RJ DEMELLO - Friday, August 22, 2014
Fresh off the news that, at least for one year, Brad Guzan will be the US number one, he and Aston Villa host Newcastle on Saturday in Premier League action.
Everton - Arsenal
Tim Howard and Everton have a tall task on their hands of hosting Arsenal on Saturday.
Howard will start in goal for the Toffees in a big early season test.
Everton opened the season with a 2-2 draw with promoted side Leicester City. The tie sees the club in ninth place after the opening weekend with its one point.
The big news out of Merseyside on Friday was that the 35 year-old Howard was taking a one-year sabbatical from national team play with the intent of spending more time with his family. The fact that one of his team's bedrocks will be able to avoid the rigors of a heavy international travel schedule for the next year will also come as welcome news to Everton coach Roberto Martinez, who saw his team finish one place out of the Champions League qualification spots last season.
Arsenal managed to steal all three points late against Crystal Palace in the team's own premier league opener. Thanks to Aaron Ramsey's 91st minute winner the Gunners reside in third place with three points.
Bryan Oviedo, Darron Gibson, and Arouna Kone will all miss the game for Everton.
Arsenal's injury list is a bit longer, with Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, David Ospina, Serge Gnabry, Yaya Sanogo, and Mikel Arteta all likely out. Not to mention the German trio of Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker, and Lukas Podolski who are still returning to fitness after winning the World Cup.
Aston Villa - Newcastle
Brad Guzan and the Villans hope to pick up where the team left off in week one after the squad downed Stoke 1-0.
Guzan continues to have a strong hold on the starting goalie position at Villa and will line up there once again Saturday.
Villa took advantage of an Andreas Weimann goal and managed three big opening day points. The result sees the club into sixth place after the opening stanza of the season.
Newcastle on the other hand fell 2-0 on opening day, though it was to title-holders Manchester City. The result leaves the club in dead last after week one.
The Magpies will definitely be without Davide Santon, Papiss Cisse, and Ryan Taylor for the match. Cheick Tiote and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are both doubtful to be fit in time for the action.
Aston Villa will again be without strikers Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak who are both a ways away from returning to action.
Nottingham Forest - Reading
Eric Lichaj and Forest look to keep the top spot in the league Saturday as the team hosts Reading at The City Ground.
Lichaj has appeared in all three league matches so far, starting the most recent one, a 2-1 win against Bournemouth. The fullback looks to be back to full fitness and in a battle for a starting place.
Forest jumped to first place on seven points from three games after the club's comeback win against the Cherries on Tuesday.
Reading has also started well, bagging four points from the team's first three matches, good enough for 11th place. The Royals lost on Tuesday to Huddersfield town 2-1.
Nottingham is without any real injury concern heading into the weekend's match-up.
For Reading, only one real injury concern as defender Anton Ferdinand looks unlikely to feature at The City Ground.
Jozy Altidore and Sunderland host Manchester United on Sunday. The striker came off the bench and played about 10 minutes in the club's opening round fixture.
Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea, and Stoke travel to Hull on Sunday. Both will likely not make an appearance with Cameron handing in a transfer request and Shea remaining far down the pecking order.
Tim Ream and Bolton Wanderers travel to face Brighton. Ream has been a minutes machine so far this year and the trend will likely continue this weekend.
Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City head to take on Brentford just four days after the team's last game. Since returning from injury Spector has been a regular in the starting lineup, a trend that should continue against the Bees.
Emerson Hyndman and Fulham pay a visit to Derby County on Saturday. The youngster didn't make the 18 during the week after starting the clubs opening two matches.
Brad Friedel and Tottenham host Queens Park Rangers on Sunday with the keeper firmly cemented as the team's number two goalie.
Zak Whitbread and Derby play host to Hyndman. The defender looks like the third or fourth center-back in the squad so will look for spot appearances when needed.
Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town host Charlton at the weekend. During the week the teenager made the bench for the first time this year and will hope to actually get off of it this time around.
Danny Williams will once again miss the game for Reading as the team travels to first place Nottingham Forest.