Wenger backs Hodgson and Houllier

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LONDON - Brief news from Premier League clubs ahead of the weekend's FA Cup third round matches.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has jumped to the defence of under-fire Liverpool and Aston Villa bosses Roy Hodgson and Gerard Houllier and warned frequent changes at the top lead to financial ruin.

Wenger, whose team face Championship side Leeds United in the FA Cup on Saturday, said managers should be given time to remedy their clubs' problems.

"Every day you open the papers and a new manager is sacked," Wenger told reporters on Friday.

"I am the complete enemy of that. Without stability the clubs are going in different directions every six months and it always ends in financial disaster.

"When you choose a manager you need to give him the time it takes to change things around.

"Roy Hodgson was appointed in the summer and Gerard Houllier a bit later and within a few games people question their abilities. They are managers who have proven themselves."

Wayne Rooney, Edwin van der Sar and Rio Ferdinand are all in line to play for Manchester United against Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday after manager Sir Alex Ferguson promised to play a strong side against their North West rivals.

The trio missed the midweek Premier League victory over Stoke City but should return as Ferguson said there was no chance of resting players like he did last season when United were shocked by Leeds at the same stage of the competition.

"We picked a team we thought was good enough to beat Leeds," he told reporters on Friday.

"The FA Cup is a competition that has had its shocks, and we got a shock last year. I picked the wrong team; I hope I don't pick the wrong team this time.

"I hope to have Edwin van der Sar and Wayne Rooney fit for Sunday. Rooney has been in good form lately and Edwin is obviously valuable for his experience. Rio Ferdinand is OK, we just rested him against Stoke."

Tottenham Hotspur will rest several first-teamers for Sunday's FA Cup third round tie at home to Charlton Athletic including midfielder Gareth Bale who needs a break after suffering a back spasm at Everton on Wednesday.

England striker Jermain Defoe returns after a three-match ban and Niko Kranjcar, who came on for Bale at Everton, will start. Vedran Corluka, Sebastien Bassong, Wilson Palacios, Sandro, David Bentley and Gio dos Santos could also feature.

Tom Huddlestone, Ledley King, Jamie O'Hara and Jonathan Woodgate remain sidelined through injury while Younes Kaboul will serve the final game of his three-match suspension.

Chelsea's Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Ashley Cole will have fitness tests ahead of their FA Cup clash against Championship side Ipswich Town on Sunday.

All three suffered knocks in Wednesday's defeat to Wolves.

Manchester City have won their appeal against the red card shown to defender Pablo Zabaleta in Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Arsenal and he is available for Sunday's FA Cup match against Leicester City, the club said on its website.

The Argentine was sent off along with Arsenal's Bacary Sagna after a late flare-up.

Blackburn Rovers' bid to sign Brazilian forward Ronaldinho is "back on", manager Steve Kean said on Friday.

Ronaldinho's club AC Milan said on Thursday he had been granted permission to seek a move home to a Brazilian team as he looks to enhance his 2014 World Cup chances, while the player has also spoken of his desire to play in his home country.

"It seems to have been back on yesterday so we'll see how that progresses today and hopefully it goes in a positive way," Kean, whose side host Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup on Saturday, told a news conference.