MATHEW WAGNER - Friday, March 7, 2014
Tim Howard and Everton take on Arsenal in the FA Cup quarterfinal, while Geoff Cameron and Stoke City look to build off in a big win in Premier League action.
FC Arsenal - FC Everton
Tim Howard and Everton will look to end their drought at Emirates Stadium when the Toffees hit the road to face Arsenal in a FA Cup quarterfinal matchup on Saturday.
Since Arsenal moved to its new stadium before the start of the 2006-2007 season, Everton has never beaten Arsenal in North London, but the Toffees did record a 1-1 draw the last time the two teams met at Emirates Stadium in December. Everton held an advantage in possession with 56 percent, and the team peppered Arsenal's net with 16 shots on target.
After leading the Premier League by as many as eight points earlier this season, Arsenal has fallen off the pace a bit recently. The Gunners have won just one of their last four league matches, and they now sit in third place with the fourth-place team - Manchester City - having two matches in hand.
Everton will likely have to be without captain Phil Jagielka, who picked up a thigh injury before last weekend's match against West Ham, as well as long-term absentee Bryan Oviedo because of a broken leg.
Arsenal will not have Jack Wilshire available, as he suffered a hairline fracture to the navicular bone in his left foot during England's midweek friendly. Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott will miss with thigh and knee injuries.
Norwich City - Stoke City
In a matchup of two teams trying to get some breathing space from the relegation zone, Geoff Cameron and Stoke City will attempt to build off a big win last weekend when they travel to Norwich on Saturday.
Cameron and the Potters picked up a big win over Arsenal last weekend, pushing them up to 13th place and six points above the drop zone. With the bottom 10 teams separated by just 10 points, the Potters need more in order to ensure another year in the Premier League.
Stoke's opponent, Norwich, is in much more dire straits, The Canaries sit four points above the relegation zone, but the three teams below them - Crystal Place, West Brom and Sudnerland - have all played fewer games than them. Following a shellacking at the hands of Aston Villa, the Canaries need to bounce back quickly.
For Stoke, Charlie Adam will miss because of a retroactive suspension following the win over Arsenal, while Oussama Assaidi is out with a knee injury.
Norwich's Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Roberet Snodgrass are questionable with knee and wrist injuries, while Leroy Fer, Michael Turner and Jonas Gutierrez will continue to be out because of hamstring injuries and a calf strain.
Leeds United - Bolton Wanderers
Tim Ream and Bolton will hope to climb further away from the Championship relegation zone when they travel to Leeds on Saturday.
Bolton is riding a three-game unbeaten streak into this weekendthat has seen the Trotters climb up to 18th place and nine points above the drop zone. The last team in the relegation zone, Charlton Athletic, has three matches in hand, meaning that extending the cushion over them is essential for the Trotters to survive the season.
Wanderers is catching Leeds at a good time, as the Whites are currently on a downswing. The Whites are on a three-match winless streak and have managed to score just one goal over that span.
Bolton will be without fan-favorite American midfielder Stuart Holden, who experienced a setback in returning from a knee injury earlier this week in an Under-21 match, and midfielder Darren Pratley, whose season is over after having surgery on his shoulder earlier this week.
Fullback Marc Tierney is also out with a broken bone in his foot, while Leeds United is not reporting any significant injuries.
Birmingham City - Queens Park Rangers
Jonathan Spector, Will Packwood and Birmingham take on struggling Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
Birmingham City has flirted with the relegation zone, going on two separate five-match winless streaks this season, but the Blues have managed to keep adrift, sitting in 17th place and holding a -3 goal differential - the best among the bottom nine teams. They'll need to bounce back quickly from last weekend's loss in order to keep the status quo.
Normally it's never good for a struggling team to face a promotion-chasing team, but the Blues are catching Queens Park Rangers at exactly the right time.
QPR is currently on a five-match winless streak that includes three consecutive losses, and the team is seeing its hopes of automatic promotion slip away, falling to nine points behind the last direct promotion spot.
The Blues will not have Mitch Hancox and Brian Howard available with ankle injuries, while long-term absentees Matt Green and Neal Eardley are out with knee injuries.
Birmingham's Lee Novak and Albert Rusnak are questionable with a hamstring injury and a groin injury. QPR will be without Charlie Austin, Matthew Phillips and Danny Simpson.
Yeovil Town - Sheffield Wednesday
Duane Holmes and Yeovil Town could climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since early October with a win over Oguchi Onyewu and Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Yeovil Town has spent most of the season in the relegation zone, but a four-match unbeaten streak has the Glovers sitting two points away from safety. The streak has included three ties, but for a newly promoted team, every point matters.
Like its opponents, Sheffield Wednesday has struggled for much of the season, but the Owls have managed to turn things around. They currently sit in 15th place, having won three of their last five matches, and Wednesday holds a 12-point cushion over the drop zone.
Red-card suspensions will keep Kieffer Moore and Joe Ralls out for the Glovers, as the two picked up red cards in last weekend's match.
The Owls' Reda Johnson is out with a thigh injury.
Brighton & Hove Albion - FC Reading
Danny Williams and Reading's promotion push takes them to Brighton & Hove on Saturday in what may seem to be a promotion six-pointer.
Reading dropped out of a promotion-playoff position with a 1-1 draw to eight-man Yeovil Town last weekend. A win will put the Royals back into sixth place, but the team that is in sixth heading into the weekend, Wigan, already has a match in hand and will have another after this weekend, as the Latics have an FA Cup match on Sunday. Thus, Reading needs the three points to keep pace.
The Royals could kill two birds with one stone by defeating Brighton & Hove, as the Seagulls are just two points behind Reading in eighth place. Minus a loss to Wigan two weeks ago, Albion has been on a bit of a roll, winning three of its last five matches.
Reading's Wayne Bridge and Sean Morrison will not play because of long-term knee injuries.
Albion will be without Andrew Crofts for the rest of the season with a knee injury, while Craig Mackail-Smith has not fully recovered from an Achilles' tendon injury and will not dress.
Jozy Altidore will hope to play in Sunderland's FA quarterfinal matchup with Hull City on Sunday.
Brad Friedel should dress for Tottenham's Top 5-showdown with Chelsea on Saturday.
Eric Lichaj will not be available for Nottingham Forest's match against Barnsley on Saturday with a reoccurrence of a pelvic injury. Brek Shea will likely be on the bench for Barnsley.