We’re about to enter another darn international break, and while for some Premier League sides a bit of time out of the spotlight can’t come soon enough, for others the halting of their momentum is a real nuisance.
That’s certainly the case for Tottenham and in particular Harry Kane, who are simply marching on at present. Kane’s brace against Huddersfield brought his goal tally to an incredible 13 in September!
For some clubs, the two-week break is an interesting time for an all-together different reason. Those in charge have a decision to make: do they stick with their current under-fire managers, or bring in a new man and let them take advantage of the extra week to work with their players? It’s a conundrum, and it’s one that will cause a few sleepless nights for some of the current top flight chiefs, that’s for sure.
So who were the weekend’s winners and losers in the Premier League?
Winner: Mauricio Pochettino
It must be a wonderful feeling as a manager when you have a striker who is scoring goals with his right foot, left foot and with his head, and who shows no signs of slowing down either.
That’s how Mauricio Pochettino must be feeling about Harry Kane right now, with the powerful frontman conjuring goals seemingly out of thin air at times. The Argentine will now have fingers, toes and everything else for that matter crossed that his prize asset returns from international duty in good health.
To play devil’s advocate, Pochettino must also be wondering what happens if Kane does stop scoring – how will his side fare then? That will be a mild concern for the Lilywhites, but for now they can enjoy the fruits of the England man’s labour.
Loser: Craig Shakespeare
One of those managers who must be feeling the strain of the international break is Craig Shakespeare, who is overseeing a Leicester side that has regresses of late to the standards that almost saw them relegated from the top flight during the season prior to their (even now) unbelievable title reign.
As is so often the case with caretaker managers, Shakespeare had overseen a upturn in Leicester’s fortunes after taking over from Claudio Ranieri last term, but the honeymoon period is now well and truly over.
Yes, the Foxes have endured a tough fixture list, but the abject nature of their performances away from home at Huddersfield and Bournemouth – recording just two shots on target in a pair of fixtures they really ought to be winning – suggests there’s more to the East Midlanders’ poor form than just pure bad luck with their schedule.
Shakespeare will now be on tenterhooks as the club’s Thai owners ponder a way out of the gloom.
Winner: Roy Hodgson
W0 D0 L7 GF0 GA17 – at face value there doesn’t seem to be much for Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace fans to smile about right now, so some time away from the media glare will surely do them good.
A run of fixtures including Liverpool and both Manchester sides away from home hasn’t helped, but now Hodgson has a fortnight to instil his footballing philosophy in his players – for better or worse – ahead of a schedule that includes Chelsea at home and Tottenham away (nobody said this Premier League lark was easy!).
At least Hodgson can rest easy that he won’t be getting sacked….for now, at least.
Winner: Marouane Fellaini
The burly Belgian is a much-maligned figure in English football, but he once again proved his worth to Manchester United with a brace in their 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.
From his gangly frame to the bizarre afro perched atop his head, Fellaini looks more like a Harlem Globetrotter than a top flight footballer, and his physical style does not suit everyone.
But Jose Mourinho is a fan, and we know that he has full belief in his own opinions. “I always trusted Marouane since day one and try to give him confidence and show him how useful he is for the team,” he told the BBC.
“Sometimes we like players others don’t like. Some players perform better with some of us [managers] than with others and I have examples of players that didn’t perform well for me and then performed well for other managers.
“I think Marouane has important qualities and I try to use them depending on the situation and what they team needs.”
Loser: Charlie Austin
Sometimes, when a new manager comes in, he won’t always take a liking to certain players.
That appears to be the case at Southampton with Mauricio Pellegrino, who clearly is not a fan of the ‘old-fashioned English centre forward’ – a role played out by Charlie Austin.
He was on the fringes of the England set-up until injury derailed his 2016/17 campaign, and despite working his way back to full fitness he is yet to get a look-in at the Saints this term.
He’s played just 61 minutes this term – all miniature cameos from the bench, and given that Southampton have failed to score in four of their seven outings this term it’s a huge surprise that a natural goal-grabber like Austin hasn’t featured more.
No doubt he has been on the phone to his agent already ahead of the January transfer window….