Brendan Rodgers confident Everton won’t roll over

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It’s been a week of speculation on Merseyside with Everton in prime position to help or hurt Liverpool’s title challenge when they host Manchester City on Saturday.

City are three points behind Liverpool with a game in hand, but crucially hold a superior goal difference. That means if Everton get a result against City, Liverpool will have regained the edge in the title race. If Everton fail, City will control their own destiny.

It’s a situation that has prompted some to speculate whether Everton would lie down against Manuel Pellegrini’s side, so as to hurt their rivals title chances. That notion was discarded by Roberto Martinez on Thursday, noting that the Toffees won’t be doing Liverpool a disservice or City a favor. Everton play every match to win, the manager noted, especially given the outside chance of nabbing fourth place from Arsenal. 

On Friday, Brendan Rodgers weighed into the discussion.

“I’ve read some bits and pieces on Everton not wanting to do Liverpool a favor. Everton, in their own right, are a great club. They’ve done really well this year, particularly at home, and they’re fighting for a Champions League position.

“They’ve got outstanding players and will be looking to get a result. We will do what we’ve always done, and concentrate on the next game. If we win our next two games, we’ll see where it takes us. Everton have their own reasons to do the job.”

So in sum, both sides will play hard and worry about themselves. But despite Rodgers’ claim that “[Everton] won’t need many more supporters than those they have” the circumstances dictate that Liverpool fans, at least for a day, have no option but to shed their red skin and join the bluenoses in the fight against City.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.