There’ve been some fantastic individual and team performances in the Premier League over the last fortnight.
None more so than Liverpool’s demolition of Manchester City on their own patch. Hat tip to Jurgen Klopp for that one.
As the German seeks to continue the good news story a date with Newcastle at St. James’ Park awaits. Traditionally one of the EPL’s more entertaining fixtures.
Let’s look at that one and a few others in a little more depth…
Newcastle v Liverpool
Liverpool are playing as good as at any point that they were under Brendan Rodgers.
The initial euphoria of Jurgen Klopp’s arrival gave way to a dose of reality when the Reds’ seemingly couldn’t buy a win, but the win at the Etihad Stadium and the manner of the same has reignited the fires.
Players look fresh, alert and importantly happy to be stroking the ball around. Whether Liverpool now are anywhere close to where Klopp wants them to be isn’t yet known but fans are certainly buying into the new regime.
Freedom of expression characterises Liverpool’s play and Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have looked exceptional in the last couple of weeks.
Newcastle should be afraid. Very afraid.
Still struggling to properly adapt to Steve McClaren’s way of working, the panache is missing from the Magpies’ management and consequently the style of football is more forced and staccato at times.
The last game at home was lost 0-3 to Leicester with all of the defence and half of the midfield never really getting out of second gear.
Cheick Tiote for one is half the player he was 12 to 18 months ago. No bite or desire, traits that made him a fearful proposition in the midfield.
Fabio Coloccini and Chancel Mbemba at the back are not the centre back pairing that is going to get Newcastle out of trouble either.
If this goes to type, then Liverpool will come away from Tyneside with some rich pickings.
Stoke City v Manchester City
Stoke manager Mark Hughes always enjoys the tussles against his former club, especially if he can put one over on them.
City have won only four out of the last eight meetings between the sides and arguably Manuel Pellegrini’s swashbucklers don’t enjoy coming up against aside who don’t mind resorting to the more industrial side of the game when required.
On their own patch, Stoke have managed to stop City from three points on all but two occasions in the last decade.
The Potters are in good form too, losing just one of their last 10 games.
City need to stay in and around the top places so a win in this one is imperative. Fortunately for Pellegrini all of his star names are available, but they’ll have to perform much better than they managed against Jurgen Klopp’s “heavy metal” football.
Fighting fire with fire might well be the order of the day so the destructive abilities of Fernadinho and Yaya Toure in the City midfield could hold the key to this one.
Swansea City v Leicester City
Garry Monk might have been relieved of his duties at Swansea by the time that this game comes around.
Although the Swans continue to play football the right way, they’re not getting results and as seems to be the case so often in football now, the “trigger finger” of the Chairman is never far away.
Just one win in their last 10 at the time of writing, at that to rock-bottom Aston Villa, is a sign of what a poor run the club are enduring presently.
It is worth remembering that before the run started against Watford in September that Swansea were unbeaten in 10 in all competitions including throughout a gruelling pre-season.
Furthermore, Monk is well liked and respected in the dressing room. The old football cliché of giving him time to turn things around should certainly apply in this instance.
All of that said, if the Swans are on the end of a hammering against a rampant Leicester side, then the axe will probably fall.
Jamie Vardy has been headline news for the Foxes throughout this campaign, ably assisted by Riyad Mahrez and Shinji Okazaki amongst others.
It’s certainly not a surprise to see Claudio Ranieri’s side in the upper echelons of the table because the brand of football that they’ve been playing has been a joy.
The visitors have dug in when needed and if they can continue their form until after the Christmas break then they might start to be talked up in dispatches as genuine title contenders – even with the worst goals against record of the top 15 clubs in the league!
Chelsea v Bournemouth
When this fixture was made, there wouldn’t have been a football fan anywhere that would’ve imagined it would be what is termed as a “six-pointer.”
Chelsea continue to work hard to try and free themselves from their current malaise and an expected win against Eddie Howe’s side will be of some comfort.
It will also give Jose Mourinho some breathing space in his efforts to get the Blues back up into the area of the table where they belong.
It makes a change to see a club as high profile as Chelsea are, sticking with their manager when an early-season sacking might well have been on the cards.
This is a game when the Special One has to unleash Ruben Loftus-Cheek. There are murmurings that the talented youngster might want to ply his trade elsewhere if he doesn’t get match time.
After a much publicised spat with Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao still woefully out of form, this is the perfect opportunity for Loftus-Cheek to show Mourinho that he is taking on board all of the pointers.
Bournemouth are their own worst enemies at the moment. Everybody’s favourite “second team” are shooting themselves in the foot time and again.
You simply cannot fault the south coast side for lack of application and effort, they just don’t appear to have that extra bit of quality to get them over the line.
Prior to the Everton game, Bournemouth hadn’t won in eight games and if Remi Garde’s management at Aston Villa has the desired effect, Howe’s team could be staring up at the rest of the league by close of play here.
And rest assured, it will be a very long way back from there.
Don’t forget that the games above can be watched live with our friends at IPTVKing.com along with the following: Watford v Norwich City, Arsenal v Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United v West Ham, Southampton v Aston Villa and Everton v Crystal Palace. Please check the schedules for full details.