Everton v Liverpool - Premier League

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.

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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.

Pep Guardiola: “Maybe I’m not good enough”

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Pep Guardiola has admitted he “may not be good enough” for his players at Manchester City.

Ahead of City’s clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola has been defended his squad after severe criticism from the media.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

City were hammered 4-0 at Everton last weekend, their worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever league defeat as a manager.

With plenty pointing the finger of blame at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City’s defense, their manager put himself in the firing line.

“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good? So I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and [people saying] they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them,” Guardiola said. “They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season.”

Mind games.

Guardiola, 46, is no doubt facing the biggest challenge of his season as City look to at least seal a top four spot in this his debut season in England. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has already “said goodbye to the title” and if they lose against red-hot Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium then more questions will be asked of his tactics and if they can work in the Premier League.

So far the possession-based slow build up style has been hot and cold for City, with plenty of counter-attacking teams in the PL (Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Leicester etc.) having a field day against a shaky defense.

Despite being 10 points off the pace, Guardiola is sticking by his philosophy. One thing really sticks out to me from his first few press conferences in England: “We will see if my style of play can work in the Premier League.”

So far, it’s not.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Liverpool host Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Reds aiming to stretch their unbeaten run at home in the Premier League to 18 games.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Jurgen Klopp is a little concerned with the number of games his team have had to play over the past few weeks, but a victory against the struggling Swans would momentarily move his side just four points behind leaders Chelsea who play on Sunday.

As for Swansea, new manager Paul Clement knows a win would take his team out of the relegation zone and with new signings arriving that would be a massive boost. It would also be a massive ask for the Welsh side to get anything at Anfield but this may be a good time to play Liveprool after their midweek trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton coming up on Wednesday.

In team news Liverpool start with Philippe Coutinho once again, while Joel Matip is on the bench after the Reds finally settled the dispute with Cameroon. Swansea hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Matip, Woodburn

Swansea City: Fabianski; Olsson, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Sigurdsson, Llorente, Routledge. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Amat, Fulton, Dyer, Borja, McBurnie

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.