JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, September 13, 2013
Jozy Altidore should return to action for Sunderland against Arsenal while Tim Howard and Everton will try to break their early-season slump against a tough Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.
Everton - Chelsea
Tim Howard and Everton look for their first win of the season when they host Chelsea at Goodison Park.
Howard starred in the monumental USA win over Mexico on Tuesday and is expected to start at goal on Saturday.
The Toffees have started out the season having drawn their first three games. Although not giving up a goal in their last two games, Everton has not found the back of the net since their opener.
They will have to go for their first win of the season, however, without one of their most influential players of the last few years. Marouane Fellaini signed with Manchester United before the transfer deadline and will now leave a difficult void to fill for the Toffees.
In response, Everton has brought in Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, though the Belgian will not play this weekend. James McCarthy and Gareth Barry are newcomers as well and are expected to make their debuts against the London team.
Chelsea drew their last game against Manchester United and won their previous two games to start the season. They train Liverpool by just two points for the top spot in the standings.
Darron Gibson and Antolin Alcaraz are injury doubts for the Toffees.
Aston Villa - Newcastle United
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa welcome Newcastle United to Villa Park on Saturday.
Guzan, who was called up to play in the last two US qualifiers, is expected to start for the Villans.
Villa's start to the season has been tough, as they have had to line up against some of the Premier League's best teams in Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They beat Arsenal however they went down in their two other games.
Newcastle has four points out of their first three games. Their last match was a win over Fulham at home.
Antonio Luna, Nathan Baker, and Charles N'Zogbia are injury worries for Villa.
Stoke City - Manchester City
Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea host Manchester City at the Britannia this weekend.
Cameron is expected to start in Stoke's backline, while Shea and Maurice Edu hope to be bench options.
The Potters go into Saturday's game playing strong soccer as of late. Despite losing their opening game at Liverpool, Stoke has won their last two matches against Crystal Palace and West Ham United.
Stoke also continues their early run in the League Cup, courtesy of a hat trick from Kenwyne Jones over Walsall a couple weeks ago. The forward from Trinidad and Tobago has since made the Potters' starting lineup and is expected to produce offensively this weekend.
City is tied with Stoke in points, however because of goal differential they are ahead of them in the standings. They are coming off a win over Hull City and hope to grab momentum for another title run this season.
Jamie Ness is an injury doubt for the Potters.
Sunderland - Arsenal
Jozy Altidore and Sunderland take on Arsenal at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
Altidore suffered a hamstring pull before leaving for international duty early this week. The injury is not considered severe and the forward could see the field on Saturday.
The Black Cats' start to the season has been rough, as the team has recorded just one point in three games. Sunderland's influx of new players this season has resulted in a team trying to find its identity, however they will have to start garnering points in order to avoid digging a deep hole this season.
The Gunners go into this weekend's matchup having won two straight games after their opening day loss to Aston Villa. They brought in Mesut Özil to help their campaign and hope he debuts this weekend.
Connor Wickham, Craig Gardner, Phil Bardsley, and Lee Cattermole are injury worries for Sunderland, while John O'Shea is suspended.
Nottingham Forest - Barnsley
Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest host Barnsley in weekend Championship action.
Lichaj has been a regular in Forest's backline and is expected to see the field once again on Saturday.
Nottingham started off the season red hot, having won their first three games. However, they have drawn and lost their last two matches and look bounce back this weekend.
Barnsley has reeled off just four points in five games and are near the bottom of the standings. However, their last game was a win and they look to gain some momentum with another three points against Forest.
Queens Park Rangers - Birmingham City
Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City travel to London to take on Queens Park Rangers this weekend.
Spector is likely to see the field, while Will Packwood is making his way back to full fitness after a long-term knee injury. He is not likely to feature for the Blues.
Birmingham City has won just one game this season, however they managed a draw in their last game against Ipswich Town. The team is near the bottom of the standings and hope to start clawing their way back up with a win on the road.
QPR is tied at the top of the standings with Blackpool. They have managed 13 points in five games. They have gone undefeated thus far this season and hope to continue that streak this weekend from Loftus Road.
Tim Ream hopes to play in Bolton's game against Leeds United. Stuart Holden has a long-term injury and will thus miss.
Seb Hines and Middlesbrough travel to play Ipswich Town.
Zak Whitbread could feature in Leicester City's game against Wigan Athletic.
Danny Williams hopes to see the field in Reading's match against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Jon Paul Pittman and Wycombe take on Plymouth Argyle in League Two action.