Wednesday 29 March 2017

Premiership briefs: Late fitness test for Arsenal’s Walcott and Gervinho ahead of local derby

ARSENAL: Gunners will give late fitness tests to England winger Theo Walcott (knee) and Gervinho (hamstring) before Sunday's London derby against Tottenham at White Hart Lane but central defender Laurent Koscielny (ankle) is out.

Johan Djourou (hamstring) also remains out but Yossi Benayoun (thigh) and Sebastien Squillaci both return to the squad after training this weekend.



Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby plus defender Thomas Vermaelen continue their rehabilitation from ankle injuries.



CHELSEA: Daniel Sturridge could return to the Chelsea line-up for Sunday's Barclays Premier League trip to Bolton.



The forward missed Saturday's win over Swansea with a knee injury and also sat out Wednesday night's Champions League draw at Valencia, but he is fit to return to the club where he spend the second half of last season on loan.



Goalkeeping understudy Hilario is still a week or two away from recovering from a hip and back complaint, while Michael Essien (knee) is a long-term absentee.



NORWICH: Paul Lambert maintains Norwich have to aim to upset Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow, but knows any game plan can soon be "blown out of the water" by the Barclays Premier League champions.



The Canaries manager took in United's midweek Champions League clash against Basle, when the hosts threw away a 2-0 half-time lead and only scrapped a draw with a last-minute goal from Ashley Young.



Despite United's less-than-impressive defensive display, Lambert knows full well the magnitude of the challenge which awaits his promoted side tomorrow - with strike duo Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez set to comeback into the Red Devils' attack.



"Some teams are beaten before they even go there, but I will have my own way to deal with that," Lambert said.



"We have to go there with a belief, because if you don't you can get turned over’’.



"Hopefully you will have a game plan which will try to hurt them, but that can be blown out of the water within minutes.



WEST BROM:: Roy Hodgson admits West Brom are playing catch-up in the Barclays Premier League after their poor start to the season but believes his current squad have the talent and depth to survive.



The Baggies, who visit Sunderland tomorrow, were beaten in their opening three games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Stoke.



They remain in the bottom three despite picking up four points from the last three games but have struggled to regain last season's momentum of 20 points from the final 12 matches.



Hodgson is adamant the quality of the squad has improved after a cluster of summer signings and will prove good enough to stay up.



The former Liverpool boss said: "The first three games are the real bugbear for us because we got no points.



"We are going to be playing catch-up for a considerable period of time’’.



STOKE: Potteries boss Tony Pulis admits he has been impressed by record signing Peter Crouch's humility since the England striker arrived at the club last month on transfer deadline day.



Crouch, recruited from Tottenham for £10million, followed up his equaliser in the 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Manchester United on Saturday by netting another last night as the Potters came from behind to beat Besiktas 2-1 in the Europa League.



The fact that it was the 30-year-old's 23rd goal in 51 games in UEFA club competitions demonstrates the calibre of player Stoke have landed, but Pulis says there has been no hint of ego from his star forward and praised his all-round performance.



Asked about Crouch's scoring statistics, Pulis said: "It's great for Peter and it's great for us, although the big thing was the way he worked off the ball and the way he defended their crosses.



"Their set-plays were very good and Crouchy was fantastic defending them.



"The players have really taken to him and he is a great lad in the dressing room’’.



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