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Defeat would push Rodgers closer to Anfield exit

Dead man walking: Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers

Apparently, Brendan Rodgers was “delighted” with the penalty shoot-out win over Carlisle United on Wednesday.

So “delighted”, in fact, he sent out coach Gary McAllister, a man who wears the permanently bemused look of someone who’s endured one too many of Rodgers’s tactics board sessions, out to face the media.

McAllister at least spared fans the manager’s usual guff of phrases like “outstanding”, “rebuilding”, “project” and “did you notice the 2-3-1-3-1 formation I’ve devised”.

All this, of course, wouldn’t matter if the team were winning or at least playing with a sense of purpose and clarity.

They aren’t and there is an undeniable sense that after more than three years — including an exhilarating second-place finish two seasons ago let’s not forget — Rodgers is approaching the end.

Defeat at home to Aston Villa would push him even closer to the exit door.

Tomorrow’s games

11am kick-off unless stated

Tottenham Hotspur v Man City


Spurs have been solid not spectacular this season and are still waiting for Harry Kane to get back in the goals. He’s getting closer.

Sadly for them, City, despite the defeat to West Ham that saw them pepper their opponents’ goal without finding the net, have a wealth of attacking riches.

Prediction: 1-2

Leicester City v Arsenal

The only unbeaten team in the division will relish this chance to ruffle the Londoners’ feathers. Expect goals and, after the derby win in midweek, a pumped up Arsenal.

Prediction: 2-3

Liverpool v Aston Villa

No Christian Benteke for the home side and this is a must-win game after no victory in four league games. The Kop is getting restless.

Villa are struggling themselves but can draw on the FA Cup semi-final victory last season for confidence.

Prediction: 1-0

Manchester United v Sunderland

It would take a performance of Japan proportions for Sunderland to get anything at Old Trafford. Anthony Martial already looks like he is more than just potential and could — let’s be honest, should — make it four straight goalscoring performances.

Prediction: 4-0

Southampton v Swansea City

Mutual respect abounds between these two clubs both intent of going about things the “right way”. Swansea have stuttered of late while Saints bagged six in midweek.

Prediction: 1-1

Stoke City v Bournemouth

Stoke are yet to win in the league despite the recruitment drive in the summer, while Bournemouth appear dangerous with the likes of Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie adapting well to the top flight.

Prediction: 2-2

West Ham United v Norwich City

West Ham at home are a different prospect than when they hit the road. With this in mind, and Norwich looking far from the pushovers some forecast, Alex Neil’s side have a real chance, providing they keep Dimitri Payet quiet.

Prediction: 2-1

Newcastle United v Chelsea


Three goals, no wins and a Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday has destroyed any optimism that had seeped back into St James’ Park. Steve McClaren is in dire need of a result.

He will at least take on a Chelsea side without Diego Costa, who begins his retrospective three-match ban for his Arsenal shenanigans.

Newcastle have won their past three home games against Chelsea in all competitions. That, surely, means nothing.

Predictions: 0-3

Sunday’s game

Watford v Crystal Palace


Striker Odion Ighalo has to be in contention for many people’s fantasy team after Watford’s recent two wins. Like Norwich, they are clearly no pushovers and have the cool figure of Quique Sánchez Flores at the helm. Palace are decent away, though, and were not as outplayed as some reported at Spurs.

Prediction: 1-1

Monday’s game

West Bromwich Albion v Everton


WBA have forgiven Saido Berahino, which is nice. He can now concentrate on being a player who is actually worth $20 million. Everton, with Ross Barkley in menacing form, are the ones to beat here.

Prediction: 0-1