5 talking points ahead of the midweek Premier League fixtures
Tottenham play their first official match at their new stadium while Manchester United return to the scene of their FA Cup exit.
Liverpool’s last-gasp win over Tottenham on Sunday has threatened to take the title race right down to the wire.
Manchester City get the chance to respond in the midweek action while plenty of top managers have points to prove as they chase all-important places in next season’s Champions League.
Here Press Association Sport picks out five key talking points from the Premier League’s midweek games.
For all Pep Guardiola can talk of Manchester City’s positive mindset, we have reached that tension-filled stage of the season where cash and expectation can count for nothing. City’s clash with struggling Cardiff – raging as they are from the alleged injustices of their near-miss against Chelsea – bears all the hallmarks of an upset waiting to happen. Can City hold firm in the face of such momentous pressure?
Spurred to improve ahead of first game at new stadium
It seems a minor miracle that Tottenham still reside in the Champions League positions despite picking up just one point from their last five matches. Excitement over the club’s new ground becoming open for business seems to have deflected fears over the team’s recent form. A win against Crystal Palace in their opening game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is imperative to keep the likes of United and north London rivals Arsenal at bay.
Maurizio Sarri’s reign as Chelsea boss is surely hanging by a thread. His side got out of jail against Cardiff but the displeasure among the travelling contingent was not hard to discern. Sarri has been at a loss to diagnose his side’s low motivation levels and has reached the point where anything but three convincing points at home to Brighton on Wednesday is almost certain to hasten the end.
Molineux test for Ole’s United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer richly deserved the permanent role at Old Trafford. Yet as so often happens, confirmation of his appointment has come alongside questions about United’s recent form. Two successive defeats were snapped by a wholly unconvincing win over Watford at the weekend. The way United respond at Wolves – who deservedly knocked the Red Devils out of the FA Cup last month – will provide a big demonstration of Solskjaer’s managerial capabilities.
Many in the game have an understandable soft spot for tell-it-like-it-is types like Neil Warnock, but such fondness could be wearing thin. Warnock’s latest rant after Cardiff’s defeat to Chelsea, in which he described the officiating as “criminal” and branded Premier League officials the “worst in the world”, has seen him hit the headlines again. The authorities will surely be taking a keen interest in his future comments.