#InTheFace

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This is what I inevitably end up feeling like as an Everton fan on the day of a Merseyside Derby. A blur of black eyes, beige wall paper, and shattered hope. Perhaps only the melancholy of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” can rival it as an image of human despair.

The above photograph was taken at the final whistle of Derby Day, November 6, 1983. On the back, my Dad has marked the date and carefully noted “Rog with black eye watches Liverpool 3 Everton 0,” but I need no reminder. The memory remains as fresh as it was harrowing. The day before I had gained a concussion during a school rugby match. Playing fullback, I had dived in desperately like a proto-Spencer Lanning, to make a last-ditch tackle on an opposing big man, tripping him up by putting my eye-socket in front of his kneecap. I was knocked out cold, and my right-eye instantly swelled shut.

Though I had tickets for the match, I was in no fit shape to use them. Instead, I sat at home in a pair of Wrangler sweatpants and my luxury Scandinavian slippers, donning the Everton hat and scarf it had taken my mother 18 grueling months to knit.

I had been unable to sleep overnight. My head was an aching fog from concussion, but in truth, it was the threat Liverpool’s attacking tandem of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush posed to Everton’s defence that kept me awake. Come game time, only being able to see out of one eye turned out to be a blessing.

Everton were thrashed, my heroes snuffed out with barely any resistance. Clad in his tight red shorts, Ian Rush pounced within 16 minutes to punish the kind of defensive sloppiness that has defined Everton’s play this season. Dalglish cut through the right flank to conjure an open goal for Michael Robinson to finish, and Stevie Nicol finished the rout by heading home at the last, with the Everton defenders looking on, as broken and defeated as we fans.

By the final whistle, Liverpool were top of the table, and Everton had plummeted to 17th place. When my father decided to take this photograph, it felt like both sides of my face had been smashed in.

That game was almost 31 years ago. But Liverpool have lost just one of the last 15 league Derbies so the feelings it conjured are all too familiar. Numbing ones of defeat, doom, impotence, and perhaps, worst of all, shattered hope. I last experienced them at Anfield back in January, typing my match report through the tears, after I had witnessed the rampant Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, and Philippe Coutinho eviscerate a naive Everton 4-0, springing their counter-attacks with such punishing glee. Every time the Blues attacked, Liverpool seemed the more likely team to score.

Both teams enter Saturday’s game as wounded creatures.  Tim Howard kept 15 clean sheets last year, yet this season, the Everton defence carries the stench of 2012-13 Wigan, leaking 17 goals in just seven matches.  A relatively stocked squad, which only six weeks ago appeared to inspire such optimism, lacks spirit, spine, and tactical cohesion.

Liverpool have also appeared all too mortal. Shorn of the defected Suarez and injured Sturridge, Brendan Rodgers has lost three of his first five league games. Yet a clash against Everton is too often the cure for what ails them. I type while braced for the irresistible Steven Gerrard Derby Day strike which has come to feel like one of nature’s most inevitable laws and the very worst case: a Mario Balotelli hat trick — especially if those goals prove to be the only ones the Italian scores this season.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a conversation I had broached with a Liverpool supporting friend, Simon Critchley who is a philosophy professor at The New School. Critchley admitted he feels a similar sense of Derby Day doom, even as a Red. “The game,” he explained, “matters too much.” His final words that day have stayed with me because I believe any fan, even Arsenal or Tottenham supporters, can relate to them. “The worst part about football in general and the Derby in particular is not the disappointment, it’s the endlessly renewed hope,” he explained. “It’s the hope that kills you.”

Roger Bennett is one of the Men In Blazers. He can be found at @rogbennett and www.meninblazers.com.

Ever Wonder why Manchester United is nicknamed The Red Devils?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

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Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


How did Manchester United become known around the world as the Red Devils?

It is one of the most famous nicknames in the sporting world: but how did Manchester United become known as The Red Devils?

Previously they were known as ‘The Busby Babes’ as legendary manager Sir Matt Busby created one of the greatest teams the football world has ever seen.

United had so many incredibly talented and extremely young players and the Busby Babes were a revelation.

Why a new nickname was needed

However, tragedy struck in 1958 as the Munich Air Disaster occurred.

A plane carrying Manchester United’s players and staff back from a European Cup game in Belgrade crashed in heavy snow after a refueling stop in Munich. 23 were killed, including eight players, and the Busby Babes nickname became a painful reminder of the awful tragedy which rocked the club and the entire world.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Sir Matt Busby rebuilt the club and decided to look for a new nickname as Manchester United wanted to become more intimidating to opponents and they now had a squad of more experienced players and the Busby Babes nickname needed to be replaced.

The answer for that new nickname?

Well, it came from a local rugby club from Greater Manchester, who had played in France. Because of course that is the answer.

Rugby? South of France? Les Diables Rouges?

Salford, who are based just 4 miles away from Old Trafford, were known as the Devils and they played in red. The rugby club went to play in the South of France for two months in 1934 to help grow the popularity of the game.

Salford made such an impression that locals referred to them as ‘Les Diables Rouges.’ In English that is: ‘The Red Devils.’

It is said that Busby liked the nickname of Salford rugby club and the aura it created and as he planned for United to now be a more physical, defensive and tough-tackling side, he decided United’s new nickname would be The Red Devils too.

In 1973 the Red Devil appeared on United’s official club badge for the first time and it has been there ever since.

Enzo Fernandez impresses as Chelsea secure point vs Fulham

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$360 million later, and mid-table Chelsea were able to secure a point in a 0-0 draw with European hopefuls Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Friday.

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Chelsea’s spending spree saw them sign eight new players to swell Graham Potter’s first-team squad to 30 players, including Enzo Fernandez, who arrived in west London as the most expensive signing in British football history ($129 million) on Tuesday. The Argentine midfield wasted no time and looked a cut above everyone else on the field as he made his Premier League debut with precious little time to train with his new club.

The result sends Fulham (32 points) up to 6th in the PL table, now one point ahead of Brighton, though the Seagulls have played three fewer games now. Chelsea (30 points), meanwhile, climb past fellow strugglers Liverpool, into 9th.

Chelsea went inches from opening the scoring in the 45th minute, when Kai Havertz lifted the ball over the out-rushing Bernd Leno. As a pair of Fulham defenders made late recovery runs into the box, the ball struck the front of the near post and and bounced back into play to be cleared away.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was next to nearly break the deadlock in the 71st minute, when he went for goal just one or two steps inside the halfway line. Perhaps the ball was headed for the crossbar or just over, but it was close enough that Kepa Arrizabalaga had to quickly backpedal and palm the ball away from his goal line.

Not even a minute later, Fernandez nearly marked his Chelsea debut with a sensational goal from nearly 30 yards out. The ball fell to Fernandez and the 22-year-old World Cup winner uncorked a shot that narrowly tailed away away from the far post.

The oh-so-nearly-goals theme continued as the second half wore on, and it was Tim Ream who saved the day for the Cottagers in the 79th minute. Noni Madueke also made his Chelsea debut as he replaced another January signing, Mykhailo Mudryk, at halftime. Madueke’s first real involvement came as he rounded Leno outside the penalty area and scooted past with an eye toward goal, only for Ream be in the right place at the right time to boot the ball clear as the last line of defense.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY


How to watch Chelsea vs Fulham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Friday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Watch out for Chelsea, because the crew is getting healthier. To be fair, it’s difficult to have more injuries than Chelsea has had this year, but we digress. Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are all ready to go, though Graham Potter said none of them are ready for 90 minutes. Wesley Fofana is close to a return, but should miss out, while Joao Felix could make his return. So, yeah, we could see Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Raheem Sterling on the pitch at the same time. Zoom, zoom, Fulham.

Marco Silva’s Cottagers have cooled off, at least in terms of results, since beating Chelsea at Craven Cottage on Jan. 12, the game in which Felix earned his red card. 1-0 losses to Newcastle and Spurs, forgivable, were followed up with a FA Cup draw with Sunderland. If Fulham can get through this, there’s a more forgiving run of fixtures ahead with a Sunderland replay, Forest, Brighton, Wolves, and Brentford. But is anything forgiving any more in the Premier League? Aleksandar Mitrovic, as usual, looms as a key piece of Fulham’s hopes.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Christian Pulisic (knee), Wesley Fofana (knee), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Armando Broja (knee), Denis Zakaria (thigh)

Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Neeskens Kebano (achilles)

Brighton vs Bournemouth: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Brighton will continue their chase for European qualification, while Bournemouth try to climb out of the relegation zone, when the two sides meet at Amex Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BRIGHTON vs BOURNEMOUTH

Graham Potter and Roberto De Zerbi have, between them, guided Brighton (31 points) all the way up to 6th place in the Premier League table. The gap to 5th-place Tottenham is five points; the gap to Manchester United in 4th in eight. Bournemouth, meanwhile, are in the bottom-three for the first time this season after picking up just one point from their last five PL games.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Brighton vs Bournemouth

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How to watch Brighton vs Bournemouth live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Alexis Mac Allister (suspension), Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (undisclosed), Levi Colwill (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Facundo Buonanette (head), Evan Ferguson (ankle)

Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (thigh), Lewis Cook (knee), Neto (thigh), Dominic Solanke (knee), Marcus Tavernier (thigh), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Philip Billing (undisclosed)

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Brentford vs Southampton: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Brentford will try to extend their unbeaten run, which began all the way back in October, when they host bottom-of-the-table Southampton at Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BRENTFORD vs SOUTHAMPTON

The Bees’ (30 points) eight-game unbeaten run (4W-4D-0L) has taken them up to 8th in the Premier League table, now closer to the top-four (nine points) than the relegation zone (13 points) in their second-ever season in the PL. Saints (15 points), meanwhile, are living dangerously at the bottom, though the gap between themselves and safety in 17th place is just two points.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Brentford vs Southampton

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Brentford vs Southampton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Last time out, Brentford settled for a frustrating 0-0 draw with Leeds, but before that they rattled off successive wins over West Ham, Liverpool and Bournemouth with just one goal conceded in three games. Ivan Toney is 3rd in the Premier League with 13 goals, trailing only Harry Kane (16) and Erling Haaland (an absurd 25). After initially struggling to replace the creativity of Christian Eriksen (4 assists in 11 appearances last season), Thomas Frank’s side is firing once again thanks to Mathias Jensen (4 in 20), Toney (3) and Josh Dasilva (2) picking up the slack.

After losing 3-1 to Newcastle over two legs in the League Cup semifinals, Southampton return their attention to the ongoing relegation battle. Having won just one of their last nine Premier League fixtures (1W-1D-7L), Saints made four first-team signings to strengthen the midfield and attack. They brought in some experience (30-year-old midfielder Mislav Orsic from Dinamo Zagreb and 28-year-old forward Paul Onuachu from Genk) along with some youth and potential (a pair of 20-year-olds, midfielder Carlos Alcaraz from Racing Club and winger Kamadeen Selumana from Rennes).


Brentford team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Pontus Jansson (thigh), Frank Onyeka (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Shandon Baptiste (adductor)

Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring), Juan Larios (adductor) | QUESTIONABLE: Moussa Djenepo (head), Alex McArthy (ankle)

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