JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, April 5, 2013
It will be a battle of Americans in the Premier League this weekend as Stoke City play Aston Villa, while Tottenham welcome Everton to London.
Stoke City - Aston Villa
Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea, and Stoke City welcome Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, and Aston Villa to the Britannia Stadium in a relegation zone clash.
Cameron is likely to feature for Stoke, while Shea hopes to make the game day roster. Guzan looks to be at goal for Villa, however Lichaj has not seen the field of late but could be in the 18.
The Potters have plummeted down the standings in the last couple of months after a strong start to the season. Stoke is now in 13th place, but because of a congested bottom half of the standings, they are just four points above the bottom three.
Aston Villa currently is in the danger zone, but Guzan and company are just goal differential from safety. Despite last week's loss to Liverpool, Villa has won two out of their last three games and hope they can regain momentum for Saturday's match.
In the only match this season between both teams, Villa and Stoke had a scoreless draw in Birmingham.
Stoke's Matthew Etherington is questionable to play because of injuries to his back and groin, while Villa could see Brett Holman and Darren Bent back from injuries on Saturday.
Tottenham Hotspur - Everton
Brad Friedel, Clint Dempsey, and Tottenham Hotspur hope to hold on to third place in the league with a win against Tim Howard's surging Everton.
Friedel has been seeing playing time of late because of Hugo Lloris' injury, but the French ‘keeper could be available for Sunday's match. Dempsey played 27 minutes in Spurs midweek Europa League game and is available for the clash.
Howard made his return last week after a back injury kept him from the field some weeks. He is likely to be at goal this weekend once again.
Spurs are coming off a league win against Swansea City last week, but they have lost two out of their last three games in league play. The London side though is in need of points, as Chelsea trails them by just two points and Arsenal by four.
The Toffees are currently on a strong run of form, having won three straight league games. They sit just outside a Europa League spot, trailing Arsenal by just two points. With games dwindling in the season, Everton still has an outside chance at a Champions League spot as well. They trail Chelsea by four points for the coveted position.
Everton won this season's only other match between the two in dramatic fashion at Goodison Park, as they notched a 2-1 victory.
Jermain Defoe is suffering from a muscle injury and will miss for Tottenham.
Tony Hibbert has an injured calf and is doubtful to feature for Everton, while Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini are suspended for the Toffees.
Sheffield Wednesday - Blackburn Rovers
Stuart Holden and Sheffield Wednesday continue to fight for safety in their match against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Holden is currently on a one month loan from Bolton and played his first match for Wednesday last Saturday. However, the former Houston Dynamo midfielder did not feature in the Owls draw with Bristol City on Monday. The Texan is expected to play part this weekend.
Wednesday is currently just goal differential above the danger zone. The Owls play however has picked up of late, as they have lost just once in their last four games.
Blackburn is tied with Wednesday in points but sit above them because of goal differential. Rovers though have not won a game since February and are in dire need of points this weekend.
Paul Robinson and Jake Kean look to miss for Blackburn.
Oldham Athletic - Carlisle United
Frank Simek is expected to feature in Carlisle United's game against Oldham Athletic.
The Cumbrians go into this weekend's match playing inconsistent soccer. They currently have drawn their last three games and have won just once in their last eleven games. However, they sit in a relatively comfortable seven points above the drop zone with five games left in the season.
On the other hand, Oldham sits above the relegation zone by just goal differential and need three points on Saturday. They have not lost in their last three games, though two of those matches have ended in ties. The home team looks for three points this weekend to separate themselves from the drop zone pack.
Conor Doyle is not likely to feature in Derby County's game against Ipswich Town.
Zak Whitbread hopes to see the field in Leicester City's game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Seb Hines and Middlesbrough take on Hull City.
Tim Ream and Bolton take on Wolverhampton.
Jonathan Spector and Will Packwood look to miss Birmingham City's game against Millwall.
Mike Grella and Scunthorpe United take on Preston North End in League One action.
Jon Paul Pittman and Oxford United play Wycombe Wanderers in League Two play