With many leagues around the world on break the Barclays Premier League gets all the attention this weekend. This is one of the busiest times of the year with the midday Boxing Day matches breaking up the normal Saturday or Sunday fixtures. U.S. players will be in action again this weekend, but it is unclear if Clint Dempsey will return to play at the Stadium of Light.
Dempsey has been bothered by a groin injury that has kept him out of the last two matches for Tottenham. The Spurs have moved into fourth place in the table and have moment as they take on Sunderland in a match they should win. Sunderland sits in the middle of the back, 11 points behind Tottenham. Gareth Bale has carried the load in Dempsey’s absence. Despite getting a contract extension, it is unlikely that Brad Friedel will see the field for Tottenham. The Spurs have won four of the last six matches and should control possession against Sunderland. However, Tottenham has only won one of the last five matches between the teams played at the Stadium of Light.
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa need to bounce back in a big way against Wigan at Villa Park. Eric Lichaj hopes to return to the lineup after being unused on Boxing Day. Guzan has seen 12 goals scored in his net over the last two matches putting Villa only three points clear of Wigan and the relegation zone. Villa has won five and drawn three over the last ten matches between these squads.
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City have a match they should win against Southampton. Stoke comes off a 3-1 Boxing Day victory and moved into the eighth place in the Premier League table. Stoke is unbeaten over its last six matches. Neither team is a prolific scoring squad so a defensive battle is expected.
In one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend, Tim Howard and Everton are hoping to leap frog Chelsea. Sitting only two points back of The Blues, The Toffees are hoping to extend their recent unbeaten streak to eight. Everton is 3-1-1 in the last five games against Chelsea held at Goodison Park. This is one of two matches on Sunday.