Jurgen Klopp is just 3/1 not to be the manager of Liverpool on the opening day of next season but those odds will shorten if his side are beaten at home by Tottenham. Just before Christmas Liverpool were the Premier League’s leading scorers but injury to Philipe Coutinho and Sadio Mane’s trip to the Africa Cup of Nations have upset the apple cart. Liverpool are now struggling to qualify for the Champions League which was the whole point of resting so many players.
Klopp thought he was being clever by playing weakened teams in the EFL Cup and FA Cup. However, Liverpool are only a Diego Costa missed penalty for Chelsea from losing five matches on the bounce including four at home. Klopp’s style is suited to the Bundesliga because players get a winter break. He has not adapted to the demands of English football especially in terms of the congested schedule over Christmas and into the New Year and if things get worse he could be on his bike.
This is a good time for Tottenham to be visiting Anfield and three points would consolidate their position in second place behind Chelsea but nine points off the pace ahead of the weekend fixtures. However, they have won just four of 12 road trips in the Premier League this season so the logical outcome of this match is a draw. However, if Tottenham manage to win the pressure will increase on Klopp as fans will think he has been found out.
Arsenal and Hull play earlier in the day on the back of contrasting results. The clamour for Arsene Wenger to step down as manager intensified after Arsenal lost at home to Watford and were beaten by Chelsea last weekend. Meanwhile Hull were continuing the process of the great escape from relegation by beating Liverpool at home but in view of that team’s form the value of the win is questionable.
The betting at Christmas suggested Hull would be saying goodbye to the Premier League. It looked like unless there were significant arrivals in the January transfer window Hull were booked for bottom spot. In fact there was a key departure due to the sacking of Mike Phelan and new head coach Marco Silva has transformed the outfit. However, even though Arsenal are under massive pressure to deliver Hull will be leaving London with no points which will keep them in the relegation zone.
Some bookmakers have already paid out on Chelsea to win the Premier league and they can take a step closer to the title by beating Burnley on the road. That team have an excellent home record but avoiding defeat to the champions in waiting looks beyond them. Burnley have won nine of 13 home league matches and only Chelsea and Tottenham have won more points at their own ground but Chelsea are a different proposition and they can secure all three points.
Chelsea’s consistent results have been helped by a consistency in team selection and the manager, Antonio Conte, has just made minor changes over the busy holiday period and the first month of the year. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are playing like they did under the peak years during Jose Mourinho’s second spell at the club. Chelsea have picked up 33 out of 36 points at home and that will become 36 out of 39 after the visit of Burnley.
If Leicester beat Swansea that could spell the end for Claudio Ranieri and there are suggestions he has lost the support of the dressing room. The Hollywood story would have an unhappy ending if Leicester become the first Premier League champions to be relegated the following season. Initially it looked like there were three inferior teams to Leicester but Sunderland and Hull have produced a mini-revival and Leicester could slip into the Championship a year after winning the Premier League and that process can begin with defeat in South Wales.
Bournemouth have a solid home record but Manchester City are on a different planet. If they reproduce the form when they beat West Ham at the London Stadium Bournemouth will do well to keep the score down. Sergio Aguero’s days seem to be numbered but they have unearthed a new star called Jesus Navas who is the complete modern player. He is a player who matches the philosophy of Pep Guardiola and can be an integral part of the team for the next five years or until Barcelona come calling. Before then he can help his side win away at Bournemouth.