Premiership Previews


Sunday (All 4.0)

Arsenal (2) v Aston Villa (5)

Arsenal Boss Arsene Wenger has given a vote of confidence to Nelson Vivas by naming him to deputise for broken-nose victim Nigel Winterburn. It was substitute Vivas who left Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink unmarked to score the late goal on Tuesday night which brought Arsenal's fourth league defeat of the season. But the Argentinean defender's place in the starting line-up is likely to be the only change from the side which lost at Elland Road.

Aston Villa's rookie striker Darius Vassell is hoping to make his first Premiership start at Highbury. Villa are seriously short of strikers with Stan Collymore absent and Dion Dublin sidelined by hernia surgery. Midfielder Lee Hendrie, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, has been able to do some running this week and could figure if he can convince manager John Gregory that he is back to full fitness.

Last season: Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 0, Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 0

Last five league matches: Arsenal WWWWL, Aston Villa WWWLL

Top scorers: Nicolas Anelka (Arsenal) 19; Julian Joachim (Aston Villa) 16

Match odds: H 1-4 A 8-1 D 4-1

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

Charlton (18) v Sheff Wed (13)

Charlton will have a near full-strength squad for the do-or-die relegation battle. Richard Rufus twisted his ankle in training, but is hopeful of being fit. Paul Mortimer and goalkeeper Simon Royce are ruled out, but Sasa Ilic is back in contention and may replace Andy Petterson.

Sheffield Wednesday's England international left-back Andy Hinchcliffe has undergone surgery on a troublesome knee injury and will miss the last game of the season. Hinchcliffe has had the knee flushed out and now has the summer to make a complete recovery. Dejan Stefanovic will again deputise in what is certain to be the Yugoslav's last game as he is due to leave Hillsborough this summer after three seasons.

Last season: No corresponding fixtures

Last five league matches: Charlton DLLDW, Sheff Wed LDDLW

Top scorers: Graham Stuart (Charlton) 10; Richard Cresswell (Sheff Wed) 20

Match odds: H 4-9 A 11-2 D 11-4

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham)

Chelsea (3) v Derby (7)

Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli will have virtually a full squad to pick from. The only absentees are long-term injury victims Pierluigi Casiraghi (knee) and Andy Myers (achilles tendon).

Derby defender Tony Dorigo is doubtful for Sunday's return to one of his former clubs - he is still troubled by a back injury which has kept him out of the last four games. Rory Delap is doubtful with a groin injury, while midfielder Lars Bohinen is likely to miss out for the second week running with a torn calf muscle.

Last season: Chelsea 4 Derby 0, Derby 0 Chelsea 1

Last five league matches: Chelsea DDWWD Derby LDLWD

Top scorers: Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea) 15; Deon Burton (Derby) 12

Match odds: H 8-15 A 5-1 D 12-5

Referee: M Riley (Leeds)

Coventry (16) v Leeds (4)

Coventry expect to have full back David Burrows back to face Leeds. Burrows damaged a muscle in the front of his thigh and missed the drawn game at Derby last weekend.

Lee Bowyer is Leeds's only doubt for the trip to Highfield Road. The former Charlton midfielder picked up an ankle injury yesterday morning and has been unable to train, so Matty Jones could be set for a start as a replacement.

Last season: Coventry 0 Leeds 0, Leeds 3 Coventry 3

Last five league matches: Coventry LLLWD, Leeds DDWLW

Top scorers: John Aloisi (Coventry) 21; Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Leeds) 20

Match odds: H 7-4 A 5-4 D 9-4

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)

Liverpool (8) v Wimbledon (15)

Steve McManaman says his farewell to Liverpool before starting a new career with Real Madrid. Vegard Heggem could be back in the squad.

Wimbledon have Marcus Gayle back from international duty with Jamaica. Ben Thatcher misses the clash with an ankle injury, but Chris Perry is available despite recently cracking a bone in his foot.

Last season: Liverpool 2 Wimbledon 0, Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 1

Last five league matches: Liverpool L W W D L, Wimbledon L L D L L

Top scorers: Michael Owen (Liverpool) 23; Marcus Gayle (Wimbledon) 11

Match odds: H 8-15 A 5-1 D 12-5

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)

Man Utd (1) v Tottenham (11)

Roy Keane could make a surprise comeback for Manchester United as they push for the Premiership title. The Republic of Ireland midfielder, who was injured during last weekend's win at Middlesbrough, is back in training. Alex Ferguson is prepared to give Keane as long as possible and the midfielder will take a fitness test on Sunday morning. United have several players under treatment and Ferguson will not confirm his line-up until the last minute. Les Ferdinand is set to return for Spurs after missing the last five games because of an achilles injury. Allan Nielsen is still out injured and full back Mauricio Taricco is suspended. Ferdinand is likely to be given a place on the substitutes' bench, while Chris Armstrong and Steffen Iversen continue their partnership up front. Either Justin Edinburgh or Andy Sinton will replace Taricco.

Last season: Man Utd 2 Tottenham 0, Tottenham 0 Man Utd 0

Last five league matches: Man Utd DWDWD, Tottenham WLLLD

Top scorers: Dwight Yorke (Man Utd) 29; Steffen Iversen (Tottenham) 14

Match odds: H 1-5 A 11-1 D 4-1

Referee: G Poll (Tring)

Newcastle (12) v Blackburn (19)

Defender Laurent Charvet misses the final Premiership game of the season and his knee injury is threatening to end his FA Cup final hopes. Andy Griffin and Silvio Maric will undergo late fitness tests.

Blackburn striker Kevin Gallacher (hamstring) has shown no signs of improvement and with Kevin Davies dropped for disciplinary reasons and Chris Sutton and Nathan Blake both injured, boss Brian Kidd will pair Matt Jansen and Ashley Ward up front. Jason McAteer remains on the sidelines along with the likes of Jeff Kenna, Billy McKinlay, Christian Dailly and Gary Flitcroft, but Stephane Henchoz will again play through the pain barrier despite being in need of a groin operation.

Last season: Newcastle 1 Blackburn 1, Blackburn 1 Newcastle 0

Last five league matches: Newcastle LDDDL, Blackburn DLDLD

Top scorers: Alan Shearer (Newcastle) 21; Ashley Ward (Blackburn) 20

Match odds: H Evens A 9-4 D 9-4

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)

Nottm Forest (20) v Leicester (10)

Ron Atkinson is set to name an unchanged Forest line-up. Striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk is almost certain to miss the game because of a rib injury, but the Dutchman has only been able to command a place on the bench in recent weeks.

Leicester welcome back Emile Heskey and Steve Walsh from groin injuries. Ian Marshall faces a late fitness test on a hamstring injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixtures

Last five league matches: Nottm Forest LLLWW, Leicester WWLLW

Top scorers: Dougie Freedman (Nottm Forest) 12; Tony Cottee (Leicester) 16

Match odds: H 13-8 A 11-8 D 11-5

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol)

Southampton (17) v Everton (14)

Southampton manager Dave Jones has injury worries over three players. Captain Jason Dodd and Welsh midfielder David Hughes are both battling to recover from knee injuries, while former Birmingham player Chris Marsden is still troubled by a niggling groin problem. Midfielder Matthew Le Tissier has declared himself fully fit after recovering from a calf strain, but former England winger Stuart Ripley is again unavailable as he serves the final game of a three-match ban.

Everton fans will be hoping the match will not be Kevin Campbell's last game for the club after hitting nine goals in seven games. The striker is on loan from Trabzonspor, and boss Walter Smith is promising to fight to buy the hitman with the cash from a summer clear-out.

Smith is expected to field the side that beat West Ham 6-0 last weekend, with the likelihood it will be Olivier Dacourt's last Everton game.

Last season: Southampton 2 Everton 1, Everton 0 Southampton 2

Last five league matches: Southampton LDDWW, Everton WWWLW

Top scorers: Matt Le Tissier, Egil Ostenstad (Southampton) 8; Kevin Campbell (Everton) 9

Match odds: H 4-9 A 11-2 D 11-4

Referee: G Barber (Pyrford)

West Ham (6) v Middlesbrough (9)

Steve Potts returns to the West Ham squad and could replace the suspended Steve Lomas. Suspended goalkeeper Shaka Hislop is replaced by Canadian international Craig Forrest, with veteran Les Sealey stepping up to the bench. Midfielder John Moncur and striker Ian Wright are also both suspended and fellow striker Paul Kitson (hip), who had hoped to make a recovery, will not be fit.

Middlesbrough's former England internationals Paul Gascoigne and Gary Pallister will undergo late fitness tests. Both are struggling with knee injuries, although defender Colin Cooper and midfielder Keith O'Neill, who were ruled out for the season only weeks ago, are expected to return. Cooper could go straight back into the starting line-up.

Last season: No corresponding fixtures

Last five league matches: West Ham DWWLL, Middlesbrough DWLDL

Top scorers: Ian Wright (West Ham) 9; Hamilton Ricard (Middlesbrough) 18

Match odds: H 4-5 A 3-1 D 9-4

Referee: G Willard (Worthing)

Match odds supplied courtesy of William Hills.