Can Rafa Benitez dent Man City’s title bid? – Premier League Midweek Preview

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There is a rare batch of midweek Premier League games to enjoy across the next two days, as Liverpool aim to continue their superb form.

The Reds have been afforded an 11-day break between fixtures, heading off to Dubai for a training camp last week.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men host Leicester on Wednesday night in another match they should win, but which will also act as a test of their credentials.

Elsewhere, there are nine other fixtures to look forward to, some of which affect Liverpool far more than others.

Here’s a look at what is on offer.

 

Arsenal vs. Cardiff – Tuesday, 7:45pm

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, September 2, 2018: Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Arsenal FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arsenal continue to be a strange side this season, seemingly going backwards under Unai Emery as the campaign has progressed.

Their FA Cup defeat at the hands of Man United was a low point and they need to bounce back at home to Cardiff on Tuesday evening.

While Neil Warnock’s side are a spirited bunch, the Gunners couldn’t have asked for a much kinder fixture, in terms of producing a response.

They remain strong at the Emirates, despite the United loss, and they will have too much attacking firepower for their relegation-threatened opponents.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff

 

Fulham vs. Brighton – Tuesday, 7:45pm

Brighton & Hove Albion's Pascal Gross (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images)

Fulham sit 19th in the Premier League and are in danger of going straight back down to the Championship—wins are becoming ever-more vital at this point.

They host Brighton on Tuesday, the type of fixture they simply must get three points from if they are to avoid the drop.

The Seagulls have become a savvy top-flight outfit, however, and it is easy to envisage them walking away from Craven Cottage with a win.

Should that happen, it will be another sizeable nail in Fulham’s coffin.

Prediction: Fulham 1-2 Brighton

 

Huddersfield vs. Everton – Tuesday, 7:45pm

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 28, 2018: Everton's Theo Walcott during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Everton FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Huddersfield’s fate is surely already sealed, with 10 points now separating them and 17th-placed Newcastle, as well as an inferior goal difference.

Next up is the visit of an Everton side still looking haunted by that last-gasp Divock Origi goal at Anfield last month.

Saturday’s FA Cup defeat at the hands of Millwall was an appalling result and Marco Silva now finds himself under genuine pressure.

Defeat against the worst team in the Premier League would surely see that crank up even more, but they should be too strong.

Prediction: Huddersfield 0-2 Everton

 

Wolves vs. West Ham – Tuesday, 7:45pm

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Wolverhampton Wanderers' captain Conor Coady during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As the season progresses, the more we will see mid-table clashes with not too much riding on them.

That is the case at Molineux on Tuesday as Wolves and West Ham go head-to-head, with both teams aiming for seventh place come May.

Wolves are a tough proposition at home, making them undoubted favourites, but Manuel Pellegrini will expect a response after the Hammers’ embarrassing 4-2 defeat to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

The contest will ebb and flow, but the hosts will come out on top.

Prediction: Wolves 2-1 West Ham

 

Man United vs. Burnley – Tuesday, 8pm

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Credit where it’s due, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing an excellent job at Man United, winning all eight of his matches in charge to-date.

The Norwegian has breathed new life into his team’s season and they are now eyeing up a top-four finish that looked improbable about six weeks ago.

It should be three more points to the tally this week, as a fairly lifeless Burnley side head to Old Trafford.

This would have been a potential draw when Jose Mourinho was at the helm, but things have changed, sadly.

Prediction: Man United 2-0 Burnley

 

Newcastle vs. Man City – Tuesday, 8pm – BT Sport 1

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 3, 2019: Manchester City's Fernando Luiz Roza 'Fernandinho' during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the Etihad Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rafa Benitez remains a hugely popular figure on Merseyside—and his popularity could rise further come 10pm on Tuesday night.

The Spaniard’s Newcastle team welcome Man City to St James’ Park, with Liverpool supporters sure to be glued to the action.

In truth, City are likely to be far too good for Benitez’s strugglers, but he knows how to set a team up to frustrate the opposition.

Should Newcastle take points off the champions it would give the Reds even more incentive against Leicester 24 hours later. Don’t count on it, though.

Prediction: Newcastle 0-3 Man City

 

Bournemouth vs. Chelsea – Wednesday, 7:45pm

Bournemouth's Nathaniel Clyne (Image: Mark Kerton/PA Wire. )

Chelsea have responded after a poor run, winning back-to-back domestic cup ties against Tottenham (League Cup) and Sheffield Wednesday (FA Cup).

The Blues head south to Bournemouth on Wednesday night, as new signing Gonzalo Higuain looks to hit the ground running in the Premier League.

Dean Court is rarely an easy place to go, however, and Eddie Howe’s men will fancy their chances of getting something from the game.

It could pan out as a draw, which would make the top-four tussle even tighter; just three points currently separate Chelsea, Arsenal and United.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 Chelsea

 

Southampton vs. Crystal Palace – Wednesday, 7:45pm

Southampton's Danny Ings during the Premier League match at St Mary's, Southampton (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images)

Crystal Palace showed at Anfield what a dangerous team they can be, making their current position of 14th even more unfathomable.

Admittedly, they seem to raise their game against better sides, but the quality they have means they should be a top-half outfit.

The Eagles are away to Southampton on Wednesday, with the pair level on points and looking to pull clear from the relegation fight.

Palace are superior and should come out on top, but Saints have improved under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace

 

Tottenham vs. Watford – Wednesday, 8pm

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 23, 2018: Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen celebrates scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Finishing off the action, along with Liverpool vs. Leicester, is an interesting meeting between Tottenham and Watford at Wembley.

Spurs’ season has suffered a blow in the last week, following exits in both the League Cup and FA Cup, with injuries and fatigue hitting them hard.

They must beat Watford to harbour any hopes of staying in the title race, but they will also be looking over their shoulder at those below them.

A victory would steady the ship greatly, but Watford can cause the top teams problems, as shown by their 2-1 win over Spurs earlier in the campaign.

Prediction: Tottenham 1-0 Watford

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