JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, April 12, 2013
The relegation battles heat up in England as Brad Guzan's Aston Villa take on Fulham, while Geoff Cameron and Stoke City look for the upset against Manchester United.
Aston Villa - Fulham
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa look to inch their way closer to safety when they take on Fulham at Villa Park this weekend.
The American ‘keeper is expected to start, while Eric Lichaj could make the game day roster.
Villa goes into Saturday's match on a hot streak, as they have won three out of their last four games including a strong victory over Stoke City last week.
They are currently in 16th place and have six games left in the season. Despite just being two points above the relegation zone, Paul Lambert and company look to ride the wave of momentum to solidify their safety.
The Cottagers have no drop zone worries, but with the season dwindling they also have no shot at a Europa League or a Champions League spot. Fulham lost to Newcastle United last week in the final moments, however they went four games unbeaten prior to that defeat.
Steve Sidwell is suspended and will miss for Fulham, while Askhan Dejagh is injured and likely out for the season for the Cottagers.
Everton - Queens Park Rangers
Tim Howard and Everton hope to climb the Premier League standings with a win against a struggling Queens Park Rangers.
The Toffees are currently in sixth place, trailing Arsenal by four points for a Europa League spot and Tottenham by six points for the last Champions League position.
With seven games left in the season, David Moyes and company still have European aspirations, but every game is crucial for Everton. That sense of desperation was apparent last week in Everton's come from behind draw against Tottenham.
QPR are coming off an emotional draw against Wigan Athletic last weekend. Rangers looked to be going on to victory, but a last minute free kick goal by Wigan leveled the game and seriously hurt QPR's chances of safety. They have six games left and are seven points from safety.
Everton will get a boost as Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini look to return to the lineup after finishing their suspensions. However Tony Hibbert is likely to miss because of injury.
Stoke City - Manchester United
Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea, and Stoke City hope to end their skid with a win against Premier League leader Manchester United.
Cameron is expected to feature at right back, while Brek Shea hopes to make the 18.
The Potters have just won one league game this calendar year. This dip in play has seen Stoke drop down the standings and now find themselves deep in the drop zone battle. Currently they are just three points above the bottom three.
United, despite losing to cross town rivals Manchester City last week, hold a twelve point lead for first place in the standings and are on their way to another Premier League title.
Jonny Evans, Paul Scholes, and Ashley Young look to miss for United, while Marc Wilson and Glenn Whelan are injury doubts for Stoke.
Leeds United - Sheffield Wednesday
Stuart Holden could see the field in Sheffield Wednesday's road match against Leeds United at Elland Road.
Holden missed their midweek win over MIllwall as a precaution, but the American midfielder looks to be available this weekend.
The Owls are unbeaten in their last four league games, including three wins in that span. They are six points above the drop zone and a win could push Wednesday closer to safety.
Leeds is just a point below Wednesday in the standings. They have lost four straight games and need to reverse their momentum quickly if they want to avoid falling into the bottom three.
Danny Pugh will miss for the Owls, while Lee Peltier, Tom Lees, and Michael Brown are sidelined for Leeds.
Zak Whitbread hopes to feature in Leicester City's game against Birmingham City. Jonathan Spector injured his ankle last week and is questionable to see time for the Blues, while Will Packwood has a long term injury and will not feature.
Conor Doyle looks to make the 18 in Derby County's game against Blackburn.
Tim Ream and Bolton take on Bristol City.
Seb Hines hopes to see the field in Middlesbrough's game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Frank Simek is doubtful to play in Carlisle United's game against Preston north end because of injury.
Mike Grella could see the field in Scunthorpe United's game against Walsall.
Jon Paul Pittman's Oxford United take on Dagenham & Redbridge in League Two action.