JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, September 27, 2013
Brad Guzan's Aston Villa host Manchester City, while Jozy Altidore and Sunderland hope to notch their first win of the Premier League season against Liverpool.
Aston Villa - Manchester City
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa are aiming to move up the standings in their match against Manchester City.
Guzan is Villa's regular starter and will start on Saturday.
Villa is coming off a tough midweek League Cup loss to Tottenham. The team gave up four goals and was unable to muster any offensive energy.
However, the Villains did break their league losing streak last week when they beat Norwich City on the road.
City is playing strong soccer, unbeaten in five games, including a thrashing of Manchester United last weekend. In the midweek, City also walloped Wigan Athletic in the League Cup.
Villa goes into the weekend's game missing their biggest offensive threat in Christian Benteke, who is sidelined with a hip injury.
Stoke City - Norwich City
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City welcome Norwich City and hope to jump into a top spot in the Premier League.
Cameron is expected to start at right back for the Potters, while Brek Shea and Maurice Edu are not likely to make the gameday roster.
Stoke are coming off a midweek League Cup win over Tranmere, but their last two league games have resulted in just one solitary point.
The Canaries are near the bottom of the table, ranking in 17th place with just four points this season. They won their midweek League Cup match but lost at home against Aston Villa in league play last week.
Erik Pieters and Jamie Ness are injured and not likely to feature on Saturday.
Sunderland - Liverpool
Jozy Altidore and Sunderland host Liverpool at the Stadium of Light.
Altidore has been a regular thus far in Sunderland's lineup, but his position is no longer so secure in the wake of Paolo Di Canio's firing last week.
The Black Cats have yet to win a game this season and thus find themselves in last place in the Premier League. Sunderland did, however, beat Peterborough United in the League Cup and hope that will give them a boost in Sunday's match.
Liverpool started out the season on fire, but the team is winless in its last three games across all competitions and has fallen to fifth place. The Reds lost to Manchester United in the League Cup this midweek and hope to bounce back this weekend.
Standout striker Luis Suarez may give Liverpool a hand in that regard, as he is available for duty once again following the conclusion of his suspension.
Steven Fletcher and Wes Brown are injury worries for the Black Cats.
Everton - Newcastle United
Tim Howard and Everton look to keep their unbeaten start to the Premier League going when they host Newcastle United at Goodison Park.
The American international is a regular starter and is expected to feature as usual in goal.
Everton are coming off a loss to Fulham in the League Cup on Tuesday, but they have gone five games unbeaten to start the Premier League season, including two straight wins.
The Toffees currently sit in sixth place, and a win could boost them into a top-four spot or higher depending on other results.
Newcastle won their League Cup match in the midweek over Leeds United, though they did lose their last league game when they hosted Hull City last weekend. Nevertheless, a win for them would push the team into the upper half of the standings.
Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and Antolín Alcáraz are injury worries for the Toffees.
Nottingham Forest - Derby County
Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest look to jump out of their funk with a win against Derby County.
Lichaj has been a regular in Forest's backline and should see the field again Saturday.
Forest started the season flying high, though the team has hit a minor rut of late. They have won just one game in their last five in all competitions, including a midweek League Cup loss to Burnley.
The Rams are in a similar run of form, as they have also won just once in their last five games in all competitions. A strong start to the season still has them in the middle of the standings and a win could boost them tremendously in a congested Championship table.
Reading - Birmingham City
Danny Williams' Reading host Jonathan Spector's Birmingham City in Championship action.
Williams hopes to feature for the Royals, while Spector is expected to see the field for the Blues. Will Packwood is still not likely to return to first-team action for Birmingham City after months of knee surgery recovery.
Reading's start to the season was decidedly sub-par, although they have heated up of late. The team has gone four games unbeaten, winning three of those matches. They are now in 7th place and could make another huge jump in the standings with three points this Saturday.
The Blues' season has been difficult as the team finds themselves in 18th place. The last week has seen the team reinvigorated, however, topping the Premier League's Swansea City in the League Cup and pounding Sheffield Wednesday in Championship play.
Birmingham hopes that their momentum will continue this weekend.
Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur take on Chelsea at White Hart Lane.
Tim Ream could see the field in Bolton's game against Yeovil Town. Stuart Holden is out injured for the Wanderers.
Zak Whitbread hopes to feature in Leicester City's match against Barnsley.
Seb Hines' Middlesbrough travel to London to play Queens Park Rangers.
Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town host Blackpool on Friday.
Jon Paul Pittman and Wycombe take on Rochdale in League Two action.