Liverpool v Everton - Premier League

Liverpool 4-0 Everton: Sturridge double seals scintillating Merseyside derby win (video)

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LIVERPOOL — One of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies in recent history saw Liverpool blow away neighbors Everton 4-0 at Anfield on a pulsating night under the floodlights at the famous old ground on Tuesday.

Steven Gerrard’s header midway through the first half gave Liverpool the breakthrough they needed after an even start to the match.

The Reds never looked back.

Daniel Sturridge then scored twice in quick succession just after the 30 minute mark, as his first was a cool finish before the England international nonchalantly lobbed Tim Howard to make it 3-0 before the break.

In the second half Everton threatened a brief comeback but Luis Suarez ran from the halfway line before slotting home to make it 4-0 in the 49th minute, and the contest was over. Sturridge missed a penalty for his hat trick and spurned several other chances as the Reds piled on the misery against an Everton side who looked shell-shocked.

With the famous win Liverpool cement their place in fourth and are just six points off top spot, with 46 points from their 23 games after their biggest win in the rivalry match since 1982. Everton stay in sixth and are now four points behind their Merseyside rivals in the race for fourth.

With the first attack of the game Ross Barkley surged forward and smashed a rasping left-footed effort just over the bar from 25-yards out. Moments later Jordan Henderson tried his luck from distance as Liverpool hit back, but the ball was palmed away by Howard.

(MORE: After dazzling win, can Liverpool make Champions League dream a reality?)

The pace of the game was intense as the rain teamed down at Anfield and playing conditions suited both sides.

In the 8th minute Suarez was thwarted by USMNT ‘keeper Howard as the Uruguayan international hit a snap shot from the edge of the box that Howard tipped wide to his left as Liverpool’s first effort came in on goal.

Liverpool had more efforts on goal, but an anxious home crowd seemed wary whenever the Toffees surged forward. But all those nerves dissipated when captain fantastic Gerrard hammered home a header from a fizzing corner from Suarez in the 21st minute to send Anfield wild. Suarez was getting lambasted by the Everton fans before taking the corner kick in front of the away supporters… but he soon had the last laugh.

Cries of “Steve Gerrard, Gerrard” rung around Anfield as the home side went 1-0 up and Everton were rocking.

Everton briefly fought back and went close on two occasions as first Gareth Bary flashed an effort wide following a goalmouth scramble and then Kevin Mirallas put a low effort just wide of the post.

source: Getty Images
Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard celebrates his opening goal as Anfield erupts.

However in the 33rd minute Sturridge slotted home coolly following a sublime through ball from Philippe Coutinho to make it 2-0.

Then two minutes later Sturridge delivered a marvelous finish for his second and Liverpool’s third, with a marvelous lob over the advancing USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard as Anfield erupted into scenes of euphoria.

Liverpool led 3-0 at half time, as Everton had one heck of a mountain to climb to salvage anything from the 222nd edition of the Merseyside derby.

But any thoughts of Everton fighting back were all but over within five minutes of the restart as Suarez intercepted Phil Jagielka on the half way line and ran over 50 yards before coolly slotting home to make it 4-0.

Cue scenes of utter jubilation from the home fans at Anfield.

Things should’ve been even more comfortable for the Reds in the 54th minute as Raheem Sterling was brought down by Howard for a penalty kick. However the ball was handed to Sturridge to secure his hat trick… but the red-hot striker smashed his effort high over the bar and into the Kop.

(MORE: Premier League Standings)

Liverpool eased into second gear for the rest of the derby, as Everton tried to get things going but were severely lacking up top after the loss of Lukaku early through injury. A barrage of corners and set pieces in the 60th minute almost saw Liverpool extend their lead as Everton somehow scrambled the ball clear on multiple occasions.

Everton had plenty of possession but just couldn’t get anything going as Liverpool’s makeshift back four of Flanagan, Skrtel, Toure and Cissokho defended resolutely.

Leon Osman made a difference in the second half but despite the Toffees best efforts, Liverpool prevailed on derby day with a massive win that made sure thier fans have bragging rights until next season.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Flanagan (Kelly, 73), Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho (Alberto, 79), Sturridge (Moses, 72), Sterling, Suarez

Goals: Gerrard (21) Sturridge (33 & 35), Suarez (49)

Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Mirallas, McCarthy, Lukaku (Naismith 24), Barry, Barkley (McGeady, 75), Pienaar (Osman, 45), Stones, Alcaraz

Watford “Behind The Badge” airs third installment; Catch up on Episode 2 here

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Catch up on Watford’s look “Behind The Badge” ahead of Sunday’s third episode of the four-part glimpse into one of the Premier League’s promoted sides.

The Hornets sit 11th, currently 7 points clear of relegation danger, and are giving fans a better idea of what’s been going on at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: Behind the Badge archive

In an exclusive series, NBC Sports followed around the Hornets in a very similar fashion to HBO’s Hard Knocks which joins the preseason camp of one NFL team each summer.

Below is the schedule for the three remaining episodes on Watford, which you can watch on NBCSN and live online via NBCSports.com in the coming weeks, plus a link to watch episode one in full from last week.


First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Embedded above
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Follow @NicholasMendola

MLS Cup Final preview: Seattle, Toronto battle subzero temps for first Cup

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley walks off the field after a training session, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Toronto, for the MLS Cup soccer championship. Toronto hosts the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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  • First MLS Cup Final for both
  • Sounders all-time 7W-2L-2T
  • TFC joined in 2007, Seattle 2009

It’ll be in the high twenties (-1 Celsius) when Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders kick off the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night in Ontario (Kickoff is Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT).

Combine the visible breath and slight chance of snow with a BMO Field which has been relentlessly loud throughut TFC’s playoff run, and we have the makings of an all-timer.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Cup roundtable ]

Toronto and Seattle met up at the same venue on July 2, the 1-1 draw perhaps a bit deflated by the absence of Clint Dempsey for Seattle and TFC’s American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

Seattle superstar Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t there, either, still weeks away from arriving from Boca Juniors.

This is the second MLS Cup Final at BMO Field, after Colorado defeated FC Dallas in 2010. TFC men Drew Moor and Clint Irwin were part of the championship-winning Rapids in that one.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris greets fans who gathered to send off the team after MLS soccer training, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders were scheduled to travel to Toronto later Wednesday to prepare to face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s Jordan Morris (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

[ MORE: PST’s Michael Bradley interview ]

Toronto will bring star power to go with a challenging formation; While accolades rightly go to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco, the Reds’ 3-5-2 under Greg Vanney features versatile wide men in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Seattle is powered through Nicolas Lodeiro, the ex-Boca Juniors playmaker who has been nearly as effective as Giovinco (albeit with a smaller MLS sample size). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the ex-TFC man, has been very good at the back, but can the Sounders’ back line handle Altidore and Giovinco?

The metronomes could be the difference. Bradley’s been good for TFC, but Osvaldo Alonso gave an MLS MVP caliber performance this season.

[ MORE: PST talks with Ozzie Alonso ]

What they’re saying

Toronto FC keeper Irwin on the weather: “It’s probably the most difficult part. As a field player, you can move around. You’re warmer, more active. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up, and I’ll stay moving back there.”

Seattle forward Jordan Morris on Lodeiro“The first thing Lodeiro said to me is, ‘When I get the ball, you just run.’ I think of him like a quarterback.”

Prediction

Look to the engine rooms here. Alonso is a handful and a magnificent passer of the ball. On his day, Bradley is even better. Will it be? Neither player will shirk from pressure. We’re thinking extra time after a 1-1 match. And Toronto’s depth and home field will propel it to a 2-1 win.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester City

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Bacary Sagna of Manchester City clears the ball from Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester City at The King Power Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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  • Man City leads all-time 53W-29D-28L
  • Leicester took 4 of 6 pts last season
  • MCFC won previous four

To cure what ails, Leicester City has to knock off one of the top contenders to its Premier League throne: Manchester City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC and NBCSports.com).

There are some advantages for Leicester, though, as Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero are suspended for their red cards picked up the loss to Chelsea. Pep Guardiola used Pablo Zabaleta next to Fernando in the UCL draw with Celtic, and looks set for the same come Saturday.

Leicester rested the majority of its starters in a 5-0 loss at Porto this week, following up a 2-1 setback at Sunderland that left the champs just two points ahead of the 18th and 19th placed clubs in the PL.

What they’re saying

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri on the task at hand: “I was waiting for a period like this. Now it’s important to react with a big effort together from the team. That is my focus now. We have to be focused on these matches until Christmas Day. We have to get points. We need points and we have to fight. This part of the season is our key moment. I think every match gives us an opportunity. We have to fight. I repeat, we have to fight.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola on Zabaleta’s positional change“But I think Pablo Zabaleta can play in the middle – he is very experienced and he can play there as he did very well against Celtic. I think in the last years of his career he’ll play more in the middle and it gives us another option.”

Prediction

As much as the injuries hurt Man City, there’s certain harm in the wounded unit that fell 3-1 to Chelsea. We believe the Foxes will strike, but Kelechi Iheanacho has proven more than a suitable fill-in for Aguero. Man City 2-1.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 15

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Week 15 of the Premier League is here.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Click play on the videos below to hear my score prediction and preview of each game.

[ VIDEO: Previews of every PL game – Week 15 ]

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 West Brom – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Liverpool 4-1 West Ham – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Leicester City 1-3 Man City – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Swansea City 2-3 Sunderland – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]

Watford 0-1 Everton – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Man United 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Hull City 2-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]