All eyes will be on the Etihad this Sunday as champions Manchester City host rivals Manchester United in the pick of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Jose Mourinho’s men trail their city rivals by nine points and can ill-afford that gap to widen in their pursuit of a top four finish.
Chelsea take on Everton at Stamford Bridge and Maurizio Sarri’s side do so as the only remaining unbeaten side in Europe following United’s win against Juventus on Wednesday.
Newcastle’s long wait for a Premier League win this season ended last week against Watford and they face in-form Bournemouth at St James’ Park, while Tottenham face a tricky trip to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace.
Here’s four things to look out for in what is sure to be an intriguing weekend of Premier League football…
Jose Mourinho can keep feel-good factor going with Alexis Sanchez up front
Dropping Alexis Sanchez for Romelu Lukaku would represent a backwards step for Jose Mourinho (Picture: Getty)Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku returned to training on Friday after missing the Red Devils’ wins against Juventus and Bournemouth.
Mourinho’s men have looked undeniably sharper in attack in Lukaku’s absence and Alexis Sanchez has had two of his better games for the club in a central striker role.
The Chilean prefers playing on the left but his runs in behind have created a new energy up front for United, providing more room and options for midfield.
Mourinho is keen to get Lukaku fit for the trip to the Etihad but starting him would be more than just a fitness gamble.
Romelu Lukaku is expected to be fit to face Manchester United (Picture: Getty)United’s strides in recent weeks have owed to Mourinho removing the shackles from his side and letting them play with the handbrake off.
Lukaku represents a more methodical, slower and ultimately inferior option to Sanchez up front and reverting back to the Belgian could undo much of the progress Mourinho has made with United in the last month.
Raheem Sterling can lay demons to rest against Manchester United
Raheem Sterling took his tally for the season to seven against Shakhtar (Picture: Getty)Scarcely has the phrase ‘a game of two halves’ ever been more relevant than Manchester United’s 3-2 win against Manchester City last April.
Pep Guardiola’s men had the opportunity to wrap up the title with a win against their arch rivals at the Etihad and raced into a two-goal lead.
City blew United away during the opening 45 minutes and Raheem Sterling squandered three brilliant opportunities to put the game to bed before the interval.
United pulled off a miraculous comeback in the second half to deny City a famous victory and Sterling will be keen to right some wrongs against the Red Devils.
Sterling squandered three brilliant chances (Picture: Getty)The 23-year-old was criticised in some quarters this week for failing to challenge a penalty decision that he was awarded against Shakhtar Donestsk on Tuesday when replays showed he had tripped himself up.
It overshadowed what was a brilliant performance by Sterling and one in which he scored an astonishing goal to take his tally for the season to seven.
He’s City’s in form man at the moment and few would bet against him getting revenge on United on Sunday.
Maurizio Sarri must choose between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud was back among the goals on Thursday (Picture: Getty)Five goals in the last month have helped Morata emerge from his slumber at Stamford Bridge.
The Spaniard endured a torturous debut campaign at the club and contemplated leaving in the summer after just one year in west London.
Olivier Giroud’s arrival in January darkened Morata’s mood and Sarri is yet to pick his first choice striker this term.
Morata scored twice against Palace last Sunday (Picture: Getty)Eden Hazard has been Chelsea’s standout player so far this campaign and the Belgian’s made no secret of how much he likes [prefers] to play with Giroud.
The Frenchman returned from injury on Thursday and scored the only goal in Chelsea’s 1-0 win against BATE Borisov but can Sarri afford to drop Morata after his double against Crystal Palace last week?
Removing the Spaniard now will kill his confidence but the Italian must choose between his heart and his head as the Blues aim to keep pace with Manchester City.
Leicester City return to King Power stadium for first time since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death
Leicester City take on Burnley at the King Power (Picture: Getty)Claude Puel insists his players will have to deal ‘step by step’ with their emotions as the Foxes prepare for their first home game since owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha tragically lost his life in a helicopter accident.
The Leicester squad unanimously decided to play last week against Cardiff but their fixture at the King Power against Burnley will be emotionally charged given it’s the first since the Thai passed away.
The Foxes are set to wear special commemorative shirts embroidered with their former owner’s name.
The Leicester squad were in Thailand this week for the funeral (Picture: AP)Puel is hopeful that his squad will feel inspired to put in a performance for Srivaddhanaprabha.
‘The players have shown great maturity, it is like a family. It is important to honour our chairman and play a good game,’ said Puel.
‘We will manage the moment step by step but I feel in my players’ focus and soul. They have learned a lot about themselves in all this and I am proud of them all.’
The club will present supporters at the match with scarves, banners, pin badges and a special commemorative matchday programme.
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