Man Utd face test of ti­tle cre­den­tials

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - FRONT PAGE -

Jose Mour­inho takes high-fly­ing Manch­ester United to Liver­pool for a search­ing test of their tle cre­den als this week­end as the Pre­mier League re­turns with a bang a er the in­terna onal break.

LON­DON: Jose Mour­inho takes high-fly­ing Manch­ester United to Liver­pool for a search­ing test of their ti­tle cre­den­tials this week­end as the Pre­mier League re­turns with a bang af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break.

United are level with Manch­ester City at the top of the table on 19 points, trail­ing their neigh­bours on goal dif­fer­ence, but have not yet faced any of their ma­jor ri­vals.

Pep Guardi­ola's free-scor­ing City, who have al­ready beaten sev­enth-place Liver­pool and de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Chelsea, host Stoke City, look­ing to add to an im­pres­sive haul of 22 goals so far.

Here are five things to look out for in the Pre­mier League this week­end:

Mour­inho, Klopp forced to jug­gle

Mour­inho and Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp must both jug­gle their re­sources for Saturday's early kick-off at An­field fol­low­ing in­juries to key play­ers.

United are with­out mid­fielder Paul Pogba, who has been out of ac­tion for sev­eral weeks with a ham­string in­jury, and the mus­cu­lar Marouane Fel­laini is also miss­ing.

It means a likely start for last year's club player of the year An­der Her­rera along­side Ne­manja Matic.

For his part, Klopp, whose side trail United by seven points, has to do with­out for­ward Sa­dio Mane, who picked up a ham­string in­jury on in­ter­na­tional duty with Sene­gal.

"I think we are a bet­ter team (than we were)," Mour­inho told Sky Sports.

"You can say, like some peo­ple do, we have not played one of the top five teams, but last sea­son we did not beat West Ham at home, last sea­son we did not beat Ever­ton at home or Southamp­ton away." Arse­nal's quiet resur­gence Much of the fo­cus in the sea­son's early weeks has been on the free-scor­ing Manch­ester clubs, but Arse­nal have been go­ing about their busi­ness with quiet ef­fi­ciency since their 4-0 maul­ing by Liver­pool in late Au­gust.

De­spite un­cer­tainty over the fu­tures of Alexis Sanchez and Me­sut Ozil, they have knuck­led down to win three of their past four league matches, with the ex­cep­tion be­ing a hard-fought 00 draw at cham­pi­ons Chelsea.

Wenger con­ceded on Thurs­day he may have no op­tion but to sell Sanchez and Ozil in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

The pair are both out of con­tract at the end of the sea­son and are yet to agree new deals.

"It is pos­si­ble," Wenger told a press con­fer­ence ahead of his side's trip to Wat­ford on Saturday. "Once you're in our kind of sit­u­a­tion, we have en­vis­aged ev­ery so­lu­tion." Can Palace fi­nally score? Cham­pi­ons Chelsea would not be Crys­tal Palace's cho­sen op­po­nents as Roy Hodg­son's be­lea­guered team at­tempt to break their em­bar­rass­ing scor­ing duck at Sel­hurst Park.

The south Lon­don side are the only team in Europe's top 20 leagues not to have notched a sin­gle goal, with seven de­feats in seven matches. They have al­ready lost one man­ager in Frank de Boer and Hodg­son has so far been un­able to stop their slide.

Palace are rooted to the bot­tom of the table with a goal dif­fer­ence of -17, al­ready five points adrift of safety. Kane on fire Harry Kane's re­cent goal-scor­ing ex­ploits are fright­en­ing.

The Tot­ten­ham striker, the only English player on the 30name Bal­lon d'Or short­list, has found the back of the net 15 times in his past 10 games for club and coun­try.

Man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, who de­scribes Kane as one of the best strik­ers in the world, says he is some­times lost for words.

"It's so dif­fi­cult to talk ev­ery three days about Harry Kane and find dif­fer­ent words to de­scribe him," Po­chet­tino said af­ter his side's ruth­less 4-0 win against Hud­der­s­field Town.

"He is fan­tas­tic and for me he is so great in front of goal, but when we don't have the ball he also runs and fights and works hard for the team." Can Ever­ton turn the cor­ner? Af­ter a busy close sea­son in the trans­fer mar­ket, Ever­ton were tipped by some to up­set the es­tab­lished or­der at the top of the Pre­mier League.

But the loss of Romelu Lukaku to Manch­ester United has out­weighed the ac­qui­si­tion of the likes of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sig­urds­son and Ron­ald Koeman's team find them­selves just two points above the drop zone.

Ever­ton travel to Brighton and Hove Al­bion on Sun­day.

AFP photo

Manch­ester City's Ar­gen­tinian striker Ser­gio Aguero cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing their sec­ond goal dur­ing the English Pre­mier League foot­ball match be­tween Bournemouth and Manch­ester City at the Vi­tal­ity Sta­dium in Bournemouth, south­ern Eng­land on Fe­bru­ary 13, 2017.—

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