Kieran Davies steps back from another week of death, taxes, and late Raheem Sterling winners.
With Premier League clubs hitting the panic button with the fervour that Trump’s ‘fake news’ would lead us to believe Kim Jong Un shares with his own weapons of mass destruction, nothing causes club owners to act with haste like the thought of losing their league status. Both West Ham and Everton have looked to replace their managers with big names, yet find themselves being turned down by names evidently mesmerised by approaches by such small clubs. Having been gifted an Olympic stadium by the taxpayer or winning an FA Cup twenty-two years ago, does not hold you in good stead as a big club nowadays. With the names on each club’s hit-list dwindling by the day, it seems both teams opted for their plan B’s just to try and steady the ship. The Hammers opting for much maligned manager David Moyes, while Everton decided to plump for Sam Allardyce, a man whose greatest achievement is a Championship play-off final win. Both men have been given relatively short-term contracts, surely re-iterating how they are being brought in to the dowse the flames of current fires within these clubs and no more than that.
Everton in particular have surprised all by finding a manager who can don David Unsworth’s jacket without looking like a boy lost in his father’s clothes but ‘Big Sam’ will do just that. Having been offered a financial package bigger than Zinedine Zidane’s contract at Real Madrid, the Toffees will be looking for some sort of return for this outlandish investment. Everton are a long way off where their optimistic owners want them to be, whereas West Ham will just be happy to be able to adorn their shirts with the Premier League emblem on the sleeves next season. These two sides met in the week which saw Everton come out the victors with a comfortable 4-0 scoreline. To make matters worse for the blue side of Merseyside, their neighbours and closest rivals Liverpool have the top scorer in the Premier League and everything ‘The King of Egypt’ touches seem to turn to gold at the moment. After a win on a cold Wednesday night in Stoke, it will be Hughton’s Brighton who take turn to try and stop Mo Salah and his Liverpool team mates this weekend. That is if he starts of course, as manager Klopp uses rotation in his job more than a waltzer attendant at the moment and no player is exempt from being ‘rested’.
The big game of the weekend without a doubt is Arsenal versus Man Utd. With Wenger’s team looking to protect a long running unbeaten home run, victory over Mourinho’s side would make Arsenal serious contenders for a top four finish. A win would also put The Gunners only a point behind United and they will have seriously cut what was quite a considerable gap at one stage. Pochettino’s Spurs side have managed to laud it over their North London rivals for the last season or so, however, their form has really dipped of late and should they taste defeat at Watford this weekend could in fact be in excess of ten points behind Arsenal by Saturday evening. They could consider themselves unlucky somewhat to lose to two ‘worldies’ against Leicester but that will be no comfort to Tottenham fans as their rivals remind them of their failings. David Moyes will no doubt be envious of his fellow new manager’s opponents this weekend, with West Ham facing all conquering Man City while Everton face Huddersfield at home. Pep’s City look like the best side in Europe by a country mile at the moment and even when sides manage to do the unthinkable and hold them to a draw their hearts are broken in a fashion that is becoming all too common. There are some things in life that a certain……….death, taxes and a Raheem Sterling winner in the 94th minute!
One thing not many people would have put their money on at the start of the season was Sean Dyche’s Burnley to be pushing for a top four finish. The Clarets away form, coupled with some strong performances at home has meant however that before a ball is kicked this weekend, they sit pretty above Tottenham and only three points off a coveted Champions League spot. A trip to Leicester this weekend will be no mean feat especially as confidence will be high amongst Puel’s team after their midweek exploits. Another team who have decided to part company with their manager in hope of a change of fortunes is West Brom. Football can churn up a bit of nostalgia and romance from time to time and the appointment of the new baggies manager, Alan Pardew, has come with what some would say is perfect timing with Crystal Palace visiting the Hawthorns this weekend. With a point to prove to his ex-employers who he parted company with on their terms and not his, he will be keen to prove a point in his first game in charge of West Brom. Chelsea have had quite a hit and miss season thus far but taking into consideration the fact that they find themselves third in the table, most fans would take such form any day of the week. They host Rafa’s Newcastle this week at Stamford Bridge, a side that have not usually had much luck at this ground, whether Conte sits on the bench or in row Z this should be a routine victory for Roman’s Chelsea.
In the month of November, Kurt Zouma registered more shots on target than Swansea City. That is quite a telling fact that really emphasises the plight Clement’s Swansea face. Currently, they are in the bottom three and they don’t look like they are going to address this worrying league position with their lack of enterprise in front of goal. Travelling to the Bet365 stadium this weekend, with fellow Welshman Mark Hughes under intense pressure, this could be an ideal game for Clement and his team this weekend. Defeat however, would be a huge dent to their survival hopes. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are precariously close to the bottom three and look forward to a South Coast derby this weekend. Ironically, as close as they are to the relegation places, should they win against The Saints they will leapfrog them in the league. With the bottom three all on the road this weekend, the lower echelons of the league may not change too much by the end of this weekend. With table-topping Man City leading the way and beating all who dare tackle them, victory over a lacklustre West Ham could see them go one step closer to repeating Arsenal’s invincibles season.