Premiership preview

Liverpool brought in Danish defender Daniel Agger and midfielder Luis Garcia in place of Sami Hyypia and Mark Gonzalez from the side that won 3-0 at Charlton last weekend.

Garcia comes in for Liverpool

Liverpool brought in Danish defender Daniel Agger and midfielder Luis Garcia in place of Sami Hyypia and Mark Gonzalez from the side that won 3-0 at Charlton last weekend.

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster was declared fit following a knee injury and returned to the side. Adrian Mariappa came in for James Chambers, who is out for six weeks with a gashed ankle.

Liverpool were aiming for their 26th unbeaten home league game on the run.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Luis Garcia, Bellamy, Kuyt. Subs: Dudek, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Aurelio, Crouch.

Watford: Foster, Mariappa, DeMerit, Shittu, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Bouazza, Bangura, Young, Henderson. Subs: Lee, Francis, Doyley, McNamee, Priskin.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire)

Trio of changes for Gunners

Arsenal made three changes for the visit of Blackburn in today's Barclays Premiership clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Fit-again Tomas Rosicky started in midfield, while Justin Hoyte came in at full-back for the injured Emmanuel Eboue and Emmanuel Adebayor returned to the starting XI.

England starlet Theo Walcott started on the bench, while Gilberto captained the Gunners again in the absence of Thierry Henry.

Rovers were without suspended striker Benni McCarthy.

Former Gunner David Bentley returned to face his old club and Australian Brett Emerson recovered from a hamstring problem to start.

Arsenal: Lehmann, Hoyte, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas, Silva, Rosicky, Adebayor, Van Persie. Subs: Almunia, Senderos, Julio Baptista, Flamini, Walcott.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Todd, Ooijer, Gray, Emerton, Savage, Kerimoglu, Pedersen, Bentley, Nonda. Subs: Brown, Mokoena, Henchoz, Derbyshire, Peter.

Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire)

Samaras left on bench for City

Big-money striker Georgios Samaras was axed to the bench as Manchester City looked to end their slide down the table against Bolton.

The Greek international has struggled to live up to his star billing following a £6m (€8.9m) arrival from Heerenveen 12 months ago and after an ineffective display against Tottenham last weekend was ditched by manager Stuart Pearce.

In total, Pearce made four changes as City took on a Bolton side looking to consolidate a place in the top five and included Nicolas Anelka, the only player in Blues history to cost more than Samaras.

Mwaruwari back for Pompey

Portsmouth forward Benjani Mwaruwari returned to the starting XI for the Barclays Premiership clash against Sheffield United at Fratton Park.

The Zimbabwe international had been struggling with a hamstring problem but was fit enough to face the Blades and replaced David Thompson from the team that drew with Arsenal last week.

The visitors were unchanged from the side that defeated Wigan, with strikers Rob Hulse and Danny Webber in attack. Hulse had scored the winner last week to extend his side's unbeaten run to four matches.

Jol relies on big guns

Tottenham boss Martin Jol turned to his big guns once again for this afternoon's Barclays Premiership trip to Newcastle.

Jol made six changes to the side which battled its way to a 1-0 extra-time Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Southend in midweek as Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Calum Davenport, Paul Stalteri, Teemu Tainio, Danny Murphy and Mido made way.

Pascal Chimbonda, Ledley King and Lee Young-Pyo returned at the back, while Didier Zokora and Hossam Ghaly came into the midfield and Dimitar Berbatov partnered Jermain Defoe in attack.

Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder kept faith with the 11 men who lost 1-0 to Chelsea on Wednesday evening, and that meant another start for 19-year-old Paul Huntington at left-back.

Woodgate, Pogatetz return for Boro

Jonathan Woodgate and Emanuel Pogatetz returned as Middlesbrough looked to see off Charlton and drag themselves out of the Barclays Premiership drop zone.

West Ham's early point at Fulham had left Boro in the bottom three at kick-off time, but Woodgate's recovery from an ankle complaint raised Riverside hopes of a first win in six league games.

Smarting from their midweek Carling Cup loss to Wycombe, Addicks boss Les Reed made four changes, with Hermann Hreidarsson and Radostin Kishishev both passing late fitness tests to return to the side.

No changes for Reading

Reading manager Steve Coppell named an unchanged side despite last week's loss to Blackburn, with skipper Graeme Murty turning out for the Royals for the 300th time.

Victory would all but assure the home side of finishing 2006 as one of the Premiership's top 10 sides but Everton, who welcomed back midfielder Mikel Arteta following an ankle injury, knew they would overtake their hosts with a win that would also boost their push for a UEFA Cup place.

The two sides had not played each other since a League Cup double header in 1973, with their most recent league encounter having taken place back in 1931.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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