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Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Everton

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  • Arsenal won 5-2 at Everton on Oct. 22
  • Everton last won at Arsenal in Jan. 1996
  • Arsenal leads all-time 104W-45D-60L

Arsenal’s newly-flipped squad hosts hopeful Everton as the marquee match-up of Saturday’s Premier League action at 12:30 p.m. ET (Watch live on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Theo Walcott returns to Arsenal for the first time since Everton bought him, bringing the fine form of a brace against Leicester City.

“He’ll be doing the team talk tomorrow,” said Everton boss Sam Allardyce. “I think he is looking forward to it. I am sure he will get a good reception when he goes back to the Emirates considering the time he spent there.

“Everyone can understand why he has left because now he has the opportunity to be one of the key players for Everton now. I think he saw that was going to be the case (for Arsenal) last season when he played 30-plus games and scored 19 goals. Then all of a sudden this season that hasn’t been the case, but he can be a pivotal figure for us in the future. Hopefully he can go and perform as well as he did on Wednesday night.”

Having passed one big test with that win over the Foxes, Allardyce hopes to prove himself as capable of leading Everton higher up the table with a trip to the Emirates Stadium.

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan will start while Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang and Jack Wilshere are both hopeful of playing despite sickness.

Allardyce says Eliaquim Mangala, on loan from Man City, could play down the left for Everton.

The Toffees are now eight points clear of the drop zone and 11 behind sixth place Arsenal, who themselves have slipped eight points behind the Top Four.

What they’re saying

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger on Mesut Ozil’s new deal“He has committed his future to the club in a period where we are in a trick position on that front, in qualifying for the Champions League. You expect that he becomes the leader and takes the responsibility to lead the team to success.”

Everton’s Michael Keane on building on Leicester win““It’s a big confidence boost. It was a massive game against Leicester because we had to get ourselves away from the pack behind us, as they were creeping up on us. We feel we can go to Arsenal and play with a bit more freedom. We will go there to win the game and there is no reason why we can’t. Swansea showed this week that Arsenal can be beaten. We will go there confident after Wednesday and hopefully we can pick up some points.”

Prediction

Walcott gets involved in an Everton goal, but so does Mkhitaryan. It finishes 2-2.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.

Scholes: Pogba didn’t earn Man United spot in 2012 before Juve stint

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Paul Pogba‘s young career has been bright, but a former Manchester United legend suggests that there was a time where the Frenchman struggled to find his way at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup quarters

The 24-year-old Pogba is now in his second stint with the Red Devils, after spending four seasons in Italy with giants Juventus.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes says though that back in 2012 — prior to Pogba’s move to Juve — that the physical player wasn’t pleased with the fact that he wasn’t getting regular minutes with the first team.

“Ferguson wanted me initially to come back and coach the reserve team with Warren Joyce,” he told BT Sport. “I said in September I’d come back. So I started helping Joycey, and I was training with the reserves.

“I was training every day with the likes of Pogba, Lingard, all these types of players. They were a really good side and I was really enjoying training. I was getting fit, I felt great, and it got to December time and the team was struggling a bit.

“They had a load of injuries, no central midfield players were fit. They ended up playing Phil Jones and Fabio da Silva in central midfield in a game against Blackburn at Old Trafford.

“Funnily enough that was the end of Pogba, because he thought he should have been playing instead of them. But he wasn’t doing well enough.”

Scholes, who had retired briefly in 2011, came back after just six months for the Red Devils, and ended up playing a year-and-a-half more following the decision to end his playing career.

It is widely believed that Pogba’s decision to head to Juventus was largely due to the impact of Scholes in the United squad.

Video: Rochdale puts Tottenham on upset alert at the half

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It’s been a tremendous season for Ian Henderson, particularly in the FA Cup, and now he and his side are one half away from upsetting one of the Premier League giants.

Henderson’s finish on the brink of halftime has put League One side Rochdale up 1-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, as the minnows aim to become the first non-PL side to advance to the quarterfinals in this season’s tournament.

A sloppy giveaway from Spurs near midfield created the attack for the hosts, and allowed Rochdale to capitalize on one of its few attacks during the opening stanza.

Benfica routs Boavista 4-0 to take lead in Portugal

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Benfica routed Boavista 4-0 to move ahead of FC Porto at the top of the Portuguese league on Saturday.

Benfica is one point in front of Porto, which has two games to play.

[ MORE: Man United gets Brighton in FA Cup quarters, Chelsea draws Leicester ]

Ruben Dias opened the scoring for Benfica in the 18th minute when he headed in a pass from Jardel.

Jardel added a goal just before halftime. Boavista’s Nuno Henrique also scored an own goal before Raul Jimenez polished off the victory in the 90th.

Jonas had a penalty saved by Boavista goalkeeper Vagner with the score 0-0.

Porto hosts Rio Ave on Sunday. Sporting Lisbon is three points behind Benfica before visiting Tondela on Monday.