TAHARKA TAYLOR - Friday, August 12, 2011
Clint Dempsey and Fulham will look to get their season off on the right foot when they host Villa while Robbie Findley will try to carry his League Cup goalscoring momentum into Forest's contest with Milwall.
Fulham - Aston Villa
Clint Dempsey and Fulham open the Premier League season on Saturday when they host Eric Lichaj and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.
Both teams head into the season with new coaches at the helm. Martin Jol returns to the Premier League and is set to lead Fulham while Aston Villa hired Alex McLeish back in June, just days after it was announced that McLeish would be departing from relegated Birmingham City.
John Riise also makes his premier league return after joining Fulham over the summer, the left back spent the last few seasons with Roma after leaving Liverpool in 2008. The backbone of Fulham's squad remains intact as Dempsey, Brede Hangeland, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Zamora, all return looking to improve on last season's eighth place finish.
The same can not be said for McLeish's Villa team, although the Villans finished just one place, and one point behind Fulham last year, three integral players departed over the summer; Brad Friedelis now offering his services at Tottenham, while Ashley Young and Stuart Downing were marquee summer signings for Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
Aston Villa's Darren Bent, James Collins and Fabian Delph are all healthy for Saturday's match despite prior injury concerns earlier in the week. However, Carlos Ceullar has been ruled out.
Fulham are without Simon Davies due to a knee injury as well as Bjorn Helge Risse who's recovering from a slight hamstring issue. Striker Bobby Zamora is available despite currently nursing a broken hand.
Millwall FC - Nottingham Forest
Robbie Findley and Nottingham Forest head into the weekend with good momentum coming off their dramatic midweek League Cup victory. The club will travel on the road for the first time this season when they face Millwall FC.
Robbie Findley is in contention to start for the club after scoring a goal as well as providing an assist on Tuesday.
New Forest signing Matt Derbyshire arrived from Olympiakos earlier in the week and is expected to be named to the match day 18 but Forest will once again be without Guy Moussi due to a calf injury; Dexter Blackstock and Garath McCleary also continue to recover from long term injuries.
Lee Camp and Chris Gunter are back with the rest of the Nottingham squad after missing Tuesday's game, both were away with Northern Ireland and Wales respectively.
Millwall striker Dany N'Guessan is expected to make debut following his arrival on loan from Leicester City.
Accrington Stanley - Southend United
Jemal Johnson should start on the wing as Southend United travel to take on Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
Southend will hope to build on last weekend's 1-0 victory over Hereford United while Accrington will look for their first points of the year following their fifth-place finish season.
Southend have not reported any injuries at this time, however it has been announced that starter Bilel Mohsni will be rested as the 24-year-old defender is currently observing Ramadan.
With another week of training under his belt Jonathan Spector could potentially make his Birmingham City debut when the club takes on Coventry City on Saturday, the newly arrived Spector did not travel with the team to Derby County last weekend.
Jon-Paul Pittman will likely start on the bench but could see action as a second half substitute as Oxford United host Bradford City.
Anton Peterlin will most likely start on the bench as the 24-year-old midfielder continues to settle in at Walsall FC.
Coddy Cropper should appear on the bench for Ipswich Town when Hull City come to town on Saturday.
Tim Howard and Everton will have to wait to get their 2011/2012 Premier League season underway, as Saturday's match against Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane was postponed late in the week due to rioting in London.