ANDREW VORCE - Friday, November 19, 2010
Brad Friedel returns to his former club in the hopes of picking up a win for Aston Villa, while Clint Dempsey and Fulham look to pick up points at home when Manchester City come to town in a full weekend of English action.
Blackburn - Aston Villa
Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj will return to the bench as Brad Friedel starts in goal when Aston Villa travel to his former club Blackburn.
Gerard Houllier brought compatriot Robert Pires on board earlier this week, giving a much needed boost in the midfield with 12 players listed with injuries. Gabriel Agbonlahor could return after a groin strain, while Ciaran Clark and Richard Dunne are both doubtful. Both Carlos Cuellar and Nigel Reo-Coker could return within the coming week as well.
John Carew, Emile Heskey, and Steven Sidwell are all expected back in December, with Fabian Delph pencilled in for a January return from a knee injury. Habib Beye is out with an ankle injury, joining Stiliyan Petrov and Andreas Weimann on the sidelines.
Blackburn have injury concerns of their own with five players listed as injured. Benjani Mwurawari, Steven Nzonzi, and Martin Olsson are all struggling with hamstring injuries and all unlikely to start for Sam Allardyce's charges. Vince Grella could return at the end of the month, while Keith Andrews is out until the New Year.
Fulham - Manchester City
Clint Dempsey and Fulham will be looking for a result as fourth placed Manchester City comes to town.
Neither team has scored in their last outings, having only won once in their last six outings. Fulham could get Chris Baird back from a thigh injury, while Fedrik Stoor is close to a return after a groin strain. Carlos Salcido will return by the end of the year, while Bobby Zamora and Phillippe Senderos remain long term absentees.
Roberto Mancini will know he needs to start winning games in order to please his demanding fans. With nearly a full squad at his disposal, back-to-back goalless draws has sparked outrage in their fans.
Mario Balotelli will miss his final game after picking up a red card against West Brom, joining injured players Javan Vidal and Jerome Boateng out on the sidelines.
Blackpool - Wolverhampton
Marcus Hahnemann and Wolverhampton will be desperate to pick up points when they travel to Blackpool.
Blackpool have played well enough to put themselves into 15th place, and will still be ahead of Wolves regardless of the result. The promoted team has pushed each and every opponent this season to a tough game, but have been hit with key injuries ahead of the Wolves clash.
Captain Charlie Adams picked up an injury on international duty, while starting goalkeeper Matt Gilks will be sidelined for two months with a broken kneecap. Dekel Keinan could return from an ankle injury, while Craig Cathcart and Alex Baptiste are both very doubtful. Billy Clarke is out for the season with a knee injury.
Christophe Berra and Steven Mouyokolo could both start in the center of defense after being declared fit. Matt Jarvis is the last Wolves player who was named fit after missing midweek training due a calf injury.
Bolton - Newcastle
Stuart Holden will look to get on the score sheet again for Bolton when Newcastle come to town.
Bolton's consistent play could be enough to fend off the roller coaster results that have been going Newcastle's way. After getting beaten 4-0 by Arsenal at home, they went on a scoring spree against Sunderland, and then beat Arsenal at Emarites Stadium. Bolton on the other hand have only lost once in their last six games, a 1-0 loss at home to Liverpool.
Andy Carroll has been struggling with a groin strain, but will need to be fit for Newcastle ahead of the trip. Shola Ameobi and James Perch could return from an ankle injury, while the same injury keeps Ryan Taylor out. Steve Harper and Dan Gosling are both long term absentees.
Bolton may get Jlloyd Samuel back to the bench, while Ricardo Gardner is still a week out with his thigh muscle strain. Sean Davis is out until February with a knee injury, with Joey O'Brien suffering from a similar injury.
Sunderland - Everton
Tim Howard and Everton travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland on Monday.
Sunderland sit in sixth place after picking up a major upset when they beat Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. Danny Welbeck and Anton Ferdinand are both carrying an injury, as is Andy Reid. Trevor Carson and Matthew Kilgallon are both also sidelined.
Darren Bent and John Mensah should return next week while Frazier Campbell and David Meyler are both long term injury absentees.
Everton have climbed out of the relegation zone and into 13th, just a point behind Merseyside rivals Liverpool. Landon Donovan has delayed his decision on whether or not he will rejoin the club. Victor Anichebe is still out injured, joining Ross Barkley and Leon Osman on the sidelines.
Carlisle United – Walsall
Frank Simek and Mike Grella will try and help Carlisle United find a result against Walsall in League One action this weekend.
Grella's one-month loan spell with the Cumbrians was supposed to end last week, but the American agreed to extend his time with the team for another two months. The young forward could see playing time against Walsall.
Simek is a regular started for Carlisle and should feature once again.
The Cumbrians are coming off an impressive 3-2 victory over Southampton and will look to keep that momentum going over bottom dwellers Walsall.
The Saddlers won their midweek FA Cup game over Fleetwood Town and hope that form continues against Carlisle. Walsall are last in the League One standings and will need to start maximizing their points if they want to avoid relegation.
Carlisle look to be without Paul Thirlwell who has been out with a knee problem and Danny Livesey who is suffering a groin injury. Both have been out long-term and are inching closer to returning to the line-up.
Walsall's Darren Byfield should miss with a knee injury.
Milton Keynes Dons – Sheffield Wednesday
Jemal Johnson and Milton Keynes Dons take on Sheffield Wednesday in a weekend League One clash.
Dons are coming off a tough FA Cup loss in the midweek and hope to reverse their luck against Wednesday.
Johnson started the game and was subbed off in the second half. The American could see time for MK Dons.
MK Dons currently have 26 points in the standings and are only two points from second place. A win could bolt them up the table as well as help their momentum.
Sheffield Wednesday won their League One game last weekend over Rochdale and hope to follow that result up with a win over Dons. They are currently only two points away from MK Dons in the standings.
Jon Otsemobor's calf strain kept him out of Wednesday's midweek game and could keep him out of this weekend's match.
Dons looks to be without Sean O'Hanlon who is suffering from a stomach muscle injury. Jermaine Easter's thigh problem and Aaron Wilbraham hurt back could be injuries that force both forwards to miss.
Jonathan Spector will look to make the bench as West Ham travel to Liverpool.
Anton Peterlin hopes to make the game-day roster as Plymouth take on Brentford.