Everton’s Nikica Jelavic pondering his future at Goodison Park

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Is it time for Nikica Jelavic to leave Everton?

Reports claim that the striker is pondering his future at Goodison Park after being left out of the Starting XI against Spurs last weekend. In the absence of winger Steven Pienaar and forward Marouane Fellaini, Jelavic looked to be a good bet to lead the line against Tottenham but David Moyes had other ideas. The Scot instead opted for Victor Anichebe who turned out a man-of-the-match performance for the Toffees.

Arriving on Merseyside from Rangers for $8.4m (£5.5m) in January 2012, Jelavic penned a four year deal with Everton and got right down to business scoring 9 goals in 13 league appearances. He was the toast of the Toffees and a key component to the club’s dramatic Spring surge that saw them go unbeaten in their final nine league matches to finish 7th in the table.

This season, however, has been a different story for the Croatian international. Having scored just once in his last 14 appearances and only three times in his last 24 league matches, Jelavic is beginning to see his opportunities shrink. He’s been given only one start in the last three matches leading some to believe that the 27 year old may have lost his regular role to Victor Anichebe.

The hulking Anichebe, who for years struggled with injury, has begun to come into his own this season scoring seven goals and grabbing seven assists in 25 appearances. A terrific hold-up player, Anichebe excels at getting his teammates involved in the play. The Nigerian international can also be deployed on the wing although his true strength is posting up defenders in the box, spinning and finishing. He’s also developing a knack for scoring big away goals including game-winners at Swansea and Newcastle and a crucial leveller at West Ham.

Both Jelavic and Anichebe are emotional players whose form largely mimics his confidence. Right now, Anichebe has it and Jelavic does not.

This summer is guaranteed to be a tumultuous one at Goodison as Marouane Fellaini will likely be sold and Moyes may also depart the club. Given Everton’s depth issues it is unlikely that Jelavic won’t have a spot in the 2013/14 squad. Instead of pondering his future the Croatian striker would best be served by putting his nose to the grindstone for the seven remaining matches, accepting whatever role Moyes’ hands him and recapturing the form that endeared him to the Everton faithful.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Watford

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  • Chelsea are without N'Golo Kante, Victor Moses (both hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (calf) is still absent.
  • Watford remain without Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl (both thigh), plus long-term absentees Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah and Isaac Success (all knee).
  • Watford have not won against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1986, but the Hornets have won 10 points of a possible 12 on the road. 
  • Chelsea have lost three of their first eight matches this season. No team has ever lost this many of their opening eight matches and still won the Premier League title.

Watford heads south for another London derby with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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The Hornets have had an amazing start to the season and currently occupy fourth place on 15 points, two points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea, which has lost two-straight Premier League games. The Blues have struggled without N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata and there have been reports of grumbles from the squad about dissatisfaction with Antonio Conte‘s training methods, but the Chelsea coach has brushed those rumors off.

Meanwhile Watford is coming off a confidence-boosting win last weekend against fellow Londoners Arsenal, and the club is looking to take down another big club for a second-straight week.

What they’re saying

Watford manager Marco Silva on his team’s start“I want everybody to be really calm. We did really in the first eight matches but it’s too early. We want to continue to work hard every day. Everything changes fast and you need to keep going and treat the next game as the most important. But of course I feel proud.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on being under pressure: “‘Do I feel the pressure? Every manager feels pressure, but I try to give all of myself into my job, so I’m happy when I go home because I know in every moment I give all of myself for the fans, the players and the club. In football you know anything can happen, but the most important thing is to work.”

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Prediction

Chelsea has its back against the wall but the team’s overall quality should be enough to see them through with all three points against Watford. The Hornets luck runs out in Stamford Bridge as Chelsea hold on for a late win. Chelsea 2-1 Watford

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.