Premier League – Team News: Arshavin to debut


We check out all of this weekend’s team news with Andrei Arshavin set to make his eagerly awaited Arsenal debut.

For predicted line-ups, stats and players to watch click on the match of your choice under the picture.

(15:00 kick-offs unless stated otherwise)

Aston Villa v Chelsea (12:45)

Emile Heskey (Achilles) and James Milner (thigh) are struggling to shake off the knocks that kept them out of the CSKA Moscow UEFA Cup game and could again miss out. John Carew will continue up front if Heskey is out. Steve Sidwell is available again after serving his European suspension but might have to settle for a place on the bench. Nigel Reo-Coker and Wilfred Bouma are also close to returning.

Chelsea’s manager Guus Hiddink has not given away too many hints about his starting line-up with the most intriguing question being whether he plays one or two men up front. Ashley Cole is suspended while Alex and Ricardo Carvalho are both doubtful. That means that Branislav Ivanovic, Michael Mancienne and Paulo Ferreira are all pushing for starts.

Arsenal v Sunderland

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that Andrei Arshavin (pictured) will make his debut against Sunderland but whether he starts or is on the bench remains to be seen. Double midweek goalscorer Eduardo is out with hamstring injury so Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie are likely to start up front. Emmanuel Eboue is back from suspension while Johan Djourou has recovered from a recent illness.

Sunderland will have to make at least one change from the side that beat Stoke 2-0 two weeks ago with Phil Bardsley serving a one match ban. The fit-again Paul McShane looks a ready-made replacement. The Black Cats also have Nyron Nosworthy and Teemu Tainio available again.

Bolton v West Ham

Bolton manager Gary Megson could be tempted to make a number of changes from the side that crashed 3-0 at Everton two weeks ago. Gavin McCann, Johan Elmander, Tamir Cohen and Nicky Hunt all return to the squad after injury to give him some options.

West Ham are without England striker Carlton Cole so Diego Tristan or record signing Savio Nsereko will partner David Di Michele up front. Luis Boa Morte misses out with a groin injury.

Middlesbrough v Wigan

Middlesbrough have no new injury worries so Stewart Downing is again likely to start in a central position with Julio Arca and Adam Johnson on the wings.

Wigan striker Mido is ineligible to play against his parent club but might have been missing with a groin strain anyway. Amr Zaki, who hasn’t scored a goal from open play for four months, is likely to come in. Antonio Valencia is a big loss in right midfield with Jason Koumas a potential replacement.

Stoke City v Portsmouth

Ricardo Fuller is out for Stoke with a dislocated shoulder but Mamady Sidibe comes back as a ready made replacement after recovering from his knee injury. Stephen Kelly (hamstring) and Danny Higginbotham (calf) are doubtful and Rory Delap and Matthew Etherington are suspended.

Portsmouth caretaker boss Paul Hart can pick the same side that enjoyed an impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester City last weekend as Hermann Hreidarsson is expected to shake off a virus. Richard Hughes, Papa Bouba Diop and Armand Traore remain sidelined.

Manchester United v Blackburn (17:30)

Wayne Rooney came off the bench and scored on his return from injury against Fulham in midweek. He is expected to start up front with Dimitar Berbatov, which would mean that Carlos Tevez would have to settle for a place on the bench. Gary Neville, Wes Brown and Anderson are all out though.

Blackburn are without the suspended Christopher Samba but their only two injury concerns are long-term absentees Steven Reid and Brett Emerton. Danny Simpson cannot play against his parent club.


Fulham v West Brom (13:30)

Fulham should have Andrew Johnson and Paul Konchesky back from the minor knocks that kept them out of Wednesday’s defeat to Manchester United.

West Brom could be without Paul Robinson whose wife is due to give birth. James Morrison should be fit though after shaking off a groin strain and Ryan Donk, Jay Simpson and Luke Moore are all available again.

Liverpool v Man City

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has still been ruled out of the clash with City as he is still recovering from a hamstring strain. Lucas and Javier Mascherano are likely to make-up an all South American central midfield as Xabi Alonso is suspended.

City have no new injury worries with Micah Richards set to start again in defence after returning against Copenhagen in mid-week. Nigel de Jong was ineligible for the trip to Denmark but should come straight back into the starting line-up. Shaun Wright-Phillips is suspended.

Newcastle v Everton (16:00)

Newcastle have plenty of striking options with Alan Smith, Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins all returning from injury. Martins is the most likely to figure but Chris Hughton may choose to go with Peter Lovenkrands and Shola Ameobi again. Michael Owen, Joey Barton, Danny Guthrie, Habib Beye, Andy Carroll, Nacho Gonzalez and Xisco all remain sidelined by injuries.

Everton are without Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert who are both suspended but Leon Osman, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar are all available again. Louis Saha is also close to returning but Jo is likely to play as a lone striker again after being cup-tied for the 3-1 win over Aston Villa.


Hull v Tottenham (20:00)

Hull City have lost Jimmy Bullard for the season and will also still be without George Boateng for several more weeks. With Daniel Cousin set to miss out again, Caleb Folan is set to lead the line.

Ledley King and Jermain Defoe are both close to returning for Spurs but this match might come just a little too soon for them. Alan Hutton and Jamie O’Hara remain absent and Roman Pavlyuchenko is expected to be given the nod to partner Robbie Keane up front ahead of Darren Bent.

A stunning free-kick from the Brazilian was the difference between the sides earlier in the season and Phil Brown will be hoping for more of the same from his star man.

Seán Fay / Eurosport