LONDON — John Terry and Ashley Cole are both back in training but facing a battle to be fit for Chelsea’s Premier League trip to Queens Park Rangers (QPR) on Saturday.
Terry limped out of England’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova last Friday with an ankle injury and missed the game against Ukraine on Tuesday, while Cole missed both games with ankle problems.
If Terry is ruled out, it would avoid a potential flash point. It was in the corresponding fixture last season that he is alleged to have racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Although he was acquitted in a magistrate’s court, Terry still faces a Football Association hearing into the incident.
Ferdinand himself is unlikely to play after the enormous upheaval at Loftus Road which has seen 12 players join the club this summer. They are taking time to gel and, while Chelsea have three wins from three games, QPR have a single point.
Sunderland, at last, play their first home game of the season, in Saturday’s teatime fixture against Liverpool.
Their first home game should have been against Reading, but that was rained off, meaning this is a first opportunity for home fans to see the two big new summer signings, Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson, who is back in training after missing the England internationals.
Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner is likely to deputise at fullback again. Liverpool are still without a win as they adapt to life under Brendan Rodgers.
Champions Manchester City go to Stoke City. Forward Sergio Aguero is back in training after his knee injury but Saturday is likely to come too soon for him to return. Manchester United host Wigan Athletic with both Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa likely to be available after injury scares for their countries.
Arsenal are likely to be without midfielder Abou Diaby for their home game against Southampton. Second-placed Swansea City go to Aston Villa, Norwich City entertain West Ham United and Fulham take on unbeaten West Bromwich Albion in Saturday’s other games.
Reading host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, while Monday’s game sees Newcastle United go to Everton.
•Zdenek Zeman’s return to Italy’s Serie A has quickly produced the expected sparks, with the outspoken AS Roma coach going on the attack in more ways than one. On the field Roma have already delighted the neutrals with their positive football, playing with Zeman’s trademark 4-3-3 formation.
Roma, who host Bologna on Sunday, gave the outstanding performance of the championship so far in winning 3-1 at Inter Milan last time out.
Czech-born Zeman has also been on the offensive off the field and his typically provocative comments, about Juventus rival Antonio Conte last month and this week about Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete, have gone down less well.
Titleholders Juventus, who went through last season unbeaten and have won their first two games this term, travel to Genoa on Sunday. Two other teams have maximum points, Napoli, who host Parma on Sunday, and Lazio, who visit Chievo.
AC Milan welcome Atalanta on Saturday.