JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, December 28, 2012
Tim Howard and Everton look to jump Chelsea in the standings with a win against the London team this weekend, while Aston Villa hope to bounce back after two straight tough losses against visiting Wigan.
Everton - Chelsea
Tim Howard is expected to be in the Everton's starting eleven against Chelsea at Goodison Park this weekend.
The Toffees are on a seven-game unbeaten run and trail Chelsea by just two points in the standings. A victory on Saturday would end a strong calendar year for the team.
Chelsea is coming off three straight wins in league play, including their eight-goal drumming of Aston Villa last Sunday. The Blues are in a Champions League position but trail Manchester United by eleven points for the league lead.
Kevin Mirallas, Tony Hibbert, and Marouane Fellaini will miss for the Toffees.
Aston Villa - Wigan Athletic
Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, and Aston Villa look to break out of their funk as they take on Wigan Athletic.
Villa has given up twelve goals in their last two games and have not found the back of the net themselves in that span. They are just three points above the relegation zone.
Wigan is in the drop zone and has lost five out of their last six games. A win to end the year though could give them a fresh start to 2013.
Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ron Vlaar, Richard Dunne, and Gary Gardner are injury worries for Villa.
Stoke City - Southampton
Geoff Cameron looks to feature in Stoke City's match against Southampton at the Britannia Stadium.
Maurice Edu is not expected to see time for the Potters.
Stoke has gone nine games unbeaten and climbed up the league standings significantly, in big part because of the Premier League's stingiest defense. They are just five points from a European tournament position and could inch even closer with a win on Saturday.
Southampton goes into the game having won just once in their last five games. They are just one point above the drop zone and are in deep need of three points.
Rory Delap and Marc Wilson are sidelined for the Potters.
Burnley - Leicester City
Zak Whitbread is expected to feature in Leicester City's road game at Burnley.
The Foxes are coming off a scoreless draw against a strong Hull City. Leicester City though is winless in their last four games and are seven points from an automatic promotion position.
Burnley is in the middle of the standings but they are just four points from a playoff position. They have only lost one game in their last seven and hope to end the calendar year on a positive note.
The Foxes do not have any injury concerns but could rotate their lineup because of a hectic schedule.
Carlisle United - Bury
Frank Simek and Carlisle United take on Bury in a League One relegation battle.
The Cumbrians are coming off a win over Hartlepool United on Boxing Day, which happened the be their first win of December. They are just five points above the drop zone and will need a victory this weekend.
Bury is in the relegation zone but a victory this Saturday could bolster them into temporary safety. They are winless in their last eight games, but a victory this weekend would end the calendar year on a bright and hopeful note.
Paul Thirlwell, Chris Chantler, and Danny Cadamarteri are injury scratches for the Cumbrians. James Berrett though is nearing fitness and is questionable to feature for Carlisle.
Clint Dempsey is questionable to feature because of a groin injury in Tottenham's game against Sunderland.
Seb Hines could see the field in Middlesbrough's game against Blackpool.
Robbie Findley's Nottingham Forest take on Crystal Palace.
Conor Doyle could make the game day roster in Derby County's match against Charlton Athletic.
It is unclear if Jonathan Spector or Will Packwood will see time in Birmingham City's game against Tim Ream's Bolton.
Robbie Rogers and Stevenage take on Notts County.
Mike Grella could see playing time in Scunthorpe United's match with Tranmere Rovers.
Jon Paul Pittman and Oxford United play AFC Wimbledon in League Two action.