Henry and Vermaelen face Arsenal fitness tests

Brief news ahead of this weekend's Premier League matches:

Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Thomas Vermaelen face late fitness tests ahead of Sunday's clash with Manchester United but Mikel Arteta will not feature as Arsenal seek revenge for their 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford in August.

"At the moment I don't think he [Vermaelen] will make it for Sunday," manager Arsene Wenger said about the Belgian defender who has been out since New Year's Eve.

"Let's hope we have a good surprise. Let's see how he develops. There may be a test. At the moment we just go day by day but he looks short.

"[Henry] will have a test on Saturday; he has a calf problem. [Arteta] has no chance. The earliest for him is Aston Villa."

Fifth-place Arsenal are 12 points behind second-placed United but Wenger says the teams are evenly matched.

Manchester United defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have recovered from injuries and are fit to face Arsenal.

"We're a bit better in terms of injuries. Smalling and Jones will be fit," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said about the pair who missed the 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers last week.

There was further good news with midfielders Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley making progress with ankle injuries.

"Tom and Ashley are doing a good running programme and their fitness levels are good," said Ferguson. "I am hopeful in 10 days' time [Tom] will be playing football on the training side of it. That is the plan unless there is any recurrence."

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has backed the idea of reserve teams being allowed to play competitively in the Football League.

The Portuguese boss said the change, which is currently prohibited, would help Premier League clubs develop young players.

"The European model could be applied to England, the reserve league over here serves the first team but doesn't serve long-term progression," he said ahead of Chelsea's Premier League game at Norwich City on Saturday.

"There is more cultural identity with a B team, what happens at Barcelona B is down to a good model at the club and in competitions, they promote talent."

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger will return to the squad for Saturday's visit to struggling Bolton Wanderers after missing the goalless draw with Stoke City but midfielder Jay Spearing is doubtful with a hamstring injury.

"Agger is OK," Dalglish told reporters at the pre-match news conference. "I said the injury was ongoing last week, so we've just got to manage it."

Spearing was forced off during Liverpool's 1-0 League Cup semi-final win over Manchester City last week.

"We just need to have a look at Jay, see how he goes," Dalglish added. "Apart from that, I don't think there's anybody else we need to worry about."

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli is fit to face title rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after recovering from an ankle injury.

The Italian limped out of City's 1-0 League Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool last week and missed Monday's 1-0 win at Wigan Athletic.

"Mario is OK, he did [training] yesterday," City manager Roberto Mancini told a news conference.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp refused to rule out Ledley King from Sunday's match.

The defender has missed the third-placed club's last six matches and has not trained since picking up a hamstring injury in December but could yet make a surprise return.

"He's not fit to train today," Redknapp told reporters on Friday. "He can't, because of his knee, but he may well come out tomorrow morning, so I wouldn't write him off.

"This is no different to normal. If he comes out tomorrow morning and says 'I'm OK', then he'll play Sunday, if I pick him. That's how it works. It's amazing, really, it defies everything."