Thursday 26 December 1996
Last season: 0-1
Last five League matches: Aston Villa WWWWW; Chelsea DLDLW.
With five straight wins under his belt Villa manager Little is unlikely to make changes to a side in which Serb striker Milosevic is again scoring goals. Chelsea need to brush up on their away form and if Minto is fit he could return to the defence in place of youngster Clement. Leboeuf is available again after suspension but skipper Wise is still banned.
Blackburn v Newcastle
Last season: 2-1
Last five League matches: Blackburn DDWDL; Newcastle DLDLD
Midfielder Flitcroft faces a late fitness test (ankle), but Rovers will be boosted by return of their keeper Flowers and centre-back Hendry. Shearer is set to return to Ewood Park for the first time since his record pounds 15m summer move to Tyneside. Ginola and Gillespie are injury worries for Newcastle after Monday's 1-1 draw against Liverpool.
Leeds v Coventry
Last season: 3-1
Last five League matches: Leeds WWDDD; Coventry LLLWW.
Leeds have not conceded a goal in five games but have also failed to score in their last three. Yeboah and Wallace may add fire power if manager Graham leaves out Rush or Deane. Radebe (knee) is the one doubt. Coventry's McAllister, who makes his first return to Elland Road, scored a hat-trick for Leeds in the corresponding fixture last year. Dublin poised to continue at the heart of the defence.
Liverpool v Leicester
Last season: did not play
Last five League matches: Liverpool WLWWD; Leicester LLWDL
Manager Evans is expected to retain an unchanged side as the leaders go looking to continue their recent free-scoring home form (nine goals in two games). Injury-hit Leicester are missing the influence of their inspirational skipper Walsh, who underwent a hernia operation last week. Whitlow is also ruled out with a knee ligament injury while Grayson has a slight hamstring pull.
Middlesbro v Everton
Last season: 0-2
Last five League matches: Middlesbrough DLLDL; Everton WLDWD.
Boro boss Robson has Juninho, Vickers and Fleming all with only 50-50 chances of playing. Definitely out are Pearson, Stamp and Moore. Barmby returns to the Riverside for the first time since his pounds 5.7m move to Everton. Short is out for a month (ankle) while Hinchcliffe is doubtful (knee). Unsworth is set for a recall while Hottiger, Allen and Dunn are on stand- by.
N Forest v Man Utd
Last season: 1-1
Last five League matches: Nottm Forest DLDLW; Man Utd DWDDW.
Caretaker Pearce's only poser is whether on-loan Clough should start instead of Roy. United, without Pallister (back), are likely to pair May and Gary Neville at centre-back even though Johnsen has been recalled to the squad along with Andy Cole, who scored for the reserves in his comeback game after two broken shins. Beckham may start after sitting out the last three games.
Sheff Wed v Arsenal
Last season: 1-0
Last five League matches: Sheff Wed DDWDD; A rsenal WWWDL.
Wednesday's Whittingham ( gashed eye) could be forced to miss out. That could open the way for Hirst to return to the side. Skipper Adams is back after suspension for Arsenal and is expected to replace Linighan. Dixon returns tol replace McGowan at right back, while Garde is expected to continue to deputise for his suspended fellow Frenchman Vieira in midfield.
Sunderland v Derby
Last season: 3-0
Last five League matches: Sunderland DWLWL;Derby DWDLL.
Sunderland manager Reid is unlikely to be panicked into sweeping changes despite the 5-0 defeat by Manchester United. Bridges and Stewart are back in contention. Derby will be hoping that veteran defender McGrath and striker Sturridge are fit to return after missing the 3-1 defeat at Southampton with flu.
Tottenham v Southampton
Last season: 1-0
Last five League matches: Tottenham LLWDD; Southampton LLLLW.
With Campbell and Howells both having twisted ankles in the 1-1 draw with Sheff Wed, the way could be clear for Scales to make his full debut for Spurs. Saints are still waiting to see if Le Tissier (thigh) is fit. Van Gobbel is set to be recalled in defence after a one-match ban in place of the injured Dyden. Neilson in back in contention after a knee operation.
Wimbledon v West Ham
Last season: 0-1
Last five League matches: Wimbledon DWWWL; West Ham DDLDL.
Their 19-run unbeaten run ended by Villa, Wimbledon have been further hit by a flu bug with Holdsworth and Earle among the absentees at training yesterday. The Hammers, nine games without a win are without Dowie and Hall as well as Jones, Lazarides and Breacker. Potts may be recalled.
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