Will Jose Mourinho travel to Chelsea on Sunday and park the bus again? Can Liverpool find a way past a Tony Pulis side for this first time in nine attempts?
Mourinho: Take Two?
It sometimes seems that Jose Mourinho gets more pleasure from devising a plan to stop the opposition getting a result than he does about actually seeing his own team win. United need points.
They’ve taken just five from the last 15 and the manager’s haul of 14 from his eight games so far is the worst he’s managed at a new club for 15 years. That surely diminishes the value of playing out a 0-0 draw at Liverpool and will the United fans who thought he was being shrewd be so accepting if he wheels out the same tactics to thwart his old team Chelsea on Sunday?
Two tactically astute draws get you two points. That’s one point less than going for it and ending up with a win and a defeat. Jurgen Klopp was rewarded for his ambition at Chelsea and Arsenal by getting all six points and it’s an approach that United fans must look on with envy given their attacking traditions.
We’ll see what he comes out with on his return to Stamford Bridge but are the fears that Mourinho was too defensive to be an Old Trafford boss already being realised?
Ranieri’s rant redundant?
“You won’t like me when I’m angry” was the famous catchphrase of David Banner before he went green and turned into the Incredible Hulk. Except when Claudio Ranieri says he’s angry we don’t really believe him because, you know, he’s our favourite uncle and he’s a bit quirky.
Perhaps that’s the problem with Leicester’s players. They know they haven’t got a prayer of winning this season’s Premier League so they’re turning their focus to the Champions League and making a brilliant job of it too after three straight wins.
So these rants from the boss about poor Premier League form go over their heads. Calm down Claudio. You know we’re friends for life after last season and it’s not as if we’re going to get relegated. Ranieri says Saturday’s encounter with Crystal Palace is a “tough, tough match” so will the Foxes take their foot off the pedal again or will the Italian’s words have some effect?
Pulis to pull off Anfield repeat?
The idea that Tony Pulis is a tough nut to crack will be one held by fans of many Premier League teams. But Liverpool supporters will feel it more than most given that their team are winless in eight games against sides managed by Pulis.
So having been frustrated beyond belief by Manchester United on Monday night, Pulis’ West Brom are probably near the bottom of their next opponents wish-list. Despite his so-called tactical masterclass at Anfield, Jose Mourinho seemed to miss a trick by not trying to put Liverpool’s young keeper Loris Karius under any sort of pressure and United didn’t win a corner until the 80th minute.
Pulis won’t make the same mistake; he’ll instruct his players to pump crosses towards Karius from the word go. So can he tweak Liverpool’s noses again or will the Reds make a better fist of seeing off a team who will again come to Anfield to park the bus?
Stoke set for surge?
When Stoke took just one point from their opening five Premier League games before crashing out of the League Cup, it would have been easy for those in charge to wobble, panic and give Mark Hughes the boot. They’re still in the bottom three but are very much on the up after a home draw against West Brom, a good point at Manchester United and a solid 2-0 home win over Sunderland.
Their next six fixtures are Hull (a), Swansea (h), West Ham (a), Bournemouth (h), Watford (a), Burnley (h). The Potters were slow starters last season but kicked on to finish 9th. Could we see them safely in mid-table before their next big test – a trip to Arsenal on December 10?
Defence to cost City again?
Pep Guardiola won his first 10 matches in charge of Manchester City. Now he’s failed to win any of the last four, losing two and drawing two. Head to the goals against column for the main reason why. City were struggling to keep clean sheets anyway but in that recent quartet of winless games they’ve conceded 10 times. We can’t exactly call it a crisis, especially since two of the defeats were away to Spurs and Barcelona and they missed two penalties in the 1-1 draw against Everton. But something isn’t right.
Not so long ago the title odds were starting to suggest that City were a cut above the rest. But can that really be the case when they ship goals at such a rate? The visitors to The Etihad this weekend are Southampton and City must be looking at the south coast club’s defensive record with envy.
Saints recently went six games in a row without conceding and haven’t let one in during their last three road games. Will a wounded City overpower the usually resolute Saints defence or will their own frailties at the back put them at risk of slipping to a fifth game without victory?