Premier League: Carrick’s big Ronaldo decision plus Everton vs Liverpool among midweek highlights


After a busy weekend in the Premier League, we barely have time to catch our breath before another onslaught of games in the first midweek round of the season.

Spread over three nights, all 20 teams will be in action with all of the games screened live on Amazon Prime Video.

And there are certainly plenty of intriguing plot lines to look forward to, from the possibility of Ralf Rangnick’s first game as Manchester United’s interim coach, Rafa Benitez making his return to Anfield for the Merseyside derby and the season’s first ‘six-pointer’ at the bottom.

Here’s what to look out for as we embark on a packed midweek of games.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled Man United vs Arsenal at Old Trafford last season


Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to be match-winner this time – and will be furious if benched again

ALL THE MIDWEEK PL FIXTURES 

TUESDAY

Newcastle United vs Norwich City (7.30pm)

Leeds United vs Crystal Palace (8.15pm)

WEDNESDAY

Southampton vs Leicester City (7.30pm)

Watford vs Chelsea (7.30pm)

West Ham United vs Brighton and Hove Albion (7.30pm)

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Burnley (7.30pm)

Aston Villa vs Manchester City (8.15pm)

Everton vs Liverpool (8.15pm)

THURSDAY

Tottenham Hotspur vs Brentford (7.30pm)

Manchester United vs Arsenal (8.15pm)

All matches live on Amazon Prime Video

Amazon’s Premier League coverage can be streamed via their website, mobile app or through televisions or games consoles equipped with Amazon Prime Video. You can sign up to a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime here (subscription costs £7.99 a month usually). 

Carrick keeps the wheel warm for Ralf (probably)

Assuming his work permit isn’t approved in time, which now looks very much like being the case given the stricter Covid rules for travellers arriving in the UK that came into force in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Ralf Rangnick will have to wait a little longer to take charge of Manchester United.

How the table looks heading into the games

Instead, Michael Carrick will continue to act as interim manager to the interim manger when United host Arsenal on Thursday. United remain hopeful Rangnick will take over in time for Palace’s visit on Sunday.

United fans will be desperate to see the cult German manager get across the finer points of his ‘gegenpressing’ philosophy to a team currently infamous for their lack of work off the ball, but he would have had precious little time on the training ground this week anyway. 

The supporters can instead hope that the side will build on the more positive displays – and results – under Carrick over the last few days, against Villarreal and Chelsea.

Mischievous observers might suggest that Rangnick is already in charge anyway. Carrick had to deny that Rangnick had any input on his team selection or tactics at Stamford Bridge on Sunday – United insist technical director Darren Fletcher was speaking to video analysts, not the new manager, by phone from the dugout. 

Nevertheless, all eyes will be on whether Cristiano Ronaldo, so controversially dropped for last Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, is recalled. Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo stormed off down the tunnel immediately after the full-time whistle. 

Arsenal, meanwhile, eased past Newcastle on Saturday to bounce back from a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool the weekend before and move level on points with fourth-placed West Ham, three clear of Wolves. United remain a lowly eighth despite their galaxy of expensive talent.

This fixture used to be pure box office but its importance has diminished in recent years. Nonetheless, the two sides appear pretty evenly matched at the moment so it should be exciting.

New United boss Ralf Rangnick is unlikely to be in the dug-out on Thursday night due to work permit and Covid red tape, which means Michael Carrick (right) will continue as caretaker

Rafa’s feeling the heat ahead of Liverpool reunion

It’s hardly the ideal moment for Rafael Benitez to lead his Everton side into a Merseyside derby against his former club Liverpool.

The Toffees are winless in seven games and were booed off by their fans after an abject display in a 1-0 loss at Brentford on Sunday.

Liverpool, by contrast, are in sparkling form and racking up the goals for fun. Their attack is such a well-oiled machine you can really only see one outcome against an Everton side low on confidence.

And a heavy defeat to the team he managed between 2004 and 2010 will see Benitez’s job hanging by a thread with the fans quickly turning against him.

A banner in the Everton end at Brentford said fans demand ‘nothing but the best’ – a reference to the club’s Latin motto. Easier said than done against on-song local rivals.

Rafa Benitez is feeling the heat at Everton after seven winless games – now it’s the derby 

Liverpool looked in ominously impressive form again as they thrashed Southampton 4-0

The season’s first ‘six-pointer’

Too early in the season to be chatting about relegation ‘six-pointers’? Not in the case of Norwich and Newcastle as the bottom two prepare to meet on Tyneside on Tuesday night.

Newcastle may have unimaginable wealth behind them but they haven’t won a game all season and new manager Eddie Howe has a to-do list longer than a four-year-old’s letter to Santa.

If they lose to a Norwich side who have been galvanised since Dean Smith came in, they are in real danger of being cut adrift at the bottom.

Howe does his best work on the training ground but there will be no time for any of that prior to this game given a quick turnaround from the weekend.

Norwich showed greater resilience that we’re used to seeing from them in Saturday’s goalless draw against Wolves and are finally showing glimpses that they belong at this level. Now they need points on the board to prove it.

Desperate Newcastle lost at Arsenal on Saturday as they remain winless and rock bottom

Teemu Pukki rued a missed opportunity as Norwich were held goalless by Wolves on Saturday

Neither Norwich nor Newcastle will fancy losing on Tuesday night and getting cut adrift 

Chelsea looking to return to winning ways

It was two points dropped for leaders Chelsea on the balance of play against Manchester United on Sunday. With 24 shots on goal, you’d expect them to win that game 90 per cent of the time.

It allowed Manchester City, who showed a more clinical touch against West Ham, to trim Chelsea’s lead at the top to just a single point.

But Chelsea have the ideal chance to respond when they head to struggling Watford on Wednesday.

Claudio Ranieri faces another of his former clubs having suffered a 4-2 defeat at Leicester, where his side were cut apart by Jamie Vardy and James Maddison.

Thomas Tuchel’s side should have more than enough firepower to win this one and keep themselves top of the table.

Jorginho rescued a point for Chelsea against Man United on Sunday but it was two dropped

How the top six in the Premier League looks ahead of a busy fixture list this midweek

Gerrard faces tough ask to maintain winning start

With two wins from two games, managerial life in the Premier League has proved a dream so far for Steven Gerrard. Now, however, Aston Villa have to face Manchester City.

With all due respect to Brighton and Crystal Palace, the teams beaten since Gerrard took over, taking on Pep Guardiola’s champions is a whole new ball game.

City squeezed up behind leaders Chelsea on Sunday by mastering both the snowy conditions and West Ham’s game plan to win at the Etihad.

Gerrard will no doubt have something in mind to keep City at bay on Wednesday night but that really is easier said than done.

Aston Villa made it two wins from two under Steven Gerrard at Crystal Palace on Saturday

Man City got the job done in the snow as they beat West Ham to close the gap on Chelsea

Leeds vs Palace could be a classic

A Leeds United side who have looked vulnerable far too often this season against a Crystal Palace team turning into great entertainers under Patrick Vieira. It could be fun.

Marcelo Bielsa’s team are 17th and just about keeping their heads above water but they really need to start getting some wins on the board.

Palace may have lost to Villa at the weekend but there have been plenty of positive signs since Vieira took over in the summer and there’s rarely a dull moment with them.

Let’s hope for an open, exciting contest at Elland Road with Amazon giving this game star billing on Tuesday evening.

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa watches on as his side drew 0-0 at Brighton on Saturday

Leicester looking to kick on

Leicester have lacked consistency this season and certainly aren’t as difficult to beat as normal. But Brendan Rodgers will hope Sunday’s win over Watford is something of a turning point.

A Wednesday night trip to a Southampton side just thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool would appear to be the ideal chance to keep the momentum going.

Saints blow hot and cold too and their inability to push on after picking up a win explains why they’re down in 15th and looking over their shoulder.

Leicester celebrate Jamie Vardy’s goal in the snow as they beat Watford 4-2 on Sunday

Hammers clinging on to top-four spot

It didn’t quite happen for West Ham away to Man City despite a David Moyes game plan that threatened to cause the title challengers plenty of issues.

But they have the perfect chance to recover and cement their top-four status with a home match against a declining Brighton on Wednesday night.

Graham Potter’s team haven’t won in the Premier League since September 19, eight games ago, and there were jeers after Saturday’s goalless draw with Leeds.

If that is harsh on Potter, it’s certainly true that his team don’t pose the same threat they did at the beginning of the season and West Ham should capitalise.

Declan Rice can’t believe his luck as West Ham slipped to defeat at Man City on Sunday

Wolves aiming to get back to winning ways

Wolves had really looked good in recent weeks as Bruno Lage began to shape a winning team. But they were seriously underwhelming at Norwich on Saturday and should have lost.

That disappointment will all be forgotten if, as expected, they beat Burnley at Molineux on Wednesday night.

Though Sean Dyche’s team will be better rested after the postponement of their match with Spurs on Sunday, they are still in the bottom three having won just once all season and have plenty of vulnerabilities for Wolves to exploit.

Wolves striker Raul Jimenez in the thick of the action during their 0-0 at Norwich on Saturday

Will the real Spurs please stand up?

Antonio Conte’s Tottenham lurched from a passion-packed win over Leeds to a thoroughly miserable European defeat to minnows Mura in the space of five days last week.

After a wasted weekend following the Burnley blizzard, Spurs host Brentford on Thursday night in desperate need of a coherent performance.

There are so many players, not least talisman Harry Kane, who need to stand up and be counted now as Conte talked ominously about January reinforcements. There are so many in the last-chance saloon.

Across London, Brentford are loving Premier League life and returned to winning ways against Everton thanks to Ivan Toney’s unerring penalty – he’s never missed one for the Bees.

Brentford will sniff weakness and the chance to inflict another setback on Spurs.

Harry Kane cuts a dejected figure as Tottenham are stunned by minnows Mura last week



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