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Premier League Preview: Rafael Benitez Faces Liverpool In Merseyside Derby, Manchester United And Arsenal Fight For Top Four

We take a look at this week's midweek matches in the Premier League as the games come thick and fast. Wednesday night's fixtures include the Merseyside derby, with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on the blue side of the city this time out. 

Another huge match this week is on Thursday between Manchester United and Arsenal face off in what's become a top four battle rather than anything more meaningful. Who will receive the bantering from rival fans?

Everton v Liverpool (Wed)

This week's Merseyside derby is even more special than normal and that is because of one man. Rafael Benitez. The Spaniard won the Champions League and FA Cup when managing Liverpool and is adored by the reds.

However in the Summer, he made a huge decision by joining the blue half of the city and became Everton manager. His life on the wrong side of the city hasn't started too brightly, as Everton find themselves in 14th, 6 points above the relegation places.

In contrast, Liverpool are playing their best football in two years and are looking unstoppable at the moment. This will be a huge challenge for the home team. Will it the most one sided derby in a long time or can Rafa work a miracle and somehow get a result?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Richarlison of Everton is challenged by Ozan Kabak of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on February 20, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Paul Ellis - Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Ellis - Pool/Getty Images)

Manchester United v Arsenal (Thu)

The top four match we have all been waiting for. Banter FC v Banter Utd. Manchester United come into this important match on the back of two surprising positive results. Despite the appointment of Ralf Rangnik, the home side will once again be led by Ole 2.0, Michael Carrick

Despite a poor performance and result against a dominant Liverpool, Arsenal were able to bounce back at the weekend against Newcastle. The visitors have been on terrific form in recent matches, apart from the humbling of course.

This game will be one to watch. It will be a tight game that is tough to predict. Two unexperienced managers trying to outdo each other tactically. Who will become favourites in the top four race?

Aston Villa v Manchester City (Wed)

Steven Gerrard has had the perfect start to his time as Aston Villa manager. His first huge obstacle however, comes tomorrow against Manchester City. The Aston Villa boss will want to win this game more than ever, as it will also help out his former team Liverpool (in which he still supports). 

Manchester City have been in decent form, however, they haven't been clinical in front of goal. This could be troubling for Pep Guardiola's team as Aston Villa have the fire power up front to punish them.

Gerrard isn't the type of manager that will sit back and allow City to play, he will have his team pressing and in the opposition faces at all times. This game has me intrigued. Can Steven Gerrard make a statement to the managerial world and beat one of the best in the world?

Watford v Chelsea (Wed)

Not a huge London derby, but a London derby nevertheless. Chelsea dominated Manchester United on Sunday but only came away with a point. They will be looking to get back to winning ways as soon as possible, but will come up against a revitalised Watford team.

Since being taken over from Caludio Ranieri, Watford have looked a different outfit. Going forward, they have looked very dangerous with the likes of Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis on top form.

Although Chelsea will be clear favourites for this match, it will not be easy for them. If Chelsea's defence have a poor game, they will be punished for it. Can Chelsea's attack help out their defence for once or will Watford's in-form players show them how to do it?

Steven Gerrard

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Newcastle v Norwich (Tue)

Two of the relegation battling teams come against each other in tonight's big match. Under Dean Smith's management, Norwich seem to be turning a corner. 

This match is huge in terms of getting a foot hold of the season for both teams. No team will want to lose this so will be going into it a bit tentative. If one were to lose this, they could be in serious trouble of going down.

Newcastle will look to use the home crowd as an advantage but could end up being an hindrance if they were to start get on the back of the home side. Who will get the vital three points?

West Ham v Brighton (Wed)

West Ham have lost 2 in a row since beating Liverpool a fortnight ago, although 1 was away to dominant Manchester City side. They will want to get back to winning ways and quick, as they can soon fall down the league table the way the Premier League can go.

Brighton have been playing well this season, but up top they have been dreadful. Countless matches they have controlled, but yet only come out with one goal or sometimes none.

David Moyes will set up to attack, but so will Graham Potter which could turn out to be a thrilling match as both managers go for the win, but whose attack will come out on top?

Southampton v Leicester (Wed)

Another interesting match amongst such a good fixture list this week. Leicester haven't yet hit the heights of last season, but still have the talent to do so.

Southampton experimented with a new formation at the weekend, unfortunately for them, they chose the wrong game to do it in and were thrashed by Liverpool.

They could yet continue with the same formation and in the end may work. Leicester will have to take advantage of that and with Brendan Rodgers in charge, they could easily out tactic the opposition. Will Southampton shoot themselves in the foot again?

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers and Youri Tielemans shake hands after the Premier League match at the Brentford Community Stadium, London.

Other Fixtures

Leeds United host Crystal Palace in a mid-table clash. (Tue)

An in form Wolves face relegation battling Burnley. (Wed)

Antonio Conte's Tottenham searching for a win against Brentford. (Wed)

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