During a weekend which saw a new manager get off to the “perfect” start and the Special One once again proving his adeptness with in-game management, we also saw Marco Silva’s once imperious home record again slipped to give Stoke their first away win of the season and a forward with cojones was found cojoning around the pitch looking for a fight.
RealSport look back over the fixtures, picking out three winners and three losers from Gameweek 10.
1 Jurgen Klopp
After three Premier League games without a win, pressure was starting to mount on the German who has watched his side struggling to regain their early-season promise. With his best friend providing the opposition rather than a shoulder to cry on, Liverpool finally produced a dominant display which was their first home win in any competition since they whitewashed Arsenal in August.
Klopp’s controversial decision to hand a surprise start to Dejan Lovren was averted only minutes before kick-off with Ragnar Klavan instead taking to the field on the day before his birthday. Perhaps surprisingly, this gave rise to a third clean-sheet in four games from all competitions for Liverpool, which will surely be of some comfort to the Liverpool boss.
More importantly for Liverpool, their misfiring forwards again looked sharp on the pitch with Roberto Firminho and Daniel Sturridge getting a goal apiece. Mohamed Salah’s first-half penalty miss may have taken a little of the sheen away from this. However, as Klopp will know, you rarely get to have everything go your way and, if you’re going to see a missed penalty, it’s better to happen on a day your team wins 3-0.
2 Fox Cubs
A new manager and a new formation were unveiled in the Midlands as the clean slate offered to the players was marked in positive fashion. The biggest winners from their victory over fellow strugglers Everton, though, was the burgeoning talents of Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell.
With the industrious figures of Vincente Iborra and Wilfred Ndidi holding the midfield together and shielding the defence, Leicester were able to take full advantage of the wings against the Toffees. In leaving out Marc Albrighton and Shinji Okazaki, especially considering the fact that the latter has arguably been their best player alongside Jamie Vardy this season, Claude Puel placed a lot of faith in his youngsters.
Chilwell, being used in an advanced position on the wing, didn’t have his strongest game but his inclusion clearly indicates that he is in the new manager’s thoughts.
By contrast, Gray was a live-wire on the opposite flank and put his recent false-starts well behind him. Following the game, Gray confirmed he’s now ready to sign the new contract which has been on the table for several weeks already. Good news for him and City fans alike.
3 Sean Dyche
In the game that marked five years to the day in which Dyche took charge at Turf Moor, an attritional win was surely the most fitting way to celebrate. It was Dyche’s 92nd win at the club and Burnley’s 5th in the league this season: all five of which have come with the same 1-0 scoreline during the current campaign.
At the end of a week that’s seen him linked with two separate vacant posts in the Premier League, Dyche remains unaffected by the speculation surrounding him. While he’s seemingly firmly established the Clarets in the Premiership at the second time of asking, he looks more than happy to take on the next challenge with the club who currently sit 7th in the Premier League table.
Having shaped the club on a limited budget, picking up players such as Tom Heaton on a free transfer along the way, Dyche has shown he’s as shrewd as he is well-organised. Whether the club can maintain his services going into next season remains to be seen but their fans are certainly enjoying life with the Ginger Mourinho while they still have him.
1 Bill Kenwright
It’s been widely reported that a difference of opinion in who to appoint as the new manager currently divides the Toffees hierarchy. With Farhad Moshiri anxious to bring in a high-profile candidate to deliver his lofty ambitions, Kenwright has been a keen advocate of handing the reins to David Unsworth on a full-time basis.
With a wish to reward a loyal servant of the club who’s performed admirably whilst in charge of the under-21s side, Unsworth is a common choice amongst supporters and knows everything there is to know about the club.
However, a promising defeat to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup was washed away by another limp display this weekend as Unsworth failed to get a response from his new charges. Coupled with only two wins from seven games during two spells as the caretaker-manager of Preston North-End, Kenwright has watched his argument wither this weekend to his new partner’s advantage.
The Premier League has long been turning into a place where money talks and now it appears that upstairs at Everton, the new money will get to speak loudest.
2 Fernando Llorente
With Tottenham being the Harry Kane-less team this weekend, the stage appeared to be set for Fernando Llorente to show his worth in his new white shirt.
After choosing a move to Spurs over London-rivals Chelsea in a £14m deadline day deal this summer, Llorente has had to wait for his opportunity while Kane swept up the acclaim. Having provided an effective foil for Kane against Real Madrid and spearheaded the team in the Carabao cup defeat to West Ham last Wednesday, the 32-year-old striker was the obvious option to start this weekend’s crunch fixture against Manchester United.
As an alternative to the cultured Spanish centre forward, Mauricio Pochettino instead chose to play no striker in place of the missing Kane. Although Son Heung-Min was played as the main striker last season when Kane was injured, the South Korean has not been enjoying his best form of late and this was a big rejection for the new Spurs striker.
3 Slaven Bilic
Just as things were beginning to look clear, the grey skies and storm clouds once more gathered around Bilic’s fortunes. West Ham’s season looks set to be in a state of permanent flux after they threw away a two-goal lead against the struggling Eagles.
While it was an admirable comeback from Roy Hodgson’s side, the Hammers possessed enough experience on the field to see out a game in which they’d largely dominated their hosts. The fact that the equaliser came with the last kick, six minutes into time added on simply provided a little extra salt to this deep cut.
With a run of threatening fixtures now on the horizon, this was a game in which Bilic desperately needed all three points from to keep the wolf from his office door. If the Hammers are still placed precariously in the table at the end of this run, it could well be a liberated Christmas in the Bilic household.
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