Fifa break: A time to recuperate for English Premier League teams

NEW BROOM Claudio Ranieri needs to work a miracle to get Fulham back on form. Picture: Getty Images
NEW BROOM Claudio Ranieri needs to work a miracle to get Fulham back on form. Picture: Getty Images

The hiatus comes as massive relief for English Premier League teams as it allows time for injured players to recover and can be used to fine-tune issues on the pitch when results have not been forthcoming.

David Minchella looks at Premier League clubs and managers who may be thanking the soccer gods for the international rest period.

Fulham

Manager: Claudio Ranieri

Position: 20th

Nature of crisis: Relegation threat

The Cottagers are rock-bottom and appear to be in the kind of form that could send them straight back to the championship.

The recent sacking of Slaviša Jokanovic seemed justified, as five losses in a row in the league testify.

With 15 goals against during that period and just three scored, newly appointed former Leicester City boss Ranieri has a big challenge on his hands.

If there is a man who can save Fulham from the drop, it could be the Italian, who guided the Foxes to a league title triumph in the 2015/16 season.

And he has some weapons to work with in striker Aleksandar Mitrovic (five goals in 12 EPL appearances) and André Schürrle (four goals in 11).

After the break, they take on fellow strugglers Southampton at Craven Cottage in what is a must-win encounter.

Other sides in relegation form:

. Crystal Palace: four losses and one draw in last five – nine goals against, three goals scored; and

. Burnley: three defeats and two draws in last five – 14 goals against, three goals scored

Arsenal

Manager: Unai Emery

Position: Fifth

Nature of crisis: Injuries

HOT AND COLD After a shaky start, then a host of victories, Unai Emery’s Arsenal need consistency. Picture: Adam Davy / PA Images

The Gunners have seven first-team players struggling with injuries.

They are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (knock), Alexandre Lacazette (groin), Danny Welbeck (broken ankle), Stephan Lichtsteiner (hamstring), Nacho Monreal (hamstring), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) and Laurent Koscielny (Achilles tendon).

After an impressive start under Emery, three matches drawn in a row in the league perhaps underlines the lack of depth because of the injuries.

The break will no doubt be welcome to allow some players to return to the ranks for the clash away to Bournemouth on Sunday.

Other sides with seven players out injured:

West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United

Manager: José Mourinho

Position: Eighth

Nature of crisis: Instability surrounding the leadership of Mourinho

After the one-sided 3-1 defeat to Manchester City (one shot on target coming from Anthony Martial’s converted penalty), the Red Devils are now 12 points behind the leaders and are seemingly out of the title race after just 12 matches.

WHAT NOW? Things are not that rosy at Manchester United with José Mourinho. Picture: Matthew Peters / Getty Images

With a clear struggle between Mourinho and the club’s hierarchy over the lack of defensive signings, as well as relationship issues with key players – said to be Paul Pogba and Alexis Sánchez – the Portuguese coach is under intense pressure.

The Fifa break could be a time to mend fences and prepare for three matches in a week after the break ends – against Crystal Palace (EPL/home), Young Boys (Uefa Champions League/home) and Southampton (EPL/home).

A return to fighting for a top four spot could ease tensions at Old Trafford.

Other managers under pressure:

Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace), Sean Dyche (Burnley), Neil Warnock (Cardiff City), Mark Hughes (Southampton) and David Wagner (Huddersfield)

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