Tuchel needs Lukaku back again, Klopp will be praying Henderson’s injury is not serious after ANOTHER midfield blow and Guardiola needs to squeeze more out of £100m Grealish – What the top Premier League bosses want during the international break
- Premier League managers are getting a brief break due to international football
- But this time is spent meticulously planning for when the top stars head back
- Thomas Tuchel is counting down the minutes until Romelu Lukaku is fit again
- Jurgen Klopp will be furious that Jordan Henderson has returned injured
As the Premier League fades away for two weeks to accommodate the international break, many people might think that this is a prime time for managers to put their feet up and take a brief pause… however, they would be wrong.
The international break is often a time of high stress, of waiting games and endless hours poring over plans for the return.
The November break sees managers stripped of their elite stars ahead of the hectic and frenetic festive run-in, and this time of year sees plans often disrupted more than at any other.
Top bosses can find themselves fretting over injuries, plotting major overhauls or relying on key personnel to finally start firing on all cylinders.
So what do the bosses of the high-flying and biggest clubs want to achieve upon the resumption of action? Sportsmail takes a look at what is top of their wish-lists…
Thomas Tuchel needs his record signing Romelu Lukaku back fit and spearheading the side
Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea
Starting with the league leaders, things are looking rosy for Blues boss Tuchel.
After a stunning first season – which involved taking over halfway through the campaign and still managing to win the Champions League – he finds himself sitting pretty at the top.
Things are clicking into place nicely but an injury to £98million record signing Romelu Lukaku is a growing concern.
Tuchel is still in the process of fine-tuning his side and embedding the principles of pressing, ball retention and facilitating Lukaku in the final third.
This will become an issue, however, if the big Belgian doesn’t regain fitness quickly.
Lukaku has been out since being withdrawn against Malmo in the Champions League on October 21, along with fellow striker Timo Werner.
Tuchel is targeting a return for both stars – but particularly Lukaku – by the time domestic action resumes.
He told reporters: ‘I am not a friend of deadlines and not putting pressure.
‘Both of them have a new target and that target is after the national break. This is what they aim for, what we aim for.’
City have shown flashes of brilliance this season yet it still feels like they could, by their own lofty standards, be offering much more.
A burning concern for Guardiola will be the unfolding situation with Jack Grealish.
The midfielder has returned to his club from international duty with an injury to be assessed and is still yet to burst fully into life this season.
Is the former Aston Villa talisman playing badly? Not at all. Is he, however, meeting the billing of a £100m British transfer record player? Not yet.
Grealish is still finding his feet at the Etihad and has one goal and two assists in nine Premier League matches.
Jack Grealish is yet to fully look like the £100m British record signing which City made
In four Champions League showings, he has one goal and one assist.
It takes time, of course, but Guardiola will be feeling like he can extract much more from Grealish very quickly. The 26-year-old has after all played in top-flight English football for several years now.
In recent weeks Guardiola has been seen bellowing at the silky playmaker from the touchline, gesticulating wildly and attempting to mould him into position.
It would take a brave man to say that Grealish won’t cut it at the Etihad, given the talent he has in abundance. Nevertheless, expect Guardiola to be working on a specific development plan for his No 10 while the international break is ticking over.
Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool
Losing his first game of the season immediately before his players headed off for the international break was far from ideal.
Yet for Klopp it isn’t simply a case of getting his men back and having them all in the correct mindset… it’s also a waiting game of high stakes, or a spin on the injury roulette wheel.
Just as last season the German found his defensive line slowly hacked away by various injuries and ailments, a similar situation is threatening to unfold in the midfield this time around, and it has just deteriorated further with the news that Jordan Henderson has returned early to have an injury assessed by club medical staff.
In recent weeks Klopp has lost each of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara, James Milner, Curtis Jones and Naby Keita. Harvey Elliott has also been sidelined for the long haul following a nasty ankle dislocation.
Jurgen Klopp once again finds himself battling with a gradually mounting injury list this season
Some players have come back in, others have recovered and found themselves immediately crocked again.
It’s a vicious cycle and one Klopp could certainly do without.
Liverpool may have been flying this season but in many games the balance of the side has looked ever so slightly off. Thankfully for the Reds this has been often combatted by the brilliance of Mohamed Salah and the relentless scoring of the forward line, but against West Ham they came undone.
The reason for said unbalance isn’t easy to pinpoint exactly, though it would be a very strong case to argue that this is due to an ever rotating midfield and the lack of fluency this brings.
Henderson has been a dependable presence so Klopp and Liverpool fans will be praying his latest setback is not serious.
Liverpool do have Thiago on the cusp of a full return, and local lad Jones has sat out the international break in order to heal up but the situation is far from ideal.
Mikel Arteta – Arsenal
After what was a torrid start to the season, Arteta is slowly but surely finding his groove.
The Spaniard has definitely benefitted from having the spotlight taken off him, given the managerial carnage that has been unfolding in recent weeks.
At one stage, not all that long ago, Arteta found himself alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the weekly public grillings, with various sections of the fanbase demanding his exit.
Now, with focus having been piled more heavily on Solskjaer’s United meltdown, along with Nuno Espirito Santo’s sacking at Tottenham and Steve Bruce, Dean Smith and Daniel Farke losing their jobs, Arteta has breathed a sigh of relief and gone about his work.
Mikel Arteta started to turn things around at Arsenal but must avoid burning his starlets out
The wins have started to roll in for Arsenal as a result, and at the heart of the current success is the Spaniard’s coaching and utilisation of his young guns.
Emile Smith Rowe has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in the country and been rewarded with a senior England call-up as a result.
Likewise, Bukayo Saka continues to blaze a trail for the Gunners and even the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who had a rather public spat with the club in summer, has been reintegrated into the squad and is picking up Man of the Match awards.
This is all fine and well, but Arteta will be acutely aware that is it merely early days and that the tide can still turn rapidly.
Going forward, at the very top of his wish-list will be the health and form of his prized starlets.
They are driving the Gunners to good places right now, but it is on Arteta to use them wisely and avoid the looming threat of potential burnout, particularly with a jammed festive period on the horizon.
Antonio Conte – Tottenham
The fiery Italian is back and he’s taking no prisoners.
Conte has his work cut out to turn around fortunes at Tottenham, given the meek start to the season the club produced under Nuno.
In his first days as manager Conte inspired confidence on the training ground by telling his new charges he would be instilling a winning mentality into them… but only if they bought into his methods with absolute commitment.
Now, before anything else, his most pressing concern will undoubtedly be Harry Kane.
Antonio Conte has myriad issues to sort at Tottenham but getting Harry Kane firing is priority
In the England captain Conte has been handed one of the most prolific strikers on the planet – yet one who appears to have lost his way following a messy summer of transfer unrest.
His failed move to City took something out of Kane for sure, and the out-of-sorts forward has only one goal and one assist in 10 Premier League matches. It’s November now and this is very, very unlike him.
The 28-year-old was said to have been boosted when he learned of the news that Conte was taking over, but now he must step up to the plate for the new boss.
Conte has worked with some of the biggest names to have ever graced the beautiful game, so whipping Kane into shape should be no bother at all.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Man United
We are collating a list of the league’s top managers and teams here, so it’s fair to say many people may consider the under-fire Solskjaer something of an outsider.
Nonetheless, he’s still in the hot seat at Old Trafford and tasked with guiding one of the most famous football clubs on the planet to greater heights.
Solskjaer needs a lot of things right now, the list would almost be endless. The rot appears to have set in and United are getting found out whenever they play a side of serious standing.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperately needs his team to find some cohesion and form of identity
Ultimately the Norwegian is searching for a hearty dose of cohesion, for his star-studded side to begin pulling together as one and regain some semblance of identity.
United’s collective work-rate has been widely slammed this season and the statistics make for grim reading. The club are bottom of most charts when it comes to final-third presses and distance covered, but something needs to click in order to gain a balance.
Solskjaer must work alongside his coaching staff during the break to recompose and identify a working method for how United can harry opponents while crafting breakaway opportunities for the homecoming hero Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese ace has already proven his finishing is as sharp as ever with his seamless transition back to Premier League football… but he must be better accommodated going forward.
David Moyes – West Ham
Ok, so West Ham United do not make up the ‘traditional top six’ which this article looks into, however it would be remiss to overlook the Premier League’s top performing manager right now.
This is no flash in the pan for the Hammers; Moyes has been overseeing a quiet revolution since last season.
His side leapfrogged Liverpool with their more than convincing win at the London Stadium on Sunday and now Moyes only really requires one key thing: consistency.
West Ham are hitting all the right notes for David Moyes and are rising up the league table
The Hammers are doing the basics well and they’re doing them often. Star men such as Declan Rice are performing out of their skin, to the point where John Terry labelled him ‘the best in the world’ in his position right now.
Given how dazzling West Ham have been of late Moyes won’t exactly be asking for much else from his squad other than to keep up the fine work – but a tightening up at the back may well be on his mind.
The Hammers have been getting the business done, yet in their last three matches five goals have been shipped.
Get that addressed and Moyes could be looking at something very special indeed this season.
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