Monday Manager: Talking Points

Every Monday, we review some of the key talking points from the previous round of Premier League action. This week, we look at Liverpool’s revival, Vardy’s continued excellence and the suddenly impenetrable Stoke City rearguard.

Jurgen Klopp has restored Liverpool’s swagger

It hasn’t always been pretty so far, but on Saturday evening Klopp and the Kop finally looked like a match made in heaven. Aided by some calamitous Manchester City defending, Liverpool unleashed their best performance for more than a year, destroying the champions of two seasons ago 4-1 on their own pitch.

The new manager’s decision to eschew either of his main strikers in favour of a front three of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana was made to look a stroke of genius as his side cut City apart at will. The trio linked superbly and tortured the dismal Eliaquim Mangala at every turn. The Frenchman was admittedly dire, but Liverpool deserve all the credit for taking advantage. They have now scored seven goals in a pair of away wins over last year’s top two, during their new manger’s brief time in charge. If they find consistency a return to Champions League action is not out of reach.

Vardy equals van Nistelrooy’s record

Jamie Vardy and Ruud van Nistelrooy’s paths have probably never crossed and until recently few would have had reason to mention the two in the same sentence. On Saturday, however, Vardy matched the Dutchman’s record of scoring in ten consecutive league games – a remarkable feat for anyone, much less player who is only a few seasons removed from non-league football.

Vardy will now have a chance to break the record against the club van Nistelrooy played for when setting it. His spectacular rise – which has seen him called up for England – has been one of the stories of the season and it was nice to see the man whose record he’s aiming at acknowledge his success at the weekend.

Stoke City defence suddenly looks like a Tony Pulis one

Former Stoke City manager Tony Pulis is famed for the defensive organisation with which he sets up his sides. This solidity has traditionally led to “Pulis teams” being among the leaders in clean sheets, and made his defenders very popular fantasy football options.

This year, Pulis’ West Brom side is once again near the top with six clean sheets through 13 games. However, in recent weeks his side have been over shone by his former club, Stoke City, who have crafted the best defensive record in the Premier League over the past six Gameweeks.

Under the management of Mark Hughes, Stoke have been primarily concerned with playing exciting, attractive football even at the risk of conceding more goals, so this sudden change may have slipped under the radar. However, they’ve now kept five clean sheets in six games – with young English international ‘keeper Jack Butland producing a string of quality performances. Suddenly, Stoke City defenders should be on the radar of all fantasy managers.