It has been another rollercoaster week in the Premier League with no less than two managers biting the bullet. Claudio Ranieri and Claude Puel were both relieved of their duties. Scott Parker is temporarily taking charge of Fulham against Chelsea whereas Leicester wasted no time in appointing Brendan Rodgers as their new manager. Liverpool have the inevitable bid from Leicester for James Milner in the summer to look forward to no doubt as he is a ‘wonderful human being’. The Foxes’ plight is in no way as serious as Fulham’s. Some would say, to pull off the miracle they need, The Cottagers needed to appoint Jesus of Nazareth as their interim manager. No doubt fans live in hope that the same can happen as with Solskjaer at Manchester United, but these things rarely tend to pan out that way. Rodgers’ team will face a wounded Watford, form cut in two by a rampant Liverpool at Anfield. They will be looking to bounce back to winning ways to put this defeat behind them.
The weekend kicks off with a North London derby. With defeat at Burnley and Chelsea psychologically ending their title challenge, a third defeat at the hands of the old enemy could be too much to take for some fans. A fit again Harry Kane will boost confidence as his record in London derbies is something of beauty. As the manager said this week their focus is to try and hold on to third place in the Premier League, avoiding defeat at Arsenal is a must. Guardiola’s City looked unconvincing in front of goal against West Ham in the week and were fortunate to get the penalty which helped them win all three points. There are deep-sea divers jealous of Bernardo Silva’s ability to go down so easily. With the race to retain their crown so tight, a trip to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth isn’t the easiest of tasks. Granted, The Cherries have a real Jeckyll and Hyde personality this season and will be glad to have David Brooks back fit and will hope he returns to the sparkling form he was showed before his injury.
Although still mathematically possible, the chances of Huddersfield surviving are the same as finding intelligent life in the galaxy before Christmas. However, off the back of their first win under their new manager they could cause Brighton some headaches over the course of the afternoon. Hughton’s side have been dragged into the relegation dogfight due some poor form. With Cardiff and Fulham facing tough games this weekend, this can be seen as a real chance to put a bit of daylight between the teams. Cardiff travel to The Midlands to face Wolves. Another inconsistent team in the main, no one can take anything away from what they have done in their first season in the top flight. Sitting in seventh place, the thoughts are more about European qualification than relegation here. In the last two games, Warnock’s team have made errors that wouldn’t be welcome in local league football. At this level, you will mainly be punished for these and Cardiff have been, heavily. The manager even questioned the passion of some of the players after defeat at home against Everton. It is make or break time for the Welsh side if they are to have any hope of survival.
Burnley aren’t a million miles away from the troubles at the foot of the table despite recent good form. Five points may seem a lot now but if they hit a patch of bad form that could soon change. Their opponents, Crystal Palace, find themselves in an identical situation. This will make for a real battle between the sides as the rewards are so rich. A win with other results going their way, could give them a week without any mention of The Championship. The bliss. If Southampton are going to improve their position in the table this weekend, they will have to do it the hard way with a trip to Old Trafford on the cards. While United are in a fight with Arsenal and Chelsea to secure Champions League football, The Saints sit perilously close to the bottom three. The manager shouldn’t need a speech to rouse the troops here, this is the business end of the season, how much do you want it?
Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle team are hoping to steer themselves more towards mid-table mediocrity which for a team with so little investment, is in itself, an achievement. London is not usually a destination The Magpies fare well in, so they will have to put in a performance to take three points from Pellegrini’s West Ham. Newcastle have turned St James’ Park into more of a fortress of late, but to be successful in this league you also need to pick up points on the road too. Historically, Fulham have not had a great record against Chelsea in the Premier League. Throughout the season they have had a problem leaking goals. It is going to be a tough ask of a very inexperienced caretaker manager for a result against Sarri’s Chelsea. Things aren’t going well at Stamford Bridge but surely even a wounded Chelsea have enough about them to win this one.
Depending on how Manchester City have got on against Bournemouth, Liverpool could have one of two pressures on their shoulders by the time they line up to kick off a Merseyside derby against Everton. It will either be the pressure to win and return to the top of the table, or to capitalise upon City’s slip up and distance themselves from their North West rivals. Liverpool haven’t got an inspiring record at Goodison Park of late and will need to address this as they cannot afford to hand the impetus to the defending champions. City have too much experience in winning this league for Liverpool to afford them any advantage in this run in. On the other hand, Everton would love nothing more than to dent their rival’s chances of winning their first Premier League title. It all lends itself to a mouth-watering game. Klopp’s team have been labelled as ‘chokers’ by the press for previous unsuccessful attempts to win the one trophy they crave so much. They have never been in a better position, considering their remaining fixtures, to turn that dream into a reality. It remains to be seen just how much they want it.