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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Will Mourinho let Man United attack Chelsea? Can Arsenal stop Man City?

John Brewin previews the weekend's Premier League action and highlights five key storylines in this edition of W2W4.

Mourinho's revenge mission at the Bridge

Will Manchester United pounce on Chelsea's vulnerabilities and pull off the victory their manager craves perhaps most of all? The champions, hapless when losing 3-0 at Roma on Tuesday, look to be there for the taking. It could lead to Jose Mourinho throwing off the ultra-conservatism he employs in big away matches and go for all three points.

Being sacked by Chelsea in December 2015 as the defending champions languished 16th in the table, after nine defeats in 16 matches, was the lowest ebb of his career. He was removed after what sporting director Michael Emenalo labelled "palpable discord with the players," many of whom remain at Stamford Bridge.

In the 23 months since that sacking, there has been criticism cast by both sides, with Eden Hazard remarking in February that Antonio Conte's tactical preparation was superior while Mourinho has made repeated digs about Chelsea's style of play. "They played defensive football and counter-attack football," he said in September, but Mourinho might now fancy United can get at an increasingly leaky defence.

Chelsea hope N'Golo Kante can return after he ruled himself out in Rome. They have missed him badly since he injured a hamstring on international duty last month, with Tiemoue Bakayoko, himself struggling with a knee injury, so far unable to provide the same protection for the back three and command of midfield. If Bakayoko struggles this weekend as he did at the Stadio Olimpico, the wisdom of letting Nemanja Matic defect from Chelsea to United will be brought into sharp focus.

Mourinho will still be without Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, two key midfielders of very different facets, but Matic provides the ballast United needed. Another former Chelsea player, Romelu Lukaku, came so close to rejoining in the summer but offers another thread between two clubs that have recently become interwoven.

A United victory would open serious daylight, a gap of seven points, on the defending champions. Is the prospect of that enough to make Mourinho consider letting his team play?

Mourinho and Chelsea had a bitter split. Will the now Man United boss seize on his former club's woes?

November rains for Arsenal

For Arsenal, November is the cruellest month as they average just 1.56 Premier League points per game. So where better to begin it than Manchester City, whose 4-2 midweek destruction of Serie A leaders Napoli lifted them towards the top of the betting for the Champions League?

City appear unstoppable and no worse off for failing to lure Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in the summer. With Leroy Sane in stunning form and Raheem Sterling rampant ahead of playmakers Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, and Sergio Aguero now the club's all-time leading scorer after notching his 178th goal in Naples, it has become difficult to see where Pep Guardiola might fit the Chile international. Perhaps we will find out in January should City make a renewed bid, but Arsene Wenger will need him at his best if Arsenal are to continue their recently respectable record against City. Their 2-2 home draw on April 2 and 2-1 Wembley win in the FA Cup semifinal were victories that helped keep Wenger at the Emirates.

The City of this season, though, seem a rather different prospect.

Spurs must stop Zaha

Wednesday night saw a true glory game for Tottenham Hotspur. Double Champions League winners Real Madrid were soundly beaten 3-1, and a sulking Cristiano Ronaldo headed straight to the tunnel at full-time. Now it's back to Wembley and to reality on Sunday where Spurs must try to make up the ground lost after last week's disappointing defeat to Manchester United.

Crystal Palace are the opposition, buoyed by a 2-2 draw with West Ham that felt like victory after Wilfried Zaha's 97th-minute equaliser. Zaha was a player Mauricio Pochettino fancied adding to his team last summer, only for the winger to sign a new deal that kept him close to his South London roots. With goals against Chelsea in last month's 2-1 win and that West Ham equaliser responsible for Palace's four points so far, Zaha is definitely the man to stop if Spurs are to stay on the coattails of City and United.

Everton continue in limbo

David Unsworth's extended audition to be permanent boss at Everton continued Thursday with a 3-0 defeat in Lyon that sunk a dreadful Europa League campaign, while Sunday's home match with Watford surely completes an ill-starred experiment with the club's Under-23 coach. There are whispers about Sam Allardyce, and Sean Dyche has not ruled himself out, while Nuno Espirito Santo has stated his desire to remain flying high in the Championship with Wolves.

Those names each add to the confusion at Goodison Park as Everton were clearly unprepared for Ronald Koeman's sacking, even if it became a fait accompli as his team slid into the relegation zone. Former player Unsworth had the fans' sympathy on his side, but they cannot suffer much more punishment. Should Watford, led by Marco Silva, just the kind of progressive coach a club like Everton is looking for, win on Sunday, then a barracking for the board must be expected.

Overlooked Sturridge has point to prove

Liverpool's trip to West Ham is the highlight of Saturday's fixtures. If there's a repeat of last season's 4-0 away win, the pressure once again returns to Hammers boss Slaven Bilic but then again, he's well used to that by now.

The opening goal scorer back in May was Daniel Sturridge, who was at the time linked with a potential move to West Ham. Having scored in his past two Liverpool appearances, the first time he has achieved that since January, he found himself omitted from Gareth Southgate's England squad on Thursday along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Only more goals and appearances can get Sturridge back in the reckoning. West Ham's obliging defence seems a good place to start proving Southgate wrong.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.


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