SUNDERLAND MANAGER MARTIN O’Neill knows his team will have to keep a close eye on Rafael Van der Vaart when they host Tottenham in the Premier League’s early kick off today.
The Dutch master was in sensational form against Swansea last weekend, scoring the opener as well delivering the corner for Emmanuel Adebayor’s first goal. If he can be as effective today, Spurs will move above Arsenal into third place.
O’Neill must have been left deflated last weekend when his side failed to hold on to a 3-1 lead over title-chasing Manchester City. However, he should have Irish defender John O’Shea to welcome back today.
Norwich look unlikely to arrest their slide down the English Premier League table when in-form Everton come to town on Saturday.
The Canaries have won just one of their last six league matches with their only success coming against bottom of the table Wolves.
However, manager Paul Lambert could have Anthony Pilkington back after a hamstring problem and he’ll need him if they are to stop an Everton team that won eight of 14 in the Premier League in 2012.
David Moyes’ side have won three in a row without conceding and may have Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell available for this one.
Liverpool will aim to reverse their worst run of league form in 59 years when they host Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.
Despite winning the Carling Cup in February, the Reds have lost six of their last seven Premier League outings and slipped to eighth on the table, heaping pressure on manager Kenny Daglish.
Today they face a Villa side still in real danger of relegation having collected just 33 points to date.
Gabriel Agbonlahor will captain Villa for the remainder of the campaign after Bulgarian international Stiliyan Petrov was recently diagnosed with leukemia while Brazilian shot stopper Alexander Doni will make his debut in goal for the home team.
Following their midweek Champions League success, Chelsea return to domestic action when they face a resurgent Wigan team at Stamford Bridge.
A run of three wins and four draws in eight games for the visitors has lifted them off the foot of the table and just one point away from safety.
Roberto Martinez is likely to give Hugo Rodallega (knee) a late fitness test ahead of the trip, while Mohamed Diame (groin/pelvis) is rated 50/50.
Chelsea captain John Terry remains doubtful for the clash having come off against Benfica after suffering from breathing problems induced by two broken ribs.
Two teams battling to avoid the drop meet in a relegation six-pointer at the Hawthorns when West Brom host Blackburn Rovers.
Rovers are without a victory from their last two games and find themselves inside the bottom three, level on 28 points with 17th-placed Queens Park Rangers, but behind the west London club on goal difference.
While West Brom had appeared relatively safe in mid-table earlier this year, they are without a win in their last four and have slid to within eight points of the drop zone.
Former Rover midfielder Keith Andrews is likely to start against his old team while Blackburn boss Steve Kean has close to a full complement of players to choose from with only veteran fullback Gael Givet a doubt through hamstring injury.
Bolton will be eager to build on their winning run in the Premier League when they host Fulham at the Reebok.
Owen Coyle’s men have won three straight league games for the first time since December 2006, lifting themselves a point clear of the relegation zone.
Martin Jol’s Fulham side ended a run of three straight losses with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at home to Norwich last weekend.
Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who struck five goals in his first four matches at the club, could miss the trip to Bolton after suffering an ankle injury in that game, joining Andy Johnson, Orlando Sa, Steve Sidwell and Zdenek Grygera on the physio’s table.
Saturday’s late kick-off sees Wolves visiting Stoke, the latest stop on the club’s inevitable descent into relegation following a nightmare run of seven matches without a win, including five consecutive defeats.
The hosts haven’t managed a win in their last five either but, sitting on 38 points, look almost certain to avoid relegation this year.
Manager Tony Pulis has no new injury worries ahead of the game with only long-term absentees Salif Diao and Mamady Sidibe unavailable.
Wolves’ cause is not helped by an injury to midfielder Jamie O’Hara (groin), while winger Stephen Hunt (hernia) is recovering from an operation earlier this week.