LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Brief news before the weekend’s Premier League fixtures (all times GMT).
* Leaders Manchester City can win the title if they are able to cope with the impending departure of brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure to the African Cup of Nations, manager Roberto Mancini said.
“If, when Kolo and Yaya Toure come back from the African Cup and we are top, I think we can win the title,” Mancini told a news conference on Friday as City prepare for the visit of Arsenal on Sunday (1600).
City lost for the first time in the league this season on Monday at Chelsea and in-form Arsenal will present a stern test for Mancini’s side, who will be without former Arsenal player Gael Clichy who is suspended.
* Manchester United can return to the top of the Premier League, albeit briefly, on Sunday with victory at Queen’s Park Rangers (1200) and striker Dimitar Berbatov is available after recovering from a foot injury.
The Bulgarian is in contention with Javier Hernandez ruled out with an ankle injury and Michael Owen also sidelined.
* Fifth-placed Arsenal, who have won seven of their last eight league games, have no injury worries for the trip to City and manager Arsene Wenger was upbeat about the progress being made by injured midfielder Jack Wilshere.
Wilshere is still not expected to return until mid-February after ankle surgery but the latest scans showed he is recovering
“He had a very important scan on Thursday and that was very, very good. Exceptionally good. The news we have for Jack is very positive,” Wenger said.
* Andre Villas-Boas is targeting a fourth consecutive league win in the Premier League as his third-placed Chelsea side travel to third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic on Saturday (1730). “If we can get the win we want and expect it means maybe we are in our best period of the season,” the Portuguese said.
Chelsea have no injury concerns.
* Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur have problems in central defence for the visit of Sunderland on Sunday (1500).
Ledley King (knee) is doubtful, having not trained since Dec. 2, and Younes Kaboul is suspended after his red card in the defeat at Stoke City last week. Michael Dawson is still out with an Achilles tendon injury.
* Aston Villa will be without Gabriel Agbonlahor for Sunday’s home match against Liverpool (1405) because of a one-match ban for accumulating five yellow cards.
* Newcastle United, whose great start has fizzled out after managing just one point from the last four games, host Swansea City (1500).
Manager Alan Pardew has called on the Newcastle fans to give his side a boost. “It will be about making sure that when they come to our stadium they feel the impact of it,” Pardew said.
“It’s a big stage and for their players it will be their first time. I think that is an advantage for us.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John Mehaffey