Pearce on the prowl

Mark Pierson on a weekend of fevered pursuit of Premiership points
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The Independent Online
Stuart Pearce should be a happy man today. Nottingham Forest's caretaker player-manager has made it clear that he does not welcome the media attention which his new role has brought, but the cameras at this afternoon's Premiership match against Tottenham Hotspur are likely to be directed elsewhere.

After a week of dramatic change at Forest, much of the attention at White Hart Lane will be focused on Dave Bassett, the club's new general manager, and Irving Scholar, who is one of the key figures behind the consortium which won control of Forest this week.

Bassett and Pearce may be the Londoners returning to the capital, but nobody in the Forest camp will feel more at home today than Scholar, who was Tottenham's chairman until he was replaced by Alan Sugar six years ago. Scholar, a Tottenham fan since his schooldays, once said that he loved the club "as much as anyone in my own family".

Scholar agrees that "it will be very strange" to be supporting the visitors today and added: "The last match I was involved in was the 1991 Cup final, when Tottenham beat Nottingham Forest, and that my first match back will be at Tottenham is, I have to admit, a little bit spooky."

Both teams will be desperate for points. Forest have undergone a spirited revival under Pearce but are still in one of the relegation positions, while Tottenham have won only one of their last seven matches. "We must start picking up points again or we'll be looking over our shoulders," Gerry Francis, the Tottenham manager, said.

Tottenham's cause was not helped by the news that Teddy Sheringham aggravated his ankle injury when making a scoring return at West Ham on Monday, and is definitely out of today's game. Having lost only once at Tottenham in the past six years, Forest will see today as a chance to pull clear of the two teams below them, Middlesbrough and Southampton, who face difficult away matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United respectively.

The two teams above Forest also travel, West Ham going to Leeds and Gordon Strachan taking Coventry to visit Manchester United, one of his former clubs. Victory will put United, the Premiership leaders, four points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who travel tomorrow to Aston Villa. Newcastle, meanwhile, can move to within two points of Liverpool if they overcome the loss of the injured Alan Shearer and beat Southampton.

Yesterday, Kenny Dalglish shrugged off the absence of Shearer, who had his third groin operation inside a year this week. "Injuries and suspensions are part and parcel of the game," Dalglish said, "and Alan's misfortune will be someone else's good fortune."

The championship is in danger of becoming a three-horse race as Arsenal struggle to recover their form of last autumn. Arsene Wenger's team face a tricky match at Everton, although they may welcome a match away from Highbury after three successive home defeats.

Wimbledon, still going strong on three fronts, will hope to strengthen their challenge for a Uefa Cup place when they entertain Leicester. Joe Kinnear, the Wimbledon manager, said yesterday that money was available to strengthen his squad, and becuase of injuries and suspensions he intended to do so.

Leicester and last year's two other clubs promoted from the First Division, Derby and Sunderland, have all performed above most observers' expectations this season, but none of the trio, who occupy 12th, 13th and 14th places in the table, are safe.

Derby face a difficult match today at home to their fellow FA Cup quarter- finalists, Chelsea, while Sunderland play away to the team immediately beneath them in the table, Blackburn.

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