Last Christmas for Benitez, Rodgers?

Former Liverpool managers Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers face the axe going into the latest round of English Premier League matches.

Benitez did the unthinkable by taking over Everton earlier this season but has not been accepted by the fans.

Despite a superb start to the season that saw the Toffees collect 10 points from the opening four games, the Blues have since earned only five from the next 10.

That horrible run included the midweek 4-1 thrashing by Liverpool.

Everton’s next game is against Arsenal on Tuesday (4am), and another defeat could spell the end of Benitez’s short reign.

Rodgers led Leicester to the FA Cup last season, but the team has won once in five games.

The Foxes are still eighth in the standings, but that has not stopped the bookmakers from naming him second favourite, behind Benitez, to be sacked.

Leicester faces Aston Villa on Monday (12.30am) in an intriguing match that sees Rodgers pitted against his former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

Anything less than a victory would add to the pressure on Rodgers.

With just over a third of the season gone, six Premier League managers have lost their jobs – Xisco Munoz (Watford), Steve Bruce (Newcastle), Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham), Daniel Farke (Norwich), Dean Smith (Aston Villa) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United).

Rodgers was said to be among the possible replacements for Solskjaer, but Leicester’s bad run coincided with those rumours, and that took him out of the running.

Instead, after a slight delay over work permit issues, Ralf Rangnick will take charge of his first game when the Red Devils face Crystal Palace on Sunday (10pm).

The German is on a short-term contract, but will move into a consultancy role at the club when the season ends.

He is well-known for developing players, so perhaps United has an eye on the future.

Elsewhere, league leader Chelsea faces a sturdy examination at West Ham in tomorrow’s early kick-off (8.30pm).

The unpredictable Hammers defeated Liverpool in early November, then suffered two narrow losses to Wolves (1-0) and Manchester City (2-1), before drawing with Brighton in midweek.

It still, nonetheless, is fourth behind Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in the standings.

City travels to Watford on Sunday (1.30am), while Liverpool also plays away to Watford tomorrow (11pm).

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)

West Ham vs Chelsea (8.30pm)
Newcastle vs Burnley (11pm)
Wolves vs Liverpool (11pm)
Southampton vs Brighton (11pm)

Watford vs Manchester City (1.30am)
Leeds vs Brentford (10pm)
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace (10pm)
Tottenham vs Norwich (10pm)

Aston Villa vs Leicester (12.30am)

Everton vs Arsenal (4am)