SO, as the temperatures plummeted and the snow fell, things heated up in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp got overheated about refereeing decisions and over-enthusiastic celebrations, Christian Benteke upset everyone at Crystal Palace and Stoke fans ventured their fury at their players and manager Mark Hughes at Stoke-on-Trent station after the 5-1 drubbing at Tottenham.
But there is another round of midweek fixtures upon us and a chance for things to get better or worse for those in the firing line.
Is Mark Hughes facing the guillotine at Stoke?
THE angry scenes at Stoke-on-Trent station on Saturday night as Stoke’s players returned from their 5-1 thrashing at Tottenham were a strong indicator of the mood around the club. With lips loosened by drink and an afternoon in the capital, fans wouldn’t have been afraid to let the players and manager Mark Hughes know just what they thought of this latest capitulation.
For the fourth time this season, Stoke lost a match by more than three goals. 35 goals against in 16 matches is the worst in the Premier League and they have conceded at least two in ten of those 16 games, securing just three points in the process. And this is despite bringing in defenders Kevin Wimmer, Kurt Zouma and securing the permanent transfer of Bruno Martins Indi during the summer – supposedly to shore up the backline.
They are three points above the relegation zone, but there is the feeling that the other teams below them are gaining ground – if not yet in points – but psychologically. Only Arsene Wenger has been in position longer than Hughes now in the Premier League and is there a question of the Welshman outlasting his effectiveness at a mid-table club? His predecessor Tony Pulis managed five seasons before it was a time for change and it may be that Hughes’ cycle has reached its natural conclusion.
Tonight they travel to Burnley in a fixture that has taken on increased significance. A freezing cold night in East Lancashire against Sean Dyche’s hustlers will be no easy task, but Hughes desperately needs his players to show they are up for the fight.
Stat of the Day:
18 – Stoke have conceded three goals or more in 18 of their last 73 Premier League matches stretching back to New Year’s Day 2016.
Adam’s Tuesday predictions:
BURNLEY 1 STOKE 0
Mark Hughes badly needs a result, but they could become the latest victims to high-flying Burnley. Win and the Clarets go into the top four overnight.
CRYSTAL PALACE 1 WATFORD 1
Christian Benteke’s penalty miss in the last minute against Bournemouth on Saturday deprived them of two much-needed points. Roy Hodgson would love to claim a win tonight, but may have to settle for a fourth draw in a row.
HUDDERSFIELD 0 CHELSEA 2
CHELSEA can ill afford slipping up as they did at Crystal Palace and West Ham. It won’t be easy but they will get the job done this time.