due to a calf strain but returned to training earlier this week and is expected to be fit, along with £30.75m record signing Dimitar Berbatov, who did not feature in Tuesday’s draw with CSKA Moscow after taking a bang on his knee-cap. Rio Ferdinand (calf) is definitely out, along with Park Ji-sung (knee), while Gary Neville is suspended, so John O’Shea is set to return.

Fantasy League Pick: Didier Drogba
Prediction: Home win

Author Details

Kevin Coleman
Kevin Coleman

Founder and co-editor of Back Page Football.

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