Keep faith or drop Lamine Kone plus four other burning issues ahead of Sunderland v Hull City

Lamine Kone. Picture by FRANK REID
Lamine Kone. Picture by FRANK REID
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Premier League action returns this weekend with Sunderland looking to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since May.

After recording the club’s worst ever league start, Sunderland finally got up and running against Bournemouth.

David Moyes

David Moyes

Fellow strugglers Hull City are the visitors to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, with Sunderland looking to build on the gritty 2-1 victory at the Vitality Stadium.

Ahead of the game, what are the five burning issues facing David Moyes?

Stick with 4-4-2?

Ahead of the Hull clash, Moyes isn’t getting carried away and has warned his players against complacency.

But how should the 53-year-old Scot approach the next game?

Does he stick with 4-4-2 - with Victor Anichebe up front alongside Jermain Defoe - or revert to one striker leading the line?

As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Sunderland may finally have struck upon a winning system.

Anichebe was superb; strong, powerful, athletic, scored and won the penalty for the winning goal.

It relieved the pressure from Defoe’s shoulders and the pair linked up well. Sunderland should go at Hull from the off. Play two up front and look to kick-start the home form.

Who should play in goal?

Vito Mannone is fit-again after his two-month lay-off following surgery on his shoulder.

Mannone is experienced but Pickford has been superb in his absence.

Pickford is yet to celebrate a clean sheet in the Premier League but has been one of the star performers and Sunderland’s win at Bournemouth was as much down to him.

The late gaffe at Southampton aside, Pickford has been brilliant with his shot-stopping and distribution a key weapon.

Mannone may be back but don’t expect him to make the starting line-up anytime soon.

Keep faith or drop Lamine Kone?

After a poor start to the season, the Ivory Coast international looked to have turned a corner with improved performances against Southampton in the EFL Cup and West Ham away in the league.

But since then, Kone has looked out of sorts with a really poor display in the 4-1 hammering to Arsenal highlighted in brutal fashion by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.

Against Bournemouth, Kone again didn’t look like his old self but Papy Djilobodji impressed alongside him.

John O’Shea is back from a hamstring injury.

Does Moyes stick with the Djilobodji-Kone partnership in central defence in the hope that Kone regains his form?

Or, does he bring skipper O’Shea back? His organisational skills key for Sunderland in a game they must win.

Kone established himself as a key player last season but given his form this, it wouldn’t be a major shock to see him benched.

Getting injured players back fit:

The international break is always a cause for concern for managers, praying their players do not pick up any injuries while away.

Pickford is with England, Duncan Watmore with the Under-21s, while O’Shea (Republic of Ireland), Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia), Lamine Kone (Ivory Coast), Lynden Gooch (USA) and Paddy McNair (Northern Ireland) are all away,

The international break has, though, also given Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff an extra 12-days as they both close in on a return.

Just having one of those back would represent a major boost.

Who should replace Steven Pienaar?

The veteran midfielder will miss Hull after seeing red at Bournemouth.

Moyes will have to make at least one change. If fit, Cattermole or Kirchhoff would be the obvious choice.

Or could there be a return for either Khazri or Adnan Januzaj? Both were unused subs against Bournemouth but Moyes may look to be more attacking at home.

Paddy McNair enjoyed his best game, while Watmore never stopped running, so expect those to start but who replaces Pienaar is one of several decisions facing Moyes.