EPL Pressure Power Rankings: Van Gaal, Manchester United facing heat

Friday December 11th, 2015

After the end of the Champions League group stage this week, the Premier League is back this weekend, and the storylines are in overdrive.

Swansea City searches for a new coach after firing Garry Monk; Manchester United’s current boss, Louis van Gaal feels the heat after his side's Champions League ouster; and Jose Mourinho is breathing a bit easier after Chelsea, which still sits in 14th place in England, defeated his former side, Porto, en route to winning its Champions League group. A test against first-place Leicester City on Monday could put him and the Blues right back under the microscope, though.

Here are the latest Premier League Pressure Power Rankings as matches resume this weekend:

10
10Diego Costa
Chelsea forward

But if Mourinho wanted a reaction from the striker whom he dropped for the last two games, he got one. Costa’s movement was good, his hold-up play participated in Willian’s goal and all that was missing from his performance was a goal. He has only scored once in the last 11 games and Monday at league leader Leicester would be a fine time to start.

10Diego Costa
Chelsea forward

But if Mourinho wanted a reaction from the striker whom he dropped for the last two games, he got one. Costa’s movement was good, his hold-up play participated in Willian’s goal and all that was missing from his performance was a goal. He has only scored once in the last 11 games and Monday at league leader Leicester would be a fine time to start.

9
9Ryan Giggs
Manchester United assistant manager

It was reported Friday that Swansea might consider offering him its head coach job; would Giggs take the risk? It’s a similar situation to that of Gary Neville, his friend and business partner who just took over at Valencia (although coaching in Spain gives Neville some distance from the hyper-critical English media). Will Neville’s choice encourage Giggs to take the plunge? If the ultimate ambition is to coach United, will staying increase those chances? Can he bear to watch United playing like this for another 18 months?

9Ryan Giggs
Manchester United assistant manager

It was reported Friday that Swansea might consider offering him its head coach job; would Giggs take the risk? It’s a similar situation to that of Gary Neville, his friend and business partner who just took over at Valencia (although coaching in Spain gives Neville some distance from the hyper-critical English media). Will Neville’s choice encourage Giggs to take the plunge? If the ultimate ambition is to coach United, will staying increase those chances? Can he bear to watch United playing like this for another 18 months?

8
8Wilfried Bony
Manchester City forward

His 11 months at the Eithad have not been smooth, but there were signs the confidence is returning with a goal and some smart combination play with Raheem Sterling. If Aguero’s injury-hit campaign is to continue, then Bony needs to start winning over the doubters.

8Wilfried Bony
Manchester City forward

His 11 months at the Eithad have not been smooth, but there were signs the confidence is returning with a goal and some smart combination play with Raheem Sterling. If Aguero’s injury-hit campaign is to continue, then Bony needs to start winning over the doubters.

7
7Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager

Ranieri took that with good grace, as he usually does, but Mourinho made some unnecessarily offensive comments against the Italian during their time in Serie A (Mourinho was at Inter, Ranieri at Roma). Ranieri may have the moral high ground but Mourinho will only care about winning in Monday’s key game.

7Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager

Ranieri took that with good grace, as he usually does, but Mourinho made some unnecessarily offensive comments against the Italian during their time in Serie A (Mourinho was at Inter, Ranieri at Roma). Ranieri may have the moral high ground but Mourinho will only care about winning in Monday’s key game.

6
6Joel Campbell
Arsenal forward

Injuries have played their part–specifically with Arsenal’s midfield pair missing, and Aaron Ramsey moving to the center–but Campbell has seized his opportunity. He scored last week in the win over Sunderland and was outstanding against Olympiakos in midweek. With Theo Walcott back from injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost there, can Campbell keep his place in the side?

6Joel Campbell
Arsenal forward

Injuries have played their part–specifically with Arsenal’s midfield pair missing, and Aaron Ramsey moving to the center–but Campbell has seized his opportunity. He scored last week in the win over Sunderland and was outstanding against Olympiakos in midweek. With Theo Walcott back from injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost there, can Campbell keep his place in the side?

5
5Wayne Rooney
Manchester United forward

Van Gaal has made Rooney his leader on the pitch, but this season the faith has not been repaid. Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson wants to sign Rooney for a lucrative contract in Shanghai. That’s the least of Rooney’s issues ahead of a potential banana-skin fixture against Bournemouth Saturday.

4
4Jack Grealish
Aston Villa

“I am pleased with how Jack trained over the past two weeks,” said Garde. “Jack is back. I am happy for that–and for the team.” Now it will be up to Grealish to prove himself again. The one problem? Sunday’s visitor is in-form Arsenal, Garde’s former club.

3
3Huw Jenkins
Swansea City chairman

His next decision will be the most important: will he go back in for Gus Poyet, whom he wanted back in 2010, or make an audacious effort for a first-timer, like Dennis Bergkamp, currently a coach at Ajax, or Giggs? For Swansea, the stakes could not be higher.

3Huw Jenkins
Swansea City chairman

His next decision will be the most important: will he go back in for Gus Poyet, whom he wanted back in 2010, or make an audacious effort for a first-timer, like Dennis Bergkamp, currently a coach at Ajax, or Giggs? For Swansea, the stakes could not be higher.

2
2Christian Benteke
Liverpool

That’s not the case at Anfield and it’s a curious stat (and with a very small sample) that this season, Liverpool averages 1.1 goals per game with Benteke starting, 1.9 with him not playing and 3.2 when he comes on as a sub. With Daniel Sturridge injured again, this could be a chance for Benteke to stake his claim. Will he get it, and will he take it? Next up is West Brom on Sunday at Anfield, where Liverpool’s form has been patchy.

2Christian Benteke
Liverpool

That’s not the case at Anfield and it’s a curious stat (and with a very small sample) that this season, Liverpool averages 1.1 goals per game with Benteke starting, 1.9 with him not playing and 3.2 when he comes on as a sub. With Daniel Sturridge injured again, this could be a chance for Benteke to stake his claim. Will he get it, and will he take it? Next up is West Brom on Sunday at Anfield, where Liverpool’s form has been patchy.

1
1Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager

Blaming the season so far on bad luck and high expectations, as he did Friday, does not help. The fans have seen through the emperor’s new clothes.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.