No win in six matches in all competitions and Guardiola is beginning to realise the task in Manchester is not easy – if he didn’t already know. Guardiola’s problem may be that rivals are well clued-up on how his teams play and will undoubtedly try to high-press his team into errors as they look to build from the back. In the past, he has always found the answers given his innovative and restless coaching style. He has to find an answer now as City’s chances of winning the title look no better than those of Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs or Chelsea.
Many in English football would love West Brom to prevail this weekend, to witness the Premier League old-timer get one over upon the serial La Liga and Bundesliga champion. It’s not, however, exclusively about a dislike of Guardiola himself, more a desire to see him forced to adapt his approach to the demands of the Premier League.
Guardiola must win this one or he himself would have no way to spin it.
Granted the Foxes have had tricky away trips to Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea, but it’s not only the fact they have lost these three games that is cause for concern, more so the 11 goals that have been shipped in the process.
The 2-1 opening day defeat to Hull City means City have lost all four games on their Premier League travels and with Spurs in form it’s going to be a big ask to snap that streak. They key to success at White Hart Lane will be using the momentum from the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace last time out as that was Leicester’s best performance of the season.
Draws at West Brom and Bournemouth in the Premier League are credible, it was a good point at Leverkusen and the EFL Cup was the least of Tottenham’s priorities. But however you look at it, Spurs are winless in four and they need to end that role quickly.
Bournemouth head into their next fixture against Middlesbrough on Saturday in superb form and the Cherries will be as confident as ever about claiming their first away win of the season. A recent 6-1 demolition of Hull City followed by a solid performance against high-flying Tottenham proves Eddie Howe’s side is more than suited for the Premier League despite fears they may fall foul to its notorious “second-season syndrome”. Bournemouth are, in short, playing outstanding football.
The Riverside Stadium is an intimidating place and if the hosts can re-find some of their form from their promotion-winning season last year, then the Cherries will have a very difficult afternoon.
The pressure is back on Alan Pardew. But his case should be helped this week by the return of Scott Dann to the side. With Liverpool looking like a side intent on pushing for a title, it’s going to be an incredible test of Palace’s defence, and one for which the side needs its best players available for. It’s unlikely that there will be any other major changes to the side, other than the potential return of Jason Puncheon, who missed the Leicester tie with a muscle strain.
Liverpool won’t be a test of the new approach at Palace but a serious challenge to it. Another defeat won’t help Pardew’s case.
Sunderland manager David Moyes is under heavy scrutiny as an atrocious start to the season threatens to become worse with Saturday’s visit from Arsenal.
Just nine Premier League games into his Stadium of Light career, David Moyes has dismayed many supporters with negative talk and negative tactics. Results have been woeful and Arsenal’s visit this weekend only points to more misery for Sunderland fans and David Moyes.
Manchester United did well to win the derby during the week but the team is still a long way from absolving themselves from that chastening defeat away at Chelsea on Sunday. A home game against Burnley looks ripe for a Manchester United spanking. They need a big win.
Mike Phelan has landed the top job he craved. Now is the time to earn his wage. The early season momentum has fizzled out and it’s difficult to see how results improve. The Frank truth is that the Hull team is a poor side and depending on which Watford teams turns up on Saturday, the Hornets should have another number in their win column.
Ronald Koeman has missed his way at Everton. A fine start to the season has dissipated into a run of winless games and a rejuvenated West Ham side would be tough to beat. Elsewhere, Conte and Chelsea will seek to beat Premier League in-form Southampton on their own patch. This should be a tough slug. Stoke City welcome Swansea on Monday night to complete this week’s round of Premier League games.