Man Utd v Man City
Gary Neville is set to be recalled by United for this fifth round derby clash after he missed the midweek defeat by Middlesbrough with a thigh strain.
Roy Keane should also return and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be on the bench but Louis Saha is cup-tied.
City are without star striker Nicolas Anelka, cup-tied goalkeeper David James and full-back Sun Jihai.
Anelka's place will go to Jon Macken while Icelandic international Arni Arason will replace James.
Manchester United (from): Howard, Carroll, G Neville, Silvestre, Brown, O'Shea, Fortune, P Neville, Forlan, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Scholes, Butt, Keane, Solskjaer, Kleberson, Giggs, Van Nistelrooy, Bellion.
Manchester City (from): Arason, Dunne, Distin, Van Buyten, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Sibierski, Reyna, Bosvelt, McManaman, Barton, Macken, Fowler, Ellegaard, Wiekens, Jordan, Elliott
Fulham v West Ham
Alain Goma has recovered from a hamstring strain to replace cup-tied Ian Pearce at centre-back for Fulham's FA Cup clash with West Ham.
Lee Clark, Facundo Sava, Collins John and Mark Pembridge are missing through injury, as is Jerome Bonnissel, who is recovering from ankle surgery.
West Ham are without Andy Melville, Bobby Zamora, Jobi McAnuff, Nigel Reo-Coker, Adam Nowland and Jon Harley.
Kevin Horlock, Rob Lee, Steve Lomas and Matthew Etherington could be involved.
Tranmere v Swansea
Tranmere are without midfielder Mickey Mellon, who is suspended, but Steven Jennings, Paul Linwood and Chris Dagnall all return from injury.
Ian Sharps is struggling while Shane Nicholson is unlikely to feature.
Swansea strikers Kevin Nugent and James Thomas will both be fit for the game after recovering from injuries.
Central defender Izzy Iriekpen is also fit, but midfielders Karl Connolly (ankle) and Lenny Johnrose (hamstring) are both out.
Sunderland v Birmingham
Sunderland new boy Darren Byfield is cup-tied but Marcus Stewart is available after suspension.
Loan signing Kevin Cooper and Gary Breen will be in the squad while long- term casualties Matt Piper and Colin Healy are the only other absentees.
Birmingham midfielder Robbie Savage is struggling to be fit after suffering a calf strain against Everton.
Christophe Dugarry could be recalled after making two substitute appearances following his return from injury
Millwall v Burnley
Striker Danny Dichio will start for Millwall after completing a £675,000 switch from West Brom.
Andy Marshall is in goal after missing the win over Telford while strikers John Sutton and Mark McCammon are pressing for a place on the bench.
Visitors Burnley welcome back top scorer Robbie Blake from suspension.
Manager Stan Ternent could also have Arthur Gnohere available following a hamstring strain, but a calf injury rules out Graham Branch.
Arsenal v Chelsea
Arsenal defender Martin Keown will miss the game with a knee injury.
Dennis Bergkamp returns after a calf problem but Sylvain Wiltord, Freddie Ljungberg and Jeremie Aliadiere are injured and Kanu is with Nigeria.
Chelsea are expecting to welcome back keeper Carlo Cudicini after two matches out with a groin strain.
Hernan Crespo could start after his goal against Portsmouth and Marcel Desailly (calf) could figure, but Damien Duff (Achilles) is still out.
Liverpool v Portsmouth
Gerard Houllier will not risk striker Milan Baros despite his return for Liverpool's reserves in midweek.
Chris Kirkland should take his place on the bench after a scan revealed his back injury was not serious.
Portsmouth will be without injured trio Teddy Sheringham, Steve Stone and Patrik Berger while John Curtis and Lomano LuaLua are cup-tied.
Ivica Mornar will continue while Alexei Smertin can also return and Nigel Quashie will be captain.
Sheff Utd v Colchester
Sheffield United are without Paul Shaw and Carl Robinson for the FA Cup clash with Colchester as both are cup-tied.
Chris Morgan and Ashley Ward (both knee) and Dean Sturridge (knee and hamstring) are also missing so Jonathan Forte comes into the squad.
Colchester manager Phil Parkinson is without the suspended Craig Fagan and Wayne Andrews.
Jamie Cade is also absent as he is cup-tied but loan signing Paul Tierney is now available.
C Palace v Stoke
Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie is unlikely to make any changes with his side unbeaten in six league matches.
Ben Watson is sidelined after a groin operation, while new signing Mikele Leigertwood will be on the bench.
Stoke welcome back Ade Akinbiyi and John Eustace from suspension but the Potters will be without Clint Hill (ankle) and Kris Commons (heel).
Richard Johnson is still banned and he may have played his last game for the club with a move to QPR on the cards.
Coventry v Norwich
Coventry could name loan pair Martin Grainger and Peter Clarke in their side for the Highfield Road game.
Sky Blues midfielder Stephen Warnock is out through suspension and Dean Gordon has a hamstring strain.
Norwich boss Nigel Worthington is unlikely to change his starting side after two succesive wins, with Leon McKenzie set to be on the bench again.
Striker Darren Huckerby and midfielder Paul McVeigh are both just one game away from a ban.
Ipswich v Bradford
Ipswich manager Joe Royle will be without Fabian Wilnis (shoulder) and fellow defender Chris Makin (groin).
Scott Mitchell may play at full-back with Jermaine Wright moving into midfield and John McGreal and Chris Bart-Williams could also return.
Bradford will be without banned Jason Gavin, Simon Francis and Ben Muirhead and also on-loan Alun Armstrong.
Keeper Nico Vaesen makes his debut while Dean Windass is fit again and Danny Cadamarteri is rated "50-50".
Watford v Preston
Watford striker Heidar Helguson begins a three-match ban and will be replaced in the starting line-up by Bruce Dyer.
Danny Webber (shoulder) and Marcus Gayle (hamstring) are still injured, while young French forward Hameur Bouazza will be among the subs again.
Brian O'Neil and George Koumantarakis are back for Preston but Dickson Etuhu is out with ankle ligament damage.
Andy Lonergan will continue in goal but Chris Lucketti (toe) and Lee Briscoe (hamstring) remain injured.
West Brom v Cardiff
Joe Murphy replaces Russell Hoult in goal for promotion-chasing West Brom, and Hoult could be out for nine months with a back injury.
Rob Hulse is banned and Scott Dobie and Larus Sigurdsson are injured, but Jason Koumas could start after injury.
John Robinson will return for Cardiff after a trapped nerve and he will replace Paul Parry in midfield.
Boss Lennie Lawrence is still without long-term injured central defender Scott Young.
Wigan v Derby
Paul Jewell will stick with the Wigan side that dismissed Ipswich last week.
Leighton Baines and Steve McMillan are both minor doubts but should figure while new signing Alan Mahon keeps his place on the left side of midfield.
Portuguese midfielder Candido Costa is a doubt for Derby as he has been suffering the effects of flu, although he did train on Thursday.
Otherwise, boss George Burley has no suspension problems and will be able to name an unchanged line-up.
Bournemouth v Notts County
Bournemouth have no new injury worries, with only Alan Connell (knee) and long-term absentees Neil Young (ankle) and Gareth Stewart (knee) missing.
However, midfielder Stephen Cooke is unlikely to feature after the Cherries were unable to extend his loan from Aston Villa before Thursday's deadline.
Notts County midfielder Ian Richardson is suspended.
Stuart Garden will continue in goal for the Magpies with Steve Mildenhall ruled out with a broken cheekbone.
Brentford v QPR
Brentford's on-loan left-back Ronnie Bull is suspended for the derby game.
Stephen Evans returns from a ban, while Steve Hunt is carrying a slight groin strain but should feature.
QPR keeper Chris Day is expected to be recalled after being dropped in favour of Nick Culkin last weekend. Jamie Cureton will again be on the bench.
Dan Shittu, Marcus Bean and Richard Edghill remain sidelined with knee injuries. Gareth Ainsworth is still out with a broken foot.
Chesterfield v Rushden
Chesterfield skipper Steve Payne is likely to make his long-awaited return to the squad after recovering from a cartilage operation.
Gus Uhlenbeek and Mark Allott are back after suspension.
Rushden's Barry Hunter is expected to play despite missing training with a bruised leg, while Rodney Jack has shaken off a hamstring strain.
Stuart Gray (groin) is rated 50-50, but Robert Duffy and Billy Turley have been passed fit.
Grimsby v Brighton
New signing Isaiah Rankin is likely to make his Grimsby debut after signing on loan from Barnsley.
Caretaker boss Graham Rodger must decide whether to include Paul Groves, who was sacked as manager on Monday but remains on the playing staff.
Brighton are likely to be without Paul Watson, who has been struggling with a groin problem.
Manager Mark McGhee is confident John Piercy will be available after missing two games with an ankle injury
Peterborough v Bristol City
Peterborough winger Ryan Semple has been ruled out after twisting an ankle but Stephen Jenkins and skipper Curtis Woodhouse are back after suspension.
Striker Andrew Fotiadis is doubtful with a groin strain, while midfielder Matthew Gill has also been suffering from an illness and may miss out.
Bristol City defender Clayton Fortune is expected to shake off an ankle problem in time for the game.
Tommy Doherty is available after serving a ban.
Port Vale v Oldham
Port Vale will be without suspended skipper Sam Collins.
Defender George Pilkington could replace Collins if he recovers from a stomach strain.
Oldham will be without defender Will Haining, who sustained a facial injury in the 6-0 victory over Grimsby and could be out for some time.
Dean Holden also misses out as he begins a two-game suspension. But David Beharall (leg) and Chris Killen (foot) are fit again.
Sheff Wed v Hartlepool
Sheffield Wednesday boss Chris Turner is expected to name an unchanged side.
Robbie Mustoe (Achilles) and Graeme Lee (shin) aim to return for the second leg of the LDV Vans Trophy Northern Area final against Blackpool on 25 February.
Hartlepool defender Micky Barron is available again after he missed last weekend's match against Barnsley through suspension.
Joel Porter and Paul Robinson will fight it out for a place up front alongside Eifion Williams.
Stockport v Swindon
Rob Clare is back in the Stockport squad following an ankle injury and Ali Gibb is available after serving a ban.
Boss Sammy McIlroy may rest Fraser McLachlan, who is nursing a hip problem. John Hardiker has a slight neck strain.
Swindon midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi is back in contention after shaking off a groin problem.
Rory Fallon will sit out the game as he is suspended, but striker Tommy Mooney should play despite a knock
Wycombe v Luton
Luton boss Mike Newell is set to name an uncharged side after Kevin Foley managed to shake off a knock.
But Adrian Forbes is struggling with a knee problem and misses out.
Wycombe defender Scott Marshall will miss the game after sustaining a hamstring injury which will keep him sidelined for the next three weeks.
Keith Ryan is also unavailable as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury. Chris Vinnicombe could return to the squad following a foot injury.
Wrexham v Barnsley
Wrexham manager Denis Smith has no new injury worries.
Shaun Pejic and Lee Jones came through 90 minutes of a reserve game during the week following hamstring injuries and are expected to make the squad.
Michael Boulding is set for a Barnsley debut and the club have also signed Southampton midfielder Aaron Davies and Chelsea's Craig Rocastle on loan.
Craig Ireland returns from a ban and Peter Handyside has recovered from flu, but Kevin Betsy is now suspended
Preview: Doncaster v Macclesfield
Doncaster have several injury doubts ahead of the visit of Macclesfield.
John Doolan (knee), Chris Beech (cartilage) and JJ Melligan (foot) are all struggling.
But Richard Ravenhill is available after a one-match ban.
Macclesfield manager John Askey could hand a debut to Graham Potter after his arrival from Boston.
Danny Adams and Matthew Tipton both reurn from suspension.
Ancona - Roma
Roma kick-started their title challenge with a crushing victory over Juventus and expect to steamroller sorry Ancona.
The Giallorossi had struggled to make an impact in January with defeats to Milan and Brescia around a home draw with Udinese, but Fabio Capello has certainly found the key to getting them back on track. The 4-4-2 system with Antonio Cassano and Francesco Totti upfront restored stability to the side and resulted in a mauling of the reigning Champions. They have so far done well against the small teams and will expect to score a hatful at the Stadio Del Conero.
The fact that Ancona have amassed just five points in 20 games does not bode well for this encounter. Giovanni Galeone is their third Coach of the campaign, but despite a collection of new signings their fortunes show no signs of improvement.
At least their 2-1 defeat to Modena featured their first goal since early December, but the scorer Christian Bucchi is suspended following his red card. Magnus Hedman, Corrado Grabbi, Vincenzo Sommese, Milan Rapajc and Sean Sogliano are also sidelined, so veteran Maurizio Ganz should return to the starting eleven.
Ancona (probable): Marcon; Sartor, Bilica, Bolic, Milanese; D Baggio, Andersson, Berretta; Goretti, Ganz, Pandev
Roma (probable): Pelizzoli; Panucci, Zebina, Samuel, Chivu; Mancini, Emerson, Dacourt, Lima; Totti, Cassano
Bologna - Modena
This is always a heated local derby and both teams are coming off confidence boosting victories.
Bologna picked up only their second away win of the season when leaving Udinese’s Stadio Friuli with a comfortable 3-1 result in their pockets. Coach Carlo Mazzone is dealing with an injury crisis that has ruled out Andres Guly, Beppe Signori, Fausto Rossini, Sam Dalla Bona, Christian Amoroso, Cristian Zaccardo and Marco Zanchi.
However, the January arrival of Hidetoshi Nakata has seen a marked upturn in their fortunes and the whole team is now flowing beautifully. Tomas Locatelli is also more confident after bagging a splendid solo effort last Saturday.
Modena celebrated their first Serie A win since early November when seeing off ten-man Ancona at the weekend, but it will take a much better performance to continue that trend against local rivals Bologna.
Massimo Marazzina ended his personal goal drought and will hope to solve the Canarini’s problems upfront, ably assisted by young Nigerian Stephan Makinwa. There are changes forced in midfield as Riccardo Allegretti is out for the season with ruptured knee ligaments, while Roberto Cevoli is suspended for this trip. Antonio Marasco and Mauro Mayer therefore step in to the breach.
Bologna (probable): Pagliuca; Gamberini, Natali, Moretti; Nervo, Nakata, Colucci, Pecchia, Sussi; Locatelli, Tare
Modena (probable): Zancope; Mayer, Grandoni, Domizzi; Campedelli, Marasco, Milanetto, Balestri; Marazzina, Makinwa, Vignaroli
Brescia - Sampdoria
Both these sides earned draws in tricky situations last week and aim to build their way towards a victory.
Brescia played in ten men for an hour, but still held on for a precious point away to fellow relegation battlers Reggina. Roberto Baggio returned from a knee injury to feature in that game and is an inspirational figure for them, but changes are forced by the one-match bans for Matteo Brighi and Fabio Petruzzi. Dario Dainelli and Martinez shore up the defence, while Giuseppe Colucci steps in to that midfield role.
Sampdoria have until now been regularly beaten by the big clubs, but holding the mighty Inter to a 2-2 draw will have boosted morale for the newly promoted side. Mirko Conte saw red in the closing stages of that game and will be suspended for this difficult trip to the Stadio Rigamonti. Sacchetti is drafted in as a replacement in central defence, while Giacomo Cipriani is continuing to successfully fill in for the injured Francesco Flachi. Samp star Stefano Bettarini will be particularly eager to impress in the week leading up to what is rumoured to be his first international call-up.
Brescia (probable): Agliardi; Martinez, Di Biagio, Dainelli, Castellini; Colucci, Matuzalem, Mauri, Bachini; Baggio, Caracciolo
Sampdoria (probable): Antonioli; Zenoni, Sacchetti, Carrozzieri, Bettarini; Diana, Volpi, Palombo, Doni; Cipriani, Bazzani
Inter - Udinese
It’s back to the drawing board for Alberto Zaccheroni and facing his former club could be the occasion for Adriano and Christian Vieri to start in an all-new attack force.
Fans were only granted glimpses of this pairing during last week’s 2-2 draw at Sampdoria, as the Brazilian was introduced in the latter stages. Vieri has proved he is already back to full fitness with a brace, but everyone is curious to see Alvaro Recoba supporting him and Adriano from the beginning.
It is a tricky fixture to test this forward thinking line-up, as Udinese have already won at the San Siro against runaway leaders Milan. They also have a long history of causing problems for the Nerazzurri, including matching 2-1 victories home and away last season, while Week 4 saw a fiery 0-0 draw with Luciano sent off. Luciano Spalletti’s men will be eager to get back on track following their shock 3-1 home defeat to Bologna. There was controversy in that match with a goal incorrectly disallowed and a penalty taken twice for encroachment, so the Friuli outfit is fired up for revenge.
Midfielder Pazienza is out of action with a sprain, while David Pizarro is still struggling to find form after a series of knee and contract problems. Young Ghanaian talent Sulley Ali Muntari should therefore be given a starting place to help bully the troubled Inter midfield. Martin Jorgensen was once heavily linked with a switch to this club and has a tendency to find his scoring boots in this stadium.
Inter (probable): Toldo; Cordoba, Adani, Cannavaro; Helveg, Farinos, Stankovic, J Zanetti; Recoba, Vieri, Adriano
Udinese (probable): De Sanctis; Bertotto, Sensini, Kroldrup; Alberto, Pinzi, Muntari, Jankulovski; Jorgensen; Fava, Iaquinta
Juventus - Reggina
Juventus will need a show of force to put the 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Roma behind them, but Reggina won’t want to be lambs to the slaughter again.
The Bianconeri suffered their worst Serie A defeat in a decade when hammered in the Stadio Olimpico last Sunday night. Alessandro Del Piero was in the stands after suffering a muscular problem which tests later showed to be a minor twinge, so the captain should be back in the starting line-up to partner the ineffectual David Trezeguet.
The defence has been the real weak point of their campaign so far and is further hampered by the ban for Paolo Montero – who saw red at the Olimpico – while Mark Iuliano and Alessandro Birindelli are injured. 37-year-old Ciro Ferrara is recalled to make the difference, while Antonio Conte looks set to retain his spot in midfield.
Marcello Lippi insists that Juve’s Scudetto challenge is not over, but with eight points dividing them from leaders Milan it will take a remarkable string of results to turn this around. Morale is at an all time low and what they need now is a confident victory to get them back on track.
Reggina know this situation all too well, having come up against an Inter side in a similar situation and suffering a 6-0 drubbing as a result. Coach Giancarlo Camolese is already dealing with the aftermath of their disappointing 0-0 draw with ten-man Brescia last week, so the situation is extremely delicate.
Former Juve midfielder Davide Baiocco will not step back into the Delle Alpi due to a suspension, while David Di Michele and Paredes are probably out with injuries. Japanese international Shunsuke Nakamura would have been set for a rare start, but he has been called back to his homeland for a World Cup qualifier. Roberto Stellone, Gianluca Comotto, Stefano Torrisi and Giandomenico Mesto step in to the side, while Emiliano Bonazzoli is hoping to end his goal drought.
Juventus (probable): Buffon; Thuram, Ferrara, Tudor, Zambrotta; Camoranesi, Tacchinardi, Conte; Nedved; Del Piero, Trezeguet
Reggina (probable): Belardi; Comotto, Torrisi, Franceschini; Mesto, Mozart, Tedesco, Falsini; Cozza; Stellone, Bonazzoli
Lazio - Empoli
Lazio are back in contention for a fourth place Serie A finish after last week’s impressive 3-0 win at rivals Parma. They’ll be looking for another victory in Week 21 even if a rejuvenated Empoli side are not going to make it easy for them.
Despite the loss of Dejan Stankovic to Inter in January, boss Roberto Mancini has coped well by giving Fiore the licence to roam forward in an effort to aid the strikers. The Biancocelesti also look particularly impressive in front of goal after Bernardo Corradi and Claudio Lopez both netted last Sunday. Lopez seems to be back to his best after his injury problems.
Giuliano Giannichedda is set to start in midfield after Ousmane Dabo was sidelined for three weeks with a knee injury. Veteran defender Paolo Negro is also injured. While Jaap Stam is set to start as right back again – relegating Massimo Oddo to the bench.
Empoli’s season has got back on track in recent weeks after wins against Inter and Siena, plus a stunning 3-3 draw with Italian champions Juventus. But if Lazio can stop Di Natale and Rocchi then home advantage should see them triumph.
Lazio (probable): Peruzzi; Stam, Couto, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Liverani, Giannichedda, Fiore, Cesar; Lopez, Corradi
Empoli (probable): Balli; Lanzaro, Cribari, Vargas, Cupi; Ficini, Grella; Busce, Vannucchi, Di Natale; Rocchi
Lecce - Milan
League leaders Milan will start as hot favourites to win at the Via Del Mare but they shouldn’t underestimate little Lecce. The southern outfit have won their last three away games which has put them in contention to beat the drop.
The January arrivals of Sicignano, Bolano and Franceschini have given the club renewed hope that they can avoid relegation. Especially with the young strike force of Valeri Bojinov and Javier Chevanton. The latter is particular keen to impress as he has admitted that he would love a summer move to Milan.
The Rossoneri have won all of their League games so far in 2004, their last 2-1 against Perugia on Sunday. The giants had struggled to break down the Umbrian outfit before Rui Costa came off the bench to open the scoring. That goal may see him start as he was only a substitute in that game.
Boss Carlo Ancelotti could decide to field Shevchenko as a lone striker, closely aided by the talented Rui Costa and Brazilian sensation Kaka. The only other selection problem for Ancelotti is who to replace the suspended Giuseppe Pancaro with. Billy Costacurta is favourite even if Serginho and Dario Simic are contenders.
Milan, still without the injured Max Ambrosini, may be tempted to rest a few players but are undoubtedly aware that Juventus were held by Lecce just before Christmas. Especially as they have a five point lead over Roma to protect.
Lecce (probable): Sicignano; Siviglia, Silvestri, Stovini, Tonetto; Cassetti, Bolano, Ledesma, Franceschini; Chevanton, Bojinov
Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Rui Costa, Kaka; Shevchenko
Perugia - Chievo
Perugia have yet to win this season but they’ll be confident that they could correct that this weekend against a struggling Chievo. The Umbrian outfit were unlucky to lose 2-1 at Milan last week, while the Verona side have now lost their last two games against Juventus and lowly Lecce.
Both boss Serse Cosmi and President Luciano Gaucci have stated that they believe they can survive and the numerous January signings are settling in well. Strikers Dario Hubner and Marcelo Zalayeta are promising to net goals, while Salvatore Fresi is looking good since his switch from Juventus.
Yet things are never easy at the bottom and Cosmi is set to again be without a host of players. Ravanelli, Ze Maria and Di Francesco are all serious doubts for the Chievo clash because of fitness and injury problems.
Chievo have been very inconsistent this term so expect anything at the Renato Curi. Under-21 stopper Barzagli continues to impress but they were affected by poor individual performances in the Lecce loss. Both goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani and Azzurrini striker Giuseppe Sculli will be keen to make up for their indifferent form.
Perugia (probable): Kalac; Di Loreto, Fresi, Ignoffo; Do Prado, Giandomenico, Codrea, Obodo, Manfredini; Hubner, Zalayeta
Chievo (probable): Marchegiani; Moro, Barzagli, D’Anna, Lanna; Luciano, Perrotta, Baronio, Santana; Cossato, Sculli
Siena - Parma
Siena and Parma both suffered defeats last week and the pair of them will be keen to get back to winning ways. The Tuscan side lost 1-0 at Empoli, while Parma were totally outplayed by a rejuvenated Lazio at the Tardini.
The Bianconeri had made a great start to the season which suggested that they could have a comfortable survival campaign. Yet they’ve started to taste defeat regularly in recent times and they are now just three points above the relegation zone. They’ll also still be without star player Rodrigo Taddei and former Inter player Nicola Ventola. Juarez is suspended.
Parma on the other hand have their own problems. The club’s perilous financial situation saw a host of players leave in the January transfer window which has left boss Cesare Prandelli with a thin squad. The 3-0 defeat against Lazio last week seems to suggest the Gialloblu may struggle in the second half of this season.
Daniele Bonera and Cardone are still injured, while Paolo Cannavaro is suspended after his sending-off. Youngster Alberto Gilardino will continue to lead the line but goals have dried up of late for the Under-21 international. The club will be hoping that ‘keeper Sebastien Frey can keep pulling off miracle saves.
Siena (probable): Rossi; Cufre, Roque Junior, Mignani, Junior; Lazetic, Vergassola, D’Aversa, Guigou; Flo, Chiesa
Parma (probable): Frey; Benarrivo, Castellini, Ferrari, Seric; Barone, Bresciano; Marchionni, Morfeo, Carbone; Gilardino
Hamburg – Wolfsburg (1-5)
HSV out : Pieckenhagen (gk), Ujfalusi (reg), Maltritz, Cardoso (squad)
Wolfs out : Rytter, Thiam (squad), Fernando Baiano (reg)
Last week it was the usual story in Hamburg – Bochum games: 8-3 in chances and 6-1 in corners in Hamburg’s favour but in the end a 1-1 draw ! Ok, Hamburg were not as dominant as in the last two 1-1 draws between the sides but they still should have won. They have a chance to make amends with another home game, this time at home to poor travellers Wolfsburg. I misread Wolfsburg’s game last week at home to Dortmund completely, I have to say. First of all Wolfsburg missed their playmaker d’Alessandro far greater than Dortmund did theirs Rosicky. Secondly after the derby defeat Schalke, Dortmund were simply hungrier than Wolfsburg and won 4-2. D’Allessandro should be back here but after back to back defeats it is hard to fancy Wolfsburg with their 1-1-7 away record when they are out of form.
Stuttgart – Gladbach (1-0)
VfB out : full strength
MG out : Korell (long term), Hausweiler (squad)
Some big home wins in this fixture in the last few years ( two times 3-0’s, a 4-0 and two 5-0’s) and just a solitary away win back in 94/95 (2-4). Last week Stuttgart were outfought and outplayed by a Hertha team who were winning at home for only the 2nd time this season. Stuttgart conceded only their 8th goal of their but on the other hand their tally of only 26 scored in 19 games is far too few for a title challenger. Gladbach were on top for long periods against league leaders Bremen without really creating many chances. They failed to hold onto a 51st minute lead given to them by young talent Sverkos and that defeat means they are back in the relegation dog fight.
Latest : Gladbach trainer Fach is considering wholesale changes with at least Ruben, Broich and van Hout replacing Strasser, Kluge and van Lent. Perhaps even more.
Freiburg – Hertha (0-0)
Frei out : Kruppke (reg – susp), Ramdane (long term), Tsikitschwili (reg), Couibaly (intl duty)
Hertha out : Goor, Schmidt (reg), Luizao, Wichniarek (squad), Marx (long term), Rehmer (reg – flu)
Hertha have won on three of their last four visits to the Breisgaustadion. Did we witness the start of the big fightback from the team from the capital last Sunday ? Not only did Hertha beat Stuttgart 1-0 but had two further efforts disallowed, one for offside which was a clear linesman error and one for taking a free kick before the ref had blown his whistle. Hertha fought hard throughout and created 8 chances v Stuttgart’s two. It is too early to say, after one good performance, that new trainer Meyer has got Hertha playing but they will certainly go to Freiburg knowing that relegation is no formality and they must have a great chance. Freiburg were feeble on the road yet again, this time at Rostock (1-4). Substitute keeper Reus had a very poor game and could be a weak link if regular Golz is still not ready to return.
Frankfurt – Rostock (0-3)
FFM out : Nascimento (new), Keller (imp), Tsoumou Mazda (reg), Wiedener (squad), Cha Du Ri (reg – intl duty), Bindewald (reg – flu)
Hansa out : Rydlewicz (reg – susp), Vorbeck, Kientz (squad)
Frankfurt, already written off by most, are in dreamland after a point versus Bayern and then a win at Leverkusen. New singings Hertzsch and Amanatidis both scored at Leverkusen and whilst I am far from convinced they will transform Frankfurt into anything like a decent side, I would not rule out another three points here. Rostock outplayed Freiburg virtually throughout (9-4 chances, 13-5 corners) and deserved their 4-1 win surprisingly without main striker Max (back here). They rarely play two games the same so Frankfurt will feel they have a chance.
Latest : when writing the above I had assumed Bindewald would be over the flu and was unaware that Cha would be leaving this early for South Korea’s international, so Frankfurt are missing just a couple more regulars than I would like.
Hannover – Leverkusen (0-4)
H96 out : de Guzman (reg – susp), Lala (reg), Christiansen (imp), Schneider (squad), Simak (depression)
Bayer out : Ponte (reg), Sebescen (long term)
Hannover gave a good account of themselves at Bayern (1-3), creating lots of chances and giving the champions plenty to think about but were careless in front of goal. As I keep saying though, no one knows which Hannover team is going to show up. Leverkusen all but said goodbye to their title chances after their home defeat to hapless Frankfurt. After the Winter break they must have been delighted to face Freiburg and Frankfurt but not to take a single point from those two games is nothing short of a disaster. It could all have been different had Berbatov not wasted three golden chances in the first 15 minutes. However, the longer the game went on, the more chaotic Leverkusen’s attacks became. Coach Augenthaler has a big job on to stabilise his side before this game, which is surely the most difficult to predict on this BL weekend.
Bochum – Bayern (0-2)
VfL out : Bönig (squad)
Bayern out : Ballack (v imp – susp), Zickler (squad), Scholl, Deisler (long term), Rau (new)
Bayern have not lost on any of their last 6 visits to the Ruhrstadion (4 wins, two draws). Bayern were far from dominant versus Hannover and their defence was a bit shaky but the 3-1 win on Sunday was probably overall deserved. A big loss, however, will be Ballack who is banned and was central to everything Bayern created before being sent off with 13 minutes left. Bochum perhaps made a big mistake in saying “we are ready for Bayern, bring them on” last week after their 1-1 draw at Hamburg. The last thing you should do is give the champions any further motivation in what is already a crucial game for Bayern with a 6 point deficit to make up on leaders Bremen. Bochum sneaked a point last week despite not having a serious attack until the 69th minute.
Köln – Schalke (1-2)
Köln out : Schindzielorz (long term)
S04 out : Matellan, Kmetsch, Varela (squad)
Köln slipped into the drop zone after a 0-1 defeat at KL where their play was poor and after several heartening performances, they looked once again like a second division side. In the 0-0 home draw with 1860, Schalke showed once again that they struggle at home when faced with a totally defensive opponent. Even a 9-1 corner count could not produce a goal. On the bright side, their mini unbeaten run goes on and at least there will be more room to play here.
Bremen – Kaiserslautern (1-0)
Werder out : Krstajic (imp – susp), Stalteri (squad/reg – susp), Skripnik, Charisteas, Magnin (squad).
KL out : Sforza, Grammozis, Lembi (reg), Vreven, Timm, Lincoln (squad), Ramzy (long term).
Bremen even managed to overcome the loss of star striker Ailton, who failed to overcome a virus, in the 2-1 win at Gladbach. Bremen weathered Gladbach pressure and, as top teams often do, sneaked a last minute winner when down to 10 men. Krstajic, who was sent off, is, of course, banned here but Ailton will be back. This is an interesting match for KL’s star striker Klose who definitely wants to leave KL and is being talked of as a replacement for Bremen’s Ailton who goes to Schalke next year. In the interests of fair play, Bremen have agreed to stall negotiations until after the game. KL’s defensive problems get a boost with the return from the African Nations Cup of Tchato and Mettomo, though the latter is far from reliable at Bundesliga level. KL deserved the points last week in a poor quality 1-0 over Köln. It was new trainer Jara’s first game in charge and the win took KL out of the bottom three.
1860 – Dortmund (1-3)
1860 out : Schwarz, Meyer, Shao (squad), Fernando (new)
BVB out : Addo, Amoroso, C Metzelder (long term), M Metzelder, Bergdölmo (squad).
1860 defended for the entire 90 minutes at Schalke and rode their luck for a 0-0 draw despite some lucky escapes and surviving a clear penalty appeal. They did not create a single chance in the entire game. It is not inconceivable that Dortmund trainer Sammer will have three of his long term injured – Evanilson, Dede and Madouni – back in the squad for this game. Definitely returning after a ban is playmaker Rosicky. Dortmund responded to fan and media criticism after their derby defeat by Schalke when winning 4-2 at Wolfsburg and can make it back to back road wins here.
(Ananova, BBC, Channel 4, Tip-Ex)
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