Lampard returns, Liverpool head to Stoke
Essien is suspended, but England midfielder Lampard has been out of action with hernia and tendon problems since the end of August and his return is a timely boost for Ancelotti.
"I think he'll be okay for Sunday,'' said Ancelotti. "He started to train two days ago with the team. He doesn't have a problem and is showing confidence. I hope he will be ready, not necessarily to play for 90 minutes but just to be involved in the squad. Anelka and Alex will also be involved. We have just (Yossi) Benayoun at this moment out."
The defending Premier League champions responded positively to their loss at Liverpool on Sunday with a hard-fought 1-0 win against west London rivals Fulham last night, which was marred slightly by the dismissal of Essien, and will be looking to increase their four-point lead at the top of the table.
Resurgent Liverpool go to Stoke with England U-21 defender Martin Kelly expecting another difficult game following their 1-1 draw at Wigan.
"You have got to be able to grind it out," he said after the DW Stadium stalemate. "We have got to go out with the same gameplan, aim to start well and make sure that we get a better result than we did here. We have got to make sure we put this right. Stoke have got big, strong men up front and we will have to stay solid."
Sir Alex Ferguson could be without three key men for Manchester United's trip to Aston Villa, with Paul Scholes suspended and Rafael Da Silva and Patrice Evra doubtful because of injuries. United ground out a 0-0 draw in an awful Manchester derby last night while Villa scraped past Blackpool 3-2.
Everton will be keen to avoid a repeat of last season as Arsenal return to Goodison Park. Arsene Wenger's men won 6-1 on Merseyside on the opening weekend of the 2009/10 campaign and go into the clash in good form having eased to a 2-0 win at Wolves in midweek, while Everton needed a late Jermaine Beckford goal to net a 1-1 draw at home to Bolton.
Fourth-placed Manchester City host Birmingham, who have struggled of late while Fulham will look to tame in-form Newcastle striker Andy Carroll when the sides meet at St James' Park.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Tottenham host Blackburn, rock-bottom West Ham take on Blackpool, West Brom go to Wigan and Wolves face Bolton.