ANDREW VORCE - Thursday, April 1, 2010
Tim Howard and Jonathan Spector square off while Brad Friedel looks to pick up points at Stuart Holden's Bolton Wanderers in a full slate of English Action.
Bolton - Aston Villa
Brad Friedel and company will look to earn a valuable three points, as a chase for European spots start while Stuart Holden will still be out for Bolton.
Holden still has three weeks in his injury lay off, with only Paul Robinson expected to make a return. Chris Basham is nearing a return from a knee injury, while Joey O'Brien joins Sean Davis and Gavin McCann on the sidelines.
John Carew has been sidelined with a back injury, which could prove to be a costly absence in the Villa attack. Emile Heskey is out with a calf injury, while Nigel Reo-Coker is nearing a return from an ankle injury.
Stoke - Hull
Jozy Altidore will hope to provide a solid case to continue his starting place in the Hull City line up with the World Cup right around the corner, with Stoke providing a stern test for the American.
Stoke could be boosted by the return of a quartet of players. Ryan Shawcross and S Diao are the two most likely to return, as A Faye and David Kitson are returning from knee injuries. James Beattie is the last Stoke player out, being sidelined until May with a knee injury.
Andy Dawson and Liam Cooper could return, as could Stephen Hunt for the Tigers. Kamil Zayatte and Anthony Gardner will both make their returns within the month, while Ian Ashbee is eyeing the beginning of May for his return. Amir Zaki is out with a knee injury.
Arsenal - Wolverhampton
Marcus Hahnemann will have a tough time playing against Arsenal at Emerites Stadium after the Gunners drew in midweek Champions League action against Barcelona.
Arsenal's injury concerns continue to grow, however, with three fresh injuries picked up in the Barcelona game. Andre Arashavin, Cesc Fabregas, and William Gallas were all substituted in the match after picking up injuries. Robin Van Persie and Jibril Djourou are both out until late April, while Aaron Ramsey is out long term with a broken leg.
Wolves have the benefit of being the team with the least amount of injuries in the Premier League, and will be boosted by the return of David Edwards. Michael Kightly, suffering from the same ankle injury, is less fortunate after suffering an injury setback.
Fulham - Wigan
Roy Hodgeson was completely justified in rotating his squad after picking up a vital win in the Europa League, with Clint Dempsey starting in both games.
Fulham lost heavily at Hull City, exposing some lesser experienced players to the Premier League with an eye on Thursday's Europa League fixture with Wolfsburg. With only Andy Johnson and John Pantsil out, with the latter looking to return in two weeks, Fulham were able to overcome the German champions 2-1 at home.
Wigan look to be boosted by the return of Chris Kirkland and Emmerson Boyce. Kirkland has been out of training with a virus, while Boyce is out with a back injury. Richard Kingson is definitely out with a groin strain.
Everton - West Ham
Tim Howard squares off against Jonathan Spector, as both clubs fight for points for very different reasons.
A fear of relegation has firmly crept into the minds of the Hammers faithful, and a win at Everton could set everything straight. James Collins, Guillermo Franco, and Herita Ilunga could all return, though James Tomkins and Keieron Dyer are both out. Zavon Hines and Luis Boa Morte continue to be long term absentees.
Everton could have Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe back in the line up, while teenage sensation, Dan Gosling, is definitely out with a knee injury. Marouane Fellaini is out until August with an ankle injury.
Watford – Preston North End
Jay DeMerit and Watford sit just a point outside the relegation zone and travel to Preston North End this Saturday looking for a positive result.
Watford are hoping to recover from last week's 3-1 loss at home to bottom-dwellers Crystal Palace, a tough six-pointer that saw the hosts hit the post three times.
Preston North End find themselves in safer territory, six points ahead of Watford in 15th-place, and are coming off a 2-2 draw to Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
DeMerit will need to shore up a shaky Watford defense against a Preston North End attack that includes Neil Mellor who has 10 goals this season, and Danny Welbeck who is on loan from Manchester United.
Sheffield Wednesday – Queens Park Rangers
Frank Simek and Sheffield Wednesday travel to London on Saturday to face Queens Park Rangers.
Like compatriot Jay DeMerit at Watford, Simek and Sheffield Wednesday are flirting dangerously with relegation. Sheffield Wednesday are in 20th place, having tied four of their last five games, including their most recent match up against Coventry City which ended with a goal apiece.
Queens Park Rangers, led in the midfield by Adel Taarabt, on loan from Tottenham, are in 18th place and are coming off a 2-2 tie against Preston North End last weekend.
Simek has not featured in the last five games despite being included on the bench. He will hope to change this streak on Saturday.
Leyton Orient – Hartlepool United
Leyton Orient host Hartlepool United this Saturday as both teams look to secure a finish in the top half of the League One standings.
Eric Lichaj, on loan from Aston Villa, will be eager to build on his promising debut for 16th-place Leyton Orient. Despite last weekend's disappointing 1-0 loss to Brentford, Lichaj earned positive reviews for his play. In that game, the Illinois native started and played the full 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card, but could not prevent the away team from slipping to their second straight defeat.
Hartlepool United are in 20th place, just two points safe of the drop, and need a win if they hope to continue playing League One soccer next season.
Wycombe – Huddersfield Town
Jon-Paul Pittman and the Wycombe Wanderers play seventh-place Huddersfield this Saturday with a crucial three points at stake which could possibly determine the club's survival in League One.
With a meager 32 points from 38 games played, Wycombe seem almost certain candidates for relegation. They have tied four of their last five games, including a 1-1 tie against Colchester United in their most recent result,. Pittman, who has scored six goals in league play, came on in the 80th minute of that game but failed to add to his season tally.
Huddersfield Town, meanwhile, are in seventh place in the league, having played to a 1-1 tie against former Premier League team Charlton last weekend after a fine strike from Kyel Reid in midfield.
Kenny Cooper will be on the bench when Plymouth host Middlesbrough on Monday.
Devann Yao is still working his way up the reserves and is not expected to make the bench for Ipswich when they play Reading at home this Saturday.
Seb Harris will be on the bench for Northampton when they take on Grimsby Town in League 2 this Friday.
Mike Grella will likely start from the bench for Leeds' game against Swindon Town this Saturday.
Jemal Johnson is still recovering from injury and is not expected to recover in time for Stockport's game against Wallsall this Saturday.
Zak Whitbread is expected to make the bench for Norwich against Tranmere Rovers as he works his way back to full fitness.