ANDREW VORCE - Friday, December 24, 2010
Clint Dempsey and Jonathan Spector lock horns at Craven Cottage while Brad Friedel and Aston Villa face a huge test when Tottenham come to town in a full weekend of English action.
Fulham - West Ham
A win for Clint Dempsey and Fulham could ease the pressure heading into the new year while Jonathan Spector's West Ham arrive on Christmas in bottom position.
The Hammers have only managed to pick up 13 points in 18 games, while Fulham only have 16 from 17 outings. Victor Obinna and Robert Green should be cleared to play, while Valon Behrami is nursing a hip injury.
Manual Da Costa and James Collison continue to be sidelined, while Thomas Hitzlsperger is out until February. Anthony Edgar and Peter Kurucz are the last two Hammers out injured.
Fulham could get Moussa Dembele back from his ankle injury, the same injury keeping Matthew Briggs out. Frank Stoor is out with a groin injury, while Bobby Zamora and Philippe Senderos are both out until early February.
Everton - Birmingham
Tim Howard won man of the match for his display in Everton's win over Manchester City, and the American keeper will look to shine again at home against Birmingham.
Birmingham could close ground between themselves and Everton, having a game in hand due to the cancellations last weekend. Everton won their game, putting themselves three points above Birmingham.
Alexander Hleb is the biggest casualty to injury as the former Arsenal man is out with a hamstring injury. James McFadden is out until the middle of February with an ACL knee injury.
Steven Pienaar could return for Everton, but Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga are both out until the middle of January. Leon Osman is on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Bolton - West Brom
Stuart Holden's Bolton take on 11th placed West Brom as they look to get back on their winning ways.
Bolton will be looking to bounce back after their 1-0 defeat to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. The Trotters will continue to be without Jlloyd Samuel and Joey O'Brien for the near future, while Sean Davis is out until early February with a knee injury.
West Brom could have a huge boost in the return of Peter Odemwingie who has been suffering through a groin strain. Chris Brunt also has been sidelined with the same injury, but is not expected to be passed fit for the weekend outing.
Aston Villa - Tottenham
Brad Friedel and Aston Villa have a huge test ahead when Tottenham travel to Villa Park.
Tottenham defender William Gallas should be passed healthy after struggling with a hamstring injury, while Jermaine Jenas is unlikely to overcome his calf injury. The health of Ledley King, Jamie O'hara, and Jonathan Woodgate will be monitored, while Tom Huddlestone is out until February.
Steven Sidwell and Stiliyan Petrov could both make the bench against Tottenham, while Ashley Young is out with a knee injury. Fabian Delph and Andreas Weimann are both out for the weekend clash.
Carlisle United – Oldham Athletic
Frank Simek and Mike Grella hope to help Carlisle United defeat Oldham Athletic in a Boxing Day League One match-up.
These two teams will be anxious to step onto the field after weeks of severe weather have hampered their respective schedules.
Simek is a regular in the Cumbrians' lineup and should again be in the starting eleven. Grella is hoping to start after a couple of substitute appearances.
Despite having been idle for the last two weeks, Carlisle are still only three points from a playoff spot. A win for the Cumbrians should help them keep up with the cluttered top half of the standings.
Carlisle's Sean McDaid will be out for the season with a knee injury. Tony Kane is sidelined also with a knee problem while Danny Livesey's groin continues to keep him from the field.
Oldham are currently in a playoff spot and a win against the Cumbrians could further cement their place in the top half of the standings.
The Latics have no major injury news as Ritchie Jones has recovered from groin and hamstring problems and is available.
Milton Keynes Dons – Leyton Orient
Jemal Johnson and Milton Keynes Dons take on Leyton Orient in Boxing Day action.
Johnson is a regular contributor for MK Dons and could feature against Orient. The American has missed training due to illness but should recover in time for the game.
The Dons are currently in the middle of the table and will need to start securing wins if they want to avoid falling too deep in the standings.
Aaron Wilbraham is serving a one game suspension for MK Dons and will miss the Orient game. Angelo Balanta is sidelined until March with an ankle injury while Sam Baldock is also suffering from a similar injury and will miss as well.
Orient are currently sixteenth in the standings and will hope for a win to separate themselves from the drop zone.
Jamie Jones has been out a month after hernia surgery but looks to be fit for the O's going into Sunday. Terrell Forbes is suspended for the matchup, while Dean Cox could miss because of a virus.
Marcus Hahnemann will be on the bench when Wolverhampton faces Wigan at home.
Conor Doyle hopes to feature as Derby County takes on Doncaster.
Anton Peterlin and Plymouth take on Bournemouth.