Kieran Davies on a week of preaching, treachery, and relegation dogfights.
‘I’m gonna build a wall, and make the Americans pay for it!’ Is the comment every Liverpool fan craves to hear Jurgen Klopp seeing as it is the only way Simon Mignolet or Loris Karius will be made to look like competent goalkeepers. That is unless they get their wish granted by the Premier League that they can scrap their other 36 fixtures of the season and play Tottenham every week. This season Klopp has been made to look like a modern day Robin Hood…….he takes from the rich and gives to the poor. As they beat all the big teams and gift points to any team below the halfway mark in the table. This diabolical form must have the manager tearing his hair out. Against lower table opposition, the Anfield outfit look like they could quite well fit in as relegation candidates and have their fans grasping for the anti-depressants. Against the better sides in the league, they play free flowing football and take the teams apart. This is more frustrating than seeing Gary Lineker preach to his Twatter followers over his thoughts on Brexit, Trump and any other current event. No one is interested in your thoughts Lineker unless it’s a) post highlight comments on a Saturday evening b) what crisps we should be trying from Walkers’ latest selection, or c) that you are ditching the punditry all together and going to be starring in a remake of Noddy (can you guess which character he will play?) Well this weekend Liverpool fans will be able to watch Match of the Day without seeing another disastrous performance by their team as they play on Monday Night Football against Leicester City. Now there’s a team we could write a whole article on their temporary rise closely followed be a very quick demise. League champions to Championship side in one easy year!
This week after a narrow defeat to Sevilla in the Champions League, the Leicester owners did the unthinkable and sacked the manager who brought success to a club no one could have predicted in their wildest dreams. I don’t think we will ever be able to second guess what goes through the minds of owners but to sack Ranieri now and expect an interim or new manager to keep this misfiring side up is a very big ask. Can the manager be blamed for this whole poor season himself? Players have definitely gone missing this season or were they just ‘one season wonders’? Often the managers are the ones who take the blame and after the performances of the players last season I suppose to an extent the hierarchy think they have rhetoric to do just as they have. The players themselves need to have a long hard look at themselves, they simply haven’t earned their recently inflated wages this season. This is a team who in the league haven’t scored a single goal in 2017. It will be interesting to see what performance they put in against Liverpool and whether the lacklustre performances of this season continue. One thing for sure is the majority of footballers at Leicester City who before last season weren’t even household names in their own homes should hang their heads in shame in the part they played in Ranieri’s sacking. With rumours circulating of a player’s revolt and causing of a ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ situation, this reiterates all that is wrong with the modern game. Shame on you Leicester City players, whoever you may be!
As Conte’s Chelsea seemingly march towards a title with no end in sight, Burnley didn’t quite read the script last time out and it will be interesting to see how Clement’s Swansea fare against the team most pundits have already crowned champions. With two of the top four not playing this weekend, this is a chance for Chelsea to open the gap even further at the top. With no European football to distract them, the league leaders should be all refreshed after their break and be raring to go this weekend. Swansea have made a great start under the stewardship of their new manager, after going to Anfield and taking all three points and being quite harshly being beaten at Man City, the Welsh side should go to Stamford Bridge full of confidence. Despite that this game is somewhat of a ‘free hit’ for them as would never have earmarked this game as winnable when planning their escape to safety. It’s very tight at the bottom of the table and all the teams involved in the bottom three currently will feel that they have the metal to get themselves out of this mire. Sunderland had a massive win at Crystal Palace in the last round of fixtures and will be looking to use this win against their fellow relegation candidates as a springboard for the rest of their season. Allardyce’s Palace however are really struggling at the moment and couldn’t find three points in a triangle factory the way things are going. It is a massive game they face against Middlesbrough at home today, knowing a win would pull their opponents right into the relegation dogfight. Sunderland travel to face Koeman’s Everton and will need an in form Defoe firing on all cylinders for them to build on their emphatic win at Palace.
Under Marco Silva, Hull City seem to have changed their fortunes much like Swansea. He has got them playing good football and picking up crucial points. Much like their South Wales adversaries, they too got three points off the German Robin Hood and his Liverpool team. Burnley haven’t been too successful on the road this term so Hull will feel this is a must win game for them to stand any chance of getting themselves out of the bottom three. West Ham have managed to turn their fortunes around and take their manager’s head off the executioner’s block. A tough trip to misfiring Watford will be a stern test but a game they will feel they are capable of winning. After the debacle of the Dimitri Payet saga, they can really put this behind them by putting a string of wins together and ending the season on a high. Tottenham have the chance of taking second spot after an embarrassing defeat dumping them out of their second European trophy this season. Facing Stoke City at home they will need to bounce back and give the home faithful something to cheer about. With Man Utd facing Southampton in the EFL Cup Final that chance of the first of this season’s silverware is up for grabs. Whether you like Man Utd or not, you have to take your hat to Jose Mourinho. The solidarity he showed for Claudio Ranieri this week was admirable, actually wearing a training top emblazoning the initials CR for his press conference on Friday. The way he spoke of what Ranieri did for Leicester City was rare in the modern game but actually showed that Jose was a true fan of the Italian’s achievement and even made a slight at the players and board responsible for his downfall. A victim of his own success no less.