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Premier League preview: Everton vs. Newcastle United

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  • Everton currently 12th in the PL (28 points)
  • Newcastle a worrying low 18th (21)
  • Everton 17th in home form; Newcastle 18th away
  • First meeting (Boxing Day): Newcastle 0-1 Everton

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Wednesday’s clash between Everton and Newcastle United (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET, on Live Extra) seems a safe bet to feature goals, goals and more goals, as two with a pair of of the Premier League’s worst defensive records face off at Goodison Park.

Few teams in the PL possess worse defenses than Newcastle (just two, to be exact), who have conceded 41 times on the season, and Everton (five), whose 34-in-23 games record actually looks stellar in comparison. Their defensive frailties have been the cause for nearly all of Everton’s problems this season, as Roberto Martinez, now in his third year in charge, has yet to address his own Toffees side’s porousness at the back (Everton conceded 50 goals last season – one away from being well into the bottom half of the league defensively). On the bright side, Romelu Lukaku finally looks like a $40-million player, having scored 15 goals in 23 league games this season, though the goals have dried up of late (zero in his last three appearances).

[ MORE: Transfer grades — How did each PL club fare in January? ]

While the Magpies have been shambolic in defense, they’ve been equally inept in attack, having scored just 25 goals in 23 games (15th-most in the PL) this season. In response, first-year manager Steve McClaren was allowed to splash a little cash during the recently completed January transfer window, when he snapped up Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend for a combined $35 million and brought in Ivorian striker Seydou Doumbia on loan from Roma for the rest of the season. On paper, Newcastle are much better during the final 15 games of the regular season and should avoid relegation with ease. This is Newcastle, though, remember.

On the injury front, Everton will be without midfielders Kevin Mirallas (knee) and Muhamed Besic (lower body), while goalkeeper Tim Howard will undergo a fitness test to determine his status. For Newcastle, the injury list is a mile long and much simpler to have a look for yourself.

What they’re saying

Everton manager Roberto Martinez: “We’ve got three important league games in a short period of time and it’s true our points return at home hasn’t been good enough. We have conceded too many goals at home compared to our away performances and we know our fans deserve better and deserve more from us. That’s where we want to work and where we rely on our fans – we can correct that. We’re facing the opportunity of fighting for a lot of points – seven home games offers 21 points at Goodison.”

Newcastle manager Steve McClaren: “We’ve kept very quiet about our business and gone about it very quietly, but we have recruited very good players, and it is a statement of intent on what we want to do. We go forward now with some very good players and a good squad. With these new players coming in, it ups the level in training, and we’ve noticed that. There’s been a spring in the step.”


While Everton haven’t been great at home, Newcastle have managed to be even worse away from home this season. A total inability to find and hold any semblance of defensive shape on the road, combined with the fluidity Everton possess going forward, is a disastrous combination for Newcastle. Everton 3-1 Newcastle.

FOLLOW LIVE – Tunisia and Nigeria in AFCON third place game

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The appetizer to the main course takes place today as Tunisia and Nigeria meet in the third place match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Both sides fell in the semifinals on last-minute goals, with Tunisia dropping to Senegal on an extra-time own-goal while Nigeria was pipped by a Riyad Mahrez 95th minute winner.

[ LIVE: Africa Cup of Nations scores ]

While this match is obviously a chance for both sides to finish the tournament on a high note, also notable is the race for the Golden Boot. Odion Ighalo is in the lead with four goals and could look to tack on to that total with Mahrez, Adam Ounes, and Sadio Mane all on three goals and playing in the final.

Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr will want to save face after a disappointing tournament, and while he received the dreaded vote of confidence from the Nigerian federation, he still will want something tangible to take home. The Super Eagles came into the tournament as the third-highest FIFA ranked African nation, but after a shaky group stage performance and a pair of narrow one-goal knockout stage wins before the loss to Algeria, the need for a quality outing is great.

Five of the six previous matches between these two teams have ended in draws, so something has to give this time in Cairo.

Guardiola to Leroy Sane: only “happy” players will see the field

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Leroy Sane has been the subject of some uncertainty this summer, and it might be getting to Pep Guardiola.

After Sane came off the bench and helped Man City pummel West Ham 4-1 in the preseason Premier League Asia Trophy, Guardiola was asked about his future with the club after reports this summer that Bayern Munich was interested in snatching him away from the Etihad.

“The club made him an offer last year,” Guardiola said. “So, I have said many times, we only want people happy to be here. We are going to help him to be the best, we know his potential and what level he is. He has a special quality that is difficult to find around the world. He knows, they all know, all the forwards, all the midfielders, how difficult it is to play, it’s difficult because of the quality we have.”

“But, at the same time I spoke to the club ten times and I want people here to be happy, if they don’t want, they go. The desire to have him be with us is always there.”

Sane was spectacular at times last season as Manchester City won the Premier League title, but he played a shrinking role as the end of the campaign pressed on, forced to come off the bench as a substitute four times after February and left as an unused substitute five other times down the stretch as well. Sane played just two full 90 minute appearances in Premier League play in the 2019 calendar year.

With that in mind, it has proven difficult to convince Sane to sign a new contract at Manchester City, with his current deal set to expire in two years. That caught Bayern Munich’s attention, and the German side has been persistent in hoping to attract the 23-year-old to Allianz Arena.

Once Guardiola made his comments about happy players, he was asked bluntly if he thinks Sane will be with the team at the start of the season. He did not want to go into the situation further, saying, “I have already answered that question really well.”

Argentina women’s team players critical of coaches after roster changes

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The Argentine national team is facing controversy after making a host of changes to its roster for the 2019 Pan American games despite a solid showing in the World Cup earlier this summer.

Most notably, 29-year-old Estefania Banini, who captained the side at the World Cup, was left off the roster. She lashed out on social media, claiming on Instagram that she was left off after making internal comments critical of the coaching staff and trying to improve the team’s ability to compete.

“No rest, not injured, permission from my club, I have enough to be in the national team,” she wrote. “From 5 years old I trained to defend the blue and white, fighting for my place equally without discrimination. The coaching staff decided to leave me out…because we have our differences, they decide to put an end to my dream of defending the shirt.”

Banini goes on to explain that she wants coaches “with enough experience we can learn from” and who can help grow the game in their country. She said what they don’t want is something they experienced at the World Cup – “being told ‘just defend because we don’t want to concede 11’ when going out to play.”

Other players left off the roster for the Pan American games are Ruth Bravo and Lorena Benitez, both of whom were starters at the World Cup less than a month ago. Bravo, along with Belen Potassa, posted similarly critical comments on their own social media accounts after being left off the roster, with much of the content word-for-word to what Banini wrote.

Argentina performed well in the group stage of the World Cup, nearly advancing in the final seconds of the group stage before a 3-3 draw with Scotland saw them fall just short of passing Japan into a qualifying spot. They managed a 0-0 draw with Japan in the opening match and fell to England by a close 1-0 scoreline.

Banini has been outspoken in the past, criticizing the Argentinian federation back in 2014 for not supporting the women’s game enough. With her most recent comments potentially costing her a place in the team, some of her teammates had her back. Soledad Jaimes and Florencia Bonsegundo, also both starters in the World Cup, resigned their places on the Pan American Games roster in solidarity with their teammates, believing them to be unfairly treated.

“While 18 teammates pack their bags for the Pan American Games, I decided to withdraw from the roster,” Bonsegundo wrote in her own Instagram post. “Today I have to take a step forward for this struggle that we all started and that few have the courage to do. I understand that in this way I am protecting you more [the fans] because I know that in a future with properly trained players, Argentina may be at the level of the world powers! I’m still dreaming of a country with greater equality, without discrimination and where the voice of women is taken into account with the same weight as that of a man”

Argentina was drawn into a group with Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru for the Pan American games, with their first match set for July 28.

Reports: De Rossi heads to Argentina to sign for Boca Juniors

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According to reports in both Italy and Argentina, Roma legend Daniele de Rossi, who left the Italian club this summer at the age of 35, is heading to Argentina to finalize a deal to play for Boca Juniors.

The reports state that De Rossi will sign a one-year contract worth $560,000.

The Roma youth product has spent his entire career with the Serie A side, making 616 career appearances for Roma across all competitions and scoring 63 goals.

There was rumored interest from MLS in the 35-year-old, with NYCFC the most frequently named club, but it seems that interest never seriously took off. De Rossi also reportedly had an offer to coach in the Italian youth ranks and interest from fellow Italian clubs Bologna and Fiorentina.

At Boca, he will look to return the club to the top of the Argentine Primera Division where they stood two seasons ago before dropping to third last campaign.