With each passing week of the Premier League season we learn a little more about the clubs and players battling it out for glory and those destined for heartbreak. After another action-packed set of fixtures, what did we learn this week?
Sack Race Hots Up in Time for Christmas
The festive period is a time for giving, and with the yuletide just around the corner it remains to be seen how many chairmen will be giving their clubs’ fans the gift of a new manager.
With a seeming trail of goodwill surrounding Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge at the moment, report suggest that Garry Monk is the next manager facing the chop. His Swansea side have now lost five of their last eight games (including defeats to the likes of Norwich, Stoke and Watford), and with the international break upon us a new manager would have a full fortnight to work with his new charges.
At odds of 1/2, a decision on Monk’s future looks imminent.
Surprise Inclusions in England’s Euro’16 Squad?
Perhaps it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise given their current form, but the trio of Jack Butland, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard look good value bets to make England’s squad for the European Championships next summer.
Despite his Stoke City side’s inconsistencies, Butland has been a revelation in the sticks for the Potteries club. He boasts a higher ‘saves to shots’ ratio than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League, and with three clean sheets in his last five appearances you could make a claim that the 22-year-old is alone in keeping Stoke out of the relegation mire at the moment. With three keepers selected in international squads, he looks a shoe-in at 2/11.
Dele Alli has taken to life in England’s top flight like a duck to water following his transfer from MK Dons to Spurs, and the manner in which he patrolled the midfield in yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal suggests that England have another precocious midfield talent ready to step up to the plate. He looks great value at 7/4 to be on the plane to France.
Despite being at Manchester United for what feels like an eternity, it is only this season that Jesse Lingard has rose to prominence under Louis Van Gaal. Starting on the left-hand side – a problem area for England – he set up Wayne Rooney’s winning goal and earned the man-of-the-match award in the Champions League win over CSKA Moscow in midweek, and followed that up by getting on the scoresheet himself in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over WBA.
A late bloomer then, and a strong candidate for Euro ’16 inclusion.
Vardy is the Real Deal
Another player who won’t be booking a holiday for next summer is Jamie Vardy, who bagged his 12th goal in as many games against Watford on Saturday.
The Leicester frontman is now six goals clear of Sergio Aguero in the race for the Golden Boot and five ahead of nearest rivals Odion Ighalo and Romelu Lukaku. He is the bookmakers’ favourite at 3/1, and even accounting for a likely lean spell he looks red hot value given his lead over Aguero and the attacking nature of Leicester’s game.
For anyone thinking that Chelsea’s current woes are just a short-term blip, think again. This is a club in dire straits, and no PR wizardry or ‘positive speak’ from Jose Mourinho can deny that.
Four defeats in five games is relegation form, and whilst it would be frivolous to suggest that the Blues are viable candidates for the trapdoor, they are slowly but surely getting cast adrift from the top half of the table.
They are six points behind Liverpool in tenth, and a whopping 13 points behind Manchester United in fourth. Whichever way you sit on the fence, there is plenty of value to be had in backing Chelsea to go from title winners to also rans: 1/3 to miss out on a top four place, 9/1 to finish in the bottom half.
It’s been said before, and no doubt it will be said again soon too: Olivier Giroud cost Arsenal the game yesterday. His profligacy in front of goal – he again missed two gilt-edged chances – resulted in a draw being snatched from the jaws of victory; despite Spurs taking the lead.
His supporters will argue that a return of six goals in twelve games isn’t catastrophic, but when you have the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla pulling the strings, that goals-to-game ratio needs to be higher if the Gunners are to ever seriously contend for the Premier League title.
When the transfer betting markets open up in conjunction with January’s window, keep an eye on the prices for the troubled Karim Benzema making his long-awaited move to the Emirates.