PREVIEW: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
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BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, September 28, 2012
Tim Howard will have the chance to continue his stong season when Everton host Southampton while Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel will take part in a showdown against Manchester United

Everton - Southampton

Tim Howard has been playing exceptionally well to start the English Premier League season and the club will hope to stay toward the top of the standings when they host Southampton on Saturday.

The game will feature two teams who are coming off of very impressive wins in their last league games.

Everton have earned 10 points through the first five games of the season and are currently sitting in third place in the Premier League. Despite a midweek loss to Leeds in the League Cup, Everton were very impressive last weekend when they dominated Swansea on the road to a 3-0 victory.

Southampton had a difficult start to the English Premier League but most of that can be attributed to an extremely hard schedule with games against Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal. Last weekend they had a much easier task against Aston Villa and cruised to a 4-1 win.

Everton will be without injured Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert however both are close to returning.

Southampton will not have midfielder Jack Cork who will be out for over a month with a knee injury. Forward Emmanuel Mayuka is questionable for the game for the Saints.

Stoke - Swansea

With four draws and a loss to start the season, Stoke City will be looking for their first Premier League win of the year when they host Swansea on Saturday at Britannia Stadium.

Normally a central defender, U.S. international Geoff Cameron started for Stoke last weekend against Chelsea at right back and he is likely to play there again this week. Meanwhile, fellow American Maurice Edu will hope to be in the matchday 18 for Stoke and make his Premier League debut.

Stoke City began the season with four straight draws but they dropped their first game last weekend when they fell to a very strong Chelsea team 1-0. The weekend before that, they fought to a solid 1-1 draw with defending champions Manchester City.

Stoke began the season with a very difficult schedule and earning three points against Swansea is important because their next two games are against the struggling but dangerous Liverpool and Manchester United.

Swansea are entering into Saturday's game on the heels of a difficult stretch of games. They have lost their last two Premier League games against Aston Villa and Everton by a combined score of 5-0. This past midweek, they struggled past Crawley town 3-2 in the League Cup.

For the game Stoke will be missing defender Andy Wilkinson who is serving the second game of a three game suspension.

Swansea coach Michael Laudrup will have a full squad at his disposal.

Manchester United - Tottenham

In what is likely be the marquee game for the Premier League this weekend, Clint Demspey and Brad Friedel will hope to lead Tottenham into Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Saturday.

Tottenham eight points through five games on the season and they are playing solid soccer as of late. In midweek they easily cruised past Carlisle United in the League Cup 3-0. They have also won their last two Premier League games against Queens Park Rangers and Reading.

A win over Manchester United will likely send the Spurs into the top five of the league.

Every game is important for Manchester United this year as the club desperately want to add another Premier League trophy to their growing collection of silverware. Ever since a shocking opening weekend loss to Everton, Manchester United has been stellar winning their last four league games.

In other competitions, Manchester United has been undefeated so far in the Champions League and the League Cup. In all competitions, they have won their last six.

If Manchester United want to keep up their winning ways, they will have to do so without Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Antonio Valencia who are all injured. Ashley Young is questionable for the game as well.

For Tottenham, Scott Parker, Jake Livermore, Younes Kaboul, Benoit Asou-Ekotto are all unavailable.

Aston Villa- West Bromwich Albion

Aston Villa will hope that their upset over Manchester City in the League Cup midweek will carry over into the Premier League on Sunday when they host West Bromwich at Villa Park.

Brad Guzan is likely to start for Aston Villa while Eric Lichaj could also feature as well.

Despite the 4-2 extra time win over Manchester City in the League Cup, Villa are likely more worried about their troubling 4-1 loss to Southampton last weekend. In that game, the club looked shaky on both sides of the ball.

West Bromwich are sitting pretty in fourth place after their first five Premier League games. Despite the midweek defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup, they have just one loss in the Premier League this season. Last weekend they overcame a tough test from Reading to earn three points in a 1-0 victory.

West Bromwich will not have Steven Reid, Boaz Myhill, Jerome Thomas because of injuries. They are also without the suspended Peter Odemwingie.

Aston Villa will be without Stephen Ireland who broke his wrist last weekend. They are also without Richard Dunne and Gary Gardner.

Brighton & Hove Albion - Birmingham City

Birmingham City have struggled to start the Championship season and they will face a very difficult test when they visit league leading Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday at The American Express Community Stadium.

Jonathan Spector is likely to start for the Blues while US U-20 defender Will Packwood will hope to make the bench.

Brighton & Hove Albion have won their last five games to rockey to the top of the Championship standings. Last weekend they cruised to a 2-1 win over Millwall at the Den. They are playing well in all areas of the game and hrough seven games they have scored 14 goals while conceding only four.

On the reverse end, Birmingham City are sitting in 19th place in the Championship. Last weekend they were thoroughly embarrassed 5-0 at home to Barnsley. This season Birmingham City were expected to contend for promotion but they are considered one of the disappointments of the Championship so far.

For the game the Blues will be without Stephen Carr, Paul Caddis, David Murphy, and Pablo Ibanez with injuries.

On the other end, the Seagulls will not have Craig Mackail-Smith.

Carlisle United - Crawley Town

It is early in the League One season but the standings remain tight. For Carlisle United they sit in 10th place but are only two points out of fourth place.

Frankie Simek should start at right back for Carlisle where he is a mainstay for the team.

Carlisle dropped a 3-0 decision at home to Tottenham midweek in the League Cup but last week they earned an impressive win over Coventry on the road.

Crawley Town enters the game with one more point than Carlisle with 13 on the season. They are currently in eighth place but surprising have a poor minus three goal differential.

Carlisle United will only be missing Lee Miller for the game.

Crawley Town will have a full squad for the game.

Gillingham - Rochdale

Gillingham have been off to an incredible start in League Two this season and they will hope pad their lead at the top of the standings when they host Rochdale on Saturday.

Robbie Findley started for Gillingham in his debut last week after going on loan from Notthingham Forest. He should feature again.

Through eight games in League Two, Gillingham have already amassed 22 points and have a plus 13 goal differential. Rochdale are sitting in middle of the standings but there is still a 10 point difference between the two teams.

Gillingham will be without Charlie Lee and Jack Payne due to injury. Bradley Dack will also be out without suspension.

For Rochdale, they will not have Peter Cavanagh, Luke Watson, Reece Gray, and Matt Edwards who are all injured.

Notes

Tim Ream has struggled this season and will now hope to be in the matchday 18 for Bolton Wanders when they host Crystal Palace

Mike Grella could feature for Scunthorpe when they visit Portsmouth on Saturday in League One play

Seb Hines is aiming to crack the starting lineup for Middlesrough when they host Leicester City. Zak Whitbread could also receive minutes for Leicester

Conor O'Brien is likely to be on the bench for Derby County when they visit Nottingham Forest.

Robbie Rogers could receive minutes off the bench for Stevenage when they host Bury.

Jon Paul Pittman could be part of the Oxford United bench when they visit Rotherham United in League Two action.
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