Premier League preview: Everton vs. Chelsea

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  • Both teams have yet to lose this season 
  • Everton have won four of the last five meetings between the sides at Goodison Park
  • Romelu Lukaku set to face his former club after record move to Everton

After opening the season with two matches against newly promoted sides, Chelsea face their first challenge of the season as they travel north to Goodison Park to take on Everton on Saturday, which can be seen live at 12:30 ET on NBC. Chelsea will look to continue their winning streak as Everton must try and recover from a tough draw against Arsenal last weekend.

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Diego Costa could be sidelined with a muscle injury

The biggest story for each side revolves around their star striker, starting with Diego Costa at Chelsea. Costa has scored twice in his first two Premier League games, and has looked like to pure striker Jose Mourinho wanted when he purchased the Spanish international this summer. But the former Atletico Madrid man suffered a “minor muscular problem” in training and his status is in doubt for the match Saturday. If Costa is not fit, Mourinho will look for other options up top. Didier Drogba could be called on to lead a Chelsea attack as he has so many times in the past, or maybe Fernando Torres will get a chance to find some minutes after Mourinho quelled rumors of a possible transfer.

For the Toffees, Romelu Lukaku will face his former club after a record transfer to Everton over the summer. The fee of £28 million made Lukaku the go-to-guy for Roberto Martinez’s side, as opposed to excess talent left on the bench at Chelsea. The big Belgian showed flashes of his brilliance last week, including a barreling run down the sideline followed by an assist on Steven Naismith’s goal, but has yet to find the score sheet himself. Nothing would be sweeter than a goal against the side that let him go.

[ RELATED: WATCH: Premier League TV Schedule — Week 3 ]

What they’re saying

Jose Mourinho on Diego Costa: “At this time I can’t say much, we’re trying everything for him to play tomorrow. He didn’t train the last two days but today [Friday] is the last day, so today we must make a decision to select him or not. He has to try a light training session to see if the reaction is positive. If the reaction is positive we take him to Everton, to play or to sit on the bench, let’s see.”

Everton boss Martinez on Romelu Lukaku facing his former club: “He wanted to play 90 minutes against Leicester [in the opener] when he was not ready and wanted to stay on with an injury against Arsenal [last Saturday] when it would be easy for him to say he wanted to be ready for Chelsea and so wait until he is 100%. He is not going through the motions, he is raising his levels.”

 Prediction

Chelsea have looked dominant in their opening matches, but have yet to face an opponent nearly as skilled as Everton. Goodison Park is never an easy place to play, and if Diego Costa can’t go, Chelsea could see some of the scoring struggles they faced last year. Lukaku scores against his former club, but Mourinho’s men stay unbeaten with a 1-1 draw.

Spanish report claims Coutinho (not Liverpool) agrees deal with Barca

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According to Sky Sports’ transfer centre, Spanish radio station RAC1 reports that Barcelona has agreed a deal with Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

The report comes on the heels of the half-hour delay of Barca’s nightly press conference, though that could be coincidental.

It also states that the agreement is between Barcelona and Coutinho, and that no fee has been agreed between Liverpool and the La Liga giants. That’s a huge obstacle, with Liverpool maintaining that no offer will work this summer, so the idea of a transfer being imminent could be beyond the pale.

[ MORE: Van Dijk to Liverpool after all? ]

A sale like this risks overturning Jurgen Klopp‘s apple cart, as the Reds boss was quoted this week as saying, “The very important message is that we are not a selling club and that’s how it is.”

Mohamed Salah is good, but he’s no Coutinho. Meanwhile, Coutinho has the potential to be as close to a like-for-like replacement for Neymar — one of the Top Five players in the world — as there is on the market.

The two clubs have done business before, and in more trying circumstances; Barcelona bought Luis Suarez from Liverpool within a month of the Uruguayan striker being banned for a biting incident at the 2014 World Cup.

A spectacular deal, Liverpool would have to make such a move this early in the summer when it can invest what would have to be a wild amount of money given the fees splashed about this transfer window.

Source close to Van Dijk expects Liverpool move within window

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It wasn’t too long ago that Liverpool apologized for its pursuit of Southampton center back Virgil Van Dijk, ending its quest for the big Dutchman.

Is it apology accepted and then some at St. Mary’s? Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol says not much has changed since the big sorry toward Anfield, but that a source close to Van Dijk expects Van Dijk will be a Red “by the end of the window.”

[ MORE: JPW’s take on the Van Dijk saga ]

That said, Sky’s report makes it unclear what’s changed to lead to such a proclamation.

There is no suggestion that Liverpool have done anything wrong since they apologised and ended their interest. Southampton’s position remains that Van Dijk is not for sale but Chelsea and Manchester City are also interested.

So… it’s happening then? Money does talk, and a massive fee from Liverpool could make Southampton’s life easier in explaining the sale to its fans. It would also mean Saints sold Van Dijk and Jose Fonte within a year. For more on the possible transfer, here’s JPW’s take.

Van Dijk averaged 1.9 tackles, 2.6 interceptions, 6.8 clearances, and 4.7 aerials won per Premier League matches last season, his second since a Summer 2015 move from Celtic.

[ MORE: Milan talk to Costa, Falcao agent ] 

Ex-Brazil midfielder Ederson says he has testicular cancer

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) One-time Brazil midfielder Ederson says he has testicular cancer and won’t be able to play for his Flamengo club for months.

The disease was detected last Saturday and he will undertake surgery on Monday, the 31-year-old footballer said in a news conference on Monday.

Ederson has played for Nice and Lyon in France, and for Lazio in Italy. He represented Brazil once in 2010, and joined Flamengo in 2015.

[ MORE: Dom Dwyer traded ]

Flamengo doctor Marcio Tannure said there was a 99 percent chance of total recovery for Ederson, who was contracted to the club to Dec. 31.

Tannure said the disease was discovered after Ederson failed doping tests after three matches of the Brazilian championship in May. The substance beta-HCG, which stimulates the production of testosterone, was discovered by medics in his urine samples.

Flamengo chairman Eduardo Bandeira de Mello said Ederson will have the club’s full support regardless of the end of his contract. He expects the midfielder to play for the Rio de Janeiro giant again.

“When we had the first news of the anti-doping we kept our full confidence in him, he is an example of an athlete,” de Mello said. The cancer was detected after blood and image exams.

[ MORE: Milan talk to Costa, Falcao agent

An emotional Ederson said he was still processing the discovery.

“I am upset, but also confident about the next days. It will be another battle and I have won a few in my life,” he said. “I am sure that I will win this one, too, to play football as soon as possible.”

Tannure said only after surgery will it be clear how serious the tumor is.

“There is a chance he will go through chemotherapy, but that depends on the biopsy. But the prospects for recovery are indeed good.”

Milan reportedly meeting with Mendes re: Costa, Sanches, Falcao

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AC Milan’s big summer could get downright massive, according to a sensational report out of Italy.

It’d be fair to assume some think it already has been, given the captures of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Franck Kessie, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, and Lucas Biglia.

Right?

[ MORE: Dom Dwyer traded ]

Well, Sky Sports in Italy is reporting that super agent Jorge Mendes is meeting with i Rossoneri regarding not one but three of his clients, each of whom is well-known by European soccer fans.

The biggest name is Diego Costa, who would likely be gone from Chelsea already if Atletico Madrid wasn’t under a transfer ban.

The report also names AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao and Bayern Munich youngster Renato Sanches, who was considered one of the top summer transfers this time last year.

The 31-year-old Falcao scored 30 goals for Moncao in his return from the Premier League, while Sanches had this to say about a potential move away from the Allianz Arena:

“I’m young, I have to play a lot. I think the chance to do so is greater in Milan than in Munich.

“I want to play more consistently and [a move to] AC Milan is a very interesting option. If the two clubs reach an agreement, I would be happy to join the Rossoneri.”

Milan is participating in the Europa League this year in addition to Serie A, and already has terrific depth to take a chance at winning both.