The Brian Under Duress (BUD) List is back for Gameweek 28 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
The Blues can count themselves fortunate to have gotten out of Goodison Park with 3 points as Everton should have had a stonewall penalty in injury-time. However, City got the all-important 3 points as they host a gargantuan Sunday showdown with arch-rivals Manchester United. Surprisingly, under Pep Guardiola, the Blues have only won 1 out of the 4 league home derbies, losing the last two! A quite surprising record given how strong City usually are at home but United do seem to have a performance in them when they show up to the Etihad. On paper, City should win as they are better than United in all areas of the pitch, but it is a derby game and as the famous saying goes “form goes out the window in a derby game”. City must win this game to keep their narrow margin ahead of Liverpool in the title race. In a game that also has huge implications for Manchester United’s top 4 ambitions, it’s set to be a cracker.
Next game: Manchester United (H)
VAR could be on the BUD List every week given the continuous errors the officials at Stockley Park make every week. I’ve put them on the BUD List this week because of the horrendous decision not to award Everton a penalty in the dying embers of their game against Manchester City. From all angles, it was a clear penalty but somehow the powers at be decided that there was not enough evidence to deduce that Rodri handballed it. The decision was so egregious that Mike Riley, head of PGMOL (the body responsible for officiating in England) personally called Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and Everton coach Frank Lampard to apologise for the mistake that could potentially cost Everton a vital point in their relegation battle. Let’s hope Mike Riley won’t have to make any more phone calls after this week’s round of fixtures.
3rd: Norwich City and Brentford
A huge blockbuster game at the bottom of the table between both these sides takes place at Carrow Road. Brentford, who were on here last week, suffered a disappointing home loss to relegation rivals Newcastle. The Bees are on a shocking run of form losing 7 out of their last 8 games. When Brentford last won a league game on the 2 Jan against Aston Villa, they were an astonishing 12 points clear of the drop. Now, that gap has been reduced to just 3 points! Norwich, on the other hand, are fighting a losing battle. It isn’t over for them just yet but they really need to win this game to give themselves a fighting chance of staying up. They currently sit bottom of the table, 5 points off Everton in 17th place, having played two games more than the Toffees! However, a win for Norwich would put them just 4 points behind Brentford with a game in hand, and given Brentford’s form, they should definitely go into this game with confidence. A draw suits neither side really so it should be an entertaining game!
Next Game: Norwich City v Brentford
2nd: Leeds United Players
A change has finally been made at Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa was sacked a few days after his Leeds’ 4-0 home defeat to Tottenham. In a game where they were 3-0 down after 27 mins, the Whites, once again, put in another shambolic defensive performance. Although Bielsa has now gone, there is no hiding that the players have let him down massively. Leeds, sit just 2 points away from the bottom three but have played a game more than Burnley who occupy the last relegation spot. Furthermore, Leeds, who have the worst defence in the division, also have the second-worst goal difference in the league which doesn’t bode well for them should final positions come down to the fine margins of goal difference. This weekend, the pressure now falls on the players as new American Head Coach Jesse Marsch takes his side to the King Power to face Leicester. Leeds really need a win but a point with an improved defensive performance would be a step in the right direction. A loss could see Leeds in the bottom three come Monday.
1st: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is going through a rough patch at the moment. Last week, he missed a great chance in the first half which would have been enough to win the game against Watford. Yes, Bruno, Pogba and Elanga also missed great chances but Ronaldo’s form has been poor for quite some time now. Since Ralf Rangnick’s arrival in December, no Premier League team has created more chances than Man United. However, due to their poor finishing, the reds are only the fifth-highest scoring team during this time. A big load of the responsibility lies heavily on the shoulders of the Portuguese star who United are depending on to lead the line every week. Currently, Ronaldo has missed the second most clear cut chances in the league this season (13) which is just two shy of Mo Salah. However, the Egyptian has 19 goals with a goal conversion rate of 25% whereas Ronaldo has only 9 goals with a conversion rate of just 16%. United’s next game is the huge Manchester Derby against rivals Man City and in a game where United can expect to have little of the ball and limited chances, Ronaldo must convert when the opportunity arises to keep United in the hunt for a top 4 spot.