FA CUP SEMI-FINAL: (TOMORROW 12.30 SKY SPORTS 2)
THE DOMESTIC double hopes of either Arsenal or Manchester United will come to an end tomorrow when the two meet in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Villa Park - or, at the latest, in a replay next Wednesday.
Arsenal, who beat Newcastle 2-0 in last season's final to complete the Double, are hoping to become the only club ever to do the Double in consecutive seasons. United, meanwhile, who lead the Gunners by a point with a game in hand in the Premiership, are hoping to become the first English club to achieve a treble of English title, FA Cup and European Cup - as well as winning a domestic double of their own for the third time in six years.
Arsenal are also bidding to prolong their superiority over United who could well come into the match less than fresh following their exertions in securing a 1-1 draw against Juventus in the European Cup on Wednesday. Arsenal are unbeaten against United in their last six matches and although they have already beaten United 3-0 in both the Charity Shield and a Premiership match at Highbury in September, their 1-1 draw with United at Old Trafford on February 17 was a fairer reflection of their relative qualities.
Both clubs know so much about each other and have such strong squads that the match is bound to be close and could easily be drawn. Penalties may yet be needed to separate the two sides.
Arsenal will be without their inspirational French midfielder Emmanuel Petit who is suspended after picking up his third red card of the season. Nwankwo Kanu has decided not to play an international for Nigeria - a decision that may yet cause his club trouble with Fifa, football's world governing body - and is available for Arsene Wenger's team.
Arsenal's veteran full-backs Lee Dixon (abdominal muscle strain) and Winterburn (hamstring) are both facing late fitness tests. Nelson Vivas will be ready to play should either pull out. Fredrik Ljungberg has been added to the squad after being dropped against Blackburn, and the striker Nicolas Anelka, rested against Rovers, will play instead of Kaba Diawara. Martin Keown will play despite his ongoing worries over an illness to his son.
United's main injury worry would appear to be defender Henning Berg, who is ruled out with a knee ligament problem. Alex Ferguson will be forced to break up the partnership with Jaap Stam which has contributed to United's unbeaten run of 21 games. Ronny Johnsen will take over after replacing Berg for the second half of the Juventus game on Wednesday. The injury also looks likely to rule Berg out of the return leg in Turin in a fortnight's time, and Norway's Euro 2000 qualifier in Georgia on 28 April.
In seven meetings between the sides in the FA Cup the Gunners lead the series with four wins to United's three.
MANCHESTER UNITED (from): Schmeichel, G Neville, Stam, Johnsen, Brown, Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer, Blomqvist, P Neville, Butt, Sheringham, Greening, Curtis, Van der Gouw.
ARSENAL (from): Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Winterburn, Parlour, Vieira, Garde, Hughes, Overmars, Bergkamp, Anelka, Kanu, Diawara, Vivas, Ljungberg, Bould, Boa Morte, Grimandi, Lukic.
Suspensions: Arsenal: Petit.
Referee: D Elleray.
Newcastle v Tottenham
FA CUP SEMI-FINAL: (TOMORROW 3.0 ITV)
TOTTENHAM, RESURGENT since George Graham took over in October, will be looking to complete a domestic cup Double after winning the League Cup three weeks ago.
The only other club to achieve that particular feat is Arsenal - under Graham in 1993.
Spurs (1961-62 and 1981-82) are one of only two clubs - Newcastle (1951- 52) being the other - to win the cup in successive seasons this century, a feat Arsenal could yet emulate.
Newcastle may not be chasing anything other than a long-overdue win in the competition, but they go into the game knowing that like the other three teams they have already secured a place in Europe next season but their coach, Ruud Gullit, who became the first foreign manager to win the Cup, with Chelsea in 1997, would prefer a double of his own by becoming the first foreign coach to oversee two FA Cup-winning clubs.
The sides played out a 1-1 draw at Newcastle in the league on Monday, but there were few indications from that match about the possible outcome.
Newcastle were without Alan Shearer, who has scored nine times against Spurs in 11 matches in his career, and the England captain has recovered from his ankle injury to lead Newcastle.
Duncan Ferguson's bid to join him looks to be doomed after the big Scot missed training yesterday. There will be late fitness tests for the French pair Didier Domi and Laurent Charvet and the German midfielder Dietmar Hamann.
Newcastle's Andy Griffin is keen to have another chance to mark David Ginola as the former Stoke City defender feels he has something to prove after being taken off at half-time against Spurs in October.
"David Ginola is probably the best player I've come up against. He was magnificent," the teenager said. "But you've just got to go out and be confident in yourself and concentrate on the job.
"He's one of the best players in the league without a shadow of a doubt. Right foot or left foot, he's very strong. In the last couple of months, he's ripped defenders apart and ripped teams apart single-handedly.
"But it showed in the Worthington Cup final that he's only human after all and he can be kept quiet."
Tottenham were without Ginola and Les Ferdinand on Monday and they are both set to be recalled.
Graham, who is without John Scales, Stephen Clemence and Ramon Vega through injury and Justin Edinburgh through suspension, is likely to leave out the Worthington Cup final goalscorer Allan Nielsen in favour of Steffen Freund and Tim Sherwood in midfield.
However, he must decide whether to play his recent signing Roger Nilsen or the youngster Luke Young alongside Sol Campbell in defence and which two out of Ferdinand, Chris Armstrong and Steffen Iversen will form his strike partnership.
NEWCASTLE (from): Given, Harper, Griffin, Domi, Barton, Charvet, Howey, Dabizas, Hughes, Speed, Hamann, Lee, Solano, Maric, Georgiadis, Brady, Shearer, Ketsbaia, Ferguson.
TOTTENHAM (from): Walker; Baardsen, Carr, Taricco, Young, Nilsen, Campbell, Sherwood, Nielsen, Freund, Ginola, Anderton, Dominguez, Fox, Sinton, Iversen, Armstrong, Ferdinand.
Suspensions: Tottenham: Edinburgh.
Referee: P Durkin (Portland).
FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP (TODAY, 3PM UNLESS STATED)
Aston Villa v Southampton
Last season: 1-1
ASTON VILLA will be buoyed by the return of midfielder Alan Thompson. The former Bolton player was suspended for Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Leicester and is expected to take over from Mark Draper in midfield. England international Paul Merson, who has been on the bench for the last three games, is likely to remain among the substitutes despite his goalscoring performance in the reserves during the 4-3 win at Leeds on Wednesday.
The Moroccan international Hassan Kachloul misses Southampton's crucial trip to Villa Park because he is in action for his country against Togo in the African Nations' Cup. Goalkeeper Neil Moss continues in goal with Welsh international Paul Jones likely to miss the remainder of the season because of a slipped disc in his back, while midfielder Matt Le Tissier is in contention for a recall to the Saints' starting line-up. Striker David Hirst, who has missed the entire season with a knee ligament injury, could feature after scoring for the reserves in midweek but midfielder Matthew Oakley is hoping to recover from a rib injury, Norwegian striker Egil Ostenstad has a groin injury and winger Stuart Ripley is unlikely to play because of a persistent calf problem.
ASTON VILLA (from): Bosnich, Watson, Southgate, Calderwood, Wright, Hendrie, Taylor, Stone, Draper, Thompson, Joachim, Dublin, Merson, Delaney, Scimeca, Barry, Vassell, Oakes.
SOUTHAMPTON (from): Moss, Dodd, Monkou, Lundekvam, Colleter, D Hughes, Marsden, Le Tissier, Bridge, Beattie, M Hughes, Oakley, Hirst, Monk, Benali, Hiley, Ostenstad, Stensgaard.
Referee: N Barry.
Derby County v Nottm Forest
Last season: Did not play
RON ATKINSON is set to name an unchanged Nottingham Forest line- up as his side try secure if not safety then at least some measure of pride against their East Midlands rivals. Forest, bottom of the table and seemingly destined for relegation, have no fresh injury worries and manager Atkinson is likely to keep faith with the side that held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw on Monday.
Jim Smith has had no such luck and could have to ring the changes and choose a completely different forward line. The Derby manager is waiting on the fitness of Deon Burton, Francesco Baiano and the recent signing from Middlesbrough, Mikkel Beck, all of whom started in last Saturday's defeat against Newcastle. Burton (hamstring) and Baiano (groin) both picked up problems in training yesterday and are doubtful, while Beck hurt his toe on his debut and the problem worsened in midweek. If they are out, Paulo Wanchope and Dean Sturridge - who were on the bench last week - are on standby to start and Darryl Powell is back from suspension. However, Smith is definitely without long-term casualties Igor Stimac, Stefano Eranio and Rory Delap as his side attempt the seemingly impossible, a European place in Europe next season.
DERBY COUNTY (from): Hoult, Borbokis, Dorigo, Laursen, Prior, Carbonari, Schnoor, Powell, Bohinen, Baiano, Burton, Beck, Sturridge, Wanchope, Harper, Christie, Elliott, Murray, Poom.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST (from): Crossley, Louis-Jean, Edwards, Gough, Chettle, Rogers, Stensaas, Bonalair, Allou, Johnson, Palmer, Van Hooijdonk, Freedman, Harewood, Woan, Beasant.
Referee: G Barber.
Leicester v West Ham United
Last season: 2-1
THE LEICESTER stalwart Steve Walsh faces a late fitness test on an injured ankle. The veteran defender picked up the injury in last month's Worthington Cup final against Spurs and has missed his side's last two matches. Martin O'Neill's only definite absentee is midfielder Muzzy Izzet, who has failed to recover from a hamstring injury. Gerry Taggart returns after flu. Striker Tony Cottee is looking to taking advantage of his former club West Ham's wavering form. Cottee grew up a Hammers supporter and scored 115 of his 201 league goals in two spells at Upton Park. Eight points from the last four games have swept City out of immediate danger while one point from six over Easter has severely dented West Ham's lingering Uefa Cup hopes. Cottee said: "I'm really looking forward to this game. West Ham will beat the best and then lose to the bottom team, but we know that they will make it tough for us. They will not come here and roll over without a fight."
West Ham's Marc-Vivien Foe is on international duty for Cameroon against Mozambique this weekend and Harry Redknapp will be forced into a re-shuffle. Either Eyal Berkovic or Steve Potts will start. Ian Wright, who came through a reserve team game in midweek, will be on the bench, but Rio Ferdinand is out for a fortnight with an ankle injury.
LEICESTER CITY (from): Keller, Arphexad, Guppy, Taggart, Sinclair, Elliott, Ullathorne, Lennon, Impey, Gunnlaugsson, Parker, Heskey, Cottee, Savage, Kaamark, Miller, Marshall, Fenton, Wilson, Campbell, Zagorakis.
WEST HAM UNITED: Squad to be announced.
Referee: J Winter.
Middlesbrough v Charlton
Last season: Did not play
CHARLTON WILL be without the Welsh international John Robinson for the trip to Middlesbrough.
Robinson was carried off with ankle ligament damage in the first half of Monday's win at West Ham and, although the injury is not as bad as first thought, he is likely to be out for several weeks and may miss the rest of the season.
Goalkeeper Sasa Ilic, who was also taken off at Upton Park, is also rated highly doubtful for the game at the Riverside. Ilic injured his ankle and neck after colliding with Marc Keller and a post. Andy Petterson is ready to continue to deputise with fourth-choice keeper Mike Salmon set to be on the bench.
The joint-leading scorer Clive Mendonca, who missed the 1-0 win over Harry Redknapp's side, is ruled out with the back injury he sustained against Chelsea last week.
Bryan Robson's selection problems revolve around Brian Deane and Keith O'Neill, who are both rated only 50-50 for the game after picking up ankle injuries.
They will undergo late fitness tests but young midfielder Mark Summerbell is definitely ruled out with a back problem.
MIDDLESBROUGH (from): Schwarzer, Beresford, Stockdale, Cooper, Vickers, Pallister, Festa, Gordon, Maddison, Townsend, Gascoigne, Mustoe, O'Neill, Deane, Ricard, Kinder, Harrison, Armstrong, Baker.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (from): Ilic, Petterson, Powell, Brown, Youds, Mills, Tiler, Rufus, Barnes, Bowen, Kinsella, Redfearn, Hunt, Pringle, Bright, Stuart, K Jones, S Jones, Newton, Mortimer, Konchesky, Parker.
Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).
Everton v Coventry
Last season: 1-1
EVERTON WILL turn to the oldest outfield player in the Premiership in 38-year-old Dave Watson to guide them away from the relegation zone.
The veteran defender was rested last Monday for the 2-1 home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday, but will be restored to the team for the crucial home game with Coventry and is unlikely to be rested again this season.
The Merseysiders are without Ibrahima Bakayoko, who is away on international duty with the Ivory Coast, while their new Scottish international Don Hutchison is serving the last of a three-match ban.
Craig Short, who had stitches in a wound above his eye after the Sheffield Wednesday game, has recovered and Mitch Ward is back in the squad after a lengthy injury.
Coventry are expected to be unchanged and have John Aloisi available again after his three-match suspension, but he is expected to be on the substitutes' bench.
Steve Froggatt, who missed Monday's 1-0 win over Southampton, has been under treatment for a slight hamstring strain.
EVERTON (from): Myhre, Short, Watson, Materazzi, Ball, Unsworth, Barmby, Dacourt, Grant, Gemmill, Ward, Weir, Campbell, Cadamarteri, Jeffers, Simonsen, Oster, Degn.
COVENTRY CITY (from): Hedman, Breen, Shaw, Williams, Burrows, Boateng, McAllister, Soltvedt, Telfer, Huckerby, Whelan, Aloisi, Konjic, Gioacchini, Clement, Edworthy, Kirkland, Shilton.
Suspensions: Everton: Hutchison.
Referee: R Harris (Oxford).
Wimbledon v Chelsea
Last season: 0-2
CHELSEA ARE sure to rely on their rotating squad-system for a game which can see them close the gap on Premiership leaders Manchester United and Arsenal.
Captain Dennis Wise and centre-back Marcel Desailly must both be replaced, probably by Michael Duberry and Roberto di Matteo, as they are serving one-match bans for five yellow cards.
Gianfranco Zola also looks doubtful after being substituted after an hour on Thursday but Ferrer should be fit after his midweek injury concerns. The most likely front-line pairing looks to be Tore Andre Flo and Mikael Forssell.
Graeme Le Saux is free to face the Dons as his one-match ban - imposed by the Football Association at yesterday's Birmingham hearing - is effective from 24 April.
Groin injury victim Michael Hughes has finally gone under the surgeon's knife and will not be available. Striker Efan Ekoku also underwent exploratory surgery on his knee this week and is also likely to be unavailable.
Meanwhile Kenny Cunningham will have to pass a late fitness test on his hamstring to ensure his place in the London derby.
WIMBLEDON (from): Sullivan, Heald, Cunningham, Kimble, Perry, Blackwell, Thatcher, Jupp, Pearce, C Hughes, Earle, Euell, Roberts, Ardley, Fear, Hartson, Kennedy, Ekoku, Gayle, Goodman, Leaburn, Cort.
CHELSEA (from): de Goey; Ferrer, Goldbaek, Lambourde, Leboeuf, Le Saux, Babayaro, Di Matteo, Duberry, Petrescu, Zola, Morris, Flo, Nicholls, Newton, Forssell, Poyet, Hitchcock.
Suspensions: Chelsea: Wise, Desailly.
Referee: G Willard (Worthing).
MONDAY (SKY SPORTS 1 8PM)
Leeds United v Liverpool Last season: 0-2
LEEDS WILL be looking to make team history as they pursue a record eighth consecutive league win.
Having put themselves in a challenging position, not just for a Champions' League place, but for the title themselves, they will not want to slip up here. Three points from this game are vital, especially as they still await the visit of the top two sides in the Premiership and have to travel to London to face Chelsea. David Batty is set to make his return to the Leeds side, and the England midfielder will be keen to put his injury worries behind him, having played only three games in four months.
Liverpool's season has pretty much fallen apart in recent weeks, with Uefa's ruling on European places for next season leaving them nothing to play for. They have decided not to enter the Intertoto Cup in the summer, and recent disciplinary problems have done nothing to improve the atmosphere around Anfield. However, Steve McManaman might not be the only player on the way out in the summer, and the current players will have to show their desire to remain on Merseyside.
LEEDS UNITED: Squad to be named.
LIVERPOOL: Squad to be named.
Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).Reuse content