Manchester United may go for jugular against Liverpool, Morgan Schneiderlin must settle quickly at Everton and Ahmed Musa has chance to shine for Leicester
1) Will United go for the jugular against Liverpool?
Manchester United were on the receiving end of heavy criticism when they shut up shop and successfully played for a 0-0 draw when they visited Liverpool in October. It was a classic exercise in parking the bus from an unapologetic Jos Mourinho, who reasoned that a cautious approach was necessary against a team who regularly overwhelm their opponents with blistering attacking play. But while it was possible to grudgingly respect Mourinhos plan, there is no need for the United manager to play it safe at Old Trafford on Sunday. Although United are unlikely to veer too far away from pragmatism this is a Mourinho side, after all it is reasonable to expect them to play with enhanced adventure, given that they are riding high after nine successive wins in all competitions, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring consistently, Paul Pogba beginning to excel in midfield, Marcus Rashford spreading panic in opposition defences, Henrikh Mkhitaryan creating and Juan Mata continuing to chip in with important goals. Victory would lift them two points behind Jrgen Klopps side, so this is no time for timidity. JS
2) Who will be hit hardest by absences through Africa Cup of Nations?
No other Premier League team has lost more players to the Africa Cup of Nations than Sunderland or Stoke City. For David Moyess side, Lamine Kon, Didier Ndong and Wahbi Khazri have departed to join Ivory Coast, Gabon and Tunisia respectively, while Wilfried Bony, Mame Biram Diouf and Ramadan Sobhi have also flown the coop. Who will feel the absences harder? Kon remains Sunderlands best defender, despite their encouraging displays without him in the past two matches, and he will be sorely missed against a physical strike force likely to consist of Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters. Should these two be repelled, Sunderland will fancy their chances at home against a Stoke side lacking in other attacking options with Bojan reportedly the subject of a bid from Middlesbrough and a defence who have shipped 11 goals in the last three games on the road. MB
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