Today in the Premier League

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The manager Arsne Wenger will rotate his squad for tonight's Carling Cup quarter-final at Blackburn. Emmanuel Ebou (knee) could miss out but striker Theo Walcott (knee) may return.

Probable Team (4-4-2): Fabianski; Gallas, J Hoyte, Senderos, Traore; Diarra, Gilberto, Song, Walcott; Bendtner, Eduardo.

Aston Villa

Martin O'Neill has warned his team of the need to start games with more concentration, following Sunderland's early goal against the club last weekend. "The thing about the Premier League is if someone gets a goal against you it knocks you back, as you think you have things set up," he said.

Birmingham City

The midfielder Mehdi Nafti said he was keen to sort out his future at St Andrew's as he enters the final six months of his contract. "I just want to know about my future at the club," the Tunisia international said. "It's important for my own mind to know, so we will have to see."

Blackburn Rovers

Mark Hughes will be without Brett Emerton for the Carling Cup match with Arsenal tonight. The Australian is suspended following his dismissal during the 5-3 defeat at Wigan last weekend.

Probable Team (4-4-2): Friedel; Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Mokoena; Reid, Bentley, Savage, Pedersen; Santa Cruz, McCarthy.

Bolton Wanderers

Gary Megson said he is prepared for a battle to hold on to the France international Nicolas Anelka, following reports linking the forward with Chelsea and Manchester United. "I expect that," the manager said. "In fact, in a strange way, it might be more of a concern if that wasn't happening. We've got one of the top scorers in the league."


The midfielder John Obi Mikel believes the club deserved something for their battling display during the 1-0 defeat at title rivals Arsenal on Sunday. "We played more than them and we had more possession than them," the Nigerian international said. "We missed the points so we are very disappointed about that."

Derby County

Paul Jewell believes the club can avoid relegation, despite their current position at the bottom of the table, eight points from safety. "I've not just come here to see us sit back and accept it," the Pride Park manager said. "It's very difficult but I'm going to do my damndest to get us out of it."


Phil Jagielka has described team-mate Ayegbeni Yakubu as a complete striker, saying he has transformed into a crucial player for the team. "He is so strong and he knows what he is doing when he is in and around the area," the defender said. "He is as good a striker as I have ever played with."


Manager Lawrie Sanchez has confirmed the Cottagers' interest in the South Korea international Song Chong-Guk. "The report that Fulham have offered Song a trial is correct," the former Northern Ireland boss said. "We have been in contact with his agent and we hope to have a trial next week."


Rafael Benitez believes a run of form could put the Anfield club back in the title race. The Reds have lost their last two league matches and currently sit 10 points behind leaders Arsenal. "If we are to get closer, we need to start winning a few games in a row," Benitez said. "There is a long way to go."

Manchester City

The Brazilian midfielder Elano (hamstring) could return against Spurs tonight. England Under-21 goalkeeper Joe Hart could return to the starting line-up, replacing Andreas Isaksson.

Probable team (4-4-2): Hart; Corluka, Dunne, Richards, Ball; Etuhu, Hamann, Johnson, Petrov; Vassell, Bianchi.

Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken of his dream of playing for a Spanish team. "I would like to play for a Spanish club one day," he said. "I don't know if it is possible, but it is my dream. It's a fantastic league where they play beautiful football, but I am convinced the English league is the most competitive."


Gareth Southgate believes the Egyptian midfielder, Mohamed Shawky, will become a vital player for the team. "He's taken a while to settle into the speed of the game," he said. "We're very pleased with what he's done, he's getting stronger and improving all the time."

Newcastle United

The midfielder Joey Barton has urged his team-mates to build on recent good form and build some momentum at St James' Park. "That's two late wins in a row now," the former Manchester City player said. "And you have to praise the lads for not giving in and keeping on fighting until the end."


The Ghanian international Sulley Muntari has revealed his hopes of playing for a higher-profile club. "I want to end up at one of the biggest clubs that is every players' dream," the 23-year-old midfielder said. "I will try my best here, but eventually I would like to play for a bigger club."


Midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson could miss the club's Christmas programme after suffering a knee injury at Birmingham last weekend. "He's got stitches on his knee," manager Steve Coppell said. "He's very stiff and sore and he's going to be out for a while, a couple of weeks at least."


Saturday's confrontation between manager Roy Keane and referee Steve Bennett has not been included in the official's report. The Irishman will thus escape punishment for the incident, which came after Bennett disallowed Danny Collins' late "goal" during the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Tottenham Hotspur

Juande Ramos could name an unchanged side for the match at Manchester City tonight. Michael Dawson (migraine) may miss out, while Jermain Defoe could start ahead of Darren Bent.

Probable team (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Zokora, Kaboul, Lee; Lennon, Jenas, Boateng, Malbranque; Berbatov, Defoe.

West Ham United

Mark Noble admits the club are struggling for form at home. Saturday's defeat to Everton stretched the Hammers' run to two wins in eight games. "We don't really know why we are doing better away," the England under-21 international said. "Perhaps teams sit back and hit us on the counter that's what we do away from home."

Wigan Athletic

Steve Bruce admits Emile Heskey's latest injury will have a detrimental effect on the club's form. "He is a big, important, influential player for us," Bruce said of the forward, who could be sidelined for up to a month with the ankle injury. "We hope that he's not going to be too bad because certainly the club has missed him."

Today's top 20: most league cup semi-final appearances (1961-2008)

Two more teams will join Everton in the League Cup semi-finals tonight. In today's top 20 we look at the clubs who have made the most last-four appearances in the competition's history.

1 Liverpool: 13 semi-final appearances

2 Arsenal: 12 semi-final appearances

2= Aston Villa: 12 semi-final appearances

4 Tottenham Hotspur: 11 semi-final appearances

5 Manchester United: 10 semi-final appearances

6 Chelsea: 9 semi-final appearances

7 West Ham United: 7 semi-final appearances

8 Nottingham Forest: 6 semi-final appearances

9 Blackburn Rovers: 5 semi-final appearances

9= Leeds United: 5 semi-final appearances

9= Leicester City: 5 semi-final appearances

9= Manchester City: 5 semi-final appearances

9= Middlesbrough: 5 semi-final appearances

9= Norwich City: 5 semi-final appearances

15 Birmingham City: 4 semi-final appearances

15= Bolton Wanderers: 4 semi-final appearances

15= verton: 4 semi-final appearances

15= Sheffield Wednesday: 4 semi-final appearances

15= West Bromwich Albion: 4 semi-final appearances

20 Crystal Palace: 3 semi-final appearances