Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Cardiff City

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Cardiff City need a result at Goodison Park on Saturday – but the struggling Bluebirds will have to take points off an Everton side that have lost just once at home this season (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Everton’s only home loss this season came at the hands of, of all sides, Sunderland – which might give Cardiff some hope. The visitors will also be bolstered by last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Fulham, their first in five matches. But Cardiff aren’t safe yet, occupying the final spot in the Premier League relegation zone and in danger of being pushed down by Sunderland’s three games in hand.

The Toffees have had a bit of a tough time as of late. In addition to a 4-1 loss to Arsenal that knocked them out of the FA Cup last weekend, Everton lost to both Spurs and Chelsea by a 1-0 scoreline, before finally managing to beat West Ham by the same score two weeks ago – and even that win required a late goal from substitute Romelu Lukaku.

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Everton are currently one place back of the final Europa League spot, but they’re even on points with Manchester United and still have two games to make up. But to finish in the top six, they’ll need to be practically perfect from here on out, meaning Roberto Martínez will need his side to be fit and healthy, and he’ll need to be using his best players for every match.

There was some criticism after Martínez elected to use Joel to face Arsenal in the Cup last weekend, but don’t worry – it’ll be Tim Howard in goal this time around. No word yet, however, on whether Everton captain Phil Jagielka returns to defense after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is blessed with an almost fully-fit squad, with only defender Ben Turner in doubt, after he picked up an injury in the win over Fulham. However, it was his center back partner, Steve Caulker, that scored two against Fulham, and he’ll certainly get the nod this week. Upfront it’ll likely be Kenwyne Jones alone, although both Craig Bellamy and Wilfried Zaha are pushing to return to the starting lineup.

What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Cardiff’s fight to avoid the drop: “The pressure is not off after win against Fulham, but three points does help the team and players. A win is always good, but we know it’s going to be a two month test of character and team spirit. It was a great start in what was an important game against a team who are bottom. There were lots of positives, but nobody will relax now.”

Roberto Martínez on Everton’s push for Europe: ‘This is a very intense period and we were disappointed to leave the FA Cup. Can we get top four? Mathematically we can. It’s still achievable. Reaching Europe would be a massive step forward, it would bring the massive nights we want that helps us grow as a club.”

Prediction

Home win. Cardiff may have bagged multiple goals last weekend, but that was against Fulham. Everton will be itching to come back from their rather embarrassing defeat to Arsenal, and they’ll be hyper-aware of the need to collect three points to keep hold of a European position.

PSG rampant without Neymar; Henry’s miserable debut

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PARIS (AP) Neymar was not missed as runaway French leader Paris Saint-Germain crushed Amiens 5-0 on Saturday for a 10th straight league win.

Neymar was given a few days off by coach Thomas Tuchel after playing for Brazil in the international break. PSG faces Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday and is then away to bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Except for Neymar, PSG’s lineup was near full-strength and the defending champion easily extended the best start to the league. PSG is averaging nearly four goals per game, but should have scored even more at home. Some sloppy finishing will not have impressed Tuchel, who is trying to instill more intensity into the side.

“It wasn’t a great performance,” the demanding Tuchel said. “But we were serious and worked hard for each other.”

Winger Angel Di Maria set up the first two goals with superb delivery from corners, taken from the right and curled with his left foot. It should have been 3-0 moments later, but striker Edinson Cavani somehow shot wide when he had an open goal.

Germany winger Julian Draxler got the third, and a minute later France World Cup star Kylian Mbappe curled a shot through the legs of a defender for his ninth league goal. Moussa Diaby skillfully slotted home the fifth.

Thierry Henry’s coaching debut was miserable as Monaco lost at Strasbourg 2-1, finished with 10 men, lost top scorer Radamel Falcao to injury, and slipped to 19th place.

Henry, the all-time leading scorer for France and Arsenal, got an ovation from the Strasbourg fans when he walked out.

But his ambitions were undermined without his best two goalkeepers who were injured, and two defenders who were suspended. No. 3 goalkeeper Seydou Sy clumsily fumbled a header from midfielder Adrien Thomasson to gift Strasbourg the lead after 17 minutes.

Falcao limped off with what looked like a left-thigh injury in the 36th. Henry took a risk selecting Falcao, considering he played late Wednesday night for Colombia.

Henry then lost another forward, this time to a red card, when Samuel Grandsir was sent off midway through the second half.

Strasbourg made the most of it when South Africa striker Lebo Mothiba was released and confidently dinked the ball over Sy.

Midfielder Youri Tielemans’ injury-time penalty for Monaco was too late.

Second-place Lille remained eight points behind PSG after winning at Dijon 2-1.

Striker Nicolas Pepe scored a penalty and helped set up Brazilian forward Luiz Araujo just before halftime.

Emiliano Sala grabbed a hat trick as Nantes beat Toulouse 4-0 at home to move above Monaco into 18th place.

Last-place Guingamp drew at Caen 0-0, and Reims was held by Angers to 1-1.

Marseille, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux play on Sunday and all have a chance to overtake Lyon in third place.

Marseille travels to play Nice; Saint-Etienne faces Rennes, and Montpellier hosts Bordeaux.

Serie A: Ronaldo scores but Juve’s perfect start is ruined

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MILAN (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to net 400 goals across Europe’s top five leagues.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

It wasn’t enough on Saturday to maintain Juventus’ perfect start to the season.

Ronaldo, who has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit in the United States, scored in the 1-1 draw against Genoa. It was his fifth Serie A goal in nine matches.

Ronaldo has 311 goals in La Liga for Real Madrid, and 84 in the English Premier League for Manchester United.

Juventus won all of its previous 10 matches across Serie A and the Champions League. Though Juve’s lead in Italy was cut to four points after Napoli won at Udinese 3-0, coach Massimiliano Allegri believed this result would help his side for arguably its toughest test yet, Manchester United on Tuesday in Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford.

“We drifted out of the game after a good start to the second half and, instead of making it 2-0, we let them make it 1-1,” Allegri said. “This isn’t good, because it’s with matches like this that titles are lost. After 10 minutes of the second half we were already thinking about Manchester. We needed to have more focus.

“But it’s a draw that serves us well. It’ll get our feet back to earth and help us understand that, to win matches, you need sacrifice and hard work.”

[ WATCH: Messi scores, assists, breaks arm in first 16 minutes ]

Kathryn Mayorga filed a lawsuit last month in Nevada state claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police also reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo had last weekend off while Juventus was idle during the international break. Normally the star of his national team, he was left off Portugal’s squad.

Less than 20 minutes in on Saturday, he scored. There was a miscommunication between Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu and his defender on Joao Cancelo’s cross from the left, allowing Ronaldo a simple tap-in at the far post.

Genoa’s first goal at Juventus since January 2013 came from Daniel Bessa with a header in the 67th minute.

It was a memorable first match back in charge for Ivan Juric, who returned to Genoa for his third spell as coach.


The substitutes made the difference at Udinese.

Fabian Ruiz replaced the injured Simone Verdi in the opening minutes and the midfielder scored his first Napoli goal in the 13th, curling a stunning 20-yard strike into the top right corner.

Dries Mertens doubled Napoli’s lead from the spot eight minutes from time after Udinese substitute Nicholas Opoku handled Jose Callejon’s effort.

There was still time for Marko Rog to score, just 40 seconds after coming off the bench.

Napoli visits Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Roma fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to 10-man Spal, which won at the Stadio Olimpico for the first time in Serie A in 53 years.

Roma went into the international break with four straight wins in all competitions while Spal had lost its last four.

However, the visitors took the lead shortly before halftime when Andrea Petagna converted a penalty after Manuel Lazzari was fouled by Luca Pellegrini.

Spal doubled its advantage 11 minutes after the break as Kevin Bonifazi headed in a corner at the near post.

Spal goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic – the younger brother of Lazio midfielder Sergej – did brilliantly to fingertip Pellegrini’s effort onto the bar but swiftly went from hero to villain.

Milinkovic-Savic was booked for time-wasting and he received a second yellow card seconds later for petulantly throwing the ball away, leaving Spal with 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

However, it clung on for its first win at Roma in the top flight since 1965.

Roma hosts CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The 2 Robbies: Mourinho Muscles Up

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle on the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United headlined by Jose Mourinho’s touchline altercation with Chelsea assistant, Marco Ianni. After the deep dive on what this result means for Man United (0:20), the gents also discuss Chelsea’s title expectations (19:30), Manchester City’s dominance (24:45) and Liverpool’s ability to be different (26:15) — but is it better? Plus, a rapid recap (30:45) on Tottenham, Cardiff and Newcastle.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

PL Sunday preview: Streaking Everton host slumping Palace

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With only one game on the Premier League docket for Sunday, it’s a battle of mid-table teams who began the season with plans of finishing safely inside the top half of the table.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

On one side, there’s 11th-place Everton who have won back-to-back PL games for the first time this season. On the other side, there’s 14th-place Crystal Palace who enter Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park on the back of two straight league defeats.

The Toffees spent big in the summer transfer window, but a bit of patience was required before the return on their investment was realized. Following a comprehensive demolition of Fulham three weeks ago, and a late win away to Leicester City last week, first-year Everton manager Marco Silva is increasingly pleased with the progression his side is making.

“We are looking more like a team – more compact, more solid in some moments, and staying focused during the game. It is up to us to continue in this way, getting better every time, because we have different problems on Sunday with a different opponent, too. We have to be able to find solutions to score and win the match.”

[ WATCH: Messi scores, assists, injuries arm in first 16 minutes ]

The worst part about Palace’s recent slide is the opponents who have resigned them to defeat: Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers, a pair of sides likely to finish in the bottom half come the end of the season. Even worse, Palace’s do-everything superstar Wilfried Zaha faces a late fitness test in order to be available for selection after injuring his groin while on international duty for Ivory Coast this week. Palace are winless (0W-4D-3L) in their last seven games against Everton.

INJURIES: Everton — QUESTIONABLE: Idrissa Gueye (ankle); RETURNING: Yerry Mina (foot), Andre Gomes (hamstring), James McCarthy (leg) | Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee); DOUBTFUL: Wilfried Zaha (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Connor Wickham (calf)