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Can Liverpool finish higher than Everton in the table?

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With a little more than a handful of games left to play in the 2012/13 Premier League season, does Liverpool have any chance of finishing higher than Everton in the table?

Some Kopites may scoff at the question as being unimportant, especially considering their ‘storied’ reputation in England. It’s an understandable position to take as it’s been yet another frustrating season for The Reds. But despite the perceived apathy the fact is, Liverpool supporters should care whether they finish above Everton or not. Any Kopite who tells you that he/she doesn’t care is either a) not a huge backer of the club, or b) chewing on sour grapes because last year – for the first time since the 2004-05 season – the Toffees finished ahead of Liverpool in the table.

So can Liverpool finish higher than Everton when the 2012/13 season comes to a close? Let’s check out the pertinents.

For Everton, they’re currently 6th in the table on 55 points, five points ahead of Liverpool with six matches remaining. The Toffees start away at 3rd place Arsenal this Tuesday before traveling up to relegation-threatened Sunderland next Saturday. Everton then welcome Fulham on April 27th before battling 7th place Liverpool in the derby one week later. David Moyes’ squad thereafter hosts 12th place West Ham on May 12th before ending their season one week later at 4th place Chelsea.

Objectively, that’s a very challenging schedule. Arsenal and Sunderland will both be difficult matches but Everton should take at least  two points away from those fixtures. Fulham and West Ham pose easier match-ups where the Toffees should little trouble taking all six points. Chelsea and Liverpool will both be hard fought contests but the Toffees should expect at least two points from those fixtures. Therefore, conservative views have Everton collecting at least 10 points in their final six matches.

Liverpool’s remaining schedule is also challenging, although slightly easier than the Toffees. The biggest issue for The Reds, however, is that they need to make up five points and have only have five games to do so. They begin next Sunday with a home match against Chelsea before heading up to 13th place Newcastle on April 27th. After the Merseyside Derby on May 5th, Brendan Rodgers’ side heads to Craven Cottage one week later before finishing the season at Anfield against QPR.

With Fulham comfortably on 40 points at 10th place and QPR wearing the relegation look-of-dread, six points should be in the bag. The clashes with Chelsea and Everton will be difficult but Liverpool should escape with anywhere from two to six points in those clashes. Newcastle will be a test but it will be one that the Reds should be up to. Thus, over the course of the next five games aggressive views have The Reds grabbing anywhere from 11 to 15 points.

So can Liverpool finish higher? At this point that appears to be highly unlikely. In fact, for Steven Gerrard & Co. to have a shot at drawing even with Everton they will have to be flawless in their final five games. Anything less than five victories will likely condemn The Reds to a second straight season of finishing behind their Blue brothers.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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