Football: Guide to the FA Cup and Premiership

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SUSPENSION AND INJURY force Manchester United into changes for tomorrow's FA Cup showdown with Chelsea as the Premiership's top two teams fight to keep their chance of a treble alive. Teenager Wes Brown takes over from Jaap Stam as the Dutch defender serves a one-match ban, and Alex Ferguson has ruled out Ronny Johnsen who picked up a groin strain during Wednesday's rousing victory over Internazionale in the European Cup quarter-final first leg.

With Ryan Giggs seeing a specialist yesterday after breaking his nose during that win and David Beckham taking a day off following the birth of his son on Thursday night, United will not be able to try out Sunday's starting line-up until today's training session.

Ferguson seems certain to play reserve central defender Brown alongside Henning Berg, with Gary Neville remaining at right-back. Brown has played in 17 first-team games this season after stepping into the senior squad last year but has normally played at right-back.

Ferguson's Chelsea counterpart, Gianluca Vialli, has predicted that Marcel Desailly will be the rock on which United's strikeforce will founder. Chelsea have four players banned for the tie - the third meeting between the two sides this season after two Premiership draws in December. Vialli himself, Dennis Wise, centre-back Frank Leboeuf and midfielder Celestine Babayaro are the suspended quartet as Chelsea pay the accumulated price of indiscipline.

Back in the autumn, it was almost impossible to move for criticism of Chelsea's hefty squad - too many players and too much rotation, pronounced the doubters. However, if proof were needed of Vialli's foresight and wisdom in assembling such an impressively large pool of players at the club, the confrontation with United provides it. For into the side are likely to come Bernard Lambourde, Jody Morris and Bjarne Goldbaek, all with significant Premiership and European experience behind them.

Above all though, Vialli can rest assured that in Desailly, he has a truly world-class central defender who has finally shaken off his post- World Cup lethargy. "Like Peter Schmeichel and many other players, he needed time to recover fully from the World Cup but there's no doubt that he's done that now and he's playing out of his skin," cooed Vialli.

Tore Andre Flo will partner Gianfranco Zola up front, while Bernard Lambourde is expected to retain his place in central defence and Jody Morris and Bjarne Goldbaek should step into starting roles in midfield.

MANCHESTER UNITED (from): Schmeichel, G Neville, Berg, Brown, Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer, P Neville, Butt, Blomqvist, Curtis, van der Gouw.

CHELSEA (from): De Goey, Hitchcock, Ferrer, Le Saux, Terry, Desailly, Lambourde, Myers, Petrescu, Goldbaek, Morris, Di Matteo, Newton, Nicholls, Flo, Zola, Forssell.

Suspensions: Chelsea: Vialli, Wise, Leboeuf, Babayaro.

Referee: P Durkin (Portland, Dorset).


Arsenal v


HOLDERS ARSENAL are without all three of their French midfield trio. Emmanuel Petit and Remi Garde both have ankle injuries while Patrick Vieira must serve a one-match ban. Manager Arsene Wenger will chose between Nelson Vivas, Fredrik Ljungberg and new signing Nwankwo Kanu as he reshuffles his forces. Stephen Hughes looks a certain starter and could have one of the crucial central midfield roles alongside Ray Parlour, whom Wenger is thinking of switching from the wing.

Petit, who has been bothered by a long-standing ankle injury, is out for at least two more weeks. Veteran defender Steve Bould also has been ankle trouble although he may be available for Tuesday's home Premiership game with Sheffield Wednesday when Vieira will also return.

For Derby, defenders Tony Dorigo and Horacio Carbonari face late fitness checks. Dorigo is nursing a damaged hamstring and Carbonari has a groin problem, while Lars Bohinen could also miss out because his wife is expecting a baby. However, Igor Stimac is back after suspension and midfielder Darryl Powell has recovered from a neck injury.

ARSENAL (from): Seaman; Dixon, Keown, Adams, Winterburn, Parlour, Hughes, Vivas, Overmars, Bergkamp, Anelka, Kanu, Diawara, Grimandi, Upson, Manninger (gk).

DERBY (from): Hoult, Prior, Stimac, Laursen, Carbonari, Eranio, Carsley, Bohinen, Dorigo, Schnoor, Baiano, Burton, Wanchope, Powell, Sturridge, Poom, Kozluk, Harper, Hunt.

Suspensions: Derby Hanson.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Barnsley v


BARNSLEY'S PLAYER-MANAGER John Hendrie has doubts over midfielder Sean McClare and defender Adie Moses. McClare is suffering from a foot injury, while Moses cut his head and had eight stitches inserted during the 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace last Sunday.

Two players certain to miss out are Darren Sheridan, who suffered a broken jaw at Selhurst Park, while Matt Appleby tore groin ligaments on a bleak afternoon for the Tykes.

For Tottenham, Darren Anderton returns being rested from the midweek Premiership win over Southampton, and defenders Ramon Vega and Justin Edinburgh may also earn recalls. Manager George Graham admits, however, it is a tough choice between Chris Armstrong, Steffen Iversen and Les Ferdinand for the two positions up front. Ferdinand has missed the last two games, recovering from head injuries.

Spurs are unbeaten in their last 16 games and will start as favourites against the only non-Premiership survivors. Anderton's return to midfield is likely to be at the expense of Allan Nielsen, while Graham may opt for Vega's extra experience to replace 20-year-old Luke Young in central defence.

BARNSLEY (from): T Bullock, Leese, Eaden, Blackmore, Jones, Moses, Morgan, de Zeeuw, Richardson, van der Laan, Tinkler, McClare, Hignett, M Bullock, Rose, Dyer, Goodman, Sheron, Hendrie.

TOTTENHAM (from): Walker, Carr, Vega, Campbell, Edinburgh, Anderton, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola, Iversen, Armstrong, Ferdinand, Young, Calderwood, Nielsen, Dominguez, Taricco, Fox, Sinton, Baardsen.

Suspensions: None.

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).


Newcastle v


RUUD GULLIT is searching for a measure of relief from the rumour and innuendo he says is affecting his life on football-mad Tyneside. The manager has found himself in the tabloid headlines on more than one occasion since arriving in Newcastle and was upset by revelations made by his former wife. "It's like when I lived in Italy for eight years," he said. "Now all, of a sudden, a whole lot of things come out now that I'm back in football again, and it's not nice. But for me, the most important thing is the smiles on the players' faces."

United meet Everton on something of a high after fighting back to secure a point against Arsenal last Sunday. With Gary Speed suspended, Maric and club skipper Rob Lee will battle it out for a place in the starting 11. The England midfielder is favourite to partner Dietmar Hamann.

Walter Smith has to reshuffle his side after losing Olivier Dacourt and Michael Ball and Richard Dunne through suspension. But young midfielder Tony Grant is available after a hamstring problem, the influential Don Hutchison is back after a one-match ban, as is Ibrahima Bakayoko, from international duty.

NEWCASTLE (from): Given, Harper, Charvet, Domi, Barton, Howey, Dabizas, Hamann, Solano, Lee, Brady, Maric, Ketsbaia, Shearer, Saha, Andersson, Hughes, Georgiadis, Griffin.

EVERTON (from): Myhre, Weir, Watson, Unsworth, Materazzi, Short, Barmby, Hutchison, Grant, Oster, O'Kane, Branch, Cadamarteri, Bakayoko, Jeffers, Jevons, Simonsen, Milligan.

Suspensions: Newcastle: Speed; Everton: Dacourt, Ball, Dunne.

Referee: G Barber (Pryford, Surrey).


Coventry v


Last season:No fixture

FEW GAMES are likely to prove more crucial in the relegation battle at the bottom of the Premiership than this encounter at Highfield Road. Coventry and Charlton occupy the two positions immediately above the drop zone but both know that a poor run could see them fall into the bottom three.

Coventry gave themselves renewed confidence by winning 4-1 at Aston Villa last week. However, George Boateng, who has been one of Coventry's most impressive performers recently, is suspended today. Noel Whelan, who has recovered from a shoulder injury, may play in midfield, leaving John Aloisi to continue up front alongside Darren Huckerby. However, either Trond Soltvedt or Philippe Clement could also be brought into the team.

Simon Royce, the Charlton goalkeeper, is chasing a club record of five consecutive clean sheets in the top flight, but the visitors' defence will be without some familiar figures this afternoon as Eddie Youds and Richard Rufus are sidelined by injury. Charlton have completed the signing of Martin Pringle from Benfica.

COVENTRY (from): Hedman, Nilsson, Shaw, Williams, Burrows, Telfer, McAllister, Froggatt, Huckerby, Aloisi, Whelan, Soltvedt, Clement, Gioacchini, Konjic, Breen, Ogrizovic.

CHARLTON (from): Barnes, Barness, Beale, Bright, Brown, Fortune, Holmes, Hunt, Ilic, S Jones, K Jones, Kinsella, Konchesky, Mendonca, Mills, Mortimer, Newton, Parker, Powell, Pringle, Redfearn, Robinson, Royce, Tiler.

Suspension: Boateng (Coventry).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Southampton v West Ham

Last season: 3-0

SOUTHAMPTON HAVE Egil Ostenstad (groin), Jason Dodd (ankle), Claus Lundekvam (hamstring), Ken Monkou (hamstring) and James Beattie (groin) all struggling for fitness, though Hassan Kachloul and Matthew Le Tissier could return to the starting line-up. Although he is not fit for today's match, David Hirst may soon return Hirst, 31, has not played since damaging knee ligaments in a freak training ground incident in pre-season but played an hour of Southampton's reserve team match against Peterborough on Wednesday night. He has undergone two operations and returned to training last month and is poised for a return to action against Sheffield Wednesday on 20 March.

West Ham have a poor record at the Dell, having won there just nine times in 37 visits. The last of these victories was in 1993, when Trevor Morley and Lee Chapman scored in a 2-0 win. Today the defender Ian Pearce is their only doubt. He hurt his neck on Thursday and is wearing a brace. Neil Ruddock is fit again and would be a ready-made replacement to face his former club after missing the last two matches with a groin injury.

SOUTHAMPTON (from): Jones, Hiley, Benali, Lundekvam, Colleter, D Hughes, Marsden, Oakley, Bridge, Beattie, M Hughes, Le Tissier, Monkou, Kachloul, Dodd.

WEST HAM (from): Hislop, P Pearce, Ferdinand, Lomas, Foe, Lampard, Berkovic, Keller, Minto, Sinclair, Di Canio, Kitson, Cole, Moncur, Lazaridis, Forrest.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury, Oxon).

Wimbledon v Leicester

Last season: 2-1

JOE KINNEAR, the Wimbledon manager, is in hospital in Sheffield after his heart attack in midweek but was still picking the team for today's match. Kinnear, 52, is in a stable condition at the Northern General Hospital, where he was taken on Wednesday night just before Wimbledon kicked off against Sheffield Wednesday. He was rushed into hospital after he complained of feeling unwell as the players prepared to change at Hillsborough. John Hartson is available for Wimbledon after serving the four-match ban imposed for his training ground attack on Eyal Berkovic at West Ham, but may not get in the starting line-up as Efan Ekoku and Marcus Gayle are in good form. The defender Ben Thatcher is also back in contention after a one- match ban.

Emile Heskey's back trouble makes him a doubtful starter for Leicester. A scan revealed he will not require surgery and he will have treatment up until the last minute in an attempt to play. Steve Walsh has recovered from influenza and Gerry Taggart is back from suspension, but Frank Sinclair is still suffering from a thigh strain and may miss the game.

WIMBLEDON (from): Sullivan, Cunningham, Kimble, Thatcher, Perry, Blackwell, Earle, Ekoku, Roberts, Gayle, Ardley, M Hughes, Hartson, C Hughes, Euell, Kennedy, Cort, Heald.

LEICESTER (from): Keller, Savage, Impey, Kamark, Elliott, Walsh, Taggart, Ullathorne, Guppy, Izzet, Lennon, Zagorakis, Gunnlaugsson, Marshall, Cottee, Heskey, Campbell, Parker, Oakes, Arphexad.

Referee: R Harris (Oxford).