Three managerial talking points ahead of the fourth wave of Premier League fixturesby Jack Kitson / 08 September 2017, 12:46Tweet
The Premier League explodes back into our consciousness this weekend after a painfully long two week break. As always there are a number of juicy managerial talking points, three of which we delve into below.
Pep Guardiola vs Jurgen Klopp
The stand-out managerial duel of the weekend comes at the Etihad as Man City’s Pep Guardiola lock horns with Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp in a Saturday lunchtime sizzler. It’s an eagerly anticipated clash in which both managers will be gunning to fire out a statement of intent as the Premier League season begins to hot up.
The duo have crossed swords 10 times on the touchline, and it’s Klopp who edges it with five wins to Guardiola’s four, while there’s only been the one draw. Just two of those meetings have occurred in England’s top-flight, with Klopp’s men coming out on top 1-0 at Anfield on New Year’s Eve 2016, before the clubs played out an enthralling 1-1 draw at the Etihad back in May.
Only one manager, Antonio Conte, outsmarted Guardiola in the league at the Etihad last season, however the Spaniard could only muster one victory against a top-8 side (Arsenal...who else?), which is a slight concern for City who come up against a Liverpool outfit that were unbeaten on the road against top-8 teams last term.
There may have only been one solitary draw in the previous 10 encounters between Guardiola and Klopp, but this outcome appears the best value bet at a tasty 3/1, with another 1-1 scoreline catching the eye at 15/2 (both Bet365), while Liverpool double chance is worth checking out at 42/41 (UniBet).
Who will win the Sack Race?
Only once in the last eight Premier League seasons has the first managerial casualty occurred in September - Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland, 2013 - but while the new season is only in its infancy there are two managers already teetering on the brink of the sack: Frank de Boer and Slaven Bilic.
The beleaguered bosses are both pointless after three games, with West Ham rooted to the foot of the table with a goal difference of -8, while goalless and soulless Palace sit one place above the Irons in 19th.
De Boer, who not so long ago was hoisting his fourth consecutive Eredivisie with Ajax, is in severe danger of topping his miniscule 85-day stint at Inter Milan as he heads into Saturday’s do-or-die trip to Burnley as the 4/7 favourite for the chop.
Bilic has to wait until Monday before his side return to the London Stadium for the first time this season. The Hammers headed into the new season brimming with optimism following a few high-profile signings, however this positivity has been sucked out of them following defeats to Man Utd, Southampton, and Newcastle, and Bilic knows a fourth consecutive defeat to high-flying Huddersfield (this time on home soil) will plunge his job into even greater jeopardy.
What would a defeat mean for Arsene Wenger?
Arsenal trudge into Saturday’s must-win match at home to pointless Bournemouth on the back of two damaging defeats to nil, meaning a whopping 15 teams are currently looking down on the Gunners in the table, while they’re already six points adrift of league leaders Man Utd.
What would a third successive league defeat - for the first time since January 2012 - mean for the heckled, harangued and harassed Arsene Wenger?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Wenger will still be at the helm, making the same old excuses, while the ever growing #WengerOut brigade will yet again be spitting feathers and demanding his departure. But, while Wenger’s current price of 14/1 in the Sack Race will drop, he’ll still be cemented to the Gunners dugout for some time yet.