Three managerial talking points ahead of the mid-week matchesby Jack Kitson / 29 January 2018, 14:20Tweet
We are treated to a rare round of mix-week Premier League fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday as all 20 clubs take to the field for the 25th wave of matches. Below we pluck out three key managerial talking points ahead of the action.
Best buds vie for much-needed win
Just over a week ago Jurgen Klopp was on cloud nine after he became the first Premier League manager to beat Pep Guardiola’s Man City juggernaut this term, which in turn extended his own unbeaten run at Liverpool to 18 matches.
But, subsequent results in the last week show how quickly things can change in football.
The Reds were then stunned by bottom club Swansea, before falling to a 3-2 defeat at home to West Brom over the weekend, as they bowed out of the FA Cup at the fourth round stage for the third season in a row under Klopp.
The shock back-to-back defeats have combined to pile the pressure on Klopp who will now be looking to avoid losing three games in a row since this time last season. Meanwhile, one disgruntled fan even called for the German to be sacked (see video below).
On Tuesday Klopp comes up against his best bud David Wagner, with the duos friendship put on hold for 90 minutes when the teams do battle in Yorkshire.
Wagner’s Huddersfield are having their own problems at the moment, having failed to win in six league games dating back to mid-December, while on Saturday they were held at home in the cup to Championship strugglers Birmingham.
But, whatever happens on the pitch, Wagner says he’ll be waiting for Klopp in his office with a beer:
“He is more of a beer man, we will see. The manager’s office will be prepared for after the game for what he likes.”
Benitez’s last stand?
Newcastle sunk to a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea over the weekend, meaning they’ve now failed to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup in each of the last 12 seasons, dating back to a quarter-final showing in 2006.
No team in the Premier League has a more long-standing transfer record than Newcastle, who are yet to top the £17million they splashed out on Michael Owen 13 years ago. January’s transfer window will slam shut a few hours after the Toon’s clash at home to an out-of-sorts Burnley on Wednesday night, and there are real fears that it could prove to be Benitez’s final game in charge of the Magpies.
The Spaniard is desperate to bring in new recruits in order to boost the club’s bid for survival - Daniel Sturridge has today been linked - but if he’s left hanging by unpopular owner Mike Ashley then he may decide to walk away from St James’ Park. Few would blame him if he did, however Newcastle’s hopes of preserving their top-flight status would subsequently plummet.
Meanwhile, Burnley have gone off the boil since early December, failing to win any of their last seven league games, although their cracking form in the first-half of the season means they are still in the top-8. Sean Dyche, who recently signed a new deal, will be looking to put a halt to this winless streak and lead his troops to their first away win in two months.
Will Newcastle's clash against Burnley on Wednesday be Rafa Benitez's last match in charge of the Toon?#NUFC— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) January 29, 2018
Can Pellegrino’s Southampton end their woeful winless run?
Southampton are currently enduring the worst winless run in England’s top-4 tiers. The club’s last top-flight victory stretches back 11 matches to November, leaving the struggling Saints in the relegation zone with 14 games left to play.
On Wednesday under-fire boss Mauricio Pellegrino will be hoping to end this rotten run in a south coast derby at home to Chris Hughton’s Brighton, who are one point and two places above his side.
However, performances have improved of late with the Saints currently on a four game unbeaten run, registering two cup victories, which have combined to keep Pellegrino in a job.
The Argentine may be the favourite for the sack, but he’s been backed in the transfer market - the Saints broke their record to sign Guido Carrillo - and now looks to be in the dugout until at least the end of the season.
Although poor results against relegation rivals Brighton and West Brom could change that.
Like Pellegrino Brighton boss Hughton has sought respite in the cup, leading the Seagulls into the fifth round. But, while he’s not in any sever danger of the sack (16/1), he’ll be looking to turn a corner in the league having registered only one win in 13 matches, while his troops are winless since Christmas.
Worst winless league runs in the top-4 tiers (games):— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) January 29, 2018
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