Five reasons why we can’t wait for return of Premier League

Date published: Wednesday 18th November 2015 11:40

Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho: Tipped to suffer mixed fortunes

Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho: Tipped to suffer mixed fortunes

Jurgen Klopp’s biggest test yet, Jamie Vardy’s goalscoring run, turmoil at Chelsea – the international break is over, it’s time to rejoice.

5) Will Tottenham continue to impress?

Tottenham

Still unbeaten since the opening day of the season, Spurs produced a highly impressive performance in the North London derby in their final match before the international break.

With Chelsea in crisis, fourth spot is up for grabs in the Premier League, and Mauricio Pochettino has assembled a squad of young, hungry footballers who look more than good enough to make it their own.

On Sunday Tottenham host West Ham in what could be an extremely exciting London derby.

The Hammers are playing a much more attractive brand of football under Slaven Bilic and are currently level on 21 points with Spurs, three points behind fourth place Manchester United, although they have been rocked by the injury to star player Dimitri Payet.

Surprisingly, the North London side haven’t beaten West Ham at White Hart Lane since 2012. If they are to prove top four contenders, it’s about time they ended that record.

 

4) Can Villa continue to improve under Remi Garde?

Remi Garde 

Aston Villa’s sacking of Tim Sherwood and appointment of Remi Garde seemed to become one of the most inevitable managerial changes in recent years.

Following the departure of Sherwood there were many suggestions that Villa just didn’t have the required quality to avoid relegation this season.

Fans must have feared the worst when league leaders Manchester City visited Villa Park in the Frenchman’s first match in charge.

And yet it quickly became apparent a sense of resolve had been instilled by the new boss, as the Premier League’s bottom club escaped with a creditable 0-0 draw.

Garde takes his team to Everton on Saturday in what will be another tough test.

Villa have scored the joint-fewest goals in the league, and it will be interesting to see whether Garde can inspire some attacking flair to match the new-found defensive solidity and secure his first win in England.

 

3) Will Mourinho halt Chelsea’s slide?

Chelsea

The story of the season so far in the Premier League.

Nobody would have predicted that reigning champions Chelsea would have gone into the middle of November only three points above the relegation places.

The alarming number of controversies Jose Mourinho has been involved in is perhaps less surprising, given his history, and while noises coming out of the club suggest Roman Abramovich is going to keep the faith with the Portuguese, things undoubtedly need to change.

In their final match before the international break, the Blues produced an improved performance at Stoke – despite being beaten 1-0 – with the most encouraging aspect being Eden Hazard showing signs of regaining his form.

At times in the second half of last season the Belgian was Chelsea’s sole attacking threat, but has been out of sorts this campaign amid talks he is unsettled at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho needs to get the 24-year-old firing on all cylinders once more and cut out his own volatile behaviour from the sidelines.

Norwich City are the visitors are the visitors at Stamford Bridge on Saturday – ‘the Special One’ needs to start showing that he can dig Chelsea out of the hole he has helped get them in.

 

2) Can Jamie Vardy continue his goalscoring streak (if he’s fit!)?

Jamie Vardy

Speaking of surprises, even the most ardent of Leicester fans won’t have expected Jamie Vardy to be leading the goalscoring charts with 12 goals, having notched in nine successive matches.

The former Fleetwood forward only scored five times in the whole of last season, but is now surely a shoe-in for Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad.

Having remarkably been linked with a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid, all eyes will be on St James’ Park on Saturday to see whether Vardy can equal former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League fixtures.

In fairness, the Dutchman’s feat is recorded over two seasons, meaning the 28-year-old already holds the record for a single campaign.

Vardy is considered an injury doubt for the match at St James’ Park but is reportedly ready to play through the pain in a bid to write his name in the Premier League record books.

He’ll certainly by doing his utmost to feature against a defence that can hardly be considered watertight – especially given Leicester’s next game after that is against the stingiest of rearguards at present, Manchester United.

 

1) Has Jurgen Klopp really improved Liverpool?

Jurgen Klopp

The arrival of Jurgen Klopp has been the Premier League’s most anticipated managerial appointment in recent history.

Liverpool had become largely mediocre under Brendan Rodgers and the charismatic German, who worked wonders at Borussia Dortmund, is supposedly the man to turn the Reds into one of Europe’s superpowers again.

It is still early days, and while performances have improved, results have been mixed.

An eye-catching 3-1 win at Chelsea has been offset by the 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace, causing supporters to realise it is going to take time before Klopp is able to work his magic.

On the horizon is the 48-year-old’s biggest challenge since taking the reins at Anfield, as Liverpool visit league leaders Manchester City in the evening kick-off on Saturday.

City have looked mesmerising at times this season, but have also shown signs of vulnerability, which should give Klopp plenty of confidence that his side can get a result.

The Reds are still only seven points off a top four place and a win at the Etihad would be a major confidence boost that they are good enough to challenge for fourth spot.

Expect the final scoreline to be a good barometer of whether Klopp can inspire his charges ahead of schedule.

Rob Conlon

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