Lampard’s first game as Everton manager
It’s the FA Cup fourth round weekend and a bow to Everton for Frank Lampard. But arguably the biggest game is at the bottom of the Premier League.
Game to watch – Burnley v Watford
For many it will seem a shame that the biggest game of the FA Cup fourth round weekend may be a twice rescheduled Premier League clash between Burnley and Watford. But that’s where we’re at with some really tasty cup games alongside a rescheduled six relegation points.
Watford badly need Roy Hodgson to force another managerial rebound from their Hornets in their first game in charge. The match that made for Claudio Ranieri was a disheartening home defeat to Norwich which saw their best player this season sent off and the Canaries scored around a quarter of their total Premier League goals this season in one half at Vicarage Road.
At least with Hodgson, Watford and everyone knows what they’re getting. With their January signings, we’ll have to wait and find out. Only eight clubs in Europe have spent more than the Hornets, although there isn’t a minute of Premier League experience between the six newcomers – as Samir showed against Norwich.
There is no doubt Wout Weghorst will bring to Burnley. For around half the fee they received for Chris Wood, Sean Dyche signed a 6ft 6in giant to end whatever the Clarets can do for the Dutch forward and Watford’s raw defence.
It sure won’t be pretty, and it might not be entertaining, but it will be intense with the lowest prize for the loser at Turf Moor.
Six Prem clubs among the 10 biggest spenders in January…
Manager to watch – Frank Lampard
Deadline day did little to lift the spirits of many Premier League clubs, but Everton are a much windier place after the announcement of a new manager and some top signings.
Unfortunately for Lampard, the new boss will have to be without Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek when Brentford come to Goodison Park in the FA Cup fourth round after the pair’s former bosses used the final round to give them one game too much. rare. time.
Lampard must therefore listen to players who have shown little interest in playing for Rafael Benitez, and while the will was there for Duncan Ferguson’s only game as caretaker boss, the quality was still lacking. It wasn’t just Rafa or Big Dunc – the Everton side, in their various guises, have underperformed for too many managers now.
What more can Lampard offer than its predecessors? Well, not being Benitez is a start. Beyond that, we have to wait and see. For Lampard and Everton, their rapprochement is a bet. A run in the FA Cup would be an easy way to defeat his doubters and with 11 winners’ medals between him and new assistant Ashley Cole, at least it’s a competition they know how to thrive in.
Team to Watch – Kidderminster Harriers
On FA Cup weekend we are morally bound to mention the minnows; no team in the fourth round is as small as Kiddie.
The Harriers host the Hammers in a clash between the third-placed National League North side and one of the Premier League’s Champions League hopefuls. It’s a dream match for the hosts – especially manager Russ Penn who said of David Moyes ‘he would have been top of the list for any manager to come in for the day’ – but for Moyes a trip in Aggborough on Saturday lunchtime is a mission he would probably have preferred to avoid.
Davids Gold and Sullivan will certainly have shivered in the draw, having had the painful experience of losing a cup tie against Kidderminster when they owned Birmingham in 1994. Harriers’ journey that year ended in the hands of West Ham, who did a professional job to win 1-0 over Kiddie’s cowfield thanks to Lee Chapman’s goal. The current Hammers, in the Europa League round of 16, will have to seize the opportunity in the same way or risk being left out of a competition they have no reason to be wary of.
Player to Watch – Dejan Kulusevski
Only one of Tottenham’s new signings is set to line up alongside Antonio Conte against Brighton on Saturday night, with Rodrigo Bentancur slightly behind Kulusevski in the process of getting a work permit and meeting his new team-mates.
Kulusevski will have a few days of training behind him this weekend and Conte must be tempted to get the Swede straight into action, given how long he’s been waiting to work with the striker.
Conte tried to sign Kulusevski when he was Inter manager, but the then teenager opted to join Juventus instead. There, his progress somewhat stalled. The former 2019/20 Serie A best young player has started just five league games for Juve this season, with neither Andrea Pirlo nor Max Allegri looking as convinced of Kulusevski as Conte appears to be.
Against Brighton, we might get a clue as to what role Conte has in mind for the 21-year-old. Kulusevski can play on the flank or as a No.10, but Conte’s preference for wingers means we’re likely to see the new boy more centrally.
Kulusevski is one of the few deadline day signings who could feature this weekend. Newcastle are out of action and the Everton pair are level in the Cup, while Christian Eriksen won’t be rushed on his Brentford debut at Goodison.
He’s here and he’s perfect. pic.twitter.com/cvTFK02CeF
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 3, 2022
European game to watch – Inter v AC Milan
There are humdingers on the mainland this weekend. In Germany, Bayern take on RB Leipzig on Saturday night, while second-placed Borussia Dortmund host third-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. Meanwhile in Spain, Barcelona’s new signings make their fresh start against Atletico Madrid.
But Europe’s biggest game this weekend is in Milan, with the derby kicking off at 5pm on Saturday.
Inter, the “hosts” of the San Siro, top the Serie A table, four points clear of Napoli and Milan. Moving seven points ahead of their roommates could well end the Rossoneri’s realistic title hopes for another year.
Too bad the San Siro is limited to half capacity. And for those watching in England, let’s just hope nothing interesting happens in the first quarter of an hour, because the 3pm blackout rule means we won’t be able to see any games until 5.15pm. But as the warm-ups go for Burnley against Watford, five-sixths in the Derby della Madonnina will certainly do the trick.
EFL game to watch – Blackburn v Swansea
If you’re not craving the best that Italy has to offer on Saturday night, maybe you’ll be tempted by something a little more championship?
Blackburn will face Swansea in the EFL evening bid, with the two sides heading in opposite directions.
Rovers occupy one of the automatic promotion spots, while Swansea hover three spots above the drop zone, putting Russell Martin under pressure to prioritize substance over style.