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Premier League preview: Six talking points ahead of the midweek fixtures

Each week we preview the Premier League action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points.

The midweek action brings a huge clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield, the North-West giants colliding with both teams in need of three points to boost their ambitions.

 

There’s an all-London affair as Chelsea take on Arsenal on Wednesday evening, with the Gunners looking to bounce back from a run of three consecutive defeats and keep their Champions League hopes alive.

Elsewhere struggling Everton and Burnley are in action, league leaders Manchester City face Brighton, and Newcastle meet Crystal Palace at St James’ Park.

Ahead of the midweek action we look at six Premier League talking points.

Lessons learned from Old Trafford annihilation?

Manchester United travel to face Liverpool on Tuesday evening in a huge match-up between the great rivals and English football’s most successful sides.

Whilst Liverpool are in pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies this season, it’s been a disappointing campaign for the Red Devils who are fifth and facing a fight to secure a top four finish.

The previous meeting saw Liverpool humiliate United to win 5-0 away from home, a humbling that stunned the hosts and contributed to the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ralf Rangnick has shown only modest improvement since taking charge on an interim basis and he will hope lessons have been learned from their disastrous display at Old Trafford, in which Liverpool scythed though their defensive lines at will.

United, however, face an uphill task with a host of senior names absent, including Cristiano Ronaldo who has been granted compassionate leave after the tragic death of his baby son this week.

Home comforts can aid Everton’s survival fight

Everton return to action against Leicester on Wednesday evening after a weekend off, hoping to continue the momentum gained from the club’s 1-0 win over Manchester United last time out.

Anthony Gordon’s deflected strike secured a second successive home win for the Toffees, who moved three points clear of the relegation places with a game in hand on 18th-place Burnley.

Everton have won just eight league fixtures this season, though seven of those have come at Goodison Park and Frank Lampard will be hoping his team can use the home crowd to their advantage against the Foxes this week.

Leicester have been poor travellers in recent weeks and have won just one of their last eight on the road, with only Everton themselves having taken less points in away games over the same timeframe.

Confidence increased after beating Manchester United and with additional days of preparation and recovery, the game with Leicester shapes as one Everton should be targeting three points from.

Arsenal’s Champions League chase fading fast

Arsenal are down to sixth after losing three consecutive Premier League fixtures and a run of momentum that had looked set to end the Gunners’ Champions League exile has shuddered to a stop.

Mikel Arteta’s side lost 1-0 to Southampton at the weekend with Fraser Forster in inspired form to frustrate the North Londoners, who need a response ahead of a massive clash with Chelsea across the capital.

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Arsenal were well beaten in the reverse fixture early in the season, but had won the previous three against Chelsea in a sequence that will increase optimism.

Thomas Tuchel’s team have also been in ordinary form at Stamford Bridge this season, having won just 50% of their home games in the Premier League to compile just the eighth-best record in the division.

Consecutive losses to Brentford and Real Madrid on home soil have also exposed vulnerabilities in Chelsea, weaknesses that Arsenal will hope to exploit as the Gunners look to regroup.

‘Frustrated’ Gallagher to be unleashed at Newcastle

Thomas Tuchel discussed Conor Gallagher’s frustrations after he was sidelined for Crystal Palace’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, with the on-loan midfielder unable to face his parent side at Wembley under the terms of his loan agreement.

It was a cruel absence for Gallagher who has been pivotal to Palace’s successes this season and the 22-year-old will be raring to return when the Eagles face Newcastle on Wednesday.

Patrick Vieira’s team will hope to bounce back from successive losses and push towards the Premier League’s top half, against a Newcastle side level on points with Palace after a late win over Leicester last weekend.

Both teams have been tipped for relegation at differing stages of this season, but a win this week will propel either side closer to a top 10 finish. Current form would favour Newcastle, who have won five in a row at St James’ Park.

Brighton out to upset another one of England’s elite

Brighton have returned to form with consecutive away wins in North London, beating both Arsenal and Tottenham in recent weeks to continue their upsetting of the Premier League’s top teams this season.

Graham Potter’s side have now taken points away from home against five of the Premier League’s current top seven, ahead of a trip to face the league leaders in Manchester City.

City’s hopes of a treble ended after an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool on Saturday, as an understrength side were well beaten at Wembley.

Guardiola’s gamble on his team selection came with no room for error in the title race, and City could kick off against Brighton in second place with Liverpool facing Manchester United a day earlier.

City are without a win in three games in all competitions and will hope to rediscover their groove when the Seagulls arrive at the Etihad.

Hasenhuttl to continue with tactical tweak?

Changes were needed at Southampton after a torrid run of form, a five-game winless run that finished with a 6-0 home thrashing to Chelsea.

Ralph Hasenhuttl looked to solidify his side with a change of shape last weekend, moving to a wing-back system with three central defenders for the 1-0 win over Arsenal.

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A clean sheet and three points could see Hasenhuttl continue with the formation as the Saints travel to face Burnley this week, looking to improve on a record that has seen them win just one of their last eight visits to Turf Moor.

Burnley – under the interim management of under-23 manager Mike Jackson – will hope that Wout Weghorst’s goal at West Ham can be the kick-start of a run of form for the forward, who has netted just twice in 13 league appearances since being parachuted in from Wolfsburg to aid the club’s survival fight.

Read – Five of the best Liverpool vs Manchester United goals

Read Also – Iconic Performances: Forlan secures place in Man United folklore with Anfield double

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