David Beckham will have to watch from the stands at White Hart Lane on Sunday as Tottenham attempts to inflict a first defeat of the season on Premier League leader Manchester United, the former England captain’s old club.
Spurs have been unable to secure a loan deal this week for the 35-year-old midfielder, who – as it stands – will only be at the London club to train until Feb. 10 before returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp appeared to cast doubt on the chances of Beckham appearing in the Premier League again, saying he was still two weeks away from full fitness and suggesting it may not be worth adding him to the squad for such a short spell.
Redknapp will instead turn to midfielders Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to end United’s unbeaten run, bringing them back into the squad after they were rested for the FA Cup win against Charlton last weekend.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he had never been convinced that Beckham was going to play against United.
"I didn’t expect Beckham to be playing on Sunday," Ferguson said. "You cannot suddenly come in to train for a few days and expect to play in the Premier League, even less so against Manchester United."
Ferguson should have England striker Wayne Rooney and Serbia defender Nemanja Vidic back in the team after missing the 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup through injury. Former Netherlands goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar also returns after being rested.
Struggling Liverpool hosts Everton for the 215th Merseyside derby on Sunday, with new manager Kenny Dalglish making a return to the Anfield dugout. His last game against Everton finished in a 4-4 draw in the FA Cup in 1991, two days before he quit on health grounds.
"I’m looking forward to the game," said Dalglish, who has lost his first two games in charge since replacing Roy Hodgson as manager last Saturday. "It will be very emotional to stand in front of the punters."
Liverpool is hoping Joe Cole can recover from an ankle injury in time to play but captain Steven Gerrard is suspended after being sent off against United.
Everton midfielder Tim Cahill is on Asian Cup duty with Australia but England defender Phil Jagielka could return from a thigh strain.
The northeast derby also takes place on Sunday, with sixth-place Sunderland desperate to avenge its 5-1 defeat at fierce rival Newcastle earlier this season.
"I know what the derby means," Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said. "I certainly know what it means now after savoring one which was my worst football experience."
A win for Newcastle manager Alan Pardew would improve his standing with Toon fans since taking over from the popular Chris Hughton last month. In the cup last weekend, Newcastle was beaten 3-1 by fourth-tier Stevenage.
"I have seen many Tyne-Wear derbies before. They are explosive," Pardew said. "I know the players are looking forward to it. They are determined to bounce back from last weekend."
Birmingham hosts third-bottom Aston Villa in the third derby match of the day, when David Bentley is expected to be handed his first start for Blues since his loan move from Tottenham.
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier is hoping a victory over Birmingham will revive the team’s faltering season, having won once in its last 10 league games.
On Saturday, Manchester City, which has played two games more and is two points below United in second place, hosts Wolverhampton and third-place Arsenal is at West Ham.
Fourth-place Chelsea take on Blackburn at Stamford Bridge, Wigan hosts Fulham, Stoke is at home to Bolton and Blackpool travels to West Brom.