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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 26 April, 2019

Can Tottenham end woeful run and more Premier League talking points

Plus, is it time for Jose Mourinho to bring Henrikh Mkhitaryan in from the cold?

1. Can Tottenham end woeful away run against the top sides?

United Kingdom: Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

LAST WEEK’S WIN over Man United meant rivals City went 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

In that time, City have also broken the record for the most consecutive victories.

Given how Pep Guardiola’s side have been playing, it’s difficult to imagine the team suffering a dramatic collapse between now and the end of the current campaign.

Spurs, as one of the Premier League’s best teams, are conceivably well placed to threaten City’s remarkable run.

Yet recent history suggests they are unlikely to upset the Etihad outfit — under Mauricio Pochettino, they have picked up one win in 17 matches away from home against fellow ‘big six’ sides, losing 10 and drawing six of the fixtures in question.

So for many reasons, a Spurs win in Saturday’s late kick-off would be a significant upset.

2. Could Mkhitaryan return?

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s Man United career has still yet to hit the heights expected since he signed from Dortmund the summer before last.

This season, in particular, has been a frustrating one for the gifted attacking midfielder.

The Armenia international’s last Premier League start came in the 1-0 loss to Chelsea at the beginning of November.

Since then, boss Jose Mourinho appears to have lost faith in the talented 28-year-old, playing him just once off the bench in the 1-0 defeat of Brighton.

But against sides who stick 11 men behind the ball, a creative player like Mkhitaryan is surely an asset and not someone you can afford to leave out of the matchday squad.

This weekend, Man United face a West Brom team that are playing the Red Devils on the back of an impressive defensive display that saw them earn a 0-0 draw against Liverpool.

Consequently, it may be the perfect time to bring their talented playmaker in from the cold.

3. Is Klopp right to rotate?

Jurgen Klopp File Photo Source: Tim Goode

Jurgen Klopp can’t win. Last year, he was criticised for not resting players, as Liverpool began to struggle for consistency around this period.

This season, he is holding players in reserve and has received plenty of flak, particularly after they failed to get the desired results against Everton and West Brom of late.

Last January, Liverpool won only one of nine games and it seems Klopp has learned from this difficult experience.

At least one person feels the German manager is doing the right thing.

“With the way he plays, he has to rotate,” Phil Neville told Sky Sports.

“I actually agree with what he is doing. I think he did take a little bit of a risk on Sunday against Everton. They dominated the game, then Everton got the penalty and got the draw.

“Then, against West Brom, Klopp played his strongest team and they also drew. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

“In the three or four games before that when he rotated and they got good results and nobody said anything about it.

“He has to make sure that in December and January his best players are fit and ready, because if they’re not and they suffer the injuries they had last January, particularly the way that he plays, they will again have a difficult January-February.”

4. Will Burnley keep miraculous run going?

Burnley v Stoke City - Premier League - Turf Moor Source: Richard Sellers

Man City’s winning run has understandably dominated headlines in recent times.

Yet what is happening at Burnley is arguably just as impressive in its own way, if not more so.

Sean Dyche’s side were briefly in the Champions League spots in fourth place after their 1-0 victory over Stoke on Tuesday.

“I am very proud, I’m super proud… I’m the proudest man in Proudsville,” Dyche said, after another big win.

In a season where Man City’s endless riches are clearly paying dividends, it’s refreshing to see the Clarets outperforming others whose resources are far greater than their comparatively meagre funds.

What’s also encouraging from an Irish perspective is that three Boys in Green players — Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Ward and Kevin Long — started in the midweek victory, while Robbie Brady is expected to come back into the starting XI once his long-term injury clears up.

5. Morata must do better

Britain Soccer Premier League Source: Alastair Grant

Following a hugely encouraging start to the season that saw him score eight goals in nine appearances in all competitions, the goals have dried up recently for Alvaro Morata.

The Spain international has only managed three goals in his last 14 appearances, suggesting the transition to English football has not been as smooth as his form initially indicated.

Morata missed Chelsea’s convincing 3-1 win over Huddersfield on Tuesday owing to fatigue, but he is expected to come back into the team as the Blues host Southampton on Saturday afternoon.

Having comfortably claimed the Premier League title last season, Chelsea have struggled to live up to increased expectations this year and currently find themselves 14 points behind leaders Man City.

The added burden of Champions League football hasn’t helped, but the ostracisation of the talented Diego Costa as an attacking option hasn’t helped either.

Morata could certainly do with a few morale-boosting goals against the Saints to make the Brazilian-born player’s absence seem less conspicuous.

Premier League (all games kick off at 3pm unless stated otherwise)


Leicester v Crystal Palace (12.30)
Arsenal v Newcastle
Brighton v Burnley
Chelsea v Southampton
Stoke v West Ham
Watford v Huddersfield
Man City v Tottenham (17.30)


West Brom v Man United (14.15)
Bournemouth v Liverpool (16.30)


Everton v Swansea (20.00)

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Paul Fennessy

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