This weekend’s Premier League preview

Chelsea clash with Liverpool in the game of the weekend on Sunday, while Man Utd host Sunderland and Arsenal are visited by Blackburn. Spurs go to Bolton to try and end a spell without a win that runs back to 2002.

Radoslav Kovac and Alessandro Diamanti (R) of West Ham United challenge Carlos Tevez of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the City of Manchester Stadium on September 28, 2009 in Manchester, England.

Saturday 3rd October

Bolton v Tottenham

Spurs travel to the Reebok without an away win against Bolton since 2002, and have a chance to go joint top of the league for at least a couple of hours. Johan Elmander is the biggest absentee for Bolton this weekend after sustaining a hamstring injury. Spurs’ Jermain Defoe was back in full training on Friday and Redknapp will decide on Saturday whether to pitch him in wearing a protective dressing on his two dislocated fingers. Ledley King is still recovering from a hamstring injury while Roman Pavlyuchenko (Achilles) is back in full training but will not feature at the Reebok. Luka Modric is no longer wearing the protective boot on his fractured fibula and has begun active rehabilitation, while Jonathan Woodgate (groin) hopes to return to training in two weeks’ time.

Prediction: 1-1 draw
Fantasy player pick: Gary Cahill

Burnley v Birmingham

Burnley protect their 100% home record against fellow newly promoted side Birmingham. Jay Rodriguez has been ruled out for three months with a fractured ankle, while Martin Paterson and Chris McCann are both on the sidelines with knee injuries. Fernando Guerro tweaked his hamstring and Kevin McDonald sustained a knee problem in a midweek reserve match, leaving both looking doubtful. But club captain Steven Caldwell is in contention for a place in the starting line-up after playing for an hour in the same match. Christian Benitez is missing for Birmingham after being let home to Ecuador on compassion grounds, so Garry O’ Connor is set to make his full debut. Stuart Parnaby, James McFadden, Franck Quedrue and Cameron Jerome are all available after injury.

Prediction: Burnley to continue home form
Fantasy player pick:
Brian Jensen

Hull City v Wigan

After their shock win over previously unbeaten leaders Chelsea, Wigan Athletic visit Hull City who will be looking to climb out of the bottom three. Hull City will again check on the fitness of defender Anthony Gardner. Centre-back Liam Cooper, who made his league debut at Liverpool last week, is a slight doubt with a hamstring strain but fellow defender Steven Mouyokolo has overcome an injury to the same area. Having beaten Chelsea last weekend Martinez could be tempted to stick with the same starting line-up. However, he has plenty of choices as everyone is fit, including young midfielder James McCarthy, who came off with a minor groin problem in Monday’s reserve team match against Bolton Wanderers.

Prediction: Score draw
Fantasy player pick: Geovanni

Wolves v Portsmouth

Portsmouth go in search of their first points of the season as they travel to newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves will be without injured midfielder Segundo Castillo. Castillo’s replacement, Michael Kightly, could make his first ever Barclays Premier League start against Paul Hart’s side. But midfielder Dave Jones is ruled out for two months after undergoing knee surgery. Steve Finnan came through a reserve match against West Ham United in midweek and could make his debut. Papa Bouba Diop has stepped up his training but is still suffering with a hamstring injury, along with Herman Hreidarsson.

Prediction: First win for Pompey
Fantasy player pick: Jamie O’ Hara

Man Utd v Sunderland

Manchester United will be aiming to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League as they host a Sunderland side who have won three of their last five matches. Ben Foster will return to the starting line-up after he sat out the Champions League win over Wolfsburg but has been assured on his place to face the Black Cats by Sir Alex Ferguson. Michael Owen (groin) is out, while Edwin van der Sar (broken finger) and Rafael Da Silva (shoulder) are nearing full fitness after missing the entire season so far. Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole could face the league leaders after returning to match fitness. Central defender John Mensah is struggling with a calf problem, but full-back Phil Bardsley, who was sent home with a virus at the weekend, has recovered.

Prediction: Home win for Utd
Fantasy player pick: Wayne Rooney

Dickson Etuhu of Fulham chases Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage on September 26, 2009 in London, England.

Sunday 4th October

Arsenal v Blackburn

Arsenal aim to maintain this season’s 100 per cent winning record at the Emirates Stadium as they take on a Blackburn Rovers side buoyed by their victory over Aston Villa. Arsenal will have both Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott available for Sunday’s match. Bendtner has recovered from minor injuries after a car crash, while Walcott is ready for his first match of the season following a back problem. However, forward Eduardo (groin) is out and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is still not fully match fit following a chest infection, so Vito Mannone will continue to deputise. Ryan Nelsen suffered a heavy fall in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa and has a back problem while his defensive partner Chris Samba had to come off injured in the same match. Both face a late fitness test to see if they will be fit to play. Vince Grella is unavailable due to suspension after he was sent off against Villa but there is more positive news about Gael Givet, who has returned training this week after his knee injury, and Steven Reid, who should be available despite an achilles problem.

Prediction: Comfortable home win
Fantasy player pick: Andrey Arshavin

Everton v Stoke City

After making a slow start to the season, Everton have picked up form and aim for a third successive league win against a Stoke City side who have drawn their last two on the road. Everton defender Joseph Yobo is a doubt after he missed the Europa League victory over BATE Borisov with a thigh injury. Jack Rodwell (illness) and Steven Pienaar (knee) did not travel to Belarus but manager David Moyes is hopeful both will recover in time to face the Potters. John Heitinga and Lucas Neill, ineligible against Borisov, and Louis Saha, serving a European suspension, all return. Ricardo Fuller is Stoke’s only serious injury concern. James Beattie will be ready to face one of his old clubs after recovering from knee and ankle injuries and Liam Lawrence should also be available after undergoing a course of injections for a persistent back problem.

Prediction: Everton win
Fantasy player pick: Louis Saha

West Ham v Fulham

West Ham United have not won since the opening day of the season but will aim to climb out of the bottom three by leapfrogging Fulham who have lost four of their last five in the Premier League. West Ham are set to welcome back England defender Matthew Upson. The former Arsenal man missed the last two matches with a calf problem. Midfielder Valon Behrami is also available again following a series of niggles. Jack Collison is out with a knee injury, however, and Mexican striker Guillermo Franco is still short of match fitness. Brede Hangeland is expected to overcome an ankle injury to return to the heart of the Fulham defence. Damien Duff’s calf injury rules him out and Simon Davies remains a doubt as he continues to recover from his foot injury.

Prediction: Score draw
Fantasy player pick: Alessandro Diamanti

Chelsea v Liverpool

Chelsea will be aiming to bounce back from their first Premier League defeat of the season as they host a Liverpool side bidding to leapfrog them into second spot. Chelsea keeper Petr Cech is suspended after being sent off against Wigan Athletic. Hilario is set to deputise for Cech at Stamford Bridge while Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa return from suspension. Deco, Joe Cole and Michael Ballack are fit for selection but Alex (groin) and John Mikel Obi (ankle) remain in the treatment room. Javier Mascherano is expected to return to Liverpool’s midfield for Sunday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea. There could also be a place for Danish defender Daniel Agger in the squad after he came though a midweek reserve run-out unscathed for his first match of the season following back surgery. Italian defender Andrea Dossena is out with a groin injury.

Prediction: Home win for Chelsea
Fantasy player pick: Nicholas Anelka

Monday 5th October

Aston Villa v Man City

Aston Villa host Man City on the back of a loss against Blackburn, while City are looking to keep up their form after winning against West Ham last week. Villa are still without Curtis Davies (shoulder) and Luke Young, but otherwise Martin O’ Neill has no new injury worries. Richard Dunne faces his old side for the first time since his move. Vincent Kompany is a doubt ahead of the game, but is very close to making a return from a toe injury. But City welcome back Emmanuel Adebayor after his suspension was ended. Roque Santa Cruz made his debut last week and will feature again, but Robinho and Benjani are both out. Gareth Barry returns to Villa Park for the first time, in what’s sure to be a hostile reception

Prediction: Away win
Fantasy player pick: Gareth Barry

The Author

Kevin Coleman

Founder and co-editor of Back Page Football and current host of our 'Three At The Back' weekly podcast.

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