Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Sunderland — Toffees within reach of the top

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  • Everton two points back of first in Premier League
  • Sunderland winless in league since Nov. 10
  • Leighton Baines potentially available for Toffees

Though Sunderland won the teams’ last meeting in April, the recent history of this matchup is all Everton. Before their win at the Stadium of Light, the Black Cats’ were winless in 16-match against the Toffees, with Everton undefeated in Sunderland’s last seven trips to Goodison Park. Given where these teams sit in the Premier League, few will picking Gus Poyet’s side to replicate last April’s results.

Everton come into the match in fifth place, with their 34 points leaving them only two back of first place Liverpool. Defeated only once the season, Roberto Martínez’s team has the fewest losses in the Premier League, though building on their league-leading sevens draws will be seen as a failure against their last place guests.

Sunderland have not won on the road all season. In eight matches away from home, they’ve only scored twice. With Everton undefeated at home under Martínez, everything is stacked against the Black Cats, who will be missing Wes Brown (suspension), Carlos Cuellar (hip) and Kieran Westwood (shoulder).

Poyet has just as many problems at the other end. Sunderland’s 12 league goals are the second-worst in the Premier League. On Thursday, they’ll be going up against the league’s best defense, Everton having only conceded 16 goals in 17 games. In a game where the Toffees are likely to dominate the ball, it may prove difficult to keep midfielder Lee Cattermole (one card every 189 minutes since moving to Sunderland) out of Lee Probert’s book.

Even if Sunderland can keep all their players on the pitch, they’re struggle to match up with Gareth Barry, Jamie McCarthy, and Ross Barkley in the middle. They don’t have wide players that can keep up with Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas, particularly when they get help from Seamus Coleman and a potentially returning Leighton Baines. And with Brown out and John O’Shea doubtful (shoulder), the Black Cats’ best defenders will likely be on the sidelines while second choices try to contain Romelu Lukaku.

source: Getty Images
Roberto Martínez has lost only one of 17 league matches since being hired by Everton to replace David Moyes. (Source: Getty Images)

What they’re saying

Sunderland coach Charlie Oatway on the Black Cats’ struggles: “Life’s a fight. You either stand up and be counted in everything that you do or you sink … I want to come here and wave a magic wand around, stay up and everyone pat us on the back. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to take the rough with the smooth.”

Roberto Martínez on the importance of central defender Sylvain Distin: “Football gives you the reward that you put in as a professional. When you get in a situation like Sylvain’s, it’s not the manager making decisions, it’s football. Sylvain has been an incredible performer this season.”

Prediction

If you’re in a Premier League suicide pool, a.) why didn’t I get an invite (seriously), and b.) choose Everton. Sunderland could win, but there’s no reason beyond ‘the inherent randomness of sport’ to think they will.

 

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Euro 2020 qualifying: France settles for draw with Turkey

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Euro 2020 qualifying continued on Monday and included a top-of-the-group clash in Group H.

[READ: England rout Bulgaria in game marred by racist chants]

France 1-1 Turkey

France spoiled a chance at home to put one foot in Euro 2020 after conceding late in the match and settling for a draw with Turkey.

Despite playing without a lot of starters – Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Hugo Lloris are all out injured – France still was strong in the first half and peppered Turkey with 12 shots. Goalkeeper Mert Gunok made an outstanding double-save in the first half and Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü did his best to keep Antoine Griezmann in front of him.

In the 72nd minute, Olivier Giroud came on the field as a substitute and four minutes later, he put France in front to the delight of the home crowd at the Stade de France. What else, but a header off a corner. However, the lead didn’t last long. Off a free kick in the 82nd minute, Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery was nodded home by Kaan Ayhan. The 1-1 draw leaves both France and Turkey tied with 19 points from eight qualifying matches. It also means that Turkey hasn’t lost to France over two games in this qualifying cycle.

Here’s a look at the rest of Monday’s scores:

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores

Group A

Bulgaria 0-6 England

Kosovo 2-0 Montenegro

Group B

Lithuania 1-2 Serbia

Ukraine 2-1 Portugal

Group H

Iceland 2-0 Andorra

Moldova 0-4 Albania

Ronaldo scores 700th goal for club and country

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Cristiano Ronaldo achieved yet another personal milestone in his star-studded career on Monday evening with a simple penalty kick goal.

With his 72nd minute strike, Ronaldo tallied his 700th goal for club and country in his career. It’s an incredible achievement, and one indicative of his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his long career.

Ronaldo was already leading all active players globally in terms of goals scored, so his 700th is only adding to the list. His former club nemesis, Lionel Messi, still sits a reported 28 goals behind him, according to Soccerway. After them, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest, and he has “only” 542 goals.

The Portuguese icon becomes the sixth male player to score 700 goals in his career. The others include Pele, Romaro, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskás, and Gerd Muller.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-2003 season as a 17-year-old and quickly was snapped up by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson, where he transitioned from a tricky winger to a clinical striker who couldn’t stop scoring.

The 34-year-old has scored 40-or-more goals on three occasions in his career and he scored 25-or-more goals in all nine years he was at Real Madrid. For Portugal, he’s now scored an incredible 95 goals in all competitions. He had 15 goals in World Cup qualifying alone for the 2018 campaign.

Watch the video of Ronaldo’s breaking goal below. Unfortunately for him, Portugal fell, 2-1 to Ukraine.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.