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Liverpool and Everton have chance to break clear

LONDON, Sep 13 (Reuters) Leaders Liverpool and their city rivals Everton have opportunities to break clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday when they take part in testing fixtures with lunchtime kickoffs.

After a two-week break for internationals, Everton entertain champions Manchester United at Goodison Park (16:30 IST), 45 minutes before Liverpool bid to maintain their unbeaten record this season when they visit Portsmouth.

Liverpool and Everton are on 10 points along with Arsenal and Chelsea.

The early kickoff at Portsmouth means if Liverpool win they will move clear of the pack, albeit briefly, unless Everton deliver a surprise win over a United team improving after a wobbly start to their campaign.

Manchester United's injured captain Gary Neville told his club Web site (www.manutd.com) he believed the return of forwards Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha would give United impetus.

''It's been difficult for us not having three of our forwards available,'' he said.

''You could see in the last game the difference Louis made when he came on, and I think with Wayne coming back soon, I'm sure we'll get even stronger. We have to make sure we don't fall too far behind the leaders at this stage.'' Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who was United's joint-top goalscorer with Rooney on 23 goals last season, returns after a three-game ban.

Arsenal, who were in good form before the international break, visit north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in one of the capital's most hotly contested derby clashes, while Chelsea entertain Blackburn Rovers.

''Ever since my youth days that was the one game we looked forward to,'' said Arsenal defender Justin Hoyte. ''It is important for the fans and you just want to win it.'' Tottenham hope to recall England winger Aaron Lennon for the first time since he had knee surgery in May and could also have striker Darren Bent back after a thigh injury.

''It's very positive news for us,'' said Spurs manager Martin Jol, whose side are 14th.

''Darren looked in good form and did everything in training with us. Aaron trained and looks good, although he lacks match practice. It's a decision we have to take.'' After suffering a dismal defeat at Aston Villa two weeks ago, Chelsea will be keen to return to winning form by extending their exceptional unbeaten home record under coach Jose Mourinho.


Story first published: Thursday, September 13, 2007, 17:41 [IST]
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