Scholes sidelined for Chelsea trip

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

Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes will miss the Premier League leaders' trip to champions Chelsea on Sunday with a groin injury that will keep him out until the New Year, the club said on Friday.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson also looks likely to be without defender John O'Shea who has a calf strain.

"Sir Alex confirmed the midfielder (Scholes) is still struggling to shake off a niggling groin injury," the club said on its website about the player who has already been out of action for around three weeks with the problem.

United have not won in the league at Stamford Bridge since 2002 but are full of confidence after knocking Arsenal off the top of the table by beating the Londoners 1-0 this week.

"It's a big one for us," Ferguson said. "Our record down there has been poor over the last eight years. We've managed a few draws, but we've lost a few too.

"They're a tough team to beat on their own ground, their home record tells you that. But I'm going into the game with a strong, confident squad. You want to go there in good form and we are in good form."

Liverpool are hoping to welcome back captain Steven Gerrard after a month out with a hamstring problem for Saturday's match at home to manager Roy Hodgson's former club Fulham.

"It will be a massive lift to have him back," goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who captained the side in Gerrard's absence, said on the club website. "He's a key player for us and when he's in the team it's much easier for us."

Liverpool are ninth in the table, while Fulham are one place above the relegation zone in 17th although they are only six points behind Hodgson's team in a tightly packed table.

Third-placed Manchester City are hoping the uncertainty surrounding captain Carlos Tevez's future will be behind them before Monday's match at home to struggling Everton.

Manager Roberto Mancini had been planning talks with the unsettled Argentina striker on Friday but the team's flight from Italy, where they drew 1-1 with Juventus in the Europa League on Thursday, was delayed because of a problem with the aircraft.

Tevez was rested on Thursday but is expected to return for the Everton game, although it remains to be seen whether he will still be captain.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas could make his first start for almost a month for Saturday's match at home to Stoke City.

The Spaniard, sidelined with a hamstring injury since Nov. 23, came on as a second-half substitute in this week's 1-0 defeat by Manchester United which cost the Gunners top spot in the table.

Blackburn Rovers temporary manager Steve Kean is keen to take on the job full time after being appointed following Sam Allardyce's shock sacking this week.

"I would be delighted to have the job," said Kean, whose first game in charge is Saturday's home match against bottom club West Ham United. "If I do a good job, perhaps I will come into consideration."