Dempsey doubtful, Sterling to return
Team news ahead of the four Premier League games to be shown on FOX Soccer on Boxing Day...
Sunderland vs. Manchester City - Live on FOX Soccer, 10a.m. ET
Sunderland are sweating on the involvement of Adam Johnson in a Boxing Day clash with his former employers.
The Black Cats' summer signing from City hobbled out of the action at Southampton on Saturday and Martin O'Neill is unsure as to whether the winger will be ready for an immediate return to action.
Lee Cattermole (knee) and Wes Brown (knee ligaments) remain on the sidelines.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (groin) could return on Wednesday after being kept on the bench as a precaution last weekend.
Striker Mario Balotelli (illness) could also come back into contention while left-backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy will hope to overcome niggles.
Forward Samir Nasri is out with a hamstring injury while right-back Micah Richards (knee) and midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) remain on the long-term casualty list.
Norwich vs. Chelsea - Live on FOX Soccer Plus, 10a.m. ET.
Norwich will be hoping to welcome Grant Holt back into their starting XI when they play host to Chelsea on Boxing Day.
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Upcoming matches include ...
- December 26: Norwich vs. Chelsea
- December 26: Dundee vs. Celtic
- December 29: Hibernian vs. Celtic
The Canaries skipper was forced to sit out the weekend defeat to West Brom with a hamstring complaint, but he is itching to be involved in the festive programme.
Steven Whittaker is nursing a slight knock, but could be okay to start at full-back, while Andrew Surman (knee), Ryan Bennett (knee) and John Ruddy (thigh) remain out of action.
Chelsea picked up no fresh injury or suspension concerns against Villa, so Benitez may decide to stick with a winning formula - with David Luiz continuing in a holding midfield role.
Brazilian duo Ramires and Oscar are the most likely to come into contention after netting over the weekend, while Ryan Bertrand will be hoping to shake off a groin complaint in time to make the matchday squad.
Club captain John Terry is still nursing a knee complaint and Oriol Romeu will sit out the remainder of the season after damaging knee ligaments.
Aston Villa vs. Tottenham - Live on FOX Soccer, 12:30p.m. ET.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert could now make changes for the Boxing Day visit of Spurs after the heavy 8-0 defeat at Chelsea.
Midfielder Stephen Ireland started on the bench against the Blues after he missed the 3-1 win over the Reds through illness and he could now come into the starting line-up.
But Lambert is sweating over the fitness of defender Ron Vlaar, striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and winger Charles N'Zogbia after the trio missed the Stamford Bridge clash with calf, thigh and knee problems respectively.
Forward Clint Dempsey is a doubt for Tottenham after he missed Saturday's draw against Stoke with a groin problem.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto may make his long-awaited comeback from a knee injury while Scott Parker could also make his first start of the season after coming off the bench in the last two games following his recovery from an Achilles injury.
Younes Kaboul is expected to return from his knee injury next month.
Stoke vs. Liverpool - Live on FOX Soccer, 2:30p.m. ET
Charlie Adam could miss out against his former side after being granted compassionate leave following the death of his father last week.
Ryan Shotton started in midfield against Spurs after returning from suspension and he is expected to start again.
Peter Crouch is likely to have content himself with a place on the bench against his former club, while the best former Reds man Michael Owen can hope for is a substitute's role as he works his way back to fitness after injury.
Raheeem Sterling and Joe Allen should both return to the starting line-up after being rested to the bench for the win over Fulham.
Suso is likely to make way for Sterling, while Allen could replace Jonjo Shelvey for Rodgers' side
Stewart Downing will be hoping to keep his place in the starting XI after his impressive performance against Fulham when he finally managed to score his first goal for Liverpool.