PREVIEW: MIDWEEK ENGLISH ACTION
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JOHN KRETLOW - Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Clint Dempsey and Fulham look to put a dent in Manchester United's title hopes while Brad Friedel and tottenham Hotspur host Chelsea in a crucial match.

Tottenham Hotspur - Chelsea

Brad Friedel will be in the nets for Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday night when they take on Chelsea in a crucial midweek Premier League clash.

Spurs are coming off a win over Sunderland and are playing strong soccer of late despite a loss to Stoke City a couple of weeks ago. They have lost only once in their last thirteen league games.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four games, but want to improve form their tie last week to Wigan. The Blues trail Spurs by two points in the standings, making this London derby all the more important.

Tottenham could be without Danny Rose, Niko Kranjcar, Michael Dawson, and Tom Huddlestone while Chelsea's Michael Essien is injured and will not feature.

Aston Villa - Arsenal

Brad Guzan and Aston Villa host a shaky Arsenal in Wednesday Premier League play.

Guzan started and went the distance in last weekend's loss to Liverpool. The American ‘keeper is starting in place of injured Shay Given.

Villa have only won one game in their last five in league play, having most recently lost to Liverpool last weekend by two goals, and are looking to bounce back.

Arsenal are currently in fifth place and trail Chelsea by just three points in the standings. They lost to Manchester City last week, their third loss in five across all competitions, and look to rebound from the defeat.

American Eric Lichaj will miss due to injury for Villa.

Vito Mannone, Lukasz Fabianski, Craig Eastmond, Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere, and Andre Santos are out for Arsenal.

Fulham - Manchester United

Clint Dempsey and Fulham host Manchester United at Craven Cottage this midweek.

Demspey started and went the distance last week in their 2-0 win over Bolton, netting the winning goal.

The Cottagers are five points from the relegation zone and are 11th in the standings. Previously flirting with disaster, they have only lost once in their last five home games in all competitions to give themselves a bit of space heading into the holiday season.

United are in second place in the standings, trailing Manchester City by two points. They have gone seven games unbeaten since their loss in October to their Manchester counter part.

Mark Schwarzer is injured and will not feature for Fulham.

Darren Fletcher, Javier Hernandez, Anderson, Michael Owen, Thomas Cleverley, and Nemanja Vidic are all out for United.

Notes

Zak Whitbread went the distance in central defense for Norwich on Tuesday in their 2-2 draw on the road against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Stuart Holden is injured and missed Bolton's crucial 2-1 road win over Blackburn on Tuesday.
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A big question for U.S. fans heading into the World Cup is surely on Jozy Altidore and just what is plaguing the young striker at Sunderland.
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