Roberto Martinez: Everton “fearful” in defeat to Crystal Palace

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After their shock defeat to Crystal Palace on Wednesday, Everton’s UEFA Champions League dreams now hanging in the balance with four games of the Premier League season to go.

Crystal Palace raced into a shock 2-0 lead and despite the Toffees’ best efforts, Roberto Martinez’s side saw their run of seven-straight league wins come to an abrupt end.

(MORE: Everton 2-3 Crystal Palace – Toffees’ top four hopes take huge hit)

Now they are outside the top four by one point and one place, as they’ve handed Arsenal the initiative to clinch the final UCL spot. The Gunners are unlikely to give up a chance like this, as they have a much easier run in with Hull, Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich to play.

With four games to go Everton still has a chance, but speaking to reporters after the game Martinez couldn’t hide his disappointment after a poor display.

“It’s a real disappointment, a result which is hurtful. The first half we were fearful, the way we conceded the first goal shows that,” Martinez said bluntly. “They didn’t have the threat to score three goals. We conceded bad goals. But we get ready for the next four games. We wanted to win so much that we stopped being ourselves and that is what we have to learn from. We will try and get as many points as we can, it doesn’t change anything. We have had a magnificent season and we have incredible potential in this squad.”

The Spanish manager is correct, even if Everton do succumb to a poor finish and don’t make the top four, they have exceeded everyone’s expectations this campaign. That being said, to come this close and have their destiny in their own hands but then throw it away, that hurts.

Everton have to regroup, quickly, as Manchester United head to Goodison Park on Sunday, then they play Southampton, Manchester City and Hull. The Toffees should not give up. Yet defeat at home to Crystal Palace, reinforced by a nervy and error strewn display, will leave a sour taste in the mouths of most Evertonians for the next few days, at least.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.