RJ DEMELLO - Saturday, September 20, 2014
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa have another tough test on their hands as Arsenal visits Villa Park, while it's likely two Americans getting the start for Birmingham City this weekend.
Aston Villa - Arsenal
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa return home to face yet another big club as a banged up Arsenal looks to get back on track after losing to Dortmund in the Champions League.
Guzan will start in goal yet again for the league's best defense.
Last time out Villa traveled to Liverpool and despite being dominated in possession and shots, managed to win 1-0 thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor. The win moved the team up to second place with 10 points from four games.
Arsenal's last league game was an up and down roller coaster that saw the team go behind 1-0, lead 2-1, and eventually draw 2-2 with Manchester City. Despite not having lost yet, the club sits in seventh place with just six points.
Aston Villa will be without strikers Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak, both of whom are close to returning from injury. Ron Vlaar is struggling with a calf problem and is in a race to get fit for the fixture.
Arsenal's injury list is much longer with Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Debuchy, Yaya Sanogo, Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry, and Olivier Giroud all out.
Birmingham City - Norwich City
A tough test awaits a banged up Birmingham side as Brek Shea and Jonathan Spector travel to take on second place Norwich.
Shea has started his first two games at the club and likely will start yet again at the weekend. Spector on the other hand has been used mostly off the bench, but with an injury to Neil Eardley in the team's last match (Spector subbed in for the injured player) the American veteran will likely start.
The Blues were soundly beaten at home by Sheffield Wednesday in the team's last game. Birmingham currently sits in 20th with six points from seven matches.
Norwich continued its great start to the season, winning 3-0 away from home at Brentford. The victory kept the club just one point behind Nottingham and the top spot with 16 points from seven games played.
The Canaries will be without Gary Hooper and Jonny Howson due to injury, while Wes Hoolahan is also in doubt.
Birmingham's injury list could fill a substitutes bench with Eardley, Gavin Gunning, Matt Green, Lee Novak, Denny Johnstone, and Olly Lee all out of the equation for Saturday.
Tim Howard will start in goal as Everton host Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Eric Lichaj seems to have locked up a starting spot for Nottingham Forest as the Championship leaders head to Millwall.
Geoff Cameron remains sidelined after having surgery to repair a hernia and will miss Stoke's trip to play QPR on Saturday.
Jozy Altidore will most likely begin Sunderland's weekend matchup against Burnley on the bench as he hasn't started a game in the premier league yet this season.
Tim Ream will likely once again start for Bolton Wanderers when the club travels to play Wolves on Saturday.
With the sacking of Felix Magath, Emerson Hyndman's role is unclear heading into the team's home match-up against Blackburn Rovers.
After starting the team's last game for the suspended Jake Buxton, Zak Whitbread will return to the bench for Derby County as the club plays host to Cardiff at the weekend.
Danny Williams continues to be sidelined by a knee injury and will miss Reading's game with Sheffield Wednesday.
Brad Friedel will likely miss out on the 18 for Tottenham against West Brom as Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm are seemingly ahead in the pecking order.