Another week, another defeat for Chelsea – it goes from worse to even worse for Jose Mourinho who is odds-on with several bookmakers in the managerial “sack race”.
By the time these words are broadcast to the world, Jose Mourinho may already be gone. Chelsea now sit just four points away from the relegation zone, after a shocking capitulation to Jürgen Klopp’s rejuvenated Liverpool side, and the future has never looked bleaker at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s plight contrasts greatly to the success that is currently being experienced by some of his Mediterranean counterparts in the Premier League. Claudio Ranieri and Quique Flores have both proven to be a revelatory influence on their respective clubs, demonstrating a quiet reserve in the face of strong performances that bode well for the short-term future.
RANIERI V WEST BROM – 3 POINTS
Though no changes were made at half time, there can be no doubt that Ranieri used choice words to a highly effective extent, as the Leicester players emerged from the dressing room with fire in their eyes.
In recent weeks, Mahrez has not been a mainstay in the Leicester squad, with Ranieri opting for some unprecedented rotations. For all their own persistence, the West Brom squad lacked Leicester’s confidence throughout, and Mahrez’s increased workrate in the second half came as a shock to the Baggies.
Reverting to a sole striker was a curious decision from Ranieri, but it proved to be another masterstroke. As a lone attacker, Vardy’s vision can be an asset in the latter stages of any game (when the opposition begin to tire) and it was his opportunistic nature that enabled Leicester to clinch a decisive third goal.
Key Player: Riyad Mahrez
KLOPP V CHELSEA – 2 POINTS
Ex-Chelsea player Pat Nevin could not have done a better job of summing up the present situation in West London, stating on BBC Radio 5 Live that Chelsea were “absolutely outplayed”. Save for a nervous opening quarter of the match, Liverpool were easily the better side at Stamford Bridge during Saturday’s early kickoff.
After several frustrating results, Klopp’s brave new regime finally produced the level of performance that the red half of Merseyside expected on his arrival from Borussia Dortmund. It was ultimately a decision made on the hour mark that turned one point into three and did justice to the German’s reputation as a charismatic maverick.
The introduction of Christian Benteke (for a visibly tiring James Milner) was made on 64 minutes, forcing Chelsea to change their game plan at a time when the initial rush had long since worn off for the Blues. The only surprise thereafter was that it took Liverpool a whole ten minutes to go 2-1 up.
Key Player: Philippe Coutinho
MARTINEZ V SUNDERLAND – 1 POINT
It was a situation foreseen in the fantasy shortlist for GW11, as Gerard Deulofeu combined to deadly effect with the burgeoning partnership of Arouna Kone and Romelu Lukaku, giving Everton their first six-goal haul since February 2008.
Much can be made of Sunderland’s porous defence, with many believing that the 6-2 scoreline in Everton’s favour was a flattering one, but nothing can be taken away from Roberto Martinez’s powers of motivation through words. A desolate run of one point from nine preceded a nervy penalty shootout win over Norwich in the League Cup, and Arouna Kone was undoubtedly one of the worst players on the pitch during that match.
What a difference five days can make – whatever Martinez said to Kone in the interim proved highly effective, as the Ivorian scored a hat trick against a side that had (just one week previously) repelled pressure extremely well in a high-stakes derby win over Newcastle.
Key Player: Arouna Kone