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West Ham 2-3 Everton: Baines’ free kicks drive Everton comeback (video)

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With West Ham having no goals since the two scored in their opening fixture against Cardiff City, and Everton having their own rough start, with just three goals to their name, it seemed unlikely that this particular match would yield much more than a few shots off target. Instead, we were treated to an impressive show, with smart substitutions from Roberto Martinez, beautiful free kicks from Leighton Baines, a West Ham penalty followed by a sending off, and a come-from-behind Everton win that puts them — temporarily at least — into fourth place.

Ravel Morrison opened the scoring with his first ever Premier League goal. The West Ham midfielder got on the end of a ball from Matthew Jarvis and took a shot from distance. The ball took a deflection off Phil Jagielka, perhaps confusing Tim Howard a bit. The shot wiggled under the diving Everton keeper to end up in the back of the net.

Martinez introduced Romelu Lukaku at the start of the second half, and the Chelsea loanee looked like he was set to prove a point. The forward had 17 goals on loan with West Brom last season, and his instant attacking run and pinpoint pass made it clear he was ready to help Everton really get their campaign off the ground. The Everton manager introduced former Wigan player James McCarthy for Steven Naismith at the same time, so when Leon Osman went down with injury in the 52nd minute, Everton were forced to cross their fingers and pray that they could get through the final 35 minutes without needing to make a substitution.

Turns out the Toffees had little to worry about. By the 60th minute, Everton had cranked up the pressure, and had West Ham panicking. The Irons were throwing every body behind the ball, trying everything to preserve the lead. It was James Collins that cracked, fouling Ross Barkley and earning himself a yellow card. The foul came in that infamous “dangerous position”, and Everton made the home side pay. Leighton Baines sent in an absolutely gorgeous free kick, curling his shot and tucking it to the top left corner.

With just under 30 minutes left to play, Everton were clearly in control, and clearly intent on finding the winner. It seemed as though they’d be the ones to take all three points, but Sam Allardyce had other plans. Immediately after the Toffees equalized, the West Ham manager introduced Mladen Petric for Modibo Maiga. The forward certainly made a difference, getting the ball down the right before slotting it in to Kevin Nolan. McCarthy panicked, kicking out at Nolan and ignoring the ball completely. The referee blew the whistle and it was Mark Noble that stepped up the take the shot. The West Ham captain put his shot low and to the left, while Howard dove the other way.

But Nolan went from hero to zero in the space of five minutes. The captain made a cynical challenge, once again on Barkley, and earned a second yellow card for his troubles. Worse, he gave Everton a free kick in almost the exact same position that Baines had scored from twenty minutes earlier. It was the defender that took the kick once again, and while Jussi Jasskelainen moved himself toward the right, this time Baines went left, and Everton had their equalizer.

That wasn’t enough for the visitors, however. Just two minutes later, Lukaku had his goal, getting his head on the end of a cross from Kevin Miralles. Everton’s joy at taking the lead was tempered by Lukaku going to ground, the result of an elbow to the back of the head. It took awhile for the forward to start moving again, but fortunately for his new side, he was eventually able to shake off the spins and rejoin his team — in time to celebrate their second win of the season.

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Rat, Collins, Reid, Noble, Morrison, Nolan (Taylor 80), Diame, Jarvis (Vaz Te 72), Maiga (Petric 63)

Substitutes not used: Adrian, Tomkins, McCartney, Collison

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Naismith (McCarthy 46), Mirallas, Osman (Oviedo 52), Barry, Barkley, Jelavic (Lukaku 46)

Substitutes not used: Robles, Heitinga, Deulofeu, Stones

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.