ANDREW VORCE - Monday, December 27, 2010
Brad Friedel and Aston Villa travel to Manchester City while Stuart Holden's Bolton take on title holders Chelsea as the holiday program continues with midweek English action.
Manchester City - Aston Villa
Brad Friedel and Aston Villa continue their run of difficult games as the quick turn around has them traveling away to Manchester City on Tuesday.
Manchester City will be confident of a home victory after their 3-1 win over Newcastle at St James' Park on Sunday, while Aston Villa slumped to 10 man Tottenham at home.
Eric Lichaj has had a better season to date than any previous campaign, starting on Sunday against Tottenham. Brad Guzan hasn't had the chance to shine under Gerard Houllier as the coach continues his selection of veteran keeper Friedel. Ashley Young is suffering from a knee injury, while Andreas Weimann is out until February with an ankle injury.
Stoke - Fulham
Clint Dempsey and Fulham will have their hands full when they travel to Stoke City.
Stoke currently sit in eighth place, thee points behind Sunderland, albeit with a game in hand. The Potters are fresh off the back of a Sunday win at Blackburn with Robert Huth and Marc Wilson both getting on the scoresheet. Mamaby Sidebe is the only player out, who looks to overcome his calf injury.
Fulham have bigger concerns than their four injured players as they slipped into the relegation zone. Matthew Briggs and Frank Stoor continue to be sidelined, while Bobby Zamora and Philippe Senderos are out until February. Eddie Johnson has been regularly used from the substitutes bench, but is still in search of a goal.
West Ham - Everton
Jonathan Spector will likely remain on the bench when West Ham welcome Tim Howard's Everton to Upton Park.
Spector was relegated to the bench in the Hammers' 3-1 win over Fulham after a slew of starts. West Ham have six out, with James Collison and Mark Noble due back in January. February will see Manuel Da Costa and Thomas Hitzlsperger back, while Anthony Edgar and Patrick Kurucz are out long term.
Everton still have three players out as their weekend game against Birmingham was cancelled. Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga are out until January, while Leon Osman remains out with a calf injury. Jagielka is out with a thigh muscle strain while Heitinga is out with a knee injury.
Chelsea - Bolton
Stuart Holden's Bolton will be up against it when they travel to Chelsea to take on the reigning champions.
Bolton won 2-0 over West Brom but were fortunate to secure a shutout as their defense was found out. Chelsea will not be as forgiving, especially at home.
Yuri Zhirkov has been sidelined with a calf muscle strain while Alex is out until February with a knee injury. Yossi Benayoun is out until April with an Achilles injury. Otherwise, Chelsea have a full squad.
Bolton have most of their players on hand for the big game, with only long term injuries on the trainer's table. Jlloyd Samuel is out with a calf muscle strain, while Sean Savis is out with a knee injury. Joey O'Brien continues to be sidelined with a knee injury, and is not expected back any time soon.
Carlisle United – Exeter City
Frank Simek and Mike Grella hope to help Carlisle United defeat Exeter City in midweek League One action.
After both team's Boxing Day games were postponed due to the weather, they will be eager to take the field in an important matchup.
Simek will start as he has all season while Grella will hope to feature, most likely from the bench.
The Cumbrians will be without the services of Sean McDaid for the rest of the season because of a knee injury. Tony Kane looks to miss because of a knee injury while Danny Livesey's groin problem continues to sideline him.
Exeter City is ahead of Carlisle by two points in the standings making this matchup a decisive one in League One. Both teams are hoping to keep up with a cluttered top half of the standings.
The time off as helped Exeter City on the injury front and should field an injury free team.
Milton Keynes Dons – AFC Bournemouth
After their respective weekend games were postponed, Jemal Johnson's Milton Keynes Dons take on AFC Bournemouth in a decisive league matchup.
After battling an illness last week, Jemal Johnson should be healthy and ready to contribute for MK Dons in their midweek game.
The Dons' Sam Baldock is suffering from an ankle injury and looks to miss. Angelo Balanta is sidelined until March with an ankle problem as well.
Only four points separate MK Dons and Bournemouth in the standings. Though, Bournemouth is sitting in a playoff spot, making this game important for both teams.
Bournemouth look to field a full strength team this Tuesday.
Marcus Hahnemann will be on the bench when Wolves travel to Liverpool.
Anton Peterlin and Plymouth host Notts County in League One play.
Conor Doyle hopes to feature as Derby County take on Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.