Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Liverpool

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  • This fixture has produced more red cards than any other PL game (20)
  • Everton have won just one of last 13 Merseyside derbies (W1, D5, L7)
  • Tim Howard will start his 272nd Premier League game for Everton, a club record

This game doesn’t need much hype, but after both Everton and Liverpool have enjoyed successful starts to the 2013-14 season… expect an extra spice to adorn this Merseyside derby.

It’s Blue vs. Red, second vs. sixth and bragging right are on the line.

Two old foes will battle it out at Goodison on Saturday, (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45am ET and live online via NBC Sports Live Extra) as a clash of style, panache and skill will likely descend into an all out brawl.

Everton are desperate to get a stranglehold on the derby after winning just one of the last 13 league meetings between the two sides. Roberto Martinez has brought a different style of play to the Toffees and they look organized and extremely solid, as they previously did under David Moyes. In Romelu Lukaku, the Toffees have a game-changer and his personal battle with Kolo Toure will be just one of a number of intriguing match ups.

source:
Which manager will grab a derby win? Rodgers or Martinez?

As for Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers’ side sit second in the table but just three points ahead of their no so friendly neighbors Everton. A great start has continued but a disappointing display against Arsenal a few weeks back has left plenty of doubt surrounding Liverpool’s top four credentials.

(Exclusive: Tim Howard on Everton vs. Liverpool – ‘We’ll be heroes if we win’)

The Reds will always play attractive soccer under Rodgers after he fostered that style at Swansea after Everton’s manager Martinez laid the foundations for the Swans while they were in the Championship. In many respects the two managers who will square off on Saturday share the same soccer philosophy.

But they’ll be hoping they come out on top to send their fans home happy and with local bragging rights for the foreseeable future.

Injury wise Everton are fighting fit and have no fresh concerns, while Liverpool will be without left back Jose Enrique but Daniel Sturridge is set to shake off the numerous thigh and hamstring issues he has been suffering from.

What they’re saying

Roberto Martinez on the successful strike partnership of Suarez and Sturridge: “They have had a very good start to the season, they are very influential in their team. From that partnership up front, they have got a real goalscoring threat. You do see why Liverpool have been successful this season, it is not an accident. I do feel they are a strong side. But as a team, you are always used to coping with threats of the opposition. It is more about what we can do and how we can perform in the derby rather than being worried about what the opposition can bring.”

Brendan Rodgers on the nasty atmosphere his side will face: “It’s a really hostile environment to go and play in, but our players coped with it brilliantly. It’s a real good venue for football and it’s a ground that will test your character. But that’s something we will look forward to, because, if there’s one thing that we’ve improved in the time that I’ve been here, is there’s resilience in the team.”

Prediction

Liverpool are in second place and working hard to try and chase down Arsenal at the top of the table. Their dominance in the Merseyside derby against Everton in recent years has seen them become the undisputed kings of the city, however with Roberto Martinez Toffees’ knowing a win could put them level on points with their illustrious neighbors, expect Everton and the vibrant home crowd to be fired up. The Toffees are great at the back and I think both teams will cancel each other and a draw will prevail.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”

Boa Esporte goalkeeper back to prison as murder appeal denied

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The risk clearly wasn’t worth it for Boa Esporte.

The Brazilian club signed Bruno Fernandes de Souza in March, not long after the convicted murderer and goalkeeper was released from prison on appeal.

Fernandes, 32, had been jailed for ordering the murder of a lover, who was fed to dogs by the killer. Boa Esporte lost several big sponsors for signing him, but vocally defended the move.

The owner, Rone Moraes da Costa, said he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to revive his career. Fernandes admitted his mistakes but said he wasn’t “a bad guy”.

According to the Associated Press:

“Brazil’s Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to deny an appeal to Boa Esporte goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was released in March while appealing a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of Eliza Samudio.”

So it’s back to jail for Fernandes, and we’ll be waiting with baited breath to hear from Boa Esporte’s owner.

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

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Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

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“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”