Man United boosted by return of trio

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

Arsenal will make a late decision on whether captain Cesc Fabregas will be fit for Monday's top-of-the-table match at Manchester United, manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.

"We will not taken an unreasonable gamble that is for sure," Wenger told a news conference when asked about the Spaniard, who has been out of action with a hamstring problem sustained on November 23.

"I believe in a game like that, even if it's a big game, what is important at the end of the day is the team performance. It will be a very late decision to see if he is in the squad or not."

United will be boosted by the return to fitness of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Paul Scholes for the encounter with the league leaders.

"It's good to have everyone available for such a massive game," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side sit in second spot one point behind Arsenal.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard will not be in the team to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday but should finally return after being sidelined since August for the December 19 match at home to Manchester United, coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

"We thought he would be ready for a very tough game against Tottenham but we didn't have a test with him with games, so we need to arrange a game with him, maybe Thursday, and after that I think he will be available against Manchester United," Ancelotti said on the club website.

Defender Jose Bosingwa will also miss out after tearing a hamstring in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat by Olympique Marseille in the Champions League, the coach added.

Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur could welcome back Croatian midfielder Luka Modric from a midweek illness for the visit of third-placed Chelsea.

However Rafael van der Vaart, Jermaine Jenas and Niko Kranjcar will all miss the London clubs' clash.

Defender Younes Kaboul has recovered from a hip injury and was poised to return to training with first team coach Joe Jordan saying on the club website: "If he comes through that session and continues tomorrow (Saturday), he'll be in the squad."

Liverpool will again be without injured captain Steven Gerrard for Saturday's trip to a Newcastle United side beginning life under new manager Alan Pardew, who replaced Chris Hughton this week.

"It could have the effect that clubs want - it could be a shot in the arm to the (Newcastle) players," Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson told the club website.

Hodgson said Gerrard, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, could return to action against Fulham next week.

Manchester City defender Kolo Toure may return for Saturday's trip to bottom-club West Ham United after going off in the win over Bolton Wanderers last weekend.

"Obviously if there is even the slightest doubt, I will maybe rest it for a few more days, but as things stand, it's not looking too bad," the Ivory Coast player said.

Seasiders Blackpool have resorted to training on the beach this week to prepare for Saturday's match at Stoke City because their usual pitch has been frozen in the wintry weather.

"We have managed to go on the beach," said manager Ian Holloway, whose team's match at home to Manchester United last weekend was postponed because of a frozen pitch. "I'd rather just get on the grass."