The buzz words around Liverpool this week have been Klopp for the Kop after Brendan gets the chop! The locals are happy with the appointment of Jurgen Klopp as the new manager of Liverpool and his first test is a match away to Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday. The club have been suffering from ineptitude this season and the arrival of the German has got the red half of the city buzzing. Liverpool can use the emotion to avoid defeat at Spurs.
Arsenal are also a team with a spring in their step after the demolition of Manchester United in their last fixture. Alex Sanchez and Aaron Ramsay are returning to domestic football after scoring for their countries and Theo Walcott notched for England. In the good old days of “one-nil to the Arsenal” wins of that nature at places like Watford were common and they can achieve something similar this time with a low-scoring victory. Sanchez must be backed to score the first goal with an assist from Ramsay.
Newcastle are on a slippery slope to Championship oblivion and the home match against Norwich City on Sunday has a must win feel to it. Steve McLaren’s managerial career seems to go from bad to worse and his Newcastle side were abysmal in the second half against Manchester City in their last match. This fixture already looks like being crucial for the future role of McLaren with the Geordies. A tepid draw and boos from the crowd is the projection and McLaren could then be sacked on Monday.
The broadcasters have saved the best for last this weekend as Monday Night Football features Swansea and Stoke. These are two unfashionable clubs that are now established in the Premier League and are showing the benefits of being loyal to managers. Gary Monk and Mark Hughes are potentially future bosses of England and Wales and are proving themselves in domestic football. They can lead their sides to a scoring draw in this fixture.
Klopp managed Borussia Dortmund when they won the Bundesliga title twice and briefly knocked Bayern Munich off their perch. He will bring some of his former backroom staff from Dortmund and aim to revitalise a club and transform Liverpool’s fortunes. They have not won the league for 25 years and are not part of the Champions League elite. Finishing in the top four is Klopp’s main objective and competing at the highest level in Europe.
Tottenham are unbeaten in four home league matches this season to date so will not be new manager fodder. Only the two Manchester clubs have a better record at home and Liverpool have only won one of four matches on their travels. The Liverpool players should be rejuvenated and can return north with a point. Phillippe Coutinho will be key but Barcelona and Real Madrid have been watching and Coutinho plays alongside Neymar with Brazil so Barcelona looks a potential destination.
Despite various defensive systems under Brendan Rodgers Liverpool have had a vulnerable defence in the last two seasons. Klopp must improve that area in the next two transfer windows and not conceding at Tottenham could be a good start to his reign. More importantly he must improve the atmosphere at Anfield and if Liverpool play with verve the crowd will respond passionately. Klopp’s reputation could entice some star players north and his arrival will create much interest.
Another key element of Klopp’s role will be to develop players already at the club. He knows Emre Can and Firmino from his time in the Bundesliga and if he gets them on side other players will buy into his methods and the concept of rock music football, played at pace and leaving nothing behind. Klopp tried to sign Christian Benteke in 2013 and combining him with Daniel Sturridge will be central to his plans this season. Finishing in the top four is a minimum requirement and he would be granted the Freedom of the Borough of Anfield if Liverpool win the league this season.
Arsene Wenger got his Arsenal managerial career back on track when the Gunners beat Manchester United 3-0 at home two weeks ago. All the goals were scored in the first 20 minutes and Newcastle have only scored two more at home in four full matches. They are a club with no identity and McLaren has been unable to motivate a disparate group of foreign players who do not identify with Geordie nation. You could get more passion and commitment from eleven players from a local pub team.
At the start of the year Derby were contenders for automatic promotion to the Premier League. However, in the second half of the season they hardly won a match and in the end did not even make the play-offs. They produced relegation form from Christmas and maybe the rumours about their manager moving to Newcastle affected motivation and commitment. McLaren has tried hard to move on from his ‘wally with a brolly’ reputation but another poor home Newcastle display will rekindle the old gibes.
Norwich have lost just one of four road trips this season, scoring six goals and conceding seven. Newcastle have not won at home in the league this season, but led Chelsea by two goals before being pegged back in the closing stages. The defence capitulated at Manchester City, conceding five second half goals in 13 minutes, which disgusted Alan Shearer. Losing to Norwich would be a calamity but even McLaren can inspire a side to avoid defeat in a pivotal fixture.
The Monday evening encounter between Swansea and Stoke is unlikely to break any viewing records. Both sides are in the bottom half of the table but are unlikely to get embroiled in relegation issues. Monk and Hughes are managers going places and they could well be in charge when England meet Wales in the 2018 World Cup Final after overseeing a draw in this fixture between the two City’s.