David Silva makes his Premier League return, will Sunderland inflict more misery on Arsenal, Liverpool to continue winning run?, will Costa be recalled?, and clash of styles at Old Trafford .
1. Will Jose Mourinho recall Diego Costa?
It has been a tumultuous season for Chelsea striker Diego Costa culminating in him being dropped at Spurs last week. Costa admitted returning to preseason overweight, while he seems to have shaken off the muscular injuries that troubled him last season, he appears to have lost the aggression and bite in front of goal which made him such a menace in his first season in the English top flight. Costa reacted badly to his demotion last week, but with Radamel Falcao still injured and Mourinho’s apparent lack of trust in Loic Remy, he might be given a recall against the shaky defence of AFC Bournemouth who the Blues face this Saturday.
2. City need
magic Silva against Stoke
Stoke City is somewhat of a bogey team for Premier League leaders Manchester City, the Citizens hadn’t won a game at Stoke till February of this year when they ended that hoodoo with an emphatic 4-1 win. Stoke has changed much under manager Mark Hughes, playing a possession based game rather than the direct tactics employed his predecessor Tony Pulis, the squad even boasts more Champions League winners than City, and in Xherdan Shaqiri & Marko Arnautovic they have two dangerous wingers who can make opposition fullbacks look silly with just a drop of the shoulder. David Silva made his first start in two months in the League Cup game against Hull City last Tuesday and is in line to start against the Potters, the Spaniard can control a game with his glue-like touch on the ball and his mesmeric vision. City is just much better with him in the side and would need some of his magic if they are to get a good result here.
3. Injury depleted Arsenal wary of Sunderland
The Gunners come into this tie with an eye on the all important Champions League game against Olympiakos in Greece, a squad already depleted by injuries leave Arsene Wenger with little or no room for manoeuvre as he attempts to keep tabs on the league leaders as well qualify for the next stage in Europe, this is a perfect time for Sunderland to face the gunners and Sam Allardyce who loves getting one over Wenger would hope his charges can get something from this game.
4. Kloppmania takes hold of Merseyside
So much has been said of Liverpool’s resurgence under Jurgen Klopp that they are now been touted to make a late run for the title. Southampton were the latest side to feel the impact of the Red’s juggernaut as Liverpool came from a goal down to smash the Saints 6-1 in the League Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday. Probably not a good time for Steve McLaren’s struggling Newcastle side to play them, thumped 5-1 by Crystal Palace last Sunday, the ex-Boro manager will hope the extra sessions he ordered during the week will have a desirable impact.
5. Clash of styles at Old Trafford
Slaven Bilic’s West Ham have played their best football away from home this season, their favoured counter-attacking approach has seen them win at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, they face United who have prioritized possession and solidity over the all-out attack game favoured by most of the Old Trafford faithful. West Ham will miss the services of Diafra Sakho whose holdup play and industry fits perfectly with their counterattack game due to injury and Andy Carrol, who apart from his winning goal against Chelsea has struggled to produce a top quality performance all season is expected to lead the line. United will fancy themselves against the Hammers who are winless since the last week of October, a usual 1-0 win with more possession will sure please Louis Van Gaal.