Weekend Watch: Mourinho v Klopp, Burnley route to safety

Date published: Friday 13th January 2017 10:20 - Ian Watson

Jose Mourinho: Head to head with Jurgen Klopp looming

Jose Mourinho will be looking to improve his record against Jurgen Klopp on Sunday, while Burnley could take an unusual approach to their battle to stay up…

Boss battle at Old Trafford

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It was widely perceived that Jose Mourinho had done a number on Jurgen Klopp when his stuttering Manchester United side negated a then rampant Liverpool in October, that number being zero as the two played out an underwhelming 0-0 draw.

But if that was a moral win for the Portuguese boss, the record books show that it was far from history repeating. In fact, Mourinho has managed just one win in six games against Klopp teams and even that was bittersweet as Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Dortmund wasn’t enough to overturn the Bundesliga side’s heavy 4-1 first-leg advantage in the semi-final of the 2013 Champions League.

So who wins this latest battle between the two iconic coaches? United are the form horses this time, with Liverpool the side looking flat. Klopp has an excellent record against the big teams however having taken seven points out of nine in trips to Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.

Can his positive approach pay off again at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon or will the combination of Mourinho’s extra Premier League experience and United’s flowing confidence prove too much for their great rivals?


Alli the goal machine

Even before he scored the two goals that ended Chelsea’s 13-match winning run in the Premier League, Dele Alli was being linked with mega-money moves to Europe’s elite. Scoring midfielders are worth their weight in gold and the Spurs youngster has now netted seven goals in his last four Premier League games, a remarkable burst given the position he plays in.

To give it context, Opta released stats earlier this week on how Alli compares to other midfield men who had an eye for goal. The stats are startling.

Alli has reached 20 Premier League goals in just 52 appearances; way faster than Paul Scholes (74), David Beckham (90), Frank Lampard (140) and Steven Gerrard (169). Going into Saturday’s early game with West Brom, the England ace could fairly be labelled as the Premier League’s best player. He scored a late equaliser in the first meeting with the Baggies this season so all the signs suggest his scoring burst can continue.


Future on show at KCOM

Okay, it’s not Mourinho v Klopp but it will still be interesting to see how the young managers of Hull and Bournemouth fare when they meet for the first time on Saturday.

Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is the bright young thing of English football and touted as a likely future England manager. His opposite number, Marco Silva, has been mentioned as the next Jose Mourinho. That’s clearly in large part to him being Portuguese but Silva was clearly thought of as a ‘Special One’ by the fans of Olympiakos after he guided them to 17 wins in their first 17 games last year – the greatest start to a European season this century.

Both men are just 39 and could go on to achieve big things but while Howe has Bournemouth flying high in 9th, Silva has a massive task on his hands to get bottom-placed Hull out of trouble.

However, he started with an FA Cup win over Swansea last Saturday so can the man who was a complete unknown to Hull fans a couple of weeks ago make it a winning start in the Premier League too and start what would be a remarkable escape?


Moor of the same?

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Burnley have won an incredible 96% of their Premier League points at Turf Moor this season. Not surprisingly, that’s the highest percentage in English football, Rotherham (92%) their nearest rivals.

Thanks to their Turf Moor exploits, Burnley have made their best ever start to a Premier League season but is it possible to secure survival at this level almost exclusively on points gained at home?

If so, should Sean Dyche even take the step of rotating his team in away fixtures and load his bases for games at home; an extreme form of focusing on your strengths.

On paper, Burnley have a good chance to bank another home win when they host Southampton this weekend. Saints put a lot into beating Liverpool in the League Cup in midweek and their Premier League form has dropped off. One warning for Burnley though. When they’ve conceded the first goal this season, they haven’t picked up a single point.


Taylor tributes

It was a great shock to hear that Graham Taylor had passed away on Thursday and hopefully the Premier League will pay its respects to the former England manager this weekend.

Although he was mocked heavily for the infamous fly-on-the-wall documentary, ‘An Impossible Job’, the one thing that’s clear when watching him laid bare is that there wasn’t a malicious bone in Taylor’s body.

Okay, it proved beyond him – as it did many others – but even after he became a figure of tabloid ridicule, his humble nature and basic niceness always shone through. Taylor never held a grudge towards the press pack that tore him apart and even went out of his way to help and encourage younger journalists.

Of course, his biggest legacy in management was guiding Watford from the old fourth division to the top flight in five years before finishing second to Liverpool in 1982-3, a quite incredible achievement and one that could surely never be repeated. Perhaps it would be fitting if his former team were to beat Middlesbrough this weekend but, for Taylor, the main thing he would want is that both teams give their all and show they care.

Dave Tindall

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