The Brian Under Duress (BUD) List is back for Gameweek 27 of Premier League fixtures. Every week players, teams and managers will be assessed and narrowed down to a list of 5 who I believe are under the most pressure heading into the upcoming Premier League game week. Starting off in 5th place is
5th: Manchester City
A rare sighting to behold but Pep Guardiola’s men enter the BUD List this week. Although City have won 14 out of their last 16 league games, including a 12-game winning streak. Last week’s heartbreaking late defeat to Tottenham, courtesy of a Harry Kane masterclass, has blown the title race wide open again. City’s surprise loss sees them lie just 3 points above Liverpool at the top of the league and while that is still a strong position, City still have to face Liverpool at the Etihad, where 2 out their 3 losses have come this season. City desperately need to bounce back as Liverpool are breathing heavily on their neck and anything but a win will swing the pendulum in Liverpool’s favour. This weekend, Guardiola takes his side to Liverpool’s city rivals Everton in what will be a difficult fixture as the Toffees are also desperate for a win. Neither team can really afford to drop points so it should be a cracking game.
Next Game: Everton (A)
4th: Thomas Frank
After an impressive start to their first-ever season of top-flight football, the Bees are in the midst of a very poor run of form. Thomas Frank’s men have lost 7 out of their last 8 games, with their only point coming in a stale 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace. Despite this abhorrent run, Brentford lie 4 points above Burnley who sit in the final relegation spot. However, the worrying thing is that Burnley have 3 games in hand on them. In fact, Brentford have played more games than all the 6 teams below them in the league, meaning that if results were to go against the Bees then they may find themselves in the midst of the relegation zone. This weekend’s fixture is definitely their biggest game of the season so far. They face a resurgent Newcastle side who have won 3 out of their last 4 as they are on their own quest to avoid the drop. Newcastle sit just two points below the Bees making this game ever so much more significant. A win is doubly important for Brentford as they need to end this winless run and what better way than to take points off another relegation rival.
Next Game: Newcastle (H)
After such a breathtaking performance against Leeds two weeks ago, Everton followed it up with a poor showing in a 2-0 defeat at Southampton last week. Aside from the first 20 mins, Everton were second best all over the pitch. Their poor decision making in build-up play was reminiscent of how things have panned out this season. It doesn’t get any easier for the Toffees as they line up to face reigning Premier League champions Manchester City this weekend, who will be more than fired up to avenge their disappointing loss to Tottenham. This week could not have gotten any worse for Lampard’s men as Burnley secured 2 huge back to back wins meaning the gap between Everton and the final relegation spot is just two points. Another annoyance for Everton fans is that if they beat Man City, it will unfortunately also aid their arch-rivals, Liverpool, as they close in on Man City. However, Lampard’s men must put the threat to their Premier League status first and do all they can to prevent themselves from slipping further and further into relegation territory.
Next Game: Manchester City (H)
2nd: Tottenham Players
The Tottenham players find themselves on the BUD List this week after their abject performance in their shock defeat at Burnley. The result was surprising given that just 4 days prior, those same players went to the Etihad and inflicted City’s first loss in 15 league games. However, after the result at Turf Moor, which summoned Antonio Conte’s side to their 4th defeat in 5 league games, the Italian spoke damningly of the mentality within his players, he emphasised that managers have changed but the results on the pitch remain the same. He added that the club needs to assess the situation quickly because results simply are not good enough and he won’t accept things the way they are.
If Tottenham were to drop points again at struggling Leeds on the weekend, it would all but end their slim hopes of securing that final Champions League spot. Now I don’t believe in the slightest that the Spurs hierarchy have plans to sack Conte but his post-match comments after Burnley indicated that he pretty much had enough and it almost sounded like a premature resignation. The players will have to step up and prove to Conte that they have what it takes.
Next Game: Leeds United (a)
1st: Everyone connected with Leeds United
Leeds once again are top of the BUD List this week. Everybody associated with Leeds United has to be called out. They are an absolute mess at the moment. Firstly their defence, Leeds have the worst backline in the league conceding a total of 56 goals in 25 games. In their last four matches alone, they’ve conceded 16 goals! Honestly, Leeds would struggle to defend a parked car that’s how bad it has gotten, there is no desire to follow or track their runners and there is a massive lack of defensive awareness. Secondly, Marcelo Bielsa, his inability to sort out his team’s defensive deficiencies has meant that Leeds are just about above the relegation zone. Although he is missing a key player in Kalvin Philipps, their foundation has always been leaky even with him in the side. Also, Illan Meslier is under pressure this week because he has been very disappointing between the sticks this season. Even though his protection in front of him has been appalling, his normally solid distribution has tailed off massively this season and at times it seems as if every shot he faces has a chance of going in. Finally, the chairman and owner, Andrea Radrizzani, has got to start scratching his head at potential replacement managers because something has to change and this cannot go on any longer. If Leeds are embarrassed yet again this weekend, it would not be surprising to hear that Leeds are searching for a new manager come Monday Morning.
Next Game: Tottenham (H)