Premier League Playback: Everton’s top four stars, Man City and Liverpool get a hand

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EVERTON’S TERRIFIC TOP FOUR

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Click to enlarge: Teams percentage of passes in opponents half. Source: Opta

Sprinting towards the bench to celebrate with his manager, Everton’s on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku was a picture of happiness as he put the Toffees 2-0 ahead against Arsenal on Sunday. Eventually Everton went on to win 3-0, and everything that is good about Roberto Martinez’s side was epitomized in their comprehensive defeat of top four rivals Arsenal.

Pace, power, guile and calm in possession, Martinez’s men look focused and enthused from the start. They weren’t exactly frothing at the mouth either. There was coolness about the boys in blue, reminiscent of the way their manager approaches his job.

Their front four tore Arsenal to shreds, with Lukaku pulling out to the right to terrorize Nacho Monreal, Steven Naismith dropping in the hole to make penetrating runs at the heart of the Gunners defense, then there was the sheer pace of Kevin Mirallas on the left. To cap it off Ross Barkley came off the bench to replace the injured Leon Osman after seven minutes, and the Gunners couldn’t cope with his direct play and wide array of passing. Once again, Arsenal crumbled away from home early on against a top five team. They have now lost to Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Everton, conceding 20 goals in the process. Arsene Wenger looked shell-shocked after yet another lackluster display from his side.

With Arsenal slipping to fourth, after leading the way for 128 days of the season, they are now in real danger of losing the fourth and final Champions League spot to Everton. The Toffees are one point behind Arsenal and have a game in hand. Martinez’s men are in the driving seat, and after the Spanish tactician promised to deliver UCL nights at Goodison during his very first press-conference, he’s now six games away from delivering it.

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Click to enlarge: Everton are fifth in total shots in the PL, as their offense continues to fire. Source: Opta

Everton pin their opponents into their own half and as you can see on the left, a third of their passes are in the attacking third of the pitch. The quartet of Lukaku, Naismith, Barkley and Mirallas are key to UCL qualification. Those four possess pace, and the ability to pounce on any opportunities their opponents hand them. Lukaku has scored 14 goals, Naismith has eight and earned himself the nickname ‘super sub’, while Mirallas and Barkley have added six each.

Add in the likes of Aiden McGeady and Gerard Deulofeu, and the sheer variety of top attacking talents Martinez possess is frightening. This is why they are favorites for a top four spot. As you can see in the table from our buddies at Opta on the right, Everton have attempted 348 shots at an average of 10.9 per game after 32 matches.

That leaves the sixth in the most shots per game, and they have a game in hand on most of the teams above them, as they have a great chance to improve on their 52 goals scored. That’s equals an attacking quadrant that will bamboozle most PL teams, as they face Manchester United, Manchester City and Crystal Palace at home, plus Southampton, Sunderland and Hull away.

If the Toffees win those six games, they’re in the Champions League. What an incredible achievement that would be.

Premier League Schedule – Week 33

Result Recap & Highlights
Aston Villa 1-2 Fulham Recap and watch here
Cardiff 0-3 Crystal Palace Recap and watch here
Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City Recap and watch here
Everton 3-0 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Hull City 1-0 Swansea City Recap and watch here
Man City 4-1 Southampton Recap and watch here
Newcastle 0-3 Man United Recap and watch here
Norwich 0-1 West Brom Recap and watch here
Tottenham 5-1 Sunderland Recap and watch here
West Ham 1-2 Liverpool Recap and watch here

POOR DECISIONS – BIG TEAMS GET HELPING HAND?

If you look at the stats on penalty kicks awarded this season in the Premier League, there are two schools of thought.

The top three have all been awarded the most spot kicks because they’re favored by referees. Or, most likely, they are the most dangerous in the final third of their opponents half, therefore, winning a PK is much more likely. Which camp are you in? Liverpool, in first place, have been awarded 12 penalties, scoring 10, the most in the league. Then both Manchester City and Chelsea have been awarded the joint-second most with seven, as the second and third placed teams have also benefited from discrepancies against them in the box.

That said, conspiracy theorists had a field day last weekend, as both Liverpool and Manchester City had very poor refereeing decisions go their way. In the title race, those little decisions always seem to go in the favor of the big teams. I’m not accusing referees of preordained actions to hand one team an advantage over another, not at all. But I do think psychological factors come into play.

Manchester City’s pivotal second goal against Southampton, was clearly offside in the build up. As David Silva was four-yards behind Saints’ defense when he slotted the ball across to Samir Nasri to set City on their way in first half stoppage time.

As for Liverpool, they were awarded a dubious second half penalty which won them all three points against West Ham in a cagey affair at Upton Park. Watch the video of that below, as left back Jon Flanagan took the ball around Hammers ‘keeper Adrian, but the goalie got the ball and then clattered into Flanagan as referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. Taylor was likely making up for his earlier error, as he let Andy Carroll batter Simon Mignolet on half time, as Guy Demel tapped in the equalizer for West Ham with Liverpool’s player incensed. Taylor’s linesman Stuart Burt raised his flag for the clear foul, but after a lengthy confrontation Taylor decided the goal was legit. So, he gave Liverpool a penalty that they probably didn’t deserve to even it up… Decisions like that seem to go for you when your at the top, and they make all the difference in the title race.

BOTTOM SEVEN ‘PANIC SACKING’

With five games to go, Norwich gave Chris Hughton his marching orders on Sunday following their 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in relegation clash. The Canaries are five points above the relegation zone, but have a run in that makes your eyes water. After this weekend’s crunch relegation six-pointer with Fulham, they face Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in their final four games. Ouch. Hughton’s dismissal has been coming, Norwich have lost seven straight away from home, have signed two strikers for big money that have failed to deliver, and now youth team coach Neil Adams has been put in charge to try and salvage their season from oblivion. If Norwich lose against Fulham at Craven Cottage, they’re in big, big trouble.

The trend of sacking managers has become a fashionable one in the lower reaches of the standings for one reason and one reason only: money. The copious amounts of cash dished out to being part of the Premier League gravy train means teams are desperate to still be eating at the top table, year in, year out. The difference in financial rewards between the PL and the Championship is incredible. Nobody wants to drop to the second-tier.

With so many clubs nervous about relegation and the impact it will have on their finances, its no wonder their owners are trigger happy. Is it for the good of the game? Probably not. So much chopping and changing of managers is making less people attracted to taking on the job, and also isn’t giving any coach adequate time to implement his style and ideals. That fear of failure is having a huge impact on the shelf life of PL managers, and that will only get shorter as the finances continue to grow.

The current bottom seven have been ruthless in firing their managers. Hughton, Holloway, Jol, Mulensteen, Mackay, Clarke, Di Canio and Laudrup have all been dismissed this season on one ground: clubs can’t bear the thought of life outside the Premier League. It is a vicious circle for the clubs, fans, players and, most importantly, the managers. Money talks.

All of Saturday’s action, including that massive relegation battle between West Brom and Norwich, are in the video below.

Premier League Playback takes an alternative look at all the weekend’s action from the PL, it comes out every week.

Key battles in Champions League quarterfinals

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The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals take center stage this week and we’re going to select one key battle which should determine the outcome of all four games.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

With Manchester City the favorites against Lyon, a massive clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, plus intriguing ties between Atalanta and PSG, plus RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid, the final few games in the 2019-20 Champions League campaign will be so tight to call.

[ MORE: Man City beat Real Madrid ]

In the next few days the Champions League quarterfinals will excite as the mini tournament in Portugal begins.

Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate to reach the last eight and Pep Guardiola’s boys will be confident but wary after Lyon dumped out Juventus in the Round of 16. Bayern v. Barcelona should be all-out attack, while Atletico v. Leipzig will be full of grit and Atalanta and PSG could end up 6-5 to either team as two free-flowing attacks collide.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, and there will be one heck of a show over the next few days.

Below is a look at the key battles, as well as how to watch and follow all of the Champions League quarterfinal fixtures in the USA.


How to watch, stream Champions League quarterfinals

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


Atalanta – PSG: Marten de Roon v. Ander Herrera

Yes, that Marten de Roon from Middlesbrough. The Dutch midfielder has been a sensation at Atalanta and does most of the dirty work for Gomez, Zapata et al. to score boat loads of goals. His battle in the engine room against Ander Herrera will be crucial. Marco Verratti is out injured and that is a big blow, especially with Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria out too for PSG. Neymar and Icardi will be looking for the midfield to give them the ball as much as possible and if that happens, PSG could run riot. That said, if De Roon can win that battle with Herrera, Atalanta’s attackers can cause PSG’s defense big problems. Whoever wins the midfield battle will win this game. It should be tight and full of goals. Enjoy.

RB Leipzig – Atletico Madrid: Dayot Upamecano v.Diego Costa

This should be an epic head-to-head. Costa loves the one-on-one scraps and Upamecano is among the finest center backs in Europe right now. The young Frenchman doesn’t get bullied often but Costa will have a good go. Costa has hardly been prolific in his second spell at Atletico but he so often sets the tone for their scrappy displays under Diego Simeone. Leipzig like to play a back three at times and that could leave space for Costa to run at Upamecano. This will be intriguing. Watch out for Costa to put down his marker early on with elbows and everything else flying at Upamecano.

Barcelona – Bayern Munich: Lionel Messi v. David Alaba

Barcelona - Bayern
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Okay, so, we know how Jerome Boateng v. Lionel Messi went before. Somewhere, somebody is still using that gif of Boateng tangling his own legs like spaghetti as Messi bamboozled him to score at the Nou Camp. So it’s probably best if versatile Austrian star David Alaba goes up against Messi. It’s likely that Alaba will play at the back but he should basically mark Messi, and when (or if, because this is Messi) he gets the ball back he has the quality to start attacks. Bayern and Barcelona both score plenty of goals but defensively they have to improve if they’re going to win the Champions League this season.

Manchester City – Lyon: Aymeric Laporte v. Memphis Depay

Everyone is tipping Man City to beat Lyon easily, but that’s what everyone said about Lyon against Juventus. Memphis Depay is a real threat up top and Lyon usually do very well against Man City. Pep Guardiola needs Aymeric Laporte to be at his very best and it is likely he and Fernandinho will again line up together at center back. Laporte will line up on the left and Memphis will start on the right side of Lyon’s central strikers, so this will be a battle to look out for. Laporte has class but his pace is sometimes questioned and if City leave him exposed on the break, Memphis can take advantage of those situations.

Premier League transfers: Every deal from all 20 clubs

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Premier League transfers will ramp up throughout the summer months and here you will find every deal from all 20 Premier League clubs ahead of the 2020-21 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Premier League transfer window runs from July 27 to Oct. 5 in the summer, as the shortened offseason means there’s a flurry of action already happening and most clubs will want their squads sorted before the 2020-21 season kicks off on Sept. 12.

Given the fact that clubs have less than 40 days before the new season starts, you’d think that chairman, sporting directors and managers would all be pretty busy right now as they try and get their business done early. But we all know that when it comes to Premier League transfers, clubs can’t stay away from a deadline day.

[ MORE: Predicting the 2020-21 Premier League standings ]

Even during the coronavirus pandemic amid huge financial implications, huge sums of money are still being talked about when it comes to potential transfers.

Below are the lists of deals for each club, as we will update this page as and when deals happen from now until Oct. 5 when the summer window shuts.


Arsenal

Out
Tobi Omole (Released)
Matthew Dennis (Released)
Zech Medley (Gillingham) Loan
Zak Swanson (MVV Maastricht) Loan
Dinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart) Loan

Aston Villa

Out
Ross McCormack (Released)
Callum O’Hare (Released)
Jack Birch (Released)
Anton Hooper (Released)
Colin Odutayo (Released)
Dimitri Sea (Released)
Jamie Searle (Released)
Matija Sarkic (Wolves) Free
James Chester (Stoke) Free

Brighton and Hove Albion

In
Jensen Weir (Wigan)
Adam Lallana (Liverpool) Free
Joel Veltman (Ajax)
Lars Dendoncker (Club Brugge)

Out
Leon Balogun (Wigan) Loan
Archie Davies (Released)
Lewis Freestone (Released)
George Cox (Fortuna Sittard)
Anthony Knockaert (Fulham)
Beram Kayal (Released)

Burnley

Out
Joe Hart (Released)
Jeff Hendrick (Released)
Adam Legzdins (Released)
Aaron Lennon (Released)
Oliver Younger (Released)
Scott Wilson (Released)
Joel Senior (Released)
Joel Senior (Released)
Ryan Cooney (Morecambe) Loan

Chelsea

In
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) More info
Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) More info

Out
Josh Grant (Released)
Marcel Lavinier (Released)
Richard Nartey (Released)
Willian (Released)
Pedro (Released)

Crystal Palace

In
Nathan Ferguson (West Brom) Free
Jake Giddings (Free)

Out
Kian Flanagan (Released)
Dion-Curtis Henry (Released)
Daniel Tupper (Released)

Everton

In
Niels Nkounkou (Marseille) Free

Out
Morgan Feeney (Released)
Alexander Denny (Released)
Matthew Foulds (Released)
Luke Garbutt (Released)
Oumar Niasse (Released)
Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice)
Leighton Baines (Retired)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Released)
Nathangelo Markelo (FC Twente)
Kieran Dowell (Norwich City)
Manasse Mampala (Released)
Korede Adedoyin (Released)
Cuco Martina (Released)

Leeds United

In
Helder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Illan Meslier (Lorient)
Jack Harrison (Man City) Loan
Joe Gelhardt (Wigan)

Out
Ryan Edmondson (Aberdeen) Loan
Kun Temenuzhkov (Real Union) Loan

Leicester

Out
Calvin Bassey (Rangers)
Viktor Johansson (Released)
Ryan Loft (Released)
Connor Tee (Released)

Liverpool

In
Konstantinos Tsimikas (Olympiacos) More info

Out
Daniel Atherton (Released)
Pedro Chirivella (Nantes) Free
Nathaniel Clyne (Released)
Shamal George (Released)
Jack Walls (Released)
Dejan Lovren (Zenit)
Adam Lallana (Brighton) Free

Manchester City

In
Pablo Moreno (Juventus)
Ferran Torres (Valencia) More info
Nathan Ake (Bournemouth) More info

Out
Ernest Agyiri (Released)
Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)
Jack Harrison (Leeds) Loan

Manchester United

In
Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua) Loan

Out
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Released)
Dion McGee (Released)
Angel Gomes (Released)
Ethan Hamilton (Released)
Michael O’Hara (Released)
Largie Ramazani (Released)
George Tanner (Released)
Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan) More info

Newcastle United

In
Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) Free

Out
Luke Charman (Released)
Jack Colback (Released)
Robert Elliott (Released)
Liam Gibson (Released)
Nathan Harker (Released)
Victor Fernandez (Viitorul Constanta) Free
Jake Turner (Morecambe) Loan

Sheffield United

In
Wes Foderingham (Rangers) Free

Out
Mark Duffy (Released)
Keenan Ferguson (Released)
Oliver Greaves (Released)
Jake Eastwood (Kilmarnock) Loan
Tyler Smith (Swindon Town) Loan

Southampton

Out
Alexander Cull (Released)
Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) Loan
Maya Yoshida (Released)

Tottenham Hotspur

Out
Jan Vertonghen (Released)
Michel Vorm (Released)
Tariq Hinds (Released)
Rayan Clarke (Released)
Jonathan Dinzeyi (Released)
Phoenix Patterson (Released)
Maxwell Statham (Released)
Maximus Tainio (Released)
Troy Parrott (Millwall) Loan
TJ Eyoma (Lincoln City) Loan

West Bromwich Albion

Out
Chris Brunt (Released)
Finn Azaz (Cheltenham Town) Loan

West Ham United

In
Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague)

Out
Sead Haksabanovic (IFK Norrkoping)
Carlos Sanchez (Released)
Pablo Zabaleta (Released)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In
Matija Sarkic (Aston Villa) Free

Out
Jordan Graham (Released)
Connor Johnson (Released)
Callum Thompson (Released)
Helder Costa (Leeds)
Tsun Dai (Shenzhen)
Ryan Giles (Coventry) Loan
Elliot Watt (Bradford)

Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available

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In the latest transfer news Kai Havertz to Chelsea looks to finally be moving towards an end game, while Aaron Ramsey is free to leave Juventus.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Starting in west London, Kai Havertz to Chelsea could be confirmed as RMC Sport report that the Blues have agreed a five-year contract with the Bayer Leverkusen and Germany star.

Per the report, Chelsea will now negotiate the $117 million transfer fee with Leverkusen and want to pay in plenty of instalments.

Havertz, 21, scored for Leverkusen in their 2-1 UEFA Europa League quarterfinal defeat against Inter Milan on Monday and that looks like being his final game for Bayer. Kai Havertz to Chelsea can now move to the next stage as the Bundesliga club had previously said they wanted to finish their season before discussing a move.

Our partners at Sky Sports have also stated that Havertz has made it clear he wants to sign for Chelsea and join the ‘project’ that Frank Lampard is building, with Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech already signed up to bolster their attack.

With Havertz edging closer to a move to Chelsea, surely Lampard will now switch his attention to defensive reinforcements. Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has said Lampard’s first season at Chelsea was ‘very successful’ but without defensive reinforcements this summer, Chelsea will do very well to improve on their fourth-place Premier League finish in 2019-20.

Havertz, Ziyech and Werner will boost their attack and finish off the many chances Christian Pulisic and Co. created, and as long as new defenders are coming in, Chelsea will continue to move in the right direction.

Aaron Ramsey
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Switching our attention to Turin, it has been reported that Aaron Ramsey is free to leave Juventus.

New Juve boss Andrea Pirlo has reportedly made Ramsey, 29, available for transfer along with the likes of Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi (who seems to be heading to Inter Miami in MLS), Gonzalo Higuain, Daniele Rugani and Mattia De Sciglio.

Ramsey only arrived at Juve last summer after 11 years at Arsenal but the Welshman has struggled for minutes and is one of Juve’s highest earners on close to $330,000 per week.

It is believed several Premier League clubs are interested in signing Ramsey but with the central midfielder having a four-year contract at Juve, it seems likely he will only leave the Serie A champions on loan rather than a permanent basis.

Ramsey left Arsenal with class and is still lauded by their fans, and if Mikel Arteta can’t seal another loan deal for Dani Ceballos then maybe a loan move for Ramsey would make sense? Stranger things have happened and a player of Ramsey’s quality, if he is available on loan, would mean plenty of clubs in the Premier League and across Europe would want to sign him. As long as he can stay fit, the timing of his runs from midfield and his quality on the ball is exactly what Arsenal need. He would have to up his tenacity under Arteta but he could do that.

Champions League, Europa League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions

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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League action has resumed and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it. Both Manchester clubs are the bookmakers favorites to seal their respective European glory.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League quarterfinals will take place as the mini tournaments begin.

Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate, while Chelsea lost Bayern 7-1 on aggregate as they crashed out of the Champions League. Man United and Wolves are both in the quarterfinals and favored to go far.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch and follow all of the fixtures in the USA.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


JPW’s Champions League predictions

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
Wednesday, August 12: Atalanta 2-3 PSG
Thursday, August 13: RB Leipzig 1-2 Atletico Madrid
Friday, August 14: Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich
Saturday, August 15: Manchester City 3-1 Lyon


JPW’s Europa League predictions

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
Monday, August 10: Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Monday, August 10: Manchester United 3-1 Copenhagen
Tuesday, August 11: Wolves 1-2 Sevilla
Tuesday, August 11: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Basel


Champions League betting odds

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)

(+210) Atalanta v. PSG (+117). Tie: +275
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+135). Tie: +220
(+235) Barcelona v. Bayern Munich (+115). Tie: +255
(-305) Manchester City v. Lyon (+750). Tie: +450

Outright winner
Manchester City (+220)
Bayern Munich (+325)
Paris Saint-Germain (+500)
Atletico Madrid (+800)
Barcelona (+800)
Atalanta (+1000)
RB Leipzig (+1700)
Lyon (+3500)


Europa League betting odds

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
(+112) Inter Milan v. Bayer Leverkusen (+240). Tie: +250
(-385) Manchester United v. Copenhagen (+1000). Tie: +480
(+235) Wolves v. Sevilla (+120). Tie: +230
(-106) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Basel (+290). Tie: +255

Outright winner
Manchester United (+180)
Inter Milan (+325)
Sevilla (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+650)
Wolves (+700)
Shakhtar Donetsk (+1100)
Basel (+2500)
Copenhagen (+6000)