ANDREW VORCE - Friday, April 30, 2010
Brad Friedel and Villa will be looking to overhaul fourth place in the Premier League while Jonathan Spector and West Ham are gunning for a win that could keep them in the top flight for next season.
Manchester City - Aston Villa
Brad Friedel and Aston Villa will go toe to toe for the rights to fourth place as each team looks to punch it's weight in the battle for the final Champions League spot.
Aston Villa surely have the advantage on personnel to choose from, with only Fabian Delph and Craig Davies out of the squad. Villa currently are one place and one point above Manchester City, both teams occupying fifth and sixth respectively.
Manchester City have the benefit of a game in hand over their opponents, but carry the most injury hit squad in the Premier League. Shay Given is the most notable of absentees, with the first string goalkeeper dislocating his shoulder in their last outing. Wayne Bridge and Sylvinho may be able to shake off their injuries in order to make the trip.
Joleon Lescott will look to make a return from his hamstring injury next week, while Stephen Taylor and Martin Petrov will hope to feature again this season. Michael Johnson will not be as fortunate, out until June with a knee injury.
Stoke - Everton
Tim Howard and Everton will view Stoke as ripe for the picking when the Toffees travel to The Britannia Stadium.
Stoke were battered in their last outing against Chelsea, dropping seven. The major reason that the Potters took such a big beating is because Tomas Sorensen, their first string keeper, dislocated his elbow in the game. Sorensen is the only injury concern, and Tony Pulis will look to get his players focused for the next game.
Everton will be without Jonny Heitinga, who has been ruled out for the trip with an ankle injury. Dan Gosling and Marouane Fellaini are both long term injury absentees, out with a knee and ankle injury respectively. Everton sit in eighth place, five points adrift from their Liverpool rivals.
Portsmouth - Wolverhampton
Marcus Hahnemann will travel to Portsmouth with only one thought on his mind, play the best game possible for Wolverhampton.
Both teams know their destiny, with Portsmouth relegated and Wolverhampton assured of another season in the top flight. It should allow for an open game for Wolves, with only Michael Kightly out.
Portsmouth have a few more injury concerns, but have played on regardless of the circumstances. Tal Ben-Haim is out with a groin injury, while Nadir Belhadj is also absent with a thigh muscle strain. Both players do have an outside shot at playing, but coach Avram Grant will want them firing on all cylinders when the FA Cup Final rolls around.
Fulham - West Ham
Clint Dempsey and Fulham will be on cloud nine when Jonothan Spector and West Ham come to Craven Cottage.
Fulham will surely be tired after playing a Thursday match against Hamburg in the Europa League, and will likely rest a few key players. Dempsey may get the start, but Bobby Zamora will likely be rested due to his Achilles problem. Andy Johnson is the last Cottager out, sidelined until June with a knee injury.
A victory for the injury hit West Ham squad would all but sure up their 2010 Premier League quest for survival. Heirita Ilunga's season looks to have been brought to an end with a calf injury, joining James Collins, Kieron Dyer, Zavon Hines, and James Tomkins on the Hammers injury list.
Coventry - Watford
Jay DeMerit and Watford will simply be looking to put in a good performance against Coventry, already having secured their Championship status for another season with last weekend's in over Reading.
DeMerit missed Watfords last outing due to a back injury, but will look to slot back in to the heart of defense. Watford will be without influential duo Tom Cleverley and Will Buckley as both seasons look to be ended early due to injury. Jure Travner is also out with a hip injury.
Martin Cranie is out for Coventry, picking up a knee injury in training. Freddie Sears and Aron Gunnarsson are also injured, with Sears out with an ankle injury. The entire back line for Coventry is a mix of out of position players and youngsters still coming through the ranks, leaving Chris Coleman with few options.
Southend - Stockport
Jemal Johnson and Stockport have only pride to play for, while even that has seemed to go out the door for sinking Stockport.
Stockport are in dead last and reports around the club suggest that the players are simply ready for the season to be over. The team recently slumped to their largest defeat since 1961, coughing up six at home against Huddersfield.
Southend are in little better of fortunes, sitting at the tail end of League One just one spot above Stockport. They needed a victory in their last outing against Oldham to have any chance of survival but were only able to produce a draw, condemning them to life in League Two next season.
Leyton Orient - Wycombe
Eric Lichaj will be tasked with keeping Jon-Paul Pittman quiet as Leyton Orient play host to Wycombe.
Wycombe have gone on a remarkable late season run to try and protect their League One status for next season, but a loss against Orient could see all of their good effort nullified. Wycombe have recalled Alex Revell from Southend, and will have the striking power to boost their challenge ahead of the away trip.
Leyton Orient secured a loan extension for Lichaj, keeping the American defender at the club until the end of the season. A win could see them retain their League One status for next year, but Jonathan Tehoue and James Scowcroft both miss with hamstring injuries.
Stuart Holden could suit up for Bolton who take on Tottenham at White Heart Lane.
Mike Grella will look to be on the bench for Leeds who travel to Charlton.
Norwich signing Zak Whitbread will hope to make the bench against Bristol Rovers.
Seb Harris will look to make the bench when Northampton travel to Bradford.
Kenny Cooper is out of sorts at Plymouth who play host to Peterborough.
Frank Simek will hope to be on the bench when Sheffield Wednesday take on Crystal Palace.
Jozy Altidore's season with Hull City came to an end after he received a straight red in their last outing, leaving him out of their remaining games. Hull take on Wigan at the DW Stadium on Monday.