Redknapp convinced Levy will free up funds to strengthen Champions League-chasing Spurs in summer

Redknapp convinced Levy will free up funds to strengthen Champions League-chasing Spurs in summer

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UPDATED:

12:35 GMT, 31 March 2012

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is sure chairman Daniel Levy will make money available again this summer to sign the players he feels the club need to challenge for a top-four place next season.

Despite a recent run of five Barclays Premier League games without a win, Tottenham look set to qualify for next year's Champions League after maintaining their five-point lead over Chelsea with a draw at Stamford Bridge last week.

Spurs' chances of finishing third may be fading – Arsenal can move six points clear of their north London rivals if they beat QPR – but Redknapp still insists a fourth-place finish will be an impressive achievement given the big spending of their rivals this season.

Cash backing: Redknapp

Cash backing: Redknapp

Redknapp has spent a fraction of the money that has been on offer at Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United this term, with Scott Parker, Brad Friedel and loanee Emmanuel Adebayor the only arrivals at the club last summer.

The 65-year-old may not be at Tottenham next season as he has been heavily tipped to take over the England job, but he thinks whoever is in charge will have the money at their disposal to buy players. Spurs have been linked with Ligue 1 pair Eden Hazard and Loic Remy.

'Everything is in place for the club to keep progressing now, we've got a new training ground coming (this summer), but when it comes down to it, you can have all the facilities in the world, but you have to keep investing in players,' Redknapp said.

'I think Tottenham will do that next year, we will look to improve the team again next year.'

Progression: Spurs will aim to build on this season

Progression: Spurs will aim to build on this season

Spurs chairman Levy had feared the club was set to be relegated when he sacked Juande Ramos and replaced him with Redknapp in 2008.

Some fans of the north London club have been frustrated at seeing their club fall out of the reckoning for the title this year, but Redknapp insists they should be happy with how the team have performed this season.

'I know just how disappointed people will be if we don't make the Champions League. I am not silly. I understand that because of the position we were in,' he added.

'But at the start of the year we would have been fifth or sixth favourites to make the Champions League in all honesty.

'We are looking for Champions League qualification. I think we will get a Champions League place, we have an FA Cup semi-final to come against Chelsea. These are great times for us.

'Last season we got to the quarter finals of the Champions League. We are getting better all the time. We have established ourselves now. We are right there every year now so there is no reason why Tottenham shouldn't be there every year for the next God knows how many years.'

High stakes: Spurs are bidding to get back into the Champions League

High stakes: Spurs are bidding to get back into the Champions League

Tottenham will be looking to keep up the pressure on Arsenal by ending their seven-week wait for a league victory tomorrow against Swansea.

Redknapp spoke in glowing terms about Swans boss Brendan Rodgers, claiming the 39-year-old has a bright future in top-flight management.

Redknapp is a big fan of the attractive football Swansea play and has also been impressed with how Rodgers has been able to develop Tottenham defender Steven Caulker, who has been on loan at the Liberty Stadium this season.

'Caulker has done very well for them, he has had a great season,” Redknapp added.

'He is only a young player. We like him and it has been a great experience for him to play for them this year.'

Redknapp has Aaron Lennon available for the first time in three weeks after he recovered from a hamstring injury, but he may be forced to rest Ledley King after he started Tuesday's FA Cup quarter-final win over Bolton.

Salomon Kalou says winning the Champions League is possible as Chelsea await Benfica

Kalou says winning the Champions League is possible as Chelsea await Benfica

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UPDATED:

12:17 GMT, 31 March 2012

Salomon Kalou insists Chelsea should fear themselves more than Benfica when they meet in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

The rivals clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday with the Blues in the driving seat after leaving the Estadio da Luz with a 1-0 victory last week.

A semi-final against Barcelona or Inter Milan awaits on April 18 should they dispose of Benfica, but Kalou is wary of complacency.

'I think our worst enemy can be ourselves, thinking that we have done the most difficult part,' he said.

Winner: Kalou scores against Benfica

Winner: Kalou scores against Benfica

'We have to keep going, working hard. We have to prepare and try to score early and secure the victory at home.

'It's not finished yet. Benfica are a good team and we have to respect them.

'We have to play 100 per cent in the second leg if we want to go through to the semi-final.'

Chelsea host Benfica with a precious away goal in the bank, meaning any score draw at Stamford Bridge would see them progress.

'We know that scoring in the away game is always important, and we haven't conceded,' Kalou said.

'It's still going to be a difficult game because Benfica are a great team, as they showed against Manchester United before, so we have to respect them.'

focus: Chelsea are determined to reach the semi-finals

focus: Chelsea are determined to reach the semi-finals

Five points adrift of the Barclays Premier League's top four, winning the Champions League could yet be Chelsea's only avenue of qualifying for the competition next season.

Such a notion seemed far fetched as recently as eight games ago when the team was creaking under the guidance of Villa-Boas, but the arrival of Di Matteo has brought fresh hope.

With Di Matteo at the helm, they have won all four cup games, although one win in three Premier League matches is less impressive.

'Winning the Champions League is possible, everything's possible,' Kalou said.

'Given the team that we have, we know we can win against any club. We have to work hard as a team and continue to improve in every game.'

Stephen Maguire beats Stephen Lee China Open

Maguire brushes Lee aside to reach China Open final in Beijing

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 31 March 2012

Stephen Maguire stormed into the final of the China Open with a comprehensive 6-2 victory over Stephen Lee in Beijing.

Maguire won four frames in a row to seal the win after his opponent had battled back from 2-0 down to level the scores.

But the Scot, who only edged past Ronnie O'Sullivan on a respotted black in the final frame in the last round, had six breaks over 50 as he set up a meeting with either home favourite Ding Junhui or Peter Ebdon.

Easy does it: Stephen Maguire beat Stephen Lee in Beijing

Easy does it: Stephen Maguire beat Stephen Lee in Beijing

Maguire, who won this tournament in 2008 and was the 2004 UK champion, started the better, taking the first frame with a 76 break and then edging a scrappy second as he punished Lee for not taking his chances.

Lee beat reigning champion Judd Trump in the last eight and the 37-year-old battled his way back into the contest.

He won the third frame on the back of a 67 and then drew level, breaks of 47 and 39 enough to see him over the line.

But he simply had no answer to Maguire after the mid-session interval as the 31-year-old raced away with the match

The Scot knocked in a 51 and a 53 to restore his lead and from there just continued to up his game.

He rattled in breaks of 66 and 71 to take the match away from Lee before saving the best till last, a run of 91 handing him victory in emphatic fashion.

Ding, who beat Ali Carter 5-2 in the quarter-finals, meets Ebdon, who saw off Neil Robertson 5-3, in the other semi-final.

Finn keen to replace Broad and stake his claim for permanent Test spot

Finn keen to replace Broad and stake his claim for permanent Test spot

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UPDATED:

13:15 GMT, 31 March 2012

Steven Finn is desperate for the chance to replace Stuart Broad as England look to end their four-match losing streak in Colombo on Tuesday.

A 75-run defeat to Sri Lanka last week meant the world's number one side have still not won a Test in 2012, with the result swiftly compounded by the news Broad was being sent home with a calf strain.

His reliable new-ball partnership with James Anderson, as well as his ability to provide a strong batting option at number eight, has been crucial to England's plans in a challenging winter and his injury poses major questions.

Stepping up: Finn is desperate to play in Colombo

Stepping up: Finn is desperate to play in Colombo

Finn possesses the pace and wicket-taking threat to step into his shoes, but lacks the control and the lower-order runs.

Tim Bresnan is economical and at least Broad's equal with the bat, but would be considered a gamble in a two-man pace attack.

Both men have their champions, while a rebalancing of the side could see both play, but Finn is simply focused on showing he is ready if he does get the nod.

'Broady is a massive part of the team and will be missed. He's a huge and important player for us but we've got a group of guys waiting in the wings who can cover for him,' said Finn, whose last Test appearance came when Sri Lanka visited Lord's in June.

'We don't know who is going to play, but if I get my opportunity I'm ready to take it. It will be testing in these conditions for seam bowlers but I like a challenge.

'I have felt as though I have been ready for a little while now. I have done a lot of bowling this winter and a lot of work on becoming a better bowler. Hopefully I can reap the rewards of that if I get a chance.'

Finn, who has 50 wickets in just 12 matches, would have been a certain pick for his country in years gone by, but England have an enviable stock of fast bowlers at the moment.

Anderson and Broad are the established first choice but Finn, Bresnan and Chris Tremlett have each excelled when called on to supplement the pair.

Chance: Finn is fighting for his place

Chance: Finn is fighting for his place

Finn, 22, accepts it can be tough with so many strong contenders for selection but believes it is important for England to have such options.

'When you have the ups and downs of being in the mix but not playing you can feel down pretty quickly, but it's a team game and we need to have a strong squad,' he said.

'We have to be able to compensate for injuries as we'll have to in this next Test match. All I can do as a back-up player is to be ready when the opportunity comes.

'No-one thinks their place is guaranteed and that's the thing about playing in a good team. You have enough players waiting to step into your position if you don't perform as I've found out in the past. If I get a chance in this game hopefully I can push a case to get a slot for the long term. No-one is complacent and everyone is working very hard.'

Finn also expressed sympathy for Broad, whose calf injury is the latest in a series of fitness issues including ankle, shoulder and stomach problems.

'As a fast bowler you have to put your body under pressure all the time,' he said.

'Broad has played in all formats for a long time now and maybe it has caught up with him a little. The schedule is very hectic at times, but that's part and parcel of being a fast bowler.'

Vice-captain Mathews returns for Sri Lanka for second Test

Vice-captain Mathews returns for Sri Lanka for second Test

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UPDATED:

13:03 GMT, 31 March 2012

Sri Lanka have made two changes to their squad for the second Test against England.

Back: Mathews

Back: Mathews

All-rounder Angelo Mathews, who is also the vice-captain of the side, is back in the squad after missing the hosts' first Test victory with a calf strain.

He takes the place of Chamara Silva in the squad and will be available only as a batsman, placing Dinesh Chandimal in most danger of losing his place in the XI.

Left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedera, who took the new ball in the 75-run win in Galle, has been struggling with a groin strain and is not fit to play at the P.Sara Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday.

Shaminda Eranga, who has one Test cap, has been called up in his place and will do battle with Dhammika Prasad for a spot in the team.

Sri Lanka's first Test victory was their first on home soil since Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement in July 2010.

Tom Cleverley hopes to stay fit for Manchester United

Fit again Cleverley aims to play important role in United's title run-in

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UPDATED:

12:57 GMT, 31 March 2012

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is anxious to avoid the tag of being injury prone.

Cleverley looked like being one of the stars of the season after making such an excellent start to the campaign.

Unfortunately, the 22-year-old injured a foot at Bolton in September and was then just two games into his comeback when he hurt an ankle at Everton that ruled him out for a further three-and-a-half months.

Back: Tom Cleverley hopes to play his part in the Premier League run-in

Back: Tom Cleverley hopes to play his part in the Premier League run-in

Even then it was not the end for Cleverley's problems as he picked up another foot injury on Europa League duty against Ajax that condemned him to another fortnight on the sidelines.

Now the Bradford-raised midfielder is back and keen to play a central role in the Premier League title run-in.

'It has been a bit stop-start,' he told MUTV.

'I don't want to get the tag of being injury prone, I have just been a bit unlucky.

'The knock I got against Ajax was just something else compared to what I have been out for the rest of the season with.

'Now I am fully ready.'

On a couple of occasions it has seemed as though Cleverley was about to gatecrash England's Euro 2012 plans.

His relative lack of appearances mean Cleverley might have to shelve that idea.

Break: Manchester United took a trip to St Andrews this week

Break: Manchester United took a trip to St Andrews this week

However, he is eligible for the Olympic squad later in the year and there is also the little matter of a first championship medal, which will be secured if United win all their remaining matches.

It is all new for Cleverley of course but he does take strength from the vast experience of others in the Red Devils dressing room.

'It does help that others have done it all before,' he said.

'It gives young players confidence when you have guys who have 15 or 20 years' experience playing next to you.

'The mix of youth, hunger and enthusiasm for your first and second medal, with the experience of 10, 11, 12 is just right.'

An element of freshness is important, with even Sir Alex Ferguson believing his players are going to benefit from a change of scenery having opted to take his squad to St Andrews for a couple of nights.

The location might appeal to Cleverley, a keen golfer. But he recognises there are more important matters to attend to.

Crocked: Cleverley has struggled with injury this season

Crocked: Cleverley has struggled with injury this season

And to that end, he feels Paul Scholes' presence could turn out to be crucial.

'I can learn a lot from Paul,' he said.

'He has been the best midfielder in the country for the last 15 years.

'Like Xavi with Barcelona at the minute, so Paul is to us.

'He is a great player and gives me good competition for a place in the side.'

A relentless trophy-gatherer like Ferguson is unlikely to let his players rest on their laurels.

But if they were considering that as an option, Cleverley believes the memory of that 6-1 annihilation by Manchester City in October will ensure it does not happen.

'It is good for the city that both teams are doing fantastically well,' he said.

'It does increase the pressure and does seem to be the only thing anyone is talking about right now.

'It has been massively competitive all season and even though we won there in the FA Cup, we still remember the 6-1.

'Hopefully we can win at their place and secure the title.'

Kuyt says criticism levelled at Liverpool is fair as Reds striker aims higher

Kuyt says criticism levelled at Liverpool is fair as Reds striker aims higher

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UPDATED:

12:55 GMT, 31 March 2012

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt accepts the criticism which has been levelled at the club in recent weeks and admits the players have performed below expectations.

The Reds head to Newcastle, eight points above them in sixth, on the back of five defeats in six Barclays Premier League matches.

The latest was a dismal performance at home to Wigan last week which saw the players and manager Kenny Dalglish come under even more scrutiny.

'It (criticism) doesn't surprise me because Liverpool should always at least be in the top four or five,' Kuyt said.

Criticism: Carling Cup winners Liverpool have failed to set the world alight this season

Criticism: Carling Cup winners Liverpool have failed to set the world alight this season

'Manchester City have been in there the last couple of years and Spurs are doing really well but I think this team should be in the top five.

'That is what we expect for ourselves and that is the pressure we put on ourselves because a club like Liverpool should always be there.

'But unfortunately we are not in that position at the moment so we are just trying to change things.

'I think criticism at a club like Liverpool is always there when you don't reach the position people expect you to. That is something we have to change and we can start tomorrow.'

/03/31/article-0-1250EA8B000005DC-273_468x299.jpg” width=”468″ height=”299″ alt=”Mercurial: 20m man Stewart Downing has been in mixed form this season” class=”blkBorder” />

Mercurial: 20m man Stewart Downing has been in mixed form this season

'Great credit to them but we have to look at ourselves. I still think we are a better team than them so we have to make sure we get three points against them because no one was happy with what happened in the last two games.

'Against QPR we were cruising at 2-0 and we should have scored loads more and I still don't know how we lost.

'Against Wigan it was just not good enough, there were too many players who did not find the form they normally do and suddenly you end up with no points.

'It was really a pity for all of us but what we have to do is look forward and show on Sunday we are able to play good football and are able to win games, especially against teams who are above us.'

Dalglish insists confidence is not a problem for his players despite only two league wins in 2012.

'I don't think it is a great issue,' said the Scot. 'They do have to believe in themselves but they have shown they believe in what we are trying to achieve here.

'They have shown by their performances on the pitch that with a little bit more they could have had a lot more wins they have had. Everyone enjoys confidence, everyone enjoys winning.

'They have to get it into reality that when you lose a game there is no one happy here losing a game, no matter what the competition is.

'They came into training on Tuesday (after a couple of days off) and they weren't happy – and you could tell that by the quality they had in training.

'We have got to look after each other; everyone – the supporters, players and the staff – and make sure we get ourselves picked up. If we are not right for the game on Sunday it will be more difficult for us.'

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Aston Villa v Chelsea, Manchester City v Sunderland, Wolves v Bolton, QPR v Arsenal, Everton v West Brom, Fulham v Norwich, Wigan…

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow Saturday's action from around the grounds as it happens

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UPDATED:

14:51 GMT, 31 March 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League with seven fixtures including the relegation battle between Wolves and Bolton kicking off at 3pm. Elsewhere it is Aston Villa v Chelsea, Everton v West Brom, Fulham v Norwich, Manchester City v Sunderland, QPR v Arsenal and Wigan v Stoke. Send your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or via Twitter @Ripinho.

Live scores

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

Everton 1-0 West Brom

Fulham 2-0 Norwich

Manchester City 1-2 Sunderland

QPR 1-1 Arsenal

Wigan 0-0 Stoke

Wolves 0-0 Bolton

All the latest from the Championship

All the latest from League One

All the latest from League Two

All the latest from the SPL

15.51: Half-time: Manchester City 1-2 Sunderland

15.50: GOAL! Manchester City 1-2 SUNDERLAND

Well I wasn't expecting this. Stephane Sessegnon flight in a lovely cross that is headed home by Nicklas Bendtner right on the cusp of half time.

15.49: David Luiz has gone off injured for Chelsea by the way, Gary Cahill has replaced him.

Half-time: Fulham 2-0 Norwich

Half-time: Wolves 0-0 Bolton

Half-time: Everton 1-0 West Brom

Half-time: Wigan 0-0 Stoke

15.48: Half-time: QPR 1-1 Arsenal

Half-time: Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

15.47: From OptaJoe:

8 – Manchester City have been awarded more penalties at home than any other Premier League team this season. Useful

15.44: GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 Sunderland

Controversial. Influenced by Patrick Vieira's words or not, City win a very fortunate penalty as Edin Dzeko goes down way too easily under pressure from Craig Gardner.

Mario Balotelli steps up to convert the spot-kick.

15.43: PENALTY (Manchester City)

15.41: Incredible miss from Wigan at the DW Stadium. Maloney's cross leaves Jean Beausejour with a simple finish, but he somehow doesn't even get his shot to go towards the target from four yards.

15.39: GOAL! QPR 1-1 ARSENAL

On the face of it this isn't a shock, but this goal has come completely against the run of play. Theo Walcott's first effort comes off the post but fortune favours the winger as the rebound falls kindly for him to tuck home.

15.36: But this is something Wolves don't need. Keeper Wayne Hennessey squares up to captain and defender Roger Johnson following what looks like a disagreement about defending. At least the passion is there I suppose.

15.34: Much, much better from Wolves this week. Just like Wednesday's game at Tottenham, Bolton are relying on keeper Adam Bogdan to keep them in this as the hosts have had much the better of the first half.

15.32: GOAL! Manchester City 0-1 SUNDERLAND

Talk about ripping up the form book. Sunderland, who have lost every Premier League game at Manchester City, take the lead after Seb Larsson crashes home an effort from 25 yards.

Why no City player is more alert to close him down I have no idea, but that is sure to have the red side of Manchester celebrating.

15.30: From OptaJoe:

22 per cent – Arsenal have won a lower percentage of games against QPR than versus any other opponent in PL history (22 per cent). Hooped.

15.28: Decent opportunity for Manchester City. From a corner Mario Balotelli heads over from a few yards, but had he left it Edin Dzeko would surely have tapped home.

15.25: GOAL! QPR 1-0 Arsenal

Adel Taarabt has done hardly anything all season but this could be a crucial goal for the Hoops. The ex-Spurs midfielder shows neat skill to beat Thomas Vermaelen before curling home to score his first Premier League goal.

15.23: Emotional scenes at Villa Park as the fans stood up to applaud in the 19th minute for captain Stiliyan Petrov. Both benches joined in too as fans chanted his name.

15.20: GOAL! EVERTON 1-0 West Brom

It looks like a cracking long distance strike from Leon Osman, but there is an element of fortune to it as it takes a deflection off Gareth McAuley. Either way the in-form Toffees are ahead.

15.17: Sunderland are making a game of it at Manchester City – in fact they are arguably the better side. Craig Gardner is on the end of a clever passing move but fails to trouble Joe Hart with his shot.

15.14: GOAL! FULHAM 2-0 Norwich

Incredible stuff, Norwich have had all the ball but have conceded both times Fulham have gone forward. Damien Duff applying the finishing touches to double the hosts lead. I can't see the scoring ending there.

15.11: GOAL! Aston Villa 0-1 CHELSEA

Torres is involved here though. His shot is blocked by Stephen Warnock but Daniel Sturridge is on hand to to tap home.

15.09: Chelsea's Fernando Torres looks a lot brighter recently and nearly ends his league goal drought that stretches back to September.

The Spaniard latches on to a great pass from David Luiz but Shay Given is equal to his effort.

15.06: From InfostradaLive:

#norwich have conceded in their last 30 #EPL away matches – a new #PL record #fulham

Early bird: Clint Dempsey (right) pounced to hand Fulham the lead

Early bird: Clint Dempsey (right) pounced to hand Fulham the lead

15.03: GOAL! FULHAM 1-0 Norwich

That was quick. Bryan Ruiz's shot is parried by keeper John Ruddy, but only into the path of Clint Dempsey who doesn't need a second invitation to hand the hosts the lead.

15.01: Away we go then.

14.58: And as ever check out Andy Townsend's preview on all the weekend's action with his Boot Room.

14.56: Arsenal centre-half Laurent Koscielny recovers from a knee problem to return to the starting line-up at QPR as the Gunners go in search of an eighth straight Barclays Premier League win.

Wales captain Aaron Ramsey comes into midfield, with Gervinho dropping to the bench.

QPR skipper Joey Barton is recalled to the XI as Rangers aim to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.

Striker Djibril Cisse begins a four-match ban after his second sending-off in four league games at Sunderland last weekend, so Bobby Zamora leads the attack.

14.54: Fulham captain Danny Murphy returns to the starting line-up for this afternoon's Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich.

The 35-year-old started on the bench in recent games against Swansea and Manchester United but is recalled today by Whites boss Martin Jol, who also drafts in Bryan Ruiz.

Norwich hand a debut to January signing Ryan Bennett as manager Paul Lambert makes four alterations to the side that defeated Wolves last weekend.

Fan support: An Aston Villa supporter pays tribute to Stiliyan Petrov

Fan support: An Aston Villa supporter pays tribute to Stiliyan Petrov

14.51: Craig Gardner replaces Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov in midfield for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Villa boss Alex McLeish hands a first start to striker Andreas Weimann who scored the winner in the last home game against Fulham.

Winger Jack Grealish, 16, is named amongst the substitutes.

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo recalls fit again full-back Branislav Ivanovic, plus midfielder Frank Lampard and striker Daniel Sturridge in making three changes from the side which won away to Benfica in the Champions League.

14.48: Manchester City welcome back influential captain Vincent Kompany as they look to reclaim top spot in the Barclays Premier League this afternoon.

Kompany returns to face Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium after four games out but there is no place in the squad for Samir Nasri.

Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli continue up front in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero while Carlos Tevez is again on the bench.

Sunderland make two changes with Wayne Bridge not permitted to play against his parent club and Sotirios Kyrgiakos drops to the bench. Matthew Kilgallon and Jack Colback came in.

14.45: On-loan Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar returns to the side as manager David Moyes makes three changes for the visit of West Brom.

The South Africa international was ineligible for the midweek FA Cup victory at Sunderland but is brought back along with Tony Hibbert and Phil Jagielka, with Phil Neville, Sylvain Distin and Magaye Gueye dropping to the bench.

West Brom make four changes from last weekend's 3-1 defeat at home to Newcastle with Somen Tchoyi, Paul Scharner, Chris Brunt and Shane Long all named in the starting line-up.

Tribute: Aston Villa (above) and Chelsea players warmed up with messages of support for Stiliyan Petrov

Tribute: Aston Villa (above) and Chelsea players warmed up with messages of support for Stiliyan Petrov

Tribute: Aston Villa (above) and Chelsea players warmed up with messages of support for Stiliyan Petrov

14.42: Wigan winger Victor Moses recovers from a facial injury in time to take his place in an unchanged line-up for this afternoon's Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke.

Moses was forced off in the first half of last weekend's 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield after being kicked by Martin Skrtel, an incident that earned Wigan a penalty, but scans showed there was no break and he was passed fit to play.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis makes only one change from the team that drew 1-1 with Manchester City last Saturday, winger Jermaine Pennant coming in for Cameron Jerome, while Ricardo Fuller is on the bench following his three-match suspension.

14.39: Wolves boss Terry Connor makes two changes to his starting line-up for this afternoon's Barclays Premier League relegation clash against Bolton at Molineux.

The adjustments from last Saturday's 2-1 league defeat at Norwich saw Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and David Davis replace Kevin Doyle and Eggert Jonsson, while Ronald Zubar – back available after suspension – and the fit-again Karl Henry are named among the substitutes.

The visitors' first XI shows four alterations to the side that had been beaten 3-1 at Tottenham on Tuesday in the FA Cup quarter-finals, with David Ngog, Martin Petrov, David Wheater and Tim Ream the men coming in.

14.36: Finally the line-ups from Loftus Road, where relegation threatened QPR will hope to break Arsenal's seven league-game winning streak.

QPR v Arsenal
QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo, Barton, Diakite, Derry, Taarabt, Mackie, Zamora. Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Bothroyd, Buzsaky, Young, Wright-Phillips.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Rosicky, van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Andre Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Djourou, Gervinho, Chamakh, Benayoun.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

14.33: Full line-ups from Craven Cottage where the hosts will hope to end a run of three consecutive defeats. Their promising performance in the 1-0 loss at Manchester United last Monday should lay some foundations:

Fulham v Norwich
Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, John Arne Riise, Murphy, Dembele, Ruiz, Dempsey, Duff, Pogrebnyak. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Diarra, Etuhu, Frei, Kacaniklic, Trotta.

Norwich: Ruddy, Ward, Whitbread, Ryan Bennett, Martin, Naughton, Fox, Surman, Howson, Hoolahan, Morison. Subs: Steer, Drury, Johnson, Crofts, Jackson, Elliott Bennett, Wilbraham.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Deadly duo: Salomon Kalou (right) and Fernando Torres will look to build on their promising partnership for Chelsea which helped defeat Benfica mid-week

Deadly duo: Salomon Kalou (right) and Fernando Torres will look to build on their promising partnership for Chelsea which helped defeat Benfica mid-week

14.30: Full line-ups from Villa Park where both sets of players are warming up in 'Support Stan' T-shirts as a tribute to Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov. The midfielder has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

Petrov is at Villa Park for today's game before starting treatment on Monday. Best wishes to the Bulgarian:

Aston Villa v Chelsea
Aston Villa: Given, Lichaj, Collins, Baker, Warnock, Gardner, Herd, Agbonlahor, Ireland, Bannan, Weimann. Subs: Guzan, Albrighton, Heskey, Johnson, Williams, Carruthers, Grealish.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Sturridge, Mata, Kalou, Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Meireles, Malouda, Bosingwa, Cahill, Bertrand.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

14.27: Full line-ups from the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City aim to retake top spot in the Premier League:

Man City v Sunderland
Man City: Hart, Richards, Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Toure Yaya, Silva, Balotelli, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Clichy, Pizarro, Barry, Johnson, Tevez, Zabaleta.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Kilgallon, Colback, Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs: Westwood, Campbell, Richardson, Vaughan, Ji, Meyler, Kyrgiakos.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

14.25: From Sportsmail's man on Merseyside, Dominic King:

Unexpected face in Goodison Park foyer ahead of #EFC v #WBA: former Blue and current Croatia manager Slaven Bilic, receiving a warm welcome.

Making an impression: Wigan's Shaun Maloney (right) retains his starting place

Making an impression: Wigan's Shaun Maloney (right) retains his starting place

14.23: Consistently inconsistent, what Everton side will turn up against a slightly struggling West Brom at Goodison Park following the Toffees magnificent 2-0 win at Sunderland mid-week

Everton v West Brom
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill, Jelavic. Subs: Mucha, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Distin, Neville, Gueye, Anichebe.

West Brom: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Brunt, Andrews, Scharner, Tchoyi, Long, Odemwingie. Subs: Daniels, Dorrans, Shorey, Mulumbu, Dawson, Cox, Fortune.

Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

14.20: Can Wigan repeat their heroics from the win at Liverpool Consecutive wins and the Latics don't go hand-in-hand. Line-ups from the DW Stadium:

Wigan v Stoke
Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Moses, Di Santo, Maloney. Subs: Kirkland, Crusat, Ben Watson, Gomez, Sammon, Jones, Stam.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Pennant, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington, Crouch, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Fuller, Upson, Shotton, Jerome, Palacios.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

14.18: Full line-ups from that pivotal clash at the bottom of the table:

Wolverhampton v Bolton
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Bassong, Ward, Kightly, Davis, Edwards, Jarvis, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher. Subs:
De Vries, Henry, Hunt, Berra, Milijas, Zubar, Doyle.

Bolton: Bogdan, Ricketts, Ream, Wheater, Alonso, Miyaichi, Mark Davies, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Klasnic, Ngog. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Eagles, Knight, Kevin Davies, Boyata, Sordell, Vela.

Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire)

14.15: When was the last time we had a day like this Seven Premier League fixtures on a Saturday and they all kick off at 3pm.

Naturally with a large selection of games, we have issues concerning the top and bottom of the table to get through so let's gets some team news from the games.

Going gr-eight guns: Robin van Persie will hope to fire Arsenal to an eighth consecutive league win

Going gr-eight guns: Robin van Persie will hope to fire Arsenal to an eighth consecutive league win

Stiliyan Petrov set to retire after leukaemia diagnosis

Petrov reportedly set to retire after making emotional visit to Villa Park

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UPDATED:

14:32 GMT, 31 March 2012

Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has reportedly retired from football after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

The Bulgarian international was at Villa Park on Saturday to watch his side take on Chelsea and will start treatment for the illness in a London hospital on Monday.

But the midfielder, who has been at Villa for six years, earlier revealed he will not play again.

Brave: Stiliyan Petrov watches as Aston Villa take on Chelsea

Brave: Stiliyan Petrov watches as Aston Villa take on Chelsea

'Football is over, this is the end,' he was quoted as saying in the Bulgarian daily
newspaper Tema Sport. 'I am now beginning to fight for my life and I will fight.'

Petrov,
32, who had been capped 105 times by Bulgaria, said he had felt a
strange headache during the first half of Villa's 3-0 defeat by Arsenal
last Saturday and the team doctor had even suggested a half-time
substitution.

'I lost my energy early in the second half and it was very unusual for me,' he said.

'But this is life, you see we drank a coffee in London a week ago and now we're talking about things like this.

'I'll fight, it's clear and I also would like to thank everyone for the support from all around the world.'

Support: Aston Villa fans made their feelings clear at their game against Chelsea

Support: Aston Villa fans made their feelings clear at their game against Chelsea

Petrov also revealed he is taking inspiration from Fabrice Muamba.

Petrov released a statement shortly after arriving at the ground, thanking the football community for their support.

Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest
during a FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham a fortnight ago, but has
defied expectation in his recovery at the London Chest Hospital.

Petrov revealed a picture of Muamba
sitting up in bed released had inspired him, along with numerous
well-wishes, to get back to health.

'I
would like to thank all of the people who have left messages of
support. The response has been overwhelming and I appreciate it very
much,' Petrov said.

'This is a difficult time for my family and myself and I ask people to respect my privacy.

United: Chelsea players wore t-shirts in support of Petrov

United: Chelsea players wore t-shirts in support of Petrov.

'With the help and love of my family, my team-mates, all of my friends in football, Aston Villa and all of the fans, I am sure I will beat this illness and I am determined to do this.

'I saw the picture released yesterday by Fabrice Muamba, my fellow player, and it has inspired me as has all of the support in the past 24 hours.

'For me, football will have to take a back seat for a while, but I'm here to support my team-mates today and I will continue to support them as I know they will support me. Thank you to everyone.'

An avalanche of support poured in from all parts of the world.

'Let's all pray and believe that
Stiliyan Petrov, one of the best football players Bulgaria have ever
produced, one of my best and closest friends, will win this battle,'
Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov said on his Facebook
account.

'He deserves all your support. Believe,' his compatriot added.

'But of course, wishes from Bulgaria
encourage me most,' said former CSKA Sofia and Celtic midfielder Petrov.
'They give me strength to believe that one day I will recover.'

In our thoughts: Petrov's Aston Villa's team-mates showed their support before their game with Chelsea

In our thoughts: Petrov's Aston Villa's team-mates showed their support before their game with Chelsea

Both sets of players wore shirts to show their support in the warm-up. Villa's players wore shirts reading 'Support Stan' while the message on the Chelsea shirts read, 'Our thoughts are with you'.

Villa fans stood and applauded during the 19th minute of the match, in reference to the fact Petrov wears the number 19 shirt.

The Villa skipper had made a trip to London yesterday after his diagnosis was revealed but made the return journey late last evening to attend today's fixture in an executive box.

The illness was diagnosed after Petrov had complained of suffering with a fever following last week's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Cardiff 0 Millwall 0: Bluebirds blow chance to move into top six with goalless draw

Cardiff 0 Millwall 0: Bluebirds blow chance to move into top six with goalless draw

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UPDATED:

14:01 GMT, 31 March 2012

Cardiff's npower Championship play-off challenge took a further dent as they recorded their fourth successive draw.

The Bluebirds dominated long spells but could not find a way past Maik Taylor in the Millwall goal, with Stephen McPhail, Kenny Miller and Joe Mason all denied by the Lions stopper in the first half.

After the break the home side continued to dictate proceedings. Mason's header was tipped over the crossbar by Taylor and Miller went close once again but Cardiff were unable to break down their guests.

Drab: Cardiff failed to move into the play-off zone after drawing with Millwall

Drab: Cardiff failed to move into the play-off zone after drawing with Millwall

MATCH FACTS

Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Whittingham, Lawrence, Gunnarsson, McPhail (Gestede 63), Mason (Conway 74),
Miller (Earnshaw 76).

Subs Not Used: Heaton,Blake.

Booked: Lawrence.

Millwall: Taylor, Craig, Robinson, Smith, Lowry, Henry, Feeney, Abdou, Kane (Henderson 59), Wright (Ward 90), Keogh.

Subs Not Used: Forde, Dunne, Bouazza.

Booked: Henry, Smith, Henderson.

Att: 21,259

Ref: Tony Bates (Staffordshire).

Andy Keogh thought he had won he produced a smash-and-grab win when he found the back of the net after 76 minutes only to see the strike ruled out for offside.

And at the other end Aron Gunnarsson was similarly frustrated when he beat Taylor only to see referee Tony Bates had awarded Millwall a free-kick for a foul in the build-up.

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay made one change to the side that drew with Birmingham, as Don Cowie sat out with a slight calf strain and Miller returned up front.

Shane Lowry replaced Darren Ward in defence for Millwall, while Liam Feeney came into the side instead of Darius Henderson.

Millwall enjoyed early sights of goal in the first half, with James Henry ballooning a 20-yard free-kick over the bar and firing wide from the edge of the area before Cardiff got into their stride.

McPhail tested Taylor in the Lions goal from range before Mason saw his attempt blocked on the line as the home side started to move into the ascendancy.

Gunnarsson could only direct his header over the top, while Feeney blocked Liam Lawrence's effort as the Bluebirds huffed and puffed.

The visitors were reduced to speculative shots from distance, with Tony Craig failing to trouble David Marshall from 30 yards, but their backline stood firm to go into the break level.

The hosts started the second period strongly, with Miller shooting at Taylor before the veteran stopper pushed Mason's header over the bar.

Gunnarsson nodded wide and Miller was again off target as Cardiff struggled to find a killer blow.

The Bluebirds were camping themselves in the Lions' half, and Kevin McNaughton saw his goalbound drive well blocked by Josh Wright before Miller was denied by Jack Smith.

In a rare foray into opposing territory, Henry blasted wide from 12 yards for Millwall, who appeared to be happy to hang on for a point.

But with time ticking away, the visitors pushed hard to steal a late winner.

Keogh thought he had got just that for the Lions with 14 minutes remaining when he slotted home only to be flagged offside, and the striker then brought a decent punched save from Marshall when he pulled the trigger from six yards out.

At the other end, Gunnarsson saw his effort chalked off for a foul in the build-up, and the match tapered off to a limp conclusion.