Palace's Pardew feeling the heat
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
It took Swansea's new American owners less than three months to make their first managerial change, installing Bob Bradley in a bid to steer the club to Premier League safety.
The US businessmen in part-control of Crystal Palace have been in situ for nearly a year and now have their own coaching decision to take.
Is it time to get rid of Alan Pardew?
Pardew's position as Palace manager looks increasingly fragile, with the team losing its last six league games and conceding goals at an alarming rate. The chaotic 5-4 loss at Bradley's Swansea last weekend saw Palace at its infuriating worst, unable to defend set pieces or a lead going into injury time.
Pardew has reportedly held talks with Palace chairman Steve Parish, who along with American co-owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris will decide on the manager's future. A home loss to Southampton tomorrow could drop Palace, who are currently fourth-to-last in the standings, into the relegation zone.
"They are very patient and loyal," Pardew said two weeks ago of his American bosses, adding: "They're not looking for a short-term fix or a quick profit margin."
Yet, the statistics don't make good reading for Pardew: Palace have the worst points-per-game record of all teams in England's four leagues in 2016, has the second-worst defensive record in the Premier League (26 goals against in 13 games), and has conceded 13 goals from set pieces this season.
Pardew joined Palace in January 2015 after quitting Newcastle, where he made headlines because of his frequent flare-ups in the coaches' technical area - including head-butting an opposing player as they jostled for a ball at a throw-in. He is calmer on the touchline now, while much of the arrogance some accused Pardew of having appears to have gone.
Palace finished in a club-record 10th place in the Premier League in Pardew's first season in charge, then started last season well before a drastic dip in form saw them narrowly avoiding relegation. A run to the FA Cup final, where Palace lost to Manchester United, spared Pardew from more scrutiny.
Palace broke their transfer record twice in the offseason to sign England winger Andros Townsend and then Belgium striker Christian Benteke. Scoring hasn't been a problem for the team nicknamed "The Eagles," who are the fifth-highest scorers in the league, but they can't keep the goals out at the other end.
The loss of Pape Souare, who broke his leg in a car crash in September, has deprived Pardew of his starting left back and the coach has been unable to improve Palace's defending at set pieces even though the team is spending more time on that area on the training ground. Three of Swansea's goals came via that route last weekend.
Southampton, meanwhile, are buoyant after beating Arsenal 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the English League Cup.
Also, second-place Liverpool begin a five-week spell without playmaker Philippe Coutinho in a match at Bournemouth tomorrow when fourth-place Arsenal visit West Ham and Tottenham host Swansea.
Defending champions Leicester are two points above the bottom three going into a match at last-place Sunderland.
MANCHESTER CITY vs CHELSEA
There was no hiding Pep Guardiola's appreciation of Antonio Conte when the Manchester City manager was asked who his major coaching rivals might be in his first season in English football.
"Conte is a master tactician," Guardiola said at his presentation news conference in July. "A great signing for Chelsea."
Guardiola has been proved correct. Chelsea arrive at Etihad Stadium tomorrow in the standout game of the round in first place, and on a seven-game winning run since switching to a three-man defence.
Guardiola cannot seem to settle on his best formation, regularly switching from a four-man defence to three at the back even during games. City are third in the standings.
It should be an intriguing battle between two of the most respected tacticians in football.
EVERTON vs MANCHESTER UNITED
United captain Wayne Rooney will miss the game against his former club because of suspension after collecting his fifth booking of the season in the 4-1 win over West Ham in the League Cup on Wednesday.
Paul Pogba returns from suspension for United, however.
There could be some spikiness on the touchline, with United manager Jose Mourinho unhappy that his Everton counterpart, Ronald Koeman, has publicly said he would like to sign Rooney and fellow United player Memphis Depay.
On This Weekend
Manchester City vs Chelsea
Time: 7:30 a.m
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
Time: 10 a.m
Stoke City vs Burnley
Time: 10 a.m
Sunderland vs Leicester
Time: 10 a.m
Tottenham vs Swansea
Time: 10 a.m
West Brom vs Watford
Time: 10 a.m
West Ham vs Arsenal
Time: 12:30 a.m:
Bournemouth vs Liverpool
Time: 8:30 a.m
Everton vs Manchester United
Time: 11 a.m
Middlesbrough vs Hull City
Time: 3 p.m