Monday 26th December 2011
Barclays Premier League
Chelsea v Fulham (kick off 13:00)
Chelsea haven’t lost to Fulham in any of their last 11 meetings, and the Cottagers haven’t enjoyed a victory at Stamford Bridge since 1979. Chelsea will be aiming to get their fading title aspirations back on track with a comfortable win but may have to enter battle without David Luiz, who is suffering with a knee injury. John Obi Mikel is also out of this clash. Frank Lampard looks set to be re-installed in the starting XI as Ramires is suspended.
Fulham should be pretty much at full strength bar long-term absentees Simon Davies, Mark Schwarzer and Zdenek Grygera. Steve Sidwell is back in training following a hernia operation but will not be facing his former club on Monday.
Bolton Wanderers v Newcastle United (kick off 15:00)
Bolton’s recent form stinks, barring their previous match when they beat Blackburn, but Bolton have beaten Newcastle in this fixture in three out of the last four meetings. Bolton defender Marcos Alonso must have a pin replaced in his foot and will therfore miss out on the visit of Newcastle. David Wheater returns after his suspension while Sean Davis and Sam Ricketts continue their comebacks after recent injuries and are pushing the manager for involvement on Monday.
Newcastle have lost just two away league matches this season and travel to Bolton with Yohan Cabaye in the squad who returns from suspension. Davide Santon is a worry though. He limped off the pitch midweek with a knee injury and will face a late fitness test. Danny Guthrie is struggling witha groin strain and may not make the grade this time round, while Peter Lovenkrands is out until the New Year.
Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers (kick off 15:00)
Liverpool haven’t lost to Blackburn at Anfield since an FA Cup tie in 2000 and are unbeaten at home in their last eight league matches. The Reds have Jay Spearing back in contention following his recent ban. Steven Gerrard is reported to be back in training following his ankle infection but he’ll almost certainly miss out on this game as he bids to regain fitness.
Bottom club Blackburn will travel to Anfield without ‘keeper Paul Robinson (calf muscle tear). Martin olsson is struggling with a hamstring injury while Ryan Nelsen will also miss out due to a knee injury. Gael Givet has made a terrific recovery from heart surgery and should be back training next week.
Manchester United v Wigan Athletic (kick off 15:00)
The stats speak for themselves. These two sides have met 13 times in all competitions and Manchester United have won all 13. In fact, Wigan have scored just four goals in those 13 clashes; United haved netted 41 times. Enough said?
United’s task is made slightly easier by the fact that Phil Jones‘ suspected broken jaw is nothing more than badly bruised and he should be able to feature on Monday. However, Ashley Young (knee) joins Tom Cleverley (ankle), Michael Owen (thigh) and Anderson (knee) in the stands. Longer term absentees are Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher.
Wigan are waiting on the fitness levels of Steve Gohouri (flu), James McCarthy and Hugo Rodellega before deciding on the squad that travels to Old Trafford.
Sunderland v Everton (kick off 15:00)
Sunderland’s results have certainly improved under new boss Martin O’Neill. They’ll face Everton on Monday afternoon without Connor Wickham who has an injured knee. Frazier Campbell is nearly back in contention but won’t make the squad for this game. Craig Gordon is still out with a knee problem.
Everton have got draws on their last two visits to the Stadium of Light, and won on the last two visits before that. However, they’ll face a stiffer task on Monday without Seamus Coleman who’s tweaked his groin. Jack Rodwell and Conor McAleny will both be facing fitness tests on Monday morning.
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City (kick off 15:00)
WBA have lost their last two games at home but are boosted by the return of midfielder James Morrison from a hamstring strain. Steven Reid is struggling with an ankle knock, while Youssouf Mulumbu (groin) and Jerome Thomas (ankle) will face a late fitness assessment.
Manchester City are in superb form lately and won’t be daunted by a trip to the Hawthorns and will expect to claim all three points. Edin Dzeko could miss out on the trip after suffering an ankle knock last week. Micah Richards is expected to shake of a calf strain to retain his place in the starting XI.
Stoke City v Aston Villa (kick off 19:45)
Stoke’s form lately hasnt been too bad and will be hopeful of a big display against an Aston Villa side struggling away from home. Eight of Stoke’s last nine games have featured at least three goals so a goal-fest could be on the cards.
Stoke should have Peter Crouch available for selection again following a recent illness. Republic of Ireland international Glenn Whelan is doubtful with a calf strain but influential winger Matthew Etherington could return. Ryan Shawcross returns to marshall the defence after a ban.
Darren Bent should return from a thigh injury for Aston Villa. Emile Heskey and James Collins should also feature following recent minor injuries but Alan Hutton is suspended after being sent off in Villa’s previous game.
Tuesday 27th December 2011 – Barclays Premier League
Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers (kick off 15:00)
Arsenal have a pretty exhaustive injury list ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Wolves. Kieran Gibbs (groin), Bacary Sagna (ankle), Carl Jenkinson (back) and Andre Santos (ankle) are all definite absentees. Jack Wilshere (ankle), Lukasz Fabianski (knee), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), Abou Diaby (hamstring) and Vito Mannone (shoulder) all remain on the sidelines too. Alex Song returns from suspension and Johann Djourou could play having made a rapid recovery from a groin strain.
Wolves must assess the fitness of Jody Craddock and Dave Edwards before travelling to London to face Arsenal. Kevin Foley played for the reserves midweek but is likely not to be risked in this fixture.
Swansea City v Queens Park Rangers (kick off 17:00)
Swansea will be at pretty much full strength as they entertain QPR on Tuesday evening. Neil Taylor is the only doubt and he will undergo a late test on his knee ligaments. Nathan Dyer should return following a foot injury.
QPR will be without long-term absentee Kieron Dyer until next season. Shaun Wright-Phillips is also out having undergone a scan on a knee problem. Anton Ferdinand misses out on the trip to Wales with a hamstring strain and is expected to return on January 2nd.
Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur (kick off 19:30)
Norwich will again be without James Vaughan but he is getting closer to a return to first team action. Kyle Naughton is suspended while Elliott Ward is out with a knee injury until January. Ritchie de Laet will be given a chance to prove his fitness prior to the Tuesday night kick off.
Rafael van der Vaart is struggling with a recurring hamstring strain and will miss out on the trip to Carrow Road. Jermaine Defoe and Younes Kaboul will both be given fitness tests while Ledley King is likely to be rested. Aaron Lennon misses out with a hamstring complaint and joins Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone on the sidelines.