Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is to resist the temptation to risk top scorer Erling Braut Haaland and key star Kevin de Bruyne as he targets maximum points at home to basement club Sheffield United in one of six matches scheduled to Saturday.
The pair have been badly missed during a lean spell in which the champions won just one out of their last six encounters to fall five points behind leaders Liverpool. The treble winners welcome back Ruben Dias after he missed the Cityzens 3-1 victory over Everton on Boxing Day but all rounder John Stones and winger Jeremy Doku aren’t available until after next week’s FA Cup game with Huddersfield Town.
Jack Grealish should continue as part of a front three along with Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez despite having his home burgled while on club duty at Goodison Park. Blades boss Chris Wilder’s already uphill task of saving their top flight status has been complicated by the unavailability of key trio Gustavo Hammer, Anel Ahmedhodzic and Jayden Bogle as they are all suspended for accumulating five yellow cards.
A dozen African players plus a cluster of Asians are to feature for their Premier League sides for the last time before departing for continental tournaments. Japan’s Wataru Endo and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah are in contention to start Liverpool’s game at home to Newcastle United on Monday before departing for the Asian Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.
West Ham United’s deputy top scorer Mohamed Kudus, Algerian Said Benrahma and Moroccan defender Najeb Aguerd should feature for the Hammers in Tuesday’s home rubber with Brighton and Hove Albion as manager David Moyes seeks to press home on the good form that secured a 2-0 victory over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
Nottingham Forest’s African brigade of Cheikhou Kouyate, Ola Aina, Serge Aurier, Wilfred Boly, Ibrahim Sangare and Moussa Niakhite are all due to feature for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side when they host Manchester United on Saturday night before departing for AFCON in Ivory Coast. Red Devils keeper Andre Onana has meanwhile been named in Cameroon’s squad.
Luton Town v Chelsea,
Aston Villa v Burnley,
Crystal Palace v Brentford,
Manchester City v Sheffield United,
Wolves v Everton,
Nottingham Forest v Manchester United
Fulham v Arsenal,
Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth
Liverpool v Newcastle United
West Ham United v Brighton