JOHN KRETLOW - Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tim Howard's Everton welcome Jozy Altidore and Sunderland to Goodison Park, while Geoff Cameron and Stoke City look to build on last weekend's win when they take on Newcastle United.
Aston Villa - Crystal Palace
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa hope to jump into the top half of the standings with a win against Crystal Palace.
Guzan is the regular starter this season for Villa and is expected to feature on Thursday.
Villa goes into the Boxing Day match having lost three straight games and in that stretch they have totaled just one goal.
Their leading offensive threat is Christian Benteke, however he is working through fitness problems and it is unlikely that he will feature. Libor Kozak looks to fill in at forward for Villa.
Palace is currently in the relegation zone and has lost two straight matches. They will miss one of their biggest goal scoring threats in Marouane Chamakh because of suspension.
Everton - Sunderland
Tim Howard and Everton welcome Jozy Altidore and Sunderland to Goodison Park for a Boxing Day clash of Americans.
Howard and Altidore are expected to feature for their respective sides.
The Toffees go into Thursday's match in 5th place in the league and trail league-leading Liverpool by just two points. A win could catapult Everton into the Premier League's top position.
Sunderland is at the bottom of the table with just 10 points in 17 matches. They have not won a game on the road this season but they hope their trip to Goodison Park will be different.
Arouna Kone, Darron Gibson, and Gerard Deulofeu will all miss because of injuries for Everton, while Sunderland's Carlos Cuellar and John O'Shea are not likely to see the field either.
Newcastle United - Stoke City
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City take the road to play Newcastle United.
Cameron is Stoke's regular starter at right back and is likely to feature on Thursday, while Brek Shea and Maurice Edu are not likely to see the field.
The American defender starred in the Potter's win over Aston Villa last weekend, as he helped in the lead up to their first goal and provided and assist on their second.
That win for Stoke boosted them into the top half of the standings. They look to keep that momentum going on Boxing Day.
Newcastle is in 6th place and are four points behind Everton for the Europa League spot. They have won six out of their last eight matches in league play and hope to continue that momentum going at St. James' Park on Thursday.
Stoke will welcome back Stephen Ireland who missed the match against Aston Villa last week.
Leicester City - Reading
Zak Whitbread's Leicester City host Danny Williams and Reading in a pivotal Championship fixture.
Whitbread is not likely to see the field for Leicester, however Williams looks to feature for Reading.
Leicester is coming off a win last week at Queens Park Rangers. That victory put an end to their three game losing skid in league play, and the team is still just one point behind Burnley for first in the standings.
Reading Is in 6th place, which is the last playoff position in the Championship. They have lost two out of their last three matches and hope to get back to winning ways on Thursday.
Chris Wood will miss for Leicester because of injury.
Barnsley - Bolton Wanderers
Tim Ream and Bolton look to notch three points against lowly Barnsley.
Ream is a regular starter in Bolton's back line and he is expected to see the field once again on Thursday. Stuart Holden is still rehabbing from a long-term knee injury and will not feature.
After playing strong in the Autumn months, Bolton has hit a rough patch in the season as they have managed just one win in their last five games. They are still a comfortable six points above the relegation zone and still gunning to make it in to the top half of the standings.
Barnsley is at the bottom of the standings, but two straight draws see them within just two points from safety. A win would be a huge boost going into the busy holiday schedule.
Nottingham Forest - Queens Park Rangers
Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest take on Oguchi Onyewu's Queens Park Rangers
Lichaj is a regular this season in Forest's back line and is likely t see the field on Thursday, while Onyewu has seldom made QPR's game day roster and is unlikely to see the field.
Forest is currently on a four game unbeaten run, however just one of those matches ended in a victory. They are in 7th place and one point from a playoff position.
QPR is in second place and trail Burnley by just a point. They are coming off a tough loss to Leicester City last weekend at home and they hope to bounce back with a strong performance on Thursday.
Darius Henderson looks to miss for Nottingham.
Cody Cropper is not likely to see the field in Southampton's match at Cardiff City.
Brad Friedel is not likely to feature in Tottenham's match against West Bromwich Albion.
Seb Hines hopes to dress in Middlesbrough's match against Burnley.
Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town take on Derby County.
Jonathan Spector and Will Packwood are not expected to feature in Birmingham City' match against Wigan Athletic.
Jon Paul Pittman hopes to see the field in Wycombe's match against Newport County.