ANDREW VORCE - Friday, April 8, 2011
Clint Dempsey and Fulham take on Premier League leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford while the relegation battle is at the forefront for Michael Bradley and Brad Friedel's Aston Villa who face Newcastle.
Wolverhampton - Everton
Marcus Hahnemann will be on the bench as Tim Howard's Everton travels to Molinuex in Premier League action.
Wolves sit in 19th in the Premier League, tied with West Ham United with 32 points. A win could see them jump as far as 14th, while dead last is just one point behind. Wolves will be without Kevin Doyle and Stephen Mouyokolo who are sidelined with knee injuries, while Ronald Zubar is out until the end of May with a back injury.
Everton have climbed their way to relative safety, with ten points separating them from the bottom. The Toffees are still four points adrift from the top six, with their closest opponents being cross town enemies Liverpool.
Everton will be without their heavy artillery for the next few weeks with Mikel Arteta, Marouanne Fellaini, and Louis Saha all out. Jack Rodwell is set to return this weekend from an ankle injury.
Blackburn - Birmingham
Jermaine Jones and Blackburn will be fighting neck and neck through the remainder of the season as they look to get invaluable points in the relegation battle.
Blackburn sit in 14th with Birmingham right behind them only due to goal difference as both teams have 34 points. Birmingham do have a game in hand, but will not take for granted the three points. Blackburn are only without Kevin Andrews and Vince Grella for the trip, with Andrews' groin injury being monitored closely.
Birmingham do not have the same luxury as five Blues players sit out. Alexander Hleb and James McFadden are both out through knee injuries while Eric Valles is out with an ankle injury. Hleb, on loan from Barcelona, could make a return for the trip however. Martin Jiranek is struggling with a toe injury and Scott Dann is likely out for the season through injury.
Manchester United - Fulham
Clint Dempsey and Fulham will be looking for upset Manchester United at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
United will be without their prized asset Wayne Rooney as the striker was hit with a two game ban after cursing into the camera in their memorable 4-2 comeback victory over West Ham. Being without their star striker will mean Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez will likely form a rare partnership.
United have most of their big name players healthy with Anderson just on the brink of a comeback from his knee injury. Owen Hargreaves continues to be sidelined with an injury while Darren Fletcher is set to miss out due to sickness. John Oshea and Andreas Lindegaard are both out until the end of April.
Fulham have been known to get results against United and Dempsey and company will be raring to get three points away from home. The visitors sit in 10th and could overtake Everton with a win. Fulham only have two players out in Diomansy Kamara and Philippe Senderos, boasting a nearly full roster.
Aston Villa - Newcastle
Michael Bradley will be pushing for minutes in Aston Villa's midfield as Brad Friedel looks to keep Newcastle at bay.
Villa are a camp in disarray from various reports and they are hardly safe from being relegated, sitting in 16th place. A win would jump them to 13th but are currently five points behind Newcastle. Villa are carrying no injuries and will be looking for a huge three points at home.
Newcastle are carrying multiple injuries, topping the injury list with nine players out with only Jose Enrique a possible return. Stephen Ireland will look to return from his thigh muscle strain in two weeks while Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling, and Tamas Kadar are all out until May. Shane Ferguson is out with a calf muscle strain while Leon Best, Kazenga Lua Luia, and Alan Smith are all out until the summer.
Norwich City – Swansea City
Zak Whitbread and Norwich City take on Swansea City in a crucial battle for promotion.
Whitbread started and went the distance last week for the Canaries. The American central defender should feature once again.
Norwich are currently in a promotion spot, with Swansea trailing them by only four points. A Swansea win would get them within one point of the Canaries.
Wesley Hoolahan was taken out of Norwich's last game with an injury and is questionable to feature. Aaron Wilbraham is out for the season with a back injury.
Swansea comes into the game with no significant injury problems and expects to field the same lineup as they had last week.
Leeds United – Millwall
Eric Lighaj and Leeds United take on Millwall in Championship action.
Lichaj started and went the distance last week and should again feature.
Leeds are currently in a playoff spot and have a four point cushion there. They are six points from automatic promotion and will need a win this weekend for any chance at capturing that spot.
Jonny Howson is questionable for Leeds with a hamstring injury.
Millwall comes into the game having beaten Hull last week and are hoping to continue that momentum against United. They are six points from a playoff spot and will be in full charge this weekend.
Alan Dunne will serve the second game of his two game suspension.
Hull City – Watford
Brad Guzan and Hull City take on Watford in a Championship battle.
Guzan has been a regular starter since joining City on loan from Aston Villa. He is expected to feature once again against Watford.
Hull and Watford are both tied in the standings and have an outside shot at reaching the relegation playoffs. With this on the line, either team cannot afford to lose a shot at three points.
The Tigers look to be without Nick Barmby for the game.
Watford goes into the game with no significant injuries.
Preston North End – Portsmouth
Eddie Johnson and Preston North End take on Portsmouth in Championship play.
Johnson started and played 83 minutes in Preston's loss to Reading in the midweek. He should feature once again this weekend.
Preston are staring at League One play for next season, but will nonetheless hope for a last minute run to safety. A win this weekend could spark some momentum.
North End's Leon Cort and Chris Brown are questionable.
Portsmouth are looking to end the final stretch of the season strong. They lost last week against a strong Reading team and are looking to reverse their luck this week.
They will be boosted by the return of Danny Webber who made an appearance last week after having missed action for over a year.
Carlisle United – Milton Keynes Dons
Frank Simek and Carlisle United take on Milton Keynes Dons in League One play.
Simek is a regular starter for the Cumbrians and is expected to feature once again this weekend.
Carlisle are coming off their win over Brentford last weekend in the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley Stadium. They look to carry that momentum into Saturday's game.
Bernard Zoko and Ben Marshall left last week's final early with injuries and are questionable to feature this weekend.
MK Dons are holding on to a playoff spot and will need a win to keep that spot. The Dons lost to Southampton last week and will need to reverse their luck against Carlisle.
The Dons go into the game healthy and look to keep the same lineup as last week.
Swindon Town – Brentford
Mike Grella and Swindon Town take on Brentford in League One action.
Grella has featured regularly since arriving on loan and should be in the starting lineup against Brentford.
Swindon Town are deep in the relegation zone and need a win this weekend. Brentford lost the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last week and are hoping to erase that memory with a win over Town.
Vincent Pericard and Milan Misun are long-term injuries for Swindon.
Brentford left last week's final unscathed and could field the same lineup.
Plymouth Argyle – Walsall
Anton Peterlin and Plymouth Argyle host Walsall in a battle between relegation teams.
Peterlin has been featuring of late for Argyle and could again be in the starting lineup for the Pilgrims.
Plymouth are in last place in the standings and are looking to give their fans something to cheer about against Walsall. Walsall are also in the relegation zone but they have a fighting chance to get to safety. A win this weekend could help them reach League One play next season.
Both teams left their respective games last week unscathed and could field the same lineups.
Stuart Holden's Bolton will host Jonathan Spector's West Ham on Saturday with Spector set to occupy the bench from the start.
Jon-Paul Pittman and Wycombe take on Oxford United in League Two play.