Can Liverpool avoid a huge Anfield banana skin this weekend? The stakes are huge in the weekend’s London derby and would Wayne Rooney get into another top team?
No Way Jose
Simple question – has Jose Mourinho lost his magic touch? To even ask the question might seem stupid and disrespectful to some. Okay, he’s lost a few games of late but one was away in Europe, one was to Premier League leaders Manchester City and Man Utd got back on track with victory against Northampton in the League Cup in midweek. But this isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction; it’s one based on a longer-term malaise.
Get ready for this stat and, no, it really is true: Jose Mourinho has lost over half of his last 23 League matches as a manager. Yes, 12, the same number he lost in his previous 110. Intriguingly, he’s also failed to beat a Claudio Ranieri-managed team in the last four league matches (losing two and drawing two).
Leicester have been hit-and-miss so far this season but the champions still pose a big threat on the break and have the pace to give Jose another big headache.
On The Wayne?
You can go round in circles deciding how far a once superstar player has declined. His supporters still see the good; the detractors seek out the bad. But rather than get into a battle about using selective evidence, one other good litmus test is this: would the player in question get into another top team?
I’m talking, of course, about Wayne Rooney. So, would Pep Guardiola find a place for him? Very doubtful. Would he have the energy for a Jurgen Klopp team? Definitely not. Arsenal? Arsene Wenger has enough of his type but younger. Chelsea? Spurs? Again, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino want the sort of intensity and athleticism that Rooney has lost.
Does Rooney still deserve a place in an elite Premier League team? Jose Mourinho must be giving that question much thought.
Derby Defeat Dangerous
Arsenal do this a lot don’t they? Appear to be in some sort of mini-crisis and then, slightly unnoticed, go and win a bunch of games on the trot and suddenly sit higher than you thought. It was an act that somehow saw them finish runners-up last season.
Their record against Chelsea is surprisingly awful, even last season when Chelsea were… surprisingly awful. The stats show that Arsenal have failed to beat the Blues in any of their last nine meetings and haven’t even managed to score against them in the last six. Arsenal fans have become used to not getting much from this fixture but the phone-ins will be buzzing with ‘Wenger out’ calls if they lose.
Then again, what will Chelsea fans think if, following the Liverpool loss, Antonio Conte loses back-to-back matches against two of his top four rivals? It’s early in the season but the stakes are high already.
Reds’ Idea Of Hull
In some ways, the away game at Chelsea was a free hit for Liverpool. Had they drawn, a point would have seemed a decent result. Had they lost a tight match, perhaps with a dodgy ref’s decision or a piece of individual brilliance from Eden Hazard, it wouldn’t have caused too many headlines. But, having already slipped up against Burnley, anything other than three points against Hull at Anfield on Saturday will unleash a torrent of ‘can’t win the easy games’ and ‘told you so’ jibes from rival fans who simply aren’t having it that the bookies now make Liverpool second favourites for the title.
So, Jurgen Klopp, will your team slip on a banana skin? Or, having thumped Leicester 4-1 in their only home game so far this season, will they put on another show at the new-look Anfield with over 50,000 cheering them on again?
Jan The Man With Kane Not Able?
Harry Kane has missed just four Premier League games for Tottenham since the start of 2014/15. Their results in his absence? Three defeats and a loss. Goals scored: 2
It’s a startling stat and one which Spurs will have to improve given that their main man is set to be sidelined for “the next few games” according to Mauricio Pochettino or 8-10 weeks if you believe the scare stories elsewhere. Kane wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders anyway but it’s asking a lot for anyone to fill his boots.
Vincent Janssen is keen to step up and, after snatching at a series of good chances, he finally got off the mark with a well-taken penalty in the League Cup rout of Gillingham in midweek. Spurs paid £18.5million for the young Dutchman and other strikers have made a successful switch to the Premier League after scoring lots of goals in Holland.
Five of Tottenham’s next six games are away, the other is a home clash against Manchester City. It’s a tough examination for the youngster so can Janssen step up and help the likes of Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen keep the Spurs goal count ticking over or is he still not ready?
Jose Mourinho is finding life difficult at Old Trafford after such a bright start. Perhaps the derby defeat to City was a stark reminder of how far his team are behind their noisy neighbours and it’s had a knock-on effect.
Leicester capitulated 4-1 at Anfield but I think they can ruffle some feathers on Saturday and leave Manchester with a point. The draw is a tasty 3/1.
I’ll also go for a stalemate in Arsenal v Chelsea – a match that both bosses would hate to lose at this early stage of the season – while Harry Kane’s absence could allow Middlesbrough to grab a point off Tottenham.
That draw treble on the games at Old Trafford, The Emirates and The Riverside pays over 50/1 if you fancy taking the plunge.
Man Utd to draw with Leicester at 3/1 (General)
Draw treble on Man Utd, Arsenal v Chelsea & Middlesbrough v Spurs at 50.67/1 (Unibet)
(Profit last week with Michail Antonio tipped at 10/3 to score anytime)
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