Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership

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MATCH OF THE DAY

Southampton v Arsenal

Last season 0-0

ARSENAL'S DENNIS BERGKAMP (right) has said he is ready to play today and cannot understand all the fuss about his land journeys across Europe to play in the Champions' League.

The non-flying Dutchman has sworn never to step on an aircraft again after being terrified by a bomb hoax aboard an internal flight with the Netherlands squad during the World Cup finals in the United States five years ago. He has refused to fly ever since and could now spend up to 60 hours travelling to and from European destinations in weeks when there are Champions' League fixtures.

"I felt fine in this week's game against Fiorentina and I've still got a few days before Southampton," Bergkamp said in midweek after the Gunners had secured a hard-earned point against the Italians. "I don't see a problem and I'm looking forward to playing. It was well worth the journey to play against Fiorentina even though the result was disappointing. The way we played I think we've earned a great deal of respect."

Arsenal's goalkeeper, David Seaman, and the French international midfielder, Emmanuel Petit, will both be out today and are not expected to return for a further two weeks. Arsene Wenger has no new injuries following the Fiorentina match and will rotate his squad at The Dell. Bergkamp might be rested, while Lee Dixon and Ray Parlour should return after being suspended in the European game.

The Southampton manager, Dave Jones, will delay naming his side until shortly before kick-off with several players hoping to overcome injury or illness. The winger Luis Boa Morte, hoping to face his old club, is struggling with a hamstring injury while striker Kevin Davies is again doubtful with the ankle injury that forced him to miss Wednesday's goalless draw against Manchester City in the Worthington Cup. Striker Marian Pahars, defender Francis Benali and midfielder Trond Soltvedt all face late fitness tests to see if they have recovered from a virus.

The former England winger Stuart Ripley is out with a knee injury. Matthew Le Tissier (left) has been preparing a comeback from an Achilles problem first suffered in pre-season and is named in the Saints squad, but Jones is likely to wait until this morning to confirm whether the Guernseyman will have a role to play or not. Today's game is likely to hold a special resonance for home fans, who heard this week that the club's board have accepted an offer to sell The Dell to the property developers, Barratt, for pounds 5m. They no doubt hope that the 103-year-old venue will be as safe as houses for their side in the year before it actually becomes houses.

SOUTHAMPTON (from): Jones, Dodd, Benali, Lundekvam, Richards, Soltvedt, M Hughes, Kachloul, Boa Morte, Pahars, Beattie, Le Tissier, Marsden, Oakley, Almeida, Bridge, Hiley, D Hughes, Moss.

ARSENAL (from): Manninger, Lukic, Dixon, Winterburn, Keown, Adams, Upson, Grimandi, Silvinho, Vivas, Luzhny, Vieira, Henry, Overmars, Ljungberg, Parlour, Bergkamp, Kanu, Suker.

Suspension: Arsenal: Pennant.

Leading scorers: Southampton: Kachloul (4). Arsenal: Bergkamp, Kanu, Suker (2).

Referee: G Barber.

Aston Villa v Bradford

Last season: No fixture

DAVID JAMES, the Aston Villa goalkeeper, has failed to recover from a knee ligament injury and will miss the match, leaving the Finnish Under-21 international, Peter Enckleman, to deputise for him. The England defender Gareth Southgate and Villa's top scorer, Dion Dublin, both return after being rested for the Worthington Cup win at Chester, but the wing- backs Mark Delaney and Alan Wright are major doubts for the match and this could mean that Steve Watson and the Israeli international Naguan Gharyib may play. Steve Stone has declared himself fit after a three-week absence with a back injury.

The Bradford manager, Paul Jewell, takes a virtually full-strength squad to the Midlands for today's game. Jewell is again without Jamie Lawrence, Isiah Rankin and Lee Sharpe, who are still out with injuries, while the defender Lee Todd has gone on loan to Walsall. There is no room in the squad, however, for Robbie Blake despite his goal in the midweek Worthington Cup draw at home to Reading.

ASTON VILLA (from): Enckleman, Ehiogu, Southgate, Calderwood, Delaney, Watson, Taylor, Hendrie, Merson, Wright, Gharyib, Joachim, Dublin, Oakes, Barry, Thompson, Stone, Draper, Vassell, Boateng, Samuel.

BRADFORD CITY (from): Walsh, Clarke, Halle, Wetherall, O'Brien, Myers, Jacobs, Redfearn, McCall, Whalley, Saunders, Mills, Beagrie, Dreyer, Wright, Grant, Windass, Rodriguez.

Suspensions: None.

Leading scorers: Aston Villa: Dublin (4). Bradford City: Beagrie, McCall, Saunders (1).

Referee: S Lodge.

Derby v Sunderland

Last season: No fixture

DERBY'S JIM SMITH welcomes back four players as the Rams attempt to stretch their unbeaten run to four matches. Darryl Powell, Jacob Laursen, Stefano Eranio and Stefan Schnoor will all return. The quartet missed Tuesday's Worthington Cup 0-0 draw at Swansea, but could figure against the Wearsiders. Smith is hopeful that his leading scorer, Rory Delap, will be available. Dean Sturridge and Deon Burton are still out with hamstring problems and Mikkel Beck is a slight doubt with a toe injury. The Argentinian striker Esteban Fuertes should start his second game at Pride Park. In his home debut against Everton a fortnight ago, the stocky forward scored the only goal as Derby won 1-0.

Peter Reid will ring the changes in his Sunderland side today. Alex Rae in the only member of the side that beat Walsall 3-2 in the Worthington Cup in midweek who is expected to be in the starting line-up. Reid rested all his players after last Saturday's 2-0 win over Leicester - when Rae was suspended - but will revert to his normal line-up with the captain, Kevin Ball, likely to stand down.

DERBY COUNTY (from): Hoult, Prior, Carbonari, Laursen, Borbokis, Dorigo, Bohinen, Baiano, Johnson, Beck, Fuertes, Eranio, Elliott, Powell, Delap, Christie, Harper, Oakes.

SUNDERLAND (from): Sorensen, Makin, Gray, Butler, Bould, Summerbee, Rae, Ball, McCann, Schwarz, Quinn, Phillips, Oster, Dichio, Williams, Marriott. .

Suspensions: None.

Leading scorers: Derby County: Delap (2). Sunderland: Phillips (5).

Referee: P Jones.

Leicester v Liverpool

Last season: 1-0

ALAN FETTIS, on loan at Leicester from Blackburn, is set to go straight into today's team. The 28-year-old goalkeeper will replace the injured Tim Flowers and Pegguy Arphexad for the Filbert Street match. Emile Heskey faces a late fitness test on a back injury, but the club captain, Matt Elliott, will definitely play after recovering from a similar problem. Leicester go into this match with the knowledge that they are unbeaten against Liverpool in their last five Premiership meetings.

Michael Owen could make his first Premiership start of the season. The England striker came through 76 minutes of the midweek 5-1 Worthington Cup win at Hull, a performance that cemented his comeback after a hamstring injury. Liverpool expect their captain, Jamie Redknapp, to have recovered from his foot injury in time to play, but Vladimir Smicer is still struggling with a hamstring strain. Steve Staunton could return to the defence having started only one Premiership match this season. If that happened, Dominic Matteo would revert back to the substitutes' bench. Danny Murphy's chances for a first-team start improved after scoring twice against Hull.

LEICESTER CITY (from): Fettis, Hodges, Sinclair, Taggart, Izzet, Lennon, Heskey, Guppy, Savage, Gilchrist, Campbell, Elliott, Marshall, Fenton, Impey, Wilson, Cottee, Dudfield, Oakes, Zagorakis.

LIVERPOOL (from): Westerveld, Heggem, Song, Carragher, Hyypia, Staunton, Matteo, Thompson, Redknapp, Gerrard, Berger, Camara, Fowler, Owen, Meijer, Friedel, Murphy.

Suspensions: None.

Leading scorers: Leicester City: Heskey (4). Liverpool: Berger, Camara, Fowler (2).

Referee: U Rennie.

Man Utd v Wimbledon

Last season: 5-1

MANCHESTER UNITED will give home debuts to the goalkeeper Massimo Taibi and the French Under-21 international defender Mickael Silvestre. The pair were ineligible for Tuesday's 0-0 Champions' League game against Croatia Zagreb. The move could see a switch in United's back four as Michael Clegg drops out after his first European start. With Denis Irwin fit again, Alex Ferguson could turn to his Republic of Ireland veteran to fill the gap at right-back while Phil Neville moves to midfield in place of Mark Wilson. United have won six and drawn one of their Premiership matches this season.

Wimbledon's manager, Egil Olsen, will give late fitness tests to a trio of players before naming his side. John Hartson missed training on Thursday but will have his ankle checked before the game, while Kenny Cunningham has been receiving treatment for a groin strain. Striker Marcus Gayle is also hoping to shake off a knock to be fit in time to travel to Old Trafford, but Gareth Ainsworth is ruled out.

MANCHESTER UNITED (from): Taibi, Irwin, Berg, Stam, Silvestre, Beckham, Scholes, P Neville, Giggs, Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Solskjaer, Greening, Cruyff, Fortune, Wilson, Van der Gouw or Bosnich.

WIMBLEDON (from): Sullivan, Cunningham, Thatcher, Andersen, Pedersen, Roberts, Blackwell, Euell, Badir, Hartson, Cort, Gayle, Earle, Kimble, Leaburn, M Hughes, Davis, C Hughes, Francis, Jupp.

Suspension: Manchester United: Johnson.

Leading scorers: Manchester United: Cole (6). Wimbledon: Cort (3).

Referee: R Harris.

Watford v Chelsea

Last season: No fixture

THE WATFORD manager, Graham Taylor, plans to field his new pounds 950,000 signing, Nordin Wooter, but is not sure whether to play him from the start. "With due respect to Bradford, Wimbledon and Aston Villa, our Premiership home campaign really gets underway on Saturday," said Taylor. "Chelsea have so many illustrious names and that's just on their subs' bench. They are so far ahead it is hard for clubs like ourselves to keep in touch." Watford have fitness doubts over Micah Hyde and Nick Wright, who sustained injuries in the 2-0 Worthington Cup victory over Wigan in midweek.

Chelsea's main injury doubts are the captain, Dennis Wise, Frank Leboeuf and Gustavo Poyet. Leboeuf bruised his ribs in the 0-0 midweek Champions' League draw against Milan, while Wise has a shoulder problem and Poyet has a groin injury. All three are included in the squad, but with another European game at Hertha Berlin next Tuesday, the Danish international, Jes Hogh, is in line to replace Leboeuf, while Graeme Le Saux, Jody Morris and Chris Sutton could also be recalled.

WATFORD (from): Chamberlain, Lyttle, Williams, Page, Robinson, Hyde, Wright, Palmer, Bonnot, Kennedy, Ngonge, Mooney, Smart, Wright, Day, Easton, Wooter, Gudmundsson, Gibbs.

CHELSEA (from): De Goey, Cudicini, Ferrer, Le Saux, Babayaro, Desailly, Leboeuf, Hogh, Lambourde, Morris, Wise, Deschamps, Poyet, Petrescu, Goldbaek, Wolleaston, Nicholls, Flo, Zola, Sutton, Forssell.

Suspensions: None.

Leading scorers: Watford: Mooney (2). Chelsea: Poyet (2).

Referee: M Reed.

TOMORROW'S MATCHES

Everton v West Ham

Last season: 6-0

THE PORTUGUESE international wing-back, Abel Xavier, could make his full Everton debut. Richard Dunne is back after his two-match suspension and Dave Watson should be available in defence. Mark Pembridge (knee ligament strain) and Terry Phelan (leg) will miss out.

West Ham have no new injuries. Both Paolo Di Canio (thigh) and Shaka Hislop (thigh) should be fit and Joe Cole (knee) and Rio Ferdinand (ankle) have a chance of recovering in time. The Hammers have won just once in their last 12 visits to Everton.

EVERTON (from): Gerrard, Weir, Dunne, Watson, Gough, Unsworth, Barmby, Xavier, Collins, Hutchison, Ward, Gemmill, Campbell, Jeffers, Cleland, Simonsen, Cadamarteri, Ball.

WEST HAM UNITED (from): Hislop, Potts, Margas, Stimac, Keller, Sinclair, Moncur, Lampard, Lomas, Di Canio, Wanchope, Kitson, Forrest, Foe, Carrick, Abou, Etherington, Forbes, Newton.

Suspensions: None.

Leading scorers: Everton: Unsworth (3). West Ham: Di Canio (3).

Referee: S Bennett.

Leeds v Middlesbrough

Last season: 2-0 (Sky, 4pm)

LEEDS WILL again be without Michael Duberry (thigh) and Stephen McPhail (ankle). The midfielder David Hopkin is fit despite being injured in midweek against Partizan Belgrade, while Lee Bowyer will also play after recovering from a tight hamstring.

Middlesbrough will be without the midfielder, Paul Gascoigne, (calf) and full-back Phil Stamp (hamstring). Juninho has been included in a 19- strong squad but the game may come just too soon for the paperwork on his loan move from Atletico Madrid to be processed.

LEEDS UNITED (from): Martyn, Kelly, Harte, Haaland, Radebe, Woodgate, Hopkin, Bridges, Kewell, Bowyer, Huckerby, Ribeiro, Smith, Mills, Bakke, Jones, Hiden, Batty, Hay, Robinson.

MIDDLESBROUGH (from): Schwarzer, Beresford, Stockdale, Fleming, Festa, Vickers, Pallister, Cooper, Ziege, Maddison, Mustoe, O'Neill, Ince, Ricard, Armstrong, Deane, Campbell, Gavin, Juninho.

Suspension: Leeds United: Travers.

Leading scorers: Leeds United: Bridges (4). Middlesbrough: Deane (3).

Referee: G Willard.

Newcastle v Sheff Wed

Last season: 1-1

BOBBY ROBSON, the Newcastle manager, will await news of Duncan Ferguson (hamstring) and defenders Marcelino and Frank Dumas before naming his team. It is undecided whether Steve Harper or the on-loan goalkeeper, Tommy Wright will play.

Sheffield Wednesday face a major injury crisis. Philip Scott has undergone knee surgery, while the captain, Peter Atherton, is likely to be kept out with a shoulder injury sustained in the Worthington Cup. Serious doubts continue to remain over Wim Jonk (ankle) and Andy Hinchcliffe (gashed leg).

NEWCASTLE UNITED (from): Harper, Wright, Karelse, Barton, Domi, Goma, Hughes, Beharall, Marcelino, Dumas, Lee, Speed, Solano, Dyer, McClen, Hamilton, Shearer, Ferguson, Ketsbaia, Robinson.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (from): Pressman, Atherton, Hinchcliffe, Jonk, Emerson, Walker, Sonner, Carbone, Sibon, Booth, O'Donnell, Cresswell, Rudi, Alexandersson, Nolan, Donnelly, Newsome, De Bilde, Srnicek.

Suspension: Newcastle: Dabizas.

Leading scorers: Newcastle: Solano (2). Sheffield Wednesday: Carbone (2).

Referee: N Barry.

Tottenham v Coventry

Last season: 0-0

TOTTENHAM'S LES FERDINAND is hoping to recover from an ankle injury, although this will not guarantee him a place in the starting line-up, as Chris Armstrong impressed in Spurs' 3-0 Uefa Cup win over Zimbru. Sol Campbell, Darren Anderton, Ramon Vega, John Scales and Willem Korsten are still out due to injury.

The Coventry manager, Gordon Strachan, is set to make at least four changes to the team who lost 5-1 at Tranmere in the Worthington Cup. Robbie Keane (cup-tied), Youssef Chippo (suspended), Mustapha Hadji and Magnus Hedman (both injured), return to the side this afternoon.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (from): Walker, Carr, Taricco, Freund, Perry, Sherwood, Ferdinand, Iversen, Edinburgh, Ginola, Armstrong, Leonhardsen, Fox, Dominguez, Young, Nielsen, Clemence, King, Baardsen.

COVENTRY CITY (from): Hedman, Edworthy, Shaw, Williams, Burrows, Breen, McAllister, Hadji, Chippo, Froggatt, Keane, Eustace, McSheffrey, Gavin Strachan, Quinn, M Hall, Konjic, Nuzzo (gk).

Suspensions: None. Leading scorers: Spurs: Sherwood (3). Coventry: Keane (5).

Referee: A D'Urso.

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