Premier League Review: Bruce and Mourinho feeling pressure after losing weekends

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce's Newcastle are just three points clear of the relegation zone

It was a bad weekend for Steve Bruce's Newcastle who are now just three points clear of the relegation zone and they lead Charlie Mullan's Premier League odds review...

"Despite having the better form, Fulham remain favourites for relegation at 2.01/1, while Newcastle can be backed at 2.767/4 to drop down into the Championship"

1) Pressure grows on Bruce as Magpies continue freefall


Just before Christmas, Newcastle were planning for a prosperous 2021 with lofty ambitions to finish in the top half of the table. Steve Bruce's job as manager looked safe with a nine-point gap between the Magpies and the bottom three.

Newcastle's 3-1 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday night left Bruce's team just three points above the relegation zone and in-form Fulham. Being embroiled in a relegation battle hardly seemed possible for the St James' Park outfit just a couple of months ago.

Since beating West Brom 2-1 on December 12, Newcastle have lost 10 of their last 14 games to place them in their precarious position. In the same period of time, Fulham have lost just three of their last 14 games to give the Cottagers genuine hope of staying up.

Despite having the better form, Fulham remain favourites for relegation at 2.01/1 while Newcastle can be backed at 2.767/4 to drop down into the Championship. More of a concern for Bruce will be his odds to be the next manager to leave his position where he can be backed at 3.6013/5.

2) Merseyside clubs battle for sixth spot


This time last season, Liverpool were cruising to their first ever Premier League title while Everton were fighting a losing battle to avoid a mid-table finish. Liverpool were 40 points clear of their Goodison Park neighbours. 

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Fast forward 12 months and both sides are currently locked on 40 points with Jurgen Klopp's side sitting one place above the Toffees who have a game in hand. But it's Carlo Ancelotti's side who are moving in the right direction.

Liverpool's drastic loss of form has seen them pick up just two wins in their last 11 games since beating Crystal Palace 7-0 at Selhurst Park when things looked rosy in the champions' garden. Their latest loss came at the hands of Everton who registered their first league win at Anfield since Kevin Campbell scored the only goal in September 1999. 

Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson wrote their name in the history of the Merseyside derby with a goal in each half for Everton to end their 21-year wait for a league win on enemy territory. It was the first time in almost 100 years that Liverpool have lost four successive home league games. 

The two Merseyside teams are locked in another battle as they set their sights on sixth spot. Everton's aims might be higher than sixth especially if they can win their game in hand. The Toffees can be backed at 3.02/1 to finish in the top six while the defending champions are 1.171/6 to claim a top six finish.

3) Villa's top six hopes hinge on Grealish

There is no doubting Jack Grealish's ability to perform at the highest level and it would not be a surprise to see Aston Villa's captain feature in this summer's European Championships for England. And his importance for Villa was highlighted on Sunday when he was unavailable for Leicester's visit to Villa Park.

Villa lost the game 2-1 without their creative skipper pulling the strings and winning vital free kicks to either release pressure in their own half or to earn a set piece in dangerous positions in the opposition's half.

Manager Dean Smith was unhappy that news of Grealish's absence was reportedly made public prior to the game and Smith hopes his talisman will be back in action sooner rather than later although some reports suggest he could be sidelined for a few weeks.

If that turns out to be the case, then Villa's hopes of a top 10 finish will be severely tested which might attract layers; Villa are currently 1.412/5 to lay.

4) Spurs slump continues a Mourinho trend


There was a time in his managerial career when Jose Mourinho could do no wrong in his second season at a club. His sides were crowned champions at Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter in his second year in charge. But second campaigns are turning from dream seasons into nightmares for the 'Special One'.

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Sacked midway through year two at both Chelsea and Manchester United - his previous two jobs, Mourinho is in danger of completing an unwanted hat-trick by losing his job at Tottenham in his second year in charge of Spurs. Five defeats in their last six league games has increased the pressure on the Portuguese manager. 

Such strife hardly seemed possible on December 16 when Tottenham topped the table before losing 2-1 at Liverpool. Just three wins in their last 13 league games have seen Spurs slip to ninth in the table and has led to more questions about Mourinho's future in north London. 

Mourinho would love to be near the top of the table instead of being near the top of the market for managers to leave their position where he can be backed at 3.65. A 4-1 Europa League win at Wolfsburg last week may buy him a little more time. But how much time will he be afforded? Spurs face Manchester City in the final of the Carabao Cup in nine weeks time. But the odds of Mourinho leading Spurs out at Wembley are not in the manager's favour.

5) West Ham's bubble shows no signs of bursting


Few would have considered David Moyes to be a serious contender for manager of the year, but after 25 games the West Ham manager is arguably the leading candidate. The Hammers climbed to fourth in the table after beating Tottenham 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium. 

This is the same team that narrowly avoided relegation last season, but this time around, they are battling it out to be one of the league's representatives in next season's Champions League.

There is still plenty of work to do before Moyes and his players can ensure their passports are in order before embarking on their first ever adventure in Europe's elite club competition. 

The next six league league games will go some way to determine if West Ham are the real deal or not. Trips to both Manchester clubs and resurgent Wolves are combined with home games against Leeds, Arsenal and Leicester. If they can come through those fixtures relatively unscathed, they will be confident of securing a top six finish where they can be backed at 2.1211/10.

English Premier League: English Premier League (Next Manager To Leave Position)

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Monday 25 January, 12.00pm

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