Paul Heckingbottom, Rob Edwards and Vincent Kompany are to be under microscopic scrutiny when English Premier League football resumes on Saturday after a two week hiatus. The managers of the three promoted clubs Sheffield United, Luton Town and Burnley need to get their act together if they are to avoid attracting the wrath of their respective club boards and join Villarreal’s Quique Setien and Olympique Lyon’s Laurent Blanc on the list of tactician to lose their jobs.
Earning promotion usually buys a manager plenty of goodwill as, in the case of the Premier League, it guarantees a £100m cash windfall. But with none of the three sides able to muster a single victory between them after a combined ten outings, it is now or never for all three bosses. Burnley’s Kompany is the highest rated of the trio on account of the swashbuckling football his Clarets played enroute to winning the Championship.
But the former Manchester City captain has found adjusting to the demands of top flight football a slippery slope. The Belgian will almost certainly have to revise his modus operandi unless they can stop shipping in goals when they confront Nottingham Forest on Monday night. With goal difference certain be a factor next May, Burnley’s minus eight figure after just three outings ought to be an issue of concern.
Luton Town have been praised for their brave football and pragmatism in the transfer market activity that has seen the club avoid living beyond their means. However, Edwards knows better than everyone else that he must arrest the rot that has witnessed the Hatters lose all four matches to date when they travel to London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.
Sheffield United showed signs of life in drawing 2-2 with fellow relegation candidates Everton on match day four but getting a result at high flying Tottenham Hotspur will be a completely different kettle of fish. Ange Postecoglu’s rebuilt Spurs are the division joint top scorers with eleven goals already and their goals are coming from a variety of sources. Heckingbottom’s side will have their hands full containing an attack featuring Son Heung Min, Dejan Kulusevski and James Maddison.
In the upper echelons of the division, West Ham United’s game at home to champs Manchester City promises fireworks. Hammers boss David Moyes begins the dicey job of juggling his resources in readiness for Thursday’s Europa League home rubber with Serbia’s Backa Topola while Pep Guardiola returns to the Cityzens dugout after missing the last two match days recuperating from back surgery. Top scorer Erling Braut Haaland and talismanic midfield metronome Rodrigo Cascante Hernandez ‘Rodri’ could feature for 70 minutes to keep him fresh in readiness for Tuesday’s Champions League rubber with Red Star Belgrade.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool,
Fulham v Luton Town,
Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United,
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace,
West Ham United v Manchester City
Manchester United v Brighton Hove
Newcastle United v Brentford
Bournemouth v Chelsea
Everton v Arsenal
Nottingham Forest v Burnley