This weekend’s Premier League preview

by Kevin Coleman

It’s an injury-ravaged weekend of Premier League action as Arsenal and Tottenham clash in the local derby, Liverpool travel to Craven Cottage, Chelsea face Bolton at the Reebok and Man United host swine flu ridden Blackburn.

Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool is challenged by Craig Eastmond of Arsenal during the Carling Cup 4th Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on October 28, 2009 in London, England.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, 12:45, Emirates Stadium

Tottenham make the short trip over to the Emirates to do battle with Arsenal in the London derby. Manuel Almunia could be set for a recall to Arsenal’s starting XI for Saturday’s derby after Vito Mannone’s mistakes last week. Wenger is likely to make several changes from the side which beat Liverpool in the Carling Cup in midweek but Lukas Fabianski (thigh), Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott (both knee) miss out. Samir Nasri made his first appearance of the season against Liverpool after recovering from a broken leg and is likely to be on the bench on Saturday. No news has arrived concerning Tottenham’s line-up, with a number of names out. Jermain Defoe is still suspended, Jonathon Woodgate is missing and Michael Dawson is also a doubt.

Fantasty player pick: Cesc Fabregas
Prediction: Arsenal’s home form and Spurs injuries add up to a home win

Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea, 15:00, Reebok Stadium

Bolton manager Gary Megson has an almost fully fit squad to pick from. Johan Elmander made his return to first-team action after a hamstring injury when he came off the bench against Chelsea in the Carling Cup tie between the two teams on Wednesday night. Only long-term absentees Joey O’Brien and Sean Davis, who both have knee problems, remain on the sidelines. Chelsea have doubts over striker Salomon Kalou and defender Branislav Ivanovic ahead of their trip to Bolton. Both will undergo late fitness tests after collecting minor knocks in the Carling Cup win over Wanderers in midweek. But Ashley Cole (ankle), Jose Bosingwa (knee), Yury Zhirkov (knee), John Mikel Obi (knee) and Hilario (concussion) are all out. However, Chelsea welcome back John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard. They were all rested in midweek.

Fantasy player pick: Joe Cole
Prediction: Can’t look past an away win

Burnley v Hull City, 15:00, Turf Moor

Hull City can move out of the bottom three if they beat Burnley at Turf Moor. Burnley manager Owen Coyle will give goalkeeper Brian Jensen “every chance” to recover from the injury he sustained in last weekend’s home defeat to Wigan. X-rays revealed the Burnley stopper, who has yet to resume full training, had suffered only slight ligament damage to his ankle so Diego Penny is on stand-by. The Clarets are still without long-term absentees Martin Paterson, Chris McCann (both knee) and Jay Rodriguez (ankle). Hull will be without goalkeeper Boaz Myhill for Saturday’s vital trip to Burnley. Jimmy Bullard did not train on Thursday due to a shin injury and a decision is still to be made on his participation at Turf Moor.

Fantasy player pick: Wade Elliot
Prediction: Burnley to get their home form back on track

Everton v Aston Villa, 15:00, Goodison Park

Villa ‘keeper Brad Friedel is set to make his 200th successive Premier League appearance at Goodison Park on Saturday. Stephen Warnock and Nigel-Reo Coker have knocks meaning Nicky Shorey and Steve Sidwell could be set for re-calls. Emile Heskey is a doubt, but John Carew is available for the visitors. Everton face a major injury crisis after playing three games in six days before their mid-week Carling Cup game. Leighton Baines is poised to return from a calf injury, while striker Louis Saha, who has a similar problem, will be given time to prove his fitness. Yakubu is in contention for a place in the starting XI after overcoming his heel problem to play against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, while Joseph Yobo, who did not feature, could return after suffering concussion.

Fantasy player pick: James Milner
Prediction: Entertaining draw

Salomon Kalou of Chelsea battles for the ball with Fabrice Muamba of Bolton Wanderers during the Carling Cup 4th Round match between Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on October 28, 2009 in London, England.

Fulham v Liverpool, 15:00, Craven Cottage

Steven Gerrard will miss his third successive Liverpool match on Saturday with the groin injury he picked up playing for England in Ukraine earlier this month. Liverpool will also be without England full-back Glen Johnson (calf) for the match against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who made his first-team debut at Arsenal in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, has picked up a virus and will not be in the squad while Rafael Benitez will give a late test to Fernando Torres (groin) but expects him to be available. Lucas Leiva is also missing due to a virus. Fulham will be without Danny Murphy against his old side, along with Andy Johnson, Simon Davies and Dickson Etuhu.

Fantasy player pick: Yossi Benayoun
Prediction: Hard fought draw

Portsmouth v Wigan Athletic, 15:00, Fratton Park

Wigan will be without defender Maynor Figueroa for their trip to Fratton Park. Paul Scharner is also doubtful with a hamstring injury as is Chris Kirkland with a dislocated finger. Pompey welcome back cup-tied quartet Kevin-Prince Boateng, Jamie’ O Hara, Mike Williamson and Tommy Smith. PapaBouba Diop and Hermann Hreidersson are still missing for the home side.

Fantasy player pick: Hugo Rodallega
Prediction: Wigan win

Stoke City v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 15:00, Britannia Stadium

Wolves welcome back Stefan Maierhofer after his one-match ban. Mick McCarthy is set to name an unchanged side, with Kevin Doyle and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake leading the line. On-loan Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne is available again for the visitors. Stoke are expecting Thomas Sorensen to be fit after injury. Mamady Sidibe is a doubt, while Tuncay is expected to start. Robert Huth is still suspended.

Fantasy player pick: Ryan Shawcross
Prediction: Stoke win

Sunderland v West Ham United, 15:00, Stadium of Light

Darren Bent is currently a doubt for this game, but should make the game in time. Fraizer Campbell, Phil Bardsley and George McCartney are also doubts, while Bolo Zenden and John Mensah have been ruled out. West Ham will be without the suspended Scott Parker, so midfielder Radoslav Kovac comes in. Kieron Dyer has a hamstring injury, while Alessandro Diamanti could re-called after starting on the bench against Arsenal.

Fantasy player pick: Darren Bent
Prediction: Home win

Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers, 17:30, Old Trafford

United have been hit with injuries to Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs as they host Blackburn who are without a number of players who have contracted swine flu. Danny Welbeck is also missing for United, while Darren Fletcher and Ji-Sung Park both remain sidelined. Jason Roberts and Chris Samba are amongst those missing for Blackburn, but David Dunn should be fit after shaking off the virus. Pascal Chimbonda is fit after missing last week’s game, but Vince Grella has not fully recovered.

Fantasy player pick: Wayne Rooney
Prediction: United win

Stephen Ireland of Manchester City celebrates scoring the first goal during the Carling Cup 4th Round match at the City of Manchester Stadium on October 28, 2009 in Manchester, England.

SUNDAY

Birmingham v Manchester City, 16:00, St. Andrews

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes expects Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Kolo Toure and Martin Petrov to be fit for Sunday’s only Premier League game at St. Andrews. Nedum Onuoha and Robinho are still recovering from injuries. Roque Santa Cruz is expected to drop down to the bench after scoring in mid-week, but Stephen Ireland may start after being left out of the last three league games. Joe Hart is inelidgeble for this one as he is on loan from Birmingham. Gregory Vignal is back for Brum both might have to settle for a place on the bench, Keith Fahey is still missing.

Fantasy player pick: Emmanuel Adebayor
Prediction: Narrow away win

1 Response

  1. Gavelect says:

    Carl Dickinson put the boot into us at the weekend. Absolutely gutted. Traveled down from Ayrshire for this as one as my mate’s got corporate tickets through his work. Hate to say it but it was a cracking goal. Wee Burky had a great game. Although we travelled down and got beat we still had a ball. Traveled back to Wales in a supporters bus (sang all the way), had a party with the fans which was great and then stayed at the Village Cardiff Hotel. Hopefully be down for a home game after Christmas.

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