Friday, November 27, 2009
The Premier League is the main event again this weekend, but it will be a weekend of hopes and dreams for the players from the lower leagues who are involved in FA Cup second round games.
The third round of the tournament sees the teams from the Premier League and Coca-Cola Championship enter the competition, bringing opportunities for giant-killing at major venues for the players and increased revenue for the smaller clubs.
Everton - Liverpool
Tim Howard will be hoping to improve on his last two outings, having seen three goals scored against him in each of those games.
Everton are still struggling with injuries, and will be without Phil Neville, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan, Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka, who will definitely miss the game with knee injuries. They should have Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman once again available for selection after recovering from knee and ankle injuries respectively.
Having been eliminated from the Champions League in midweek, Liverpool will be determined to improve their league standing, and will hope to see the return this weekend of top-scorer Fernando Torres. Their only other injury concern Albert Riera who is suffering with an ankle injury.
Aston Villa - Tottenham Hotspur
Brad Friedel will be looking to do much better than the last goalkeeper to face Tottenham, as Wigan Athletic's Chris Kirkland was on the wrong end of a nine goal barrage last weekend. Compatriot Brad Guzan will watch on with interest from the substitute bench.
Curtis Davies is still missing from the Villa lineup with a dislocated shoulder, but defender James Collins is expected to return after recovering from a calf injury. England winger Stewart Downing is now fit, and could make his home debut after seeing a few minutes against Burnley last week.
Goalie Carlo Cudicini was recently in a motor-cycle accident, seriously damaging his wrist, and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Spurs Croatian winger Luka Modric is out with a broken leg.
Fulham - Bolton Wanderers
Clint Dempsey will be trying to continue his goal scoring hot streak as the lowly Trotters come to town while Eddie Johnson will hope to see minutes coming off the bench.
The Cottagers will be hoping for the return of Andy Johnson, Danny Murphy and Diomansy Kamara from injury.
Bolton will have Riga Mustapha, Tamir Cohen and Danny Shittu back from injury, but have lost the influential Sean Davies for the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Manchester City - Hull City
Jozy Altidore will look to gain valuable experience and open his goal scoring account in the league at the home of big-spending Manchester City, who have now drawn their last six Premier League games.
The currently-hot Tigers have taken seven points from a possible nine in their last three outings, and will be hoping that Nigerian midfielder Seyi George Olifinjana will have recovered from a hamstring injury for this game. Ian Ashbee looks to miss the rest of the season with an MCL injury.
The bad news for the Blues this week has been Robinho again talking about a possible move to Barcelona, but the good news is that he is finally fit to play once again. Team Captain Kolo Toure will likely miss the game with a back injury, and Martin Petrov is still sidelined with a knee injury.
Sheffield Wednesday - West Bromwich Albion
Frank Simek will be pleased to have played the whole game last week at Ipswich, and will be looking forward to striving to stop the free-scoring Baggies forwards.
Wednesday head coach Brian Laws looked to increase his team's attacking fortunes this week by signing Northern Ireland forward Warren Feeney on loan from Cardiff City.
A hamstring injury will keep Tommy Miller on the sidelines for several weeks, so England under-21 international Tom Soares was also loaned in from Premier League Stoke City.
Defender Joe Mattock is doubtful for the game with a bruised foot. Forward Roman Bednar faces a late fitness test after missing West Brom's last game against Bristol City due to illness.
Milton Keynes Dons - Exeter City
Jemal Johnson will be keen to make a start against the Grecians after recently losing his starting place due to injury and illness.
Winger Martin Devaney and forward Dean Morgan both extended their loans this week, and will both be available for the game, but Nigel Quashie is cup-tied. Top-scorer Jermaine Easter should also return after being tied up with international duties for Wales.
Steve Tully was sent off against Millwall in midweek, and will miss the game due to a one game suspension. Paul Jones is close to full fitness, but will not be risked.
Jonathan Spector will be on the bench as West Ham United host newly promoted Burnley.
Marcus Hahnemann starts as substitute as Wolverhampton Wanderers play local rivals Birmingham City.
Jay DeMerit is injured and will miss Watford's trip to Crystal Palace.
Zak Whitbread will miss the FA Cup action as Millwall face a tricky test at non-league Staines Town.
Seb Harris must hope to make the bench as Northampton Town host Southampton in the FA Cup.
Mike Grella may start against non-league Kettering Town, but only if Head Coach Simon Grayson seeks to give his squad players opportunities to gain match fitness.
Eric Lichaj extended his loan period to January 2, but will not feature as Lincoln City could not obtain permission from Aston Villa for him to play in the FA Cup match at Northwich Victoria.
Jon-Paul Pittman and Ian Joyce will have the weekend off, as Wycombe Wanderers and Southend United have both already been eliminated from the FA Cup.