ANDREW VORCE - Friday, December 31, 2010
Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden and Brad Friedel play against Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea respectively as a full weekend of English action heats up.
Tottenham - Fulham
Clint Dempsey and Fulham will need to be at their best when they take the short trip to White Heart Lane to face Tottenham.
Fulham sit in the relegation zone just one point behind 15th placed Aston Villa. The visitors could get Moussa Dembele back from his ankle injury, while Matt Briggs is out for two weeks. Bobby Zamora and Phillippe Senderos are still a month out from returning.
Tottenham could receive a huge boost in the form of William Gallas who has been out with a hamstring injury. Ledley King is out with a groin strain, while Jamie O'Hara and Jonathan Woodgate could miss out through injury. Tom Huddlestone is out until mid-February with an ankle injury.
Liverpool - Bolton
Stuart Holden and Bolton make the short trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool.
Bolton have had an impressive season to date and nearly pulled off a result against Chelsea in their last outing.
Gretar Steinsson is out with a knee injury, while Jlloyd Samuel continues to suffer from a calf muscle strain. Sean Davis and Joey O'Brien are both out with knee injuries.
Liverpool are just shy of crisis mode after a slew of terrible results including a 0-1 defeat to lowly Wolves.
Liverpool are without Jamie Carragher through a dislocated shoulder, while Jay Spearing cold return from an ankle injury this weekend.
Chelsea - Aston Villa
Two desperate teams lock horns when Brad Friedel and Aston Villa visit Chelsea.
Eric Lichaj had a horrid time against Manchester City and his spot in the starting 11 could be in jeopardy.
Both Ashley and Luke Young could return from injury lay offs against the champions, while Emile Heskey is out with a knee injury. Andreas Weimann is out until February with an ankle injury.
Yuri Zhirkov is out with a calf muscle strain and is unlikely to play, while Alex is out until early February with a knee injury. Yossi Benayoun is out until April with and achilles injury. Chelsea have had a roller coaster season, but a home win over Aston Villa would put them back on course.
Stoke - Everton
Tim Howard and Everton will need to be focused when they travel to Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City.
Everton drew 1-1 against West Ham on Tuesday and will hope to pick up more points away from home. Johnny Heitinga has been sidelined with a knee injury, while Ross Barkley is out until March with a broken leg. Leon Osman continues to be sidelined with his ankle injury.
Stoke City were shocked to lose at home against Fulham as Chris Baird rocketed home two first half finishes. Tony Pulis will have all of his charges psyched up ahead over Everton's visit and will demand a win. Only Mamade Sidebe is carrying an injury, but he is in a race against the clock to be declared fit in time.
West Ham - Wolverhampton
Jonathan Spector will go up against Marcus Hahnemann's Wolverhampton Wanderers as the goalkeeper will start from the bench.
Spector will hope to keep his place in the starting line up. James Collison and Mark Noble are both close to a return, but may not be fit enough to start. Manuel Da costa and Thomas Hitzlsperger are due back in February while Anthony Edgar and Patrick Kurucz are both out long term with knee injuries.
Wolves could have a trio of players back for the weekend trip in the form of Jody Craddock, Kevin Doyle and Michael Mancienne. Karl Henry could still return in January from his knee injury, while Adelene Guedioura will likely be back in March from his broken leg.
Carlisle United – Huddersfield Town
Frank Simek and Mike Grella hope to push Carlisle United to a win over Huddersfield Town in League One play.
After weeks of frustration due to the severe winter weather, both teams will be eager to hit the field on New Years Day.
Simek will get the start as he usually does while Grella is hoping to be in the starting eleven.
The Cumbrians sit outside of the playoff picture right now, but a win this Saturday could catapult them up the cluttered top half of the standings.
Carlisle's Sean McDaid is out for the season with a knee injury. Tony Kane has suffered from a knee problem himself and is questionable to play. Danny Livesey has been out long term due to a nagging groin injury, but he is inching close to health.
Huddersfield sits in the top half of the standings in a playoff spot and hope to stay there with a win on Saturday. They are coming off two straight tough losses and will fight to not let it be a third straight defeat.
Town's Jamie McCombe and Liam Ridehalgh have been struggling with flu symptoms and will hope to be well enough to take part. Damien Johnson's knee injury will definitely sideline him while Gary Naysmith is suffering from a toe problem that will also keep him off the field.
Milton Keynes Dons – Bristol Rovers
Jemal Johnson and Milton Keynes Dons take on the Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
Johnson did not feature in MK Dons' last game but he hopes for playing time to kick off the New Year.
The Dons are coming off an impressive 2-0 over Bournemouth, which now puts them in shooting distance from the playoff zone. Another win this weekend could see them go up further the cluttered top half of the standings.
MK Dons' Angelo Balanta is sidelined until March with an ankle injury, while Jude Stirling could miss due to a groin strain.
Bristol are in dangerous territory near the bottom of the standings and desperately need to start compiling wins to avoid relegation. The Rovers have not won since October 16th.
Rovers have not played a league game since December 16th and come without any major injuries.
Anton Peterlin hopes to feature as Plymouth take on Yeovil.
Conor Doyle could make the bench as Derby County plays Preston.