Everton v Real Betis - Pre Season Friendly

Everton’s Gerard Deulofeu is “frustrated” and about to be handed his debut against Stevenage

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After a rather anemic offensive display in last weekend’s 0-0 home draw against West Bromwich Albion, Everton need some spice up top.

Enter Gerard Deulofeu, the Barcelona starlet that Roberto Martínez was lucky enough to land on a season long loan from the Catalan giants.

After featuring sparingly throughout Everton’s pre-season tour of the U.S., Deulofeu has grown “frustrated” at being relegated to the Toffees bench for the first two Premier League contests. But now, that’s all set to change as Martínez will hand the winger his competitive debut in the Capital One Cup against Stevenage on Wednesday.

More: Is Gerard Deulofeu in need of an ego adjustment? 

Martínez says Deulofeu, who scored 18 goals for Barcelona’s B team last season, needs time to adapt to British football and claims it may not be until the new year when Goodison Park witnesses the best of the 19 year old.

“He’s been frustrated so far, which I really like,” the Everton manager said. “For someone so young to feel they want to help the team is something you want to see as a manager. We need to be patient with Gerard. We will see the best of him in January or February. He’s an exciting winger. He takes people on and can play on both wings.

“He is the sort of player who can create something out of nothing but you need to remember that he is still very young and growing physically. It is also a big change from the way he [was] playing [at] Barcelona to adapting to the British game. It’s going to take a little bit of time but straight away you can see he’s got something that we haven’t got in the squad. He will be really important for us throughout the season. I have seen many crowd pleasers who do not have an end product and are not effective for the team. Gerard is a crowd pleaser with an end product.”

Martínez also spoke about the adaptation that Deulofeu must undergo from Spain to England. “For him, the biggest difference is going from a team like Barcelona who normally get so much respect that they give you 75% to 80% of possession. For a winger it is different when you play in a league which is more open and more box to box. That’s part of the adaptation for Gerard and it is nothing he can’t achieve.”

Predicting a line-up for a Capital One Cup match is never easy but it’s likely Deulofeu will be played on the left wing in place of 31 year old Steven Pienaar, who has played all 180 minutes of Everton’s first two Premier League matches.

Deulofeu could also be deployed on the right side of play, which would either displace Kevin Mirallas or send the Belgian to the left wing. Playing Deulofeu with Mirallas would seem to be a complimentary partnership given the players’ respective speed, skill and guile. With a similarly gifted Arouna Kone worked into the forward three, Martínez may be able to find an attacking combination that can put an end to the underwhelming offensive display that marred the club last Saturday.

Chicharito sidelined two weeks with muscle injury

ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 04:  Javier Hernandez of Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Olimpico Stadium on November 4, 2015 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
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Bayer Leverkusen must move forward without their top talisman as Javier Hernandez is out with a muscle injury.

The Mexican international was forced off in the second half of Leverkusen’s midweek loss to Werder Bremen in the German Cup.

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Hernandez scored in that Werder Bremen match before getting injured, as the striker has now scored a remarkable 20 goals in his last 18 appearances for Leverkusen.

With a torn muscle fiber in his left glute, Leverkusen boss Rogers Schmidt announced Chicharito could be out for two or even three weeks.

[ RELATED: Messi wins his first La Liga Player of the Month award ]

Including this weekend’s match at Darmstadt, Hernandez will likely miss both matches against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League as well as a huge Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

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  • United 6 points outside the top four
  • Sunderland winless in four
  • MUFC has one loss in 27 vs. SAFC (W20, D6, L1)

Manchester United’s uphill battle for a top-four finish continues on Saturday when the Red Devils travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

United won this fixture in September 3-0 behind goals from Memphis, Wayne Rooney, and Juan Mata.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Sunderland sit 19th on the table four points from safety as the time has come for Sam Allardyce‘s side to start getting results. Without a win in their last four matches, the Black Cats must turn things around if they want to stay up in the Premier League. Jermain Defoe scored last time out in a draw at Liverpool, and he’ll once again be tasked with finding the back of the net if Sunderland are to win.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League Picks for Week 26 ]

For Manchester United, the pressure is still on Louis Van Gaal as rumors and reports circle linking Jose Mourinho to the job. Fifth on the table and six points behind Manchester City, a top-four finish is slipping away from United if they don’t rattle off a few wins. A late goal at Chelsea last weekend cost the Red Devils all three points, but they’ll look at this matchup against Sunderland as a good opportunity to get a positive result.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “Providing chances for Jermain Defoe is critical for us. But our first major problem is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches. We need to start putting a zero against us in games and if we start doing that we’ll win more matches. If we win more matches, we’ll get out of trouble.”

United manager Louis van Gaal: “We had lost four matches in a row in December and you see us now. You can only say that we are mentally very strong and that we can cope with the pressure. That is not enough as we have to improve our results and consistency to win a lot of matches in a row. We have to minimize the gap to our competitors.”

Prediction

Sunderland need all the points they can get to try and stay up, but United always seem to cause the Black Cats problems. Jermain Defoe is kept off the board as Louis van Gaal takes the win. Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United.

Costa breaks nose, will be fit to play for “Zorro team” vs. Newcastle

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Diego Costa of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on February 7, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Chelsea striker Diego Costa broke his nose in training after a clash of heads, but should be fit to play in Saturday’s match against Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Costa has six goals in his past seven Premier League games as Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions.

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Manager Guus Hiddink spoke about the injury in his press conference on Friday, saying Costa collided with an Academy player in training. Hiddink said he believes Costa will be ready to play this weekend for his “Zorro team” as Costa joins Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, and Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea players to wear a mask this season.

It was not a tough duel but he put his nose on the back of the head of one of the youngsters from the Academy that we like to participate in our training games. He was very unlucky.

They are putting a mask on Diego as well, we are the team with a lot of masks, a Zorro team, and he will come back do some light training this afternoon as he must experience how he is dealing with the form and the fitting of the mask.

Costa scored a stoppage-time equalizer against Manchester United last weekend as Chelsea continue to get results under Guus Hiddink. The Blues are up to 13th on the table, just three points outside the top half.

[ RELATED: Frank Lampard urges Chelsea to sign John Terry ]

Chelsea will look to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches on Saturday against a Newcastle side that is just one point above the drop and in need of a result.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.