Last week I opened our Premier League column with two struggling coaches, Erik Ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino. This week it is all about two high flyers who have revitalised their teams and rebuilt them. Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend in what promises to be an enthralling match. Both are in the top four and separated by only 2 points.
Looking at the visitors first, Liverpool have rebuilt their famous forward line of three years ago with Mo Salah back on form and with Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz combining speed and muscle. Klopp has also turned Liverpool into a counter attacking force possessing blistering speed.
Tottenham intend to use their 4-2-3 system with Udogie, Van de Ven, Romero and Porro practising all week in training sessions to break down Liverpool’s wall of speed which the front three will undoubtedly unleash.
Klopp wants the Reds to be the team everyone hates to play against. He intends to give the Tottenham back four a nightmare afternoon and that has been the main focus of his training this week. Jurgen Klopp calls this team his Liverpool mark 2.0 replacing his title winning Salah/Mane combination years. The Liverpool midfield have enabled the forward line to successfully attack defences because of quality passing coming from Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s move towards the centre of the pitch has worked perfectly and the return of Thiago means the Liverpool team are improving every week (and here I let Jurgen Klopp tell you himself), “We are getting better and better – we are still getting used to the different style but when we are playing well we can be really dangerous and when not, we are really solid. That is how you become consistent.”
Ange Postecoglou has transformed the old boring defensive “Spursy” approach and he too has built a lethal forward line since the departure of Harry Kane. Heung-Min Son was given the challenge of replacing Kane with goals and the Tottenham captain has responded successfully. With Son playing the striker’s role alongside Brennan Johnson, James Maddison and Dejan Kulusevski behind him, this forward line plays with total belief that they are the best in the Premier League. It is all part of Postecoglou’s plan to build a team which is mentally as strong as it is physical.
Arteta wants Toney muscle
Arsenal are doing well this season but Mikel Arteta believes he has to sign a top striker in the January window. Brentford’s Ivan Toney is the player he wants and this week I have been told that Arsenal representatives have spoken again to the Brentford’s management. Arteta wants a proven goalscorer who has muscular presence. It is likely Toney would have joined the Gunners during the summer if he had not been serving a long ban for breaking FA betting regulations. Arsenal already have Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus upfront but like Tottenham and Liverpool, Arteta wants a three player strike force and Toney fits the bill. The Brentford striker has made his position clear and he wants to join a bigger club with only eighteen months left on his contract. Surprisingly Brentford have agreed that Toney can go but they want around £60 million for releasing him from his contract. Toney has now returned to squad training but cannot play competitive Premier League football until January.
A problem Chelsea does not need
Facing a crisis which has seen Chelsea plunge to 14th in the table after a billion pound spent by new owner Todd Boehly and his company Clearlake Capital, coach Mauricio Pochettino is in the hot seat and coming under increasing pressure to produce results. What he does not need are injuries and suspensions through unnecessary yellow cards. He was furious this week with Nicolas Jackson because the striker has been involved in several confrontations with referees. “Calm down and concentrate and do not keep getting involved in arguments with officials,” Pochettino told his striker. He did not listen and picked up another yellow last weekend. None of Jackson’s bookings have been for foul play. Pochettino said that Jackson could put the team in a really difficult situation after picking up the fifth yellow card for trying to stop Aston Villa taking a free kick – a stupid action by any standards which infuriated Pochettino. With injuries to forwards Christopher Nkunku and Amando Broja, Pochettino now has problems putting together his strongest forward line and Jackson will miss the away game at Fulham on Monday.
**Pochettino explained that Conor Gallagher was handed the captain’s armband and not Enzo Fernandes because the Spaniard is still learning English and he could not communicate easily with most of the players on the pitch. Ben Chilwell, Reece James’ vice-captain, will be handed the armband if he is restored to the starting line-up.
Hudson-Odoi set to star for Forest
Nottingham Forest coach Steve Cooper believes the club’s best piece of business during the summer was signing Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi for the knock down price of £3million. His magnificent curling ball into Burnley’s net showed that he has lost none of the superb touches he displayed at Stamford Bridge. Callum was out of favour with Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino but many at the club think that losing a player who is a quality winger and still only 22 years-old is a mistake. Forest coach Steve Cooper said “I know he has quality. I know he can have moments of brilliance and you need that at times in the Premier League. I’m very glad we got one of those players. He’s trained well but he hasn’t played much football at Chelsea but I backed him to do well and he proved me right against Burnley.”
Players tell Sancho to step down
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire have joined together in order to persuade Jadon Sancho to swallow his pride and apologise for speaking out against his coach Erik Ten Hag. Other players have also spoken to Jadon and they too have told him to climb down from his position after being criticised by the coach for not putting everything into his training. Jadon had also been arriving late for training on occasions. He has now been banned from eating with the first team squad and has suffered further humiliation by having to eat meals with the academy squad. Ten Hag says he does not want a negative player to cause problems within the first team.
How Ten Hag helped Wan-Bissaka to turn career around
Meeting Aaron Wan-Bissaka it is surprising what a down to earth level-headed young man he is and he knows exactly where he is going with this career. Aaron has been working on the attacking side of his game. Carefully coached and encouraged by Erik Ten Hag he turned his career around after being told he could leave only a year ago but he showed his fighting qualities as he gradually re-entered the main squad at Old Trafford. When asked what Ten Hag had taught him he responded, “On the pitch just where to be at certain times, be more aggressive going forward and how I can help the team. We have been working on attacking and it is what the manager wants. It also helps the team, whether I’ve got the ball or not, just to make space for them and create opportunities.” Unfortunately Aaron sustained an injury against Brighton that will keep him out of the side for several weeks but once fit again he will press to start every game.