McLeish hoping Collins' form foils United

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

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish, whose side are not mathematically safe, hopes centre-back James Collins can continue his good form at leaders Manchester United on Sunday when Paul Scholes returns to the hosts' starting lineup.

"Big James has been very strong and has read things well. He has been a colossus. He is out quickly, his heading is dominant and his consistency has been really excellent," the Scot told the club website.

"He has stepped up with the young players in the team, helping them through it. He has thrived on the extra responsibility. I have been really delighted with him."

Second-placed Manchester City travel to an in-form Norwich City, who welcome back right-back Kyle Naughton on Saturday after he was ineligible to play against parent club Tottenham Hotspur in last Monday's surprise 2-1 win.

Second-bottom Blackburn Rovers visit Swansea City on Saturday desperate to boost their survival fight and manager Steve Kean reckons the Welsh side may have gone of the boil.

"I've seen them recently and there's no reason why we can't go there and get something from this game," he told a news conference.

Queens Park Rangers boss Mark Hughes, whose 16th-placed side go to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, has not set his improving team a survival target.

"How many points do we need? I don't know," he told the club website.

"It's difficult to call at this moment in time, but I'm convinced we'll be fine if we continue to apply ourselves like we have over the last couple of weeks."

Basement side Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Sunderland on Saturday and winger Matt Jarvis is not expecting an easy ride.

"Sunderland is always a very tough place to go. They have done extremely well this season since Martin O'Neill took over. But we will make sure we go there in good spirits and give it another go," he told the club website.

"We can all see the league table but we will just keep going and giving it our best. We want to get a win for the fans and for ourselves but we also want to give Terry Connor his first Premier League win as a manager."

Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs is 50/50 to face 17th-placed Wigan Athletic at home on Monday but winger Gervinho is more likely to be involved, manager Arsene Wenger told a news conference on Friday.

Arsenal, in third, will be without Abou Diaby but he is close to fitness.


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