Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership

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Coventry v


Last season: 2-2

SHAY GIVEN will not want reminding of his howler last season against Coventry when he allowed Dion Dublin to creep up on him, snatch the ball and score. The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was embarrassed, and rightly so, but surely he was tempting fate yesterday when he said: "One thing is for sure, I will not do it again." He is now surely destined to commit some heinous error and cost the Magpies the game, and there will also be the fatigue factor to further aid Coventry - today's game comes less than 48 hours after St James' Park hosted the Cup-Winners' Cup tie against Partizan Belgrade.

"It is going to be quite trying having two games in three days," Given said. "It is a lot to ask from us but there is nothing we can do about it." Ruud Gullit is likely to keep Thursday's line-up unchanged today, although there may be a starting place for the Peruvian wing-back, Nolberto Solano. Marc Edworthy is expected to be at right-back for Coventry in place of his former Crystal Palace team-mate Richard Shaw.

COVENTRY CITY (from): Hedman, Edworthy, Shaw, Breen, Wallemme, Burrows, Telfer, Boateng, Soltvedt, Clement, Quinn, Hall, Dublin, Huckerby, Haworth, Boland, Ogrizovic.

NEWCASTLE UNITED (from): Given, Barton, Pearce, Pistone, Dabizas, Lee, Guivarc'h, Shearer, Speed, Ketsbaia, Georgiadis, Charvet, Glass, Gillespie, Watson, Serrant, Perez, Dalglish, Albert, Andersson, Griffin.

INJURED: Coventry: No new injuries. Newcastle: None confirmed.

SUSPENDED: Coventry: None. Newcastle: Batty.

Derby v


Last season: 0-4

DERBY HOPE to avenge one of the most humiliating defeats in recent years when Leicester visit Pride Park today. Last April, Martin O'Neill's side upset the Rams with four goals in the first 15 minutes as the Foxes recorded an emphatic 4-0 victory. That defeat ultimately cost Derby a place in this season's Uefa Cup, and further stirred the East Midlands rivalry between the two.

Derby's centre-half Spencer Prior is hoping to be fit to face his old club. Prior missed Wednesday's 1-1 Worthington Cup draw with Manchester City with a knee injury but the pounds 700,000 signing is set to line up against the Foxes ahead of Steve Elliott. Russell Hoult, another former Leicester player, returns in goal in place of Mart Poom, while Stefan Schnoor comes in for Darryl Powell and Lars Bohinen is also set to start. Horacio Carbonari is still out with the knee injury he sustained in the opening day draw at Blackburn.

Leicester's midfielder Muzzy Izzet and captain Steve Walsh are both expected to be in contention after missing the 3-0 Worthington Cup win over Chesterfield. For spectators, this fixture should promise goals - a Leicester visit to Derby has never finished goalless.

DERBY (from): Hoult, Delap, Stimac, Laursen, Prior, Elliott, Schnoor, Carsley, Bohinen, Baiano, Sturridge, Wanchope, Eranio, Kozluk, Powell, Harper, Poom.

LEICESTER (from): Full squad to be announced.

INJURED: Derby: Carbonari. Leicester: None confirmed.

SUSPENDED: Derby: None. Leicester: None.

Leeds v

Aston Villa

Last season: 1-1

AS BEFITTING two old chums from the Queens Park Rangers' boot room, George Graham and John Gregory spent the week mutually complementing one another prior to this meeting of the two sides with the meanest defences in the Premiership. "I know him well. He has great belief in himself and he doesn't think any of his players are bigger than himself. The game needs more managers like that," the Leeds manager rambled happily in reference to his Villa counterpart. "Strikers win matches but defences win championships," was Gregory's riposte, which would have been sweet music to Graham's ears.

Expect not a goal feast at Elland Road then, where Leeds are set to be unchanged for the sixth successive game. The 18-year-old keeper Paul Robinson will again be on the bench due to Mark Beeney's achilles injury. For Villa, Paul Merson returns after being ineligible for the Uefa Cup during the week while Ugo Ehiogu has recovered from a groin strain and will take over from Riccardo Scimeca in defence. Stan Collymore should be ready to make his comeback against Derby next week.

LEEDS UNITED (from): Martyn, Haaland, Radebe, Wetherall, Sharpe, Wijnhard, Hasselbaink, Ribeiro, Bowyer, Hopkin, Lilley, Halle, Kewell, Harte, Hiden, Molenaar, Matthews, Robinson.

ASTON VILLA (from): Bosnich, Charles, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Wright, Hendrie, Taylor, Thompson, Merson, Joachim, Grayson, Draper, Scimeca, Vassell, Ferraresi, Oakes.

INJURED: Leeds: Beeney (achilles). Villa: Collymore (thigh).

SUSPENDED: Leeds: Granville (one match). Villa: None.

Liverpool v


Last season: No fixture

ROBBIE FOWLER may start his first full match since his cruciate knee injury in February. Having seen the results of a Fowler- Michael Owen partnership on Tuesday against Kosice - one-touch from Fowler and Owen scored - Charlton must be hoping his recovery takes longer than expected. Injury doubts over Owen, Karlheinz Riedle and Paul Ince will delay Liverpool's team selection. Striker Sean Dundee could be on the bench for the first time this season, having turned down a pounds 2m move to Auxerre earlier in the week.

Charlton's Mark Kinsella will have a late fitness test on an ankle before Alan Curbishley finalises his team. The Irish international missed the 2-0 Worthington Cup victory at QPR on Wednesday with the injury. Keith Jones, who deputised at Loftus Road, and Paul Mortimer will compete for the vacant berth if Kinsella is unavailable. Richard Rufus is available for his first League match since completing a three-match ban for being sent off at Newcastle on the opening day of the season. Charlton's last success at Anfield was 44 years ago, when a 3-2 win saw Liverpool relegated to the old Second Division.

LIVERPOOL (from): Friedel, Heggem, Carragher, Babb, Staunton, McManaman, Redknapp, Harkness, Berger, Leonhardsen, Fowler, Owen, Riedle, James, Kvarme, Matteo, Bjornebye, Thompson.

CHARLTON (from): Ilic, Mills, Rufus, Youds, Powell, Newton, Kinsella, Redfearn, Robinson, Hunt, Mendonca, Petterson, Mortimer, Brown, K Jones, S Jones.

INJURED: Liverpool: No new injuries. Charlton: None.

SUSPENDED: Liverpool: None confirmed. Charlton: None.


v Everton

Last season: No fixture

AFTER WOBBLY starts, Bryan Robson and Walter Smith will be heartened by the more solid recent displays produced by their sides. If anything, Smith's Everton have taken the fight a little too literally as, with only five games of the season gone, their disciplinary record reveals. Fifteen yellow cards and one red - for Olivier Dacourt, against Leeds last week - is an impressive statement of intent by anyone's standards.

Dacourt is eligible to play today before his one-match ban begins, ruling him out of the home match with Blackburn on 26 September. Smith is expected to retain the side that was unlucky not to win at Huddersfield in midweek, with Craig Short and Slaven Bilic still out with groin injuries. Mikael Madar, Phil Jevons and Tony Thomas are also in the squad.

Robson recalls his experienced players after playing an under-strength team in the Worthington Cup tie against Wycombe Wanderers in midweek. Andy Townsend and Colin Cooper return from injury, while Marco Branca, the former Internazionale striker, could be on the bench.

MIDDLESBROUGH (from): Schwarzer, Festa, Cooper, Vickers, Pallister, Gordon, Mustoe, Gascoigne, Townsend, Ricard, Beck, Blackmore, Stockdale, Stamp, Branca, Kinder, Campbell.

EVERTON (from): Myhre, Cleland, Watson, Materazzi, Unsworth, Hutchison, Dacourt, Collins, Ball, Barmby, Ferguson. Madar, Jevons, Thomas, Farrelly, Tiler, Gerrard, Spencer.

INJURED: Middlesbrough: none. Everton: Short, Bilic.

SUSPENDED: Middlesbrough: none. Everton: none.

Nottm Forest v

West Ham

Last season: No fixture

WEST HAM'S erratic start to the season could well be extended at the City Ground today, where they must face Nottingham Forest without nine of their first-team squad. Harry Redknapp's men followed up a 2-1 home win over Liverpool last weekend with a 2-0 away defeat to Northampton on Tuesday. "We went to pieces," was the manager's erudite assessment of the situation.

Rio Ferdinand is hurried back from a groin injury in order to cover for the absence of central defenders Neil Ruddock and Javier Margas. Of even more concern is John Hartson's recurring ankle injury. Samassi Abou has been recalled from a proposed loan move to Hearts and could start in Hartson's place.

Neil Shipperley, Forest's pounds 1.5m signing from Crystal Palace, is not yet available for selection, so Dave Bassett is likely to retain Dougie Freedman up front alongside his impressive French discovery, Jean-Claude Darcheville. Definitely out is Geoff Thomas, who at 34 could be facing retirement if ligament damage is diagnosed in his knee.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (from): Beasant, Lyttle, Chettle, Armstrong, Rogers, Stone, Quashie, Johnson, Bonalair, Darcheville, Freedman, Crossley, Edwards, Harewood, Dawson, Gray, Louis-Jean, Hjelde.

WEST HAM UNITED (from): Hislop, Potts, Ferdinand, Pearce, Impey, Keller, Lampard, Sinclair, Berkovic, Abou, Wright, Omoyimni, Breaker, Hodges, Partridge, Forrest.

INJURED: Forest: Thomas. West Ham: Lomas, Lazaridis, Margas, Ruddock, Mean, Moncur, Dicks, Kitson, Hartson.

SUSPENDED: Forest: none. West Ham: none.

Southampton v


Last season: 3-2

IT'S DAMAGE limitation time at The Dell, where fans of disaster movies involving collapsing buildings and sinking ships will no doubt flock in their thousands to witness the Premiership's two leakiest defences. Matters have been bad enough at White Hart Lane, but surely the season can't carry on in such abject fashion for the Saints, and if ever they will have a chance to reverse the losing streak then this will be it.

Dave Jones makes sweeping changes, with Carlton Palmer set to continue alongside Jason Dodd in a makeshift central defensive combination. Egil Ostenstad is hoping to shake off a knee injury while Mark Hughes will play despite breaking a bone in his hand against Fulham during the week. Matthew Oakley, however, is unlikely to recover form a back injury.

David Pleat has Les Ferdinand and Ruel Fox available for the selection after injuries kept them out of the midweek win at Brentford, but the backbone of his squad are still lodged in the treatment room.

SOUTHAMPTON (from): Jones, Warner, Benali, Lundekvam, Dodd, Palmer, Gibbens, Le Tissier, Ripley, Hughes, Beattie, Ostenstad, Williams, Bridge, Hiley, Monkou, Moss..

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (from): Baardsen, Carr, Tramezzani, Berti, Calderwood, Campbell, Ferdinand, Armstrong, Fox, Ginola, Vega, Dominguez, Allen, Sinton, Clemence, Edinburgh, Young, Gower, Segers.

INJURED: Southampton: David Howells (knee), Matthew Oakley (back). Spurs: Ian Walker (back), Darren Anderton (knee), Allan Nielson (thigh), Moussa Siab (back), Clive Wilson (ankle), John Scales, Steffen Iverson.

SUSPENDED: home: none. away: none.

Wimbledon v

Sheffield Wed

Last season: 1-1

THE WIMBLEDON manager, Joe Kinnear, is still angry over the sending- off of striker Carl Leaburn in the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa last week. Kinnear feels his side would still be unbeaten in the League before today's match had Leaburn not been dismissed just before half-time."It was a clumsy challenge if anything and I am sending the video to the Football Association," Kinnear said. "There were similar tackles which went unpunished on Sunday in the Premiership game between my old club Spurs and Middlesbrough."

Wednesday and Wimbledon are both coming off midweek defeats in the Worthington Cup, Danny Wilson's men having been beaten 1-0 by Cambridge while the Dons lost 2-1 to Portsmouth. Both managers have full-strength squads to choose from, but Wednesday's two Italians, Benito Carbone and Paulo di Canio, could find themselves dropped after Wilson implied that he was not happy with their attitudes earlier in the week. Long-term injury cases Niclas Alexandersson and Jon Newsome both came through a reserve run out, but are unlikely to make the journey south.

WIMBLEDON (from): Sullivan, Cunningham, Kimble, Thatcher, Perry, Blackwell, McAllister, Earle, Roberts, M Hughes, Fear, Ardley, Ekoku, Euell, Cort, Gayle, Castledine, Heald.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (from): Pressman, Atherton, Jonk, Walker, Whittingham, Carbone, Booth, Di Canio, Hyde, Sanetti, Humphreys, Briscoe, Oakes, Hinchcliffe, Sedloski, Thome, Magiltono, Rudi, Barrett, Clarke.

INJURED: Wimbledon: none. Sheffield Wednesday: none

SUSPENDED: Wimbledon: none. Sheffield Wednesday: none.


Arsenal v Manchester United

Last season: 3-2

THE CREAM of English football may have been exposed by Barcelona and Lens as the stuff that evaporates shortly after being squirted out of the can, but even so, only Liverpool from the current crop of Premiership contenders can compare with either of these sides in full flow, and another emotive, thrilling encounter should emerge from the supercharged atmosphere at Highbury tomorrow.

Arsenal completed a double over United last season on their way to the title, but neither side has really hit their stride so far this season and an intriguing contest is likely to be decided by the outcome of several individual clashes. Dennis Bergkamp faces his compatriot Jaap Stam with both yet to make the kind of impact on the Premiership this season of which they are capable. The effects of a long World Cup campaign over the summer are bound to have taken their toll on the two men, but whereas Bergkamp's ability has never been in doubt, Stam is clearly finding the pace of the Premiership a little awkward for his liking, and the way in which he was turned by Sonny Anderson for Barcelona's first penalty on Wednesday demonstrated that forwards are well aware of his discomfort.

In midfield, no prisoners will be taken when Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane face up to one another. Keane, whose absence through a knee ligament injury had such an impact on the destiny of the title last season, has begun the season in typically biting form, while Vieira at times seemed to single- handedly drive Arsenal's late charge past Manchester United last season. Both will be relishing the contest.

Then United's newcomer, Dwight Yorke (pictured right), will meet England's colossus, Tony Adams (left). Many doubted Yorke's pounds 12.5m valuation but he has since done his utmost to prove everyone wrong with a series of displays which suggest that the Trinidadian can eventually fill the void at Old Trafford vacated by Eric Cantona. Yorke's pace and trickery on the ground will provide the sternest test for the England defender.

Despite the early promise of Yorke's partnership with the Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Teddy Sheringham could be recalled to the Manchester United attack as Ferguson declared his intention to experiment with the attacking line-ups at his disposal. The 32-year-old has made just one start for United this season, against LKS Lodz in the Champions' League qualifier. Ronny Johnsen remains doubtful, while Ryan Giggs is fit after he needed a stitch in an eye wound on Wednesday.

Emmanuel Petit is unlikely to play for Arsenal but Ray Parlour should return, and their new signing, the Swede Fredrik Ljungberg, comes into the squad.

Arsenal (from): Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, Parlour, Vieira, Hughes, Petit, Overmars, Anelka, Bergkamp, Wreh, Vivas, Manninger, Grimandi, Garde, Boa Morte, Ljungberg.

Manchester United (from): Schmeichel, G Neville, Berg, Johnsen, Stam, Irwin, P Neville, Beckham, Butt, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Yorke, Cole, Sheringham, Solskjaer, Blomqvist, May, Culkin.

Injured: Arsenal: Petit. Man Utd: Johnsen.

Suspended: Arsenal: none. Man Utd: none.


Blackburn Rovers v Chelsea

Last season: 1-0

FIVE GAMES into the season and already things are looking even grimmer than usual at Ewood Park. Blackburn have managed to win only one of their Premiership matches and have almost certainly blown their chances in the Uefa Cup after losing at home to Lyon during the week. Roy Hodgson wasn't helped by the unforeseen loss of the colossus of his side, Colin Hendry, one week prior to the beginning of the season. Now the impending defection of another of his mainstays, Tim Sherwood, looks set to deprive Rovers of the heart of their team at a time when they could use it the most.

With Celtic reportedly making overtures to Martin Dahlin, Hodgson will be hoping some goalscoring inspiration from Chris Sutton and his pounds 7.5m summer buy Kevin Davies, who has still to find the back of the net in a Rovers shirt.

Chelsea have also yet to set the Premiership alight. "Individually they are world class," said the Helsingborg coach, Age Hareide, said after the Londoners' laborious 1-0 Cup-Winners' Cup win on Thursday. An improvement should thus be evident once their star-studded squad learn each other's names and a common language in which to share on-field banter like "Pass", "On me head, son", and particularly "Save it". One bonus for the Chelsea manager, Gianluca Vialli, was a better performance from Brian Laudrup, who has reportedly been unhappy with the player-manager's policy of dropping him for every other match.