Who's in and who's out? Today's Premier League team news
Monday 28 December 2009
Blackburn v Sunderland: Do-or-die time, says Allardyce 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1
Rovers manager Sam Allardyce will be without midfielder Vince Grella (thigh) and David Dunn (calf) although Brett Emerton, pictured right, could return after missing Boxing Day's 1-1 draw at Wigan. The hosts have drawn blanks in seven of their last 11 league games and Allardyce is under no illusions of the importance of today's match. "We've let points go begging recently, so this game becomes the most important of our season," he said. "It has come to the stage where we have to get a win."
Visiting counterpart Steve Bruce faces something of a defensive crisis, with Anton Ferdinand (ankle) sidelined and Michael Turner serving the second of a four-match suspension. John Mensah (hamstring) is a doubt, as are Kieran Richardson and Kenwyne Jones (both calf), while Lee Cattermole missed the draw with Everton after tweaking a hamstring and may struggle to return. Craig Gordon (arm) remains out. "We're up against it at the moment," Bruce admitted. "We're down to the bare bones a little bit but that will test our resolve." Blackburn are without a win in seven league games, while Sunderland have not prevailed in their last six.
Chelsea v Fulham: Blues seek farewell fillip from African stars 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1
Carlo Ancelotti is able to play Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou after reaching an agreement over their involvement in the upcoming African Cup of Nations. "We asked if Drogba and Kalou could stay and [Ivory Coast] agreed," Ancelotti said. "That is good because Fulham are in good condition and I expect a tough game." Florent Malouda serves a suspension after his dismissal at Birmingham so Joe Cole will start in midfield. Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien (both hamstring), Deco (dead leg) and Jose Bosingwa (knee) are all out.
Central defender Brede Hangeland is Fulham's main concern after tweaking a knee in the warm-up before the goalless draw with Spurs. Ghanaian defender John Pantsil plays his last match before departing for the African Cup of Nations, while Andrew Johnson may return to partner Bobby Zamora up front after 12 weeks on the sidelines with a groin injury. Clint Dempsey is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance for the Whites, a year to the day after scoring twice in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Fulham last won at Stamford Bridge in October 1979.
Everton v Burnley: Moyes may welcome back captain Neville 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1
There are signs of light at the end of the injury tunnel for Toffees manager David Moyes, with Phil Neville in contention for a first appearance since September, and Sylvain Distin and Joseph Yobo nearing fitness. Club captain Neville was an unused substitute at Sunderland after recovering from a knee injury.
Burnley manager Owen Coyle hopes to have defensive pair Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell available after both missed the draw with Bolton with groin injuries. The visitors are aiming to improve on an abysmal away record that has seen them gain just one point from nine games and concede 29 times. On-loan striker David Nugent is likely to start in his home town after his equalising goal against the Wanderers on Boxing Day. "He knows I would like to keep him and he knows my opinion of him," Coyle said of the Portsmouth forward as the Clarets look for a first win in eight league matches.
Stoke v Birmingham: Bowyer in doubt as McLeish looks to extend run 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1
Midfielders Glenn Whelan and Salif Diao both miss out after picking up their fifth bookings of the season during the 2-0 defeat at Manchester City, while defenders Robert Huth (knee) and Andy Wilkinson (ankle) are also potential absentees. Manager Tony Pulis said his squad was feeling the effects of the busy Christmas schedule. "We need some fresh legs," he said. "Two tough matches in 48 hours is a big ask for anyone."
Blues midfielder Sebastian Larsson will undergo a fitness test after turning his ankle against Chelsea, although goalkeeper Joe Hart is expected to be available despite suffering a head injury during his starring role in the same match. Top-scoring midfielder Lee Bowyer is a minor doubt for the visitors, who are on a 10-match unbeaten run. "Can they keep doing it? I don't know," manager Alex McLeish said. "I'll have to see how they are before naming the team."
Tottenham v West Ham: Spurs boosted by King's comeback 12.45pm, TV: Sky Sports 1; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1
Ledley King is in line to make a first start in seven weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury. Sébastien Bassong has recovered from a kick to the head during the draw at Fulham but may lose his place as Spurs look to keep a fourth successive clean sheet. Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe could both start after being confined to the bench at Craven Cottage, with Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas liable to miss out.
Valon Behrami and Luis Jimenez are battling to take the place of Mark Noble, who injured a hamstring during the 2-0 win over Portsmouth, but Gianfranco Zola has no other new injury worries as he tries to improve on the Hammers' record of just one point in their last seven games with Spurs. Midfielder Jack Collison is confident of victory: "The last two games have given us confidence that we can get a result from Spurs. The last two games we've given our all and we have to continue this form and continue fighting because we have to get another three points."
Wolves v Manchester City: McCarthy relishes City test 7.45pm, TV: Sky Sports 1; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1
Defender Stephen Ward misses out through suspension after his eventual red card at Liverpool on Saturday, with George Elokobi likely to earn a recall as his replacement. David Edwards remains on the sidelines, but Mick McCarthy has no problems with his team's tough festive period as they welcome the might of Manchester City. "It's fine by me. It's better than Derby and Nottingham Forest in the Championship at home. There's nothing wrong with Derby or Nottingham, it's just the Premier League and I'm enjoying it. I'll take the tough games." Wolves have won their last two home games, against Bolton and Burnley.
Roberto Mancini could recall Craig Bellamy to the starting line-up following Robinho's anonymous display against Stoke. Shaun Wright-Phillips may recover from an ankle injury and defender Kolo Toure will make his last appearance before leaving for the African Cup of Nations, although strikers Roque Santa Cruz, Benjani and Emmanuel Adebayor all miss out as the visitors seek a first away league victory since the 1-0 win at Portsmouth at the end of August.
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