Five managerial talking points ahead of the return of the Premier Leagueby Jack Kitson / 14 October 2016, 12:26
Rejoice, the Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated (and very welcome) return this weekend following a two-week absence. It’s fair to say that the latest instalment of the international break certainly wasn’t the most thrilling, especially when it came to England, but the rip-roaring and exhilarating nature of England’s top-flight will no doubt set the pulses racing.
Below we take a look at a handful managerial talking points ahead of the eighth wave of Premier League fixtures:
What on earth is going on at Chelsea?
On Thursday evening the football world was sent into a frenzy after a number of bookmakers suspended betting on Antonio Conte leaving Chelsea, following a flurry of bets. The Blues boss, who has won just one of his last four games, was previously a 25/1 outsider to leave his post, but the sudden developments hurled his future into severe doubt.
However, rumours that Conte was set to become the second top-flight manager to be axed have since been labelled as utter “nonsense”, with the Italian expected to be given time to turn things around following a mixed start. But, you can still find the former Italy manager at the top of the Premier League Sack Race ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash at home to reigning champions Leicester City.
American Bob Bradley to make history
When Swansea take to the field at the Emirates on Saturday their new boss Bob Bradley will make history by becoming the first American to manage a Premier League match.
The Swans dispensed of Francesco Guidolin last week, instantly installing Bradley as the Italian’s successor, in an appointment that surprised many supporters. The 58-year-old may never have managed in any of Europe’s top leagues, but he has amassed over 30 years of experience in the dugout, during which he’s taken charge of two nation sides, in USA and Egypt, while he’s plied his trade at club level within the States, France and Norway.
Bradley has so far come across very well in his press conferences, with his no-nonsense manner making for engaging viewing. But the former USA head coach knows that it’s his new sides performances on the pitch that matter most, starting with a daunting opening fixture away to the top-flight’s most in-form side, Arsenal, who are enjoying a five game winning streak, in contrast to Swansea’s one point in six games.
Battle of the under-fire duo
The winless duo of David Moyes and Mark Hughes lock horns at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, with each gaffer desperate to record their first win of the season…at the eighth attempt.
Moyes’ Sunderland are currently cemented to the foot of the table with just two points on the board, while Hughes’ Stoke are only a point better off in 19th. If one of the under-fire duo ends up on the losing side this weekend it could prove to be curtains, so it may be worth taking advantage of their prices in the Sack Race market, with Moyes available at 8/1 (Betfair), while Hughes is slightly longer at 10/1 (Bet Victor).
With this in mind it’s a draw - which is not particularly helpful for either manager - that probably represents the best bet at 13/5 (Bet365).
Jurgen Klopp vs Jose Mourinho
The bad news is that we have to wait until Monday for the most eye-catching match of the weekend - Liverpool vs Man Utd - however, the good news is that the latest instalment of England’s spiciest footballing rivalry pits together two lightning bolt personalities in Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho.
The two high-profile bosses clash for the sixth time in their managerial careers, and for the first time in this feisty fixture. During his time at Borussia Dortmund Klopp got the better of Real Madrid’s Mourinho on two occasions, with this particular fixture also producing a draw and one Mourinho win.
Over in the Premier League the managerial counterparts have met only the once, last season, when Klopp’s Liverpool thumped Mourinho’s Chelsea 3-1 at the Bridge. On Monday Klopp’s rip-roaring side will be gunning to record their fifth consecutive win, whereas Mourinho’s troops have the chance to draw level with their rivals on 16 points.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham must produce against West Brom
Prior to the international break Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham pulled off the performance of the season, so far, when they beat Man City 2-0 at the Lane. In the process the Argentine became the first boss to beat Guardiola since his arrival at the Citzens, while the win reduced the gap between the title rivals to just a single point.
Tottenham now travel to 9th-placed West Brom, who themselves have enjoyed a decent start to the season, registering nine points from seven games, although this hasn’t stopped the on-going debate surrounding the future of Tony Pulis.
In the past this would be just the sort of game that Spurs would come unstuck in, however under Pochettino the capital club are incredibly tough to beat - they are the only top-flight side yet to lose this term - with their defensive stubbornness and resilience second to none.
The high-pressure and high-intensity nature of their game is working wonders at the moment, although there are question marks surrounding whether it can be sustained. However, for the time being Spurs are flying high, but they must keep the momentum going on Saturday ahead of a busy run of games.