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Premier League Weekly: Can Koeman’s Everton put one over Pep and how will Bob Bradley fare at Swansea?

Pep Guardiola (left) and Ronald Koeman (PA Wire)
Pep Guardiola (left) and Ronald Koeman (PA Wire)

THERE are now less than 24 hours left before the Premier League returns and excitement is building.

Somehow, international football doesn’t quite fill the void left by the most talked about league in world football. So there will be no Gareth Southgate and Gordon Strachan chat here – that can resume in November.

For now, PREMIER LEAGUE WEEKLY looks at a battle of Barcelona legends and two Premier League pioneers.

 

Can Koeman put one over his old Barca pal?

FOR all of Pep Guardiola’s success at Barcelona, perhaps a more pivotal moment in the Catalan club’s history arrived in 1992 via the right boot of a Dutchman. It was the 112th minute of the European Cup final at Wembley, in a trophy Barca had still not won and which they had seen their eternal rivals Real Madrid win six times. Up stepped Ronald Koeman to strike an imperious free-kick to beat Sampdoria 1-0 and end that long and painful wait.

Guardiola was also part of that team and he returned to manage the club and deliver two more European Cups in 2009 and 2011. His achievements at the Nou Camp and at Bayern Munich have him feted as one of the truly great managers of modern times and much is expected from his time at Manchester City.

(Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
(Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

Koeman’s managerial path has been much more circuitous with Everton being his ninth different club. There are three Dutch titles and a couple of cups on the CV, but nothing as glittering as Guardiola’s efforts. However, his time in England has shown Koeman to be an excellent operator. Seventh and sixth place finishes at Southampton was an excellent effort, and he produced a Saints side that was well balanced at both ends of the pitch, as well as adjusting to the loss of key players in the close season.

Now he is seven games into his reign at Goodison and the early signs are promising with the Toffees fifth in the table. Summer acquisitions look good and he looks to have returned the hard edge that went missing in the latter part of Roberto Martinez’s spell at Everton.

But what would truly give Everton a boost is a notable win at one of the favourites for the title. It would show that the Merseysiders could be in the mix for a European spot, and even a Champions League place, and would underline that Koeman needs to be considered in the same bracket as the likes of Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp as one of the star managers of the current Premier League.

 

 

Player of the Day: Son Heung-Min

SON HEUNG MIN’s exploits in September saw him named as the Premier League’s Player of the Month, and rightly so. He scored four times in the league and once in Europe as Tottenham maintained their excellent start to the season. His scoring doubles at Stoke and Middlesbrough ensured tricky-looking away trips were successfully negotiated and he gave another effervescent display in the deserved win over Manchester City (albeit in October).

With Harry Kane out injured, the Korean has helped to dispel the idea that Spurs are a one-man team. Last season, Son managed four league goals and he has already matched that as he adjusts fully to his role in the team.

(Anna Gowthorpe / PA)
(Anna Gowthorpe / PA)

But his award was a landmark moment as he is the first Asian player to be given the prize. For years, the feeling has been that players from South Korea, Japan and China were here in England to sell shirts and increase revenue over in the Far East, rather than produce anything of note on the field. Son’s performances in September put an end to all that chat from his point of view.

Now, the trick is to carry on that great form. Sometimes winning a monthly prize is a curse for the next game, so let’s hope Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is not the superstitious type as he takes his side to West Brom, looking for a third away win on the spin.

 

 

Will Bradley get a fair chance to be a success?

BOB BRADLEY will achieve a Premier League first tomorrow as he becomes the first American to take charge of a team as Swansea visit Arsenal. Judging by some of the indignation since his appointment, this is a low for British football. How could a Yank who knows nothing about ‘soccer’ come into a ‘locker room’ and make any kind of impact? Whatever next – an Englishman getting a job as Head Coach in the NFL?

(Harry Trump/Getty Images)
(Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Now I am not saying that Bradley is going to rival Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho in the management stakes, but he does have substantial experience of managing teams, both at club and international level in his home country, Egypt, Norway and France. That is where he had a big advantage over Ryan Giggs, who would have been taking his first steps as a permanent manager of a club if he had been given the Swans’ job. And a relegation battle in the Premier League with the pressure of finances involved is hardly a place for a novice. An American nobody or a Welsh footballing legend – again the perception goes completely against Bradley, but somehow he has to put all that to one side and get his team to deliver.

An away game at Arsenal is not an easy start, but it is Swansea’s lucky ground. They have taken ten points out of 12 from their last four visits to the Emirates. And it’s worth remembering that when Arsene Wenger arrived on these shores 20 years ago, the Frenchman faced a similar level of scepticism as his American colleague does in 2016. So good luck Bob, there is every chance you might need it.

 

In 1960, Spurs began with 11 straight victories on their way to the League and FA Cup double (PA)
In 1960, Spurs began with 11 straight victories on their way to the League and FA Cup double (PA)

Adam’s Saturday scores

Chelsea 2 Leicester 1

Arsenal 2 Swansea 0

Bournemouth 1 Hull 0

Manchester City 2 Everton 2

Stoke 2 Sunderland 0

West Brom 1 Tottenham 2

Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 1