LONDON – Brief news from the English Premier League ahead of this weekend’s matches (all times GMT):
- Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen could start at Chelsea on Saturday (1145) despite coming off with cramp in his calf against Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup on Tuesday. The Belgian international was playing his first game since August.
- Midfielder Ramires is back for Chelsea after suffering a knee injury against Everton two weeks ago, however striker Didier Drogba is suspended following his red card against QPR. Defenders Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa have completed one-match bans.
- Tottenham Hotspur defender William Gallas could be fit to play his first match of the season in Sunday’s London derby at home to Queens Park Rangers (1600), manager Harry Redknapp said.
- Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko fears for his Euro 2012 chances with Russia due to his lack of playing time under manager Redknapp.
“Something must change. I must play in order not to miss Euro 2012. I don’t believe I can fight my way into the Tottenham starting lineup,” the second-choice forward was quoted as saying by the Premier League website (www.premierleague.com).”
Players can feel what the manager thinks about them, and I know that the manager doesn’t count on me these days. I don’t know whether the club will execute that option (to sell me), but a good offer would definitely be considered.”
- Manchester United winger Ashley Young faces a fitness test on Friday ahead of Saturday’s game at Everton (1100) after sustaining a toe injury.
“We’ll see what he’s like today,” manager Alex Ferguson, whose side slipped five points behind leaders Manchester City following a 6-1 home hammering by their neighbours last weekend, told a news conference.
The champions will be without defender Jonny Evans who is suspended after picking up a red card in the second half against City.
- Manchester City midfielder Owen Hargreaves is a week away from fitness and will be unavailable for Saturday’s match at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers (1400), manager Roberto Mancini said.
The league leaders have no other injury concerns for the game against a team they will be facing for the second time this week after a midweek 5-2 victory in the League Cup.
Mancini will make changes for the game compared to the cup tie and he is also mindful of Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Villarreal.
“(I’m) sure that we will do seven or eight changes, 100 percent,” the Italian told a news conference.
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