Domestic football returns in England after the international break, and all eyes will be on the fortunes of the top flight’s two newest managers, Jurgen Klopp and Sam Allardyce, who will take charge of their first matches for their respective clubs Liverpool and Sunderland.
Klopp returns to management after four months on the sidelines since quitting Borussia Dortmund, whom he led to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final, whilst for Allardyce it is an opportunity to exorcise the demons that plagued his spell at West Ham – despite the positive job he did there.
There is a theory that new managers have an immediate galvanising effect on their new employers – that was certainly the case at Sunderland when Paulo Di Canio took over in 2013/14 and Dick Advocaat in 2014/15 – so both Allardyce and Klopp will be hoping they can lead their new charges to a positive result on their debuts.
This notion of the honeymoon period for new managers has even been backed up by Dutch economist Bas ter Weel, who conducted a thorough study into managerial sackings/appointments in the Eredivisie. His chart shows just how clubs improve under a new leader.
The LMA have also found in a study that a new manager brings in an average of 2.5 points in their first game in charge.
With that insight in mind, can we back Liverpool and Sunderland to bring home the bacon this weekend?
Spurs (29/20) vs Liverpool (2/1)
This encounter offers something of a dichotomy: Liverpool have won their last five Premier League clashes with Spurs; scoring three or more goals in each. And yet, Tottenham are unbeaten in their last seven games, and Mauricio Pochettino has just won the (dreaded) Manager of the Moth award. Something has got to give here.
Klopp will be missing the pair of Jordan Henderson and Danny Ings due to long-term injuries, whilst Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino are also expected to miss out. Philippe Coutinho faces a late fitness test. These are all potentially crushing blows for Liverpool.
All five of those players would play a part in the attacking third of the pitch, and with Spurs’ defence looking so resolute – they concede less than a goal per game on average, and Daniel Sturridge still feeling his way back to full fitness, the ball is certainly in Tottenham’s court.
Liverpool haven’t kept a clean sheet since August 24, and it will be interesting to see if Klopp has had enough time to stamp some trademark German efficiency into his misfiring backline. This will be music to the ears of Harry Kane, who opened his account for the season against Manchester City in that famous 4-1 win. He can be backed from 6/4 to score anytime here.
As for the match result, this really is a tough one to call given the form of the two sides and the historic dominance of Liverpool. But factoring in the Reds’ injury woes, perhaps the draw (a tempting 5/2) is the best bet.
West Brom (21/20) vs Sunderland (16/5)
Big Sam Allardyce has got a huge job on his hands with the Black Cats, and whilst a trip to the Hawthorns is not the most daunting of prospects (given other possibilities) it still presents a tough first assignment.
The Baggies have only picked up a single point from a possible 12 on home soil this term however, so there is an opportunity for Allardyce to pick up a maiden victory. The big question is whether he can cajole a winning performance from a squad so lacking in confidence.
What he will have been doing in his time with his players so far is working on their defensive shape – making them hard to beat will have been his first mission, and West Brom aren’t prolific goalscorers themselves, so, above any other bet, the Under 2.5 Goals market at 8/13 will add some great value to your accumulator.