Rangnick era begins while Benitez faces big test – Premier League talking points
Manchester United begin the Ralf Rangnick era at home to Arsenal, while beleaguered Everton boss Rafael Benitez is desperate for an upturn in fortunes ahead of his first Merseyside derby against former club Liverpool.
Elsewhere, the bottom two of Newcastle and Norwich meet at St James’ Park in a significant game in the battle for survival.
Here, the PA news agency picks out some of the main talking points going into a full round of midweek Premier League fixtures.
Rangnick is a Red
Manchester United finally confirmed the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager on Monday and his first game in the United dugout could be Thursday’s visit of Arsenal, subject to work visa requirements being satisfied. After caretaker boss Michael Carrick masterminded Sunday’s credible 1-1 draw at leaders Chelsea, Rangnick inherits a team sitting eighth in the table and already 12 points off the top. Whether the German is at Old Trafford or watching from elsewhere, he will be looking for his new players to prove they are capable of cutting that sizeable deficit.
Benitez out to avoid Merseyside blues
Rafael Benitez goes into his maiden Merseyside derby as Everton boss under increased scrutiny. Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Brentford was a sixth top-flight defeat in nine games ahead of Benitez’s former club Liverpool visiting Goodison Park on Wednesday. Odds have shortened significantly on the Spaniard being the next manager to lose his job. With many Evertonians far from thrilled about his initial appointment, a setback against their fiercest rivals will pile on further pressure.
Eddie to steady sinking Newcastle?
Winless Newcastle host Norwich in an intriguing battle of the bottom two. Recently-appointed Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has not exactly enjoyed a flying start. He was unable to watch the 3-3 draw with Brentford due to catching coronavirus, before returning for a weekend loss at Arsenal which left the Magpies six points from safety. Norwich have shown signs of revival, taking seven points from the last nine available. And new Canaries boss Dean Smith will be eager to sustain his positive impact at Carrow Road and ensure the Saudi era at St James’ Park continues to flounder.
Tottenham on trial
Tottenham were denied the opportunity to immediately respond to last week’s humiliating Europa Conference League defeat to Slovenian minnows NS Mura after Sunday’s trip to Burnley was snowed off. Antonio Conte expressed some serious concerns about the strength of his squad following the embarrassing episode in Maribor. The Italian has thrown down the gauntlet for his under-performing players by suggesting they are all on trial. London rivals Brentford make the short trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday and will be out to add to Conte’s headache.
Brighton boo boys
Brighton boss Graham Potter was less than impressed with fans who booed his team at the final whistle of Saturday’s stalemate with Leeds. The misfiring Seagulls carved out numerous opportunities but were unable to prevent their winless streak stretching to eight top-flight games. Potter staunchly challenged the decision of those who jeered as he sarcastically apologised for guiding Albion to the top half of the table. Brighton head to high-flying West Ham on Wednesday and Potter will be keen to restore some harmony by grabbing an overdue victory following a host of draws and the public dispute with a relatively small section of supporters.