JOHN KRETLOW - Thursday, December 20, 2012
Clint Dempsey's Tottenham host Geoff Cameron and Stoke City at White Hart Lane, while Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, and Aston Villa look to keep their strong run going against Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur - Stoke City
Clint Dempsey and Tottenham Hotspur look to move into the top three with a win over Geoff Cameron's Stoke City.
After a tough loss two weeks ago against Everton, Spurs bounced back with a 1-0 win over Swansea City last weekend. They are in fourth place in the standings, tied with Chelsea in points and only trailing them because of goal differential.
The Potters are coming off two straight draws, but Stoke is unbeaten in their last seven games and look to extend that run this weekend. This strong run is due to a stingy defense that has only given up 13 goals this season, a category they lead the Premiership in.
Gareth Bale and Younes Kaboul are injury worries for Spurs, while Rory Delap and Marc Wilson look to miss for Stoke.
West Ham United - Everton
Tim Howard and Everton take the road to play Sebastian Lletget's West Ham United this weekend.
Howard is a staple in the Toffees' lineup and should be in the starting eleven on Saturday, while Lletget is hoping to make West Ham's game day roster.
Everton is currently in sixth place and have gone unbeaten in their last five games. Four of those matches though have ended in draws and if the Toffees want to make a run into the league's elite they will need to start winning games.
West Ham is in the middles of the standings, but the last few weeks have seen them show tremendous inconsistency. They have just won once in their last five games and will need to start garnering points if they want to avoid a plummet in the standings.
Marouane Fellaini is suspended for Everton, while Kevin Mirallas, Tony Hibbert, Victor Anichebe, and Phil Neville are injury concerns for the Toffees.
Chelsea - Aston Villa
After a stunning win over Liverpool last weekend, Eric Lichaj, Brad Guzan, and Aston Villa take their strong momentum into Stamford Bridge and take on Chelsea on Sunday.
Villa was in the relegation zone not long ago, but their six game unbeaten run has put them three points above it at the moment.
After a rough November stretch for Chelsea, the Blues have won five out of their last six games and are in third place in the standings. They trail Manchester City by seven points and lead Tottenham by just goal differential.
Jon Obi Mikel is suspended for the Blues, while Darren Bent, Ron Vlaar, Richard Dunne, and Gary Gardner look to miss for Villa.
Leeds United - Middlesbrough
Seb Hines and MIddlesbrough will be aiming to break into an automatic promotion spot in the Championship with a win this weekend over Leeds United.
Boro is currently in third place, though the last month has seen inconsistent play. They have interchanged wins and losses in the last five games, so they will look to gain some momentum going into the busy holiday schedule.
Leeds is in twelfth place, but a good holiday stretch could see them pressure for a playoff position. They lost to Chelsea by four goals in their last game in the League Cup, so they look to bounce back against Boro.
George Friend, Andre Bikey, Faris Haroun, Andrew Halliday are all carrying knocks and questionable to feature for Boro.
Leicester City - Cardiff City
Zak Whitbread and Leicester City take on first place Cardiff City in crucial Championship matchup this weekend.
The Foxes are currently in fifth place and trail Cardiff by seven points in the standings. They have only won once in their last four games and will need to start gathering points soon if they want to make a run for an automatic promotion position.
Cardiff is coming off a surprising loss to last place Peterborough United last week. They had gone six games unbeaten in the games prior to that loss and they look to bounce back and grow their league lead.
Sean St. Ledger is a long term injury problem for the Foxes, while they have no new injury concerns. Kadeem Harris looks to miss for Cardiff City.
Scunthorpe United - Carlisle United
It is a battle of Americans in League One's matchup between Mike Grella's Scunthorpe United and Frank Simek's Carlisle United.
Mike Grella's playing time has been inconsistent of late for Scunthorpe. The American forward has not feature of late but could see playing time on Saturday. They are currently in the relegation zone and need a win to start their boost up the standings.
Carlisle is just two points above the drop zone and also are in deep need for a victory. They have lost six out of their last seven games and will be gunning for three points this weekend.
Tim Ream hopes to feature in Bolton's game against Peterborough United. Stuart Holden will not feature as he is still gaining fitness after knee surgery.
Conor Doyle looks to make the game day roster in Derby County's match against Hull City.
Jonathan Spector has an ankle injury and will miss Birmingham City's match against Burnley. Will Packwood could make the game day roster for the Blues.
Robbie Findley is not likely to feature in Nottingham Forest's game against Watford.
Robbie Rogers will hope for playing itme in Stevenage's game against Brentford.
Jon Paul Pittman and Oxford United take on Fleetwood Town in League Two action.