Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Everton

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  • Everton have gone four matches without a win at St Mary’s since 2002 (D3, L1)
  • Saints have the highest average ball possession (59.5%) in the league
  • The Toffees have won 18 and lost one of the 20 league games in which they’ve opened the scoring

Southampton welcome Everton to St. Mary’s on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) as two of the Premier League’s most stylish sides collide.

Expect silky skills in abundance.

With both teams impressing throughout the PL season, they’ve definitely exceeded expectations as Saints sit in eighth spot, while Everton are in fifth with a real chance of qualifying got the UEFA Champions League by finishing in the top four.

The Toffees know they can’t come unstuck against a hugely talented Southampton side, who boast two PFA Player of the Year nominees in Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. Saints have brushed away reports that they are going to sell their best players this summer and have stated their intent to build on what will likely be their best-ever season in the Premier League.

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Everton have won eight of their last nine and are coming off the back of a hugely impressive home victory over Manchester United last time out, as Robert Martinez’s side are going all out to finish in the top four. As for Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino, his young side have being playing well without getting wins as they’re now three games without victory in the PL.

In team news Everton will be missing Kevin Mirallas who is out for the season, while Sylvain Distin is also out. As for Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin is out injured as he joins long-term absentees Jay Rodriguez, Kelvin Davis and Maya Yoshida on the treatment table.

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pochettino on facing Everton: “It’s going to be an amazing challenge because we’re going to be facing a team that’s trying to break into the top four. They’re a great side and they’re having a great end to the season as well, but we’re going to try and dominate the game and to win the game with a very good performance against them.”

Roberto Martinez on Saints’ impressive season: “It’s a team that plays with a real bravery, they condense the spaces, they press very dynamic and they have got really good quality in the young players that have been given strong roles. It’s been very impressive how they always get good performances against the top sides, especially at home. They always get good results against the top teams. I think that shows you that the team plays with incredible swagger, with incredible intelligence in the way that they are set up tactically and they make it very difficult.”

Prediction

This game should be one for the purists, with both Saints and Everton possessing a plethora of talented youngsters. The Toffees need the win more than Saints, as Martinez’s men aim to push Arsenal all the way for the final UEFA Champions League spot. That said, Saints are a dangerous team and Everton know that only too well. With plenty of injuries piling up for both teams, players on each side will be eager to prove their worth. Saints could pull off a shock here but I am going for an entertaining draw at St. Mary’s.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga