The kick-starter on Saturday features the Tottenham debut of manager Jose Mourinho, who replaces recently-sacked Mauricio Pochettino. Other than reaching the Champions League final this summer (no small feat), Poch and Spurs struggled mightily in 2019. Several mainstays — Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen — clearly didn’t want to be there, but it was fellow want-away Poch who actually beat them to the exit door.
Highlighting the direness and dourness of the situation, rather than getting a haul of moolah had he allowed Manchester United or another team to pry Poch away last year, Daniel Levy is stuck (at least for the time being) paying the remainder of Poch’s salary on top of Mou’s new astronomical one. And in a similar vein, the team didn’t get a decent return for Alderweireld, Eriksen, Rose or Vertonghen as they could have this past summer, and now will likely see them go at either an extremely reduced rate in January or for free next summer. Levy may have wanted to point the finger at Pochettino for all of the problems, but he should be looking in the mirror.
In many ways — in terms of team culture, finances, and the perceived difference in status between Mourinho and Spurs at the very least — this was a shock hire. After all, Tottenham has never won an EPL crown, and Poch failed to capture a trophy of any kind during his otherwise-successful tenure, while Mourinho’s bounty of hardware could practically fill the new stadium. On the other hand, following his most recent Premiership terms, Mou left Chelsea and Manchester United in tatters.
Now Mourinho is faced with the task of finding the right formation and players, something that Poch was unable to do this season, as evidenced by the team’s current 14th place standing. All eyes will be on the starting XI, as everyone wonders which of the Poch’s favorites will be holdovers, and who among the past regime’s second choice options Mou may turn to in hopes of bringing inspired success. What’s in store for his reign at Spurs? We’ll see starting early on Saturday!
The late game Saturday will surely have even more attention on it, with a mouth-watering match-up of Big Six teams that are actually in the top half dozen spots in the standings (unlike Manchester United and Spurs). It’s fascinating that Chelsea (3rd) finds itself above Manchester City (4th) in the standings.
I mean, if I’d told you at the beginning of the season that the team that won the league last year and got back its best player to full health (Kevin de Bruyne) would, after 12 weeks, somehow be behind the a team it was 26 points ahead of last year was under a transfer ban, saw its manager leave, sold its only superstar (Eden Hazard) and had to rely largely on youth players that had previously been out on loan, under the guidance of a novice manager who had never coached anywhere at a top level, would you have believed me? I think the answer is no. And no, I wouldn’t have believed myself either. Can’t wait to catch this one? I thought so!
While it’s a three-day weekend, things are stacked on Saturday with eight of the fixtures. But Sunday will be fun as we find out if Sheffield United is for real at Bramall Lane welcoming a Manchester United team it actually leads in the standings, and Monday is an early six pointer in the relegation battle between two teams that just got promoted this season and would love to stay up.
- West Ham v. Tottenham (early game)
- Arsenal v. Southampton
- Bournemouth v. Wolves
- Brighton v. Leicester
- Crystal Palace v. Liverpool
- Everton v. Norwich
- Watford v. Burnley
- Manchester City v. Chelsea (late game)
- Sheffield United v. Manchester United
Which games are you watching for fun? What fixtures are vital for fantasy results? Join in as the live action unfolds in real time in the comments section below!