Manchester United 4-0 Everton: Red Devils ruin Rooney return

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  • Lukaku goal, assist, celebration
  • Valencia scores stunner (video)
  • Toffees continue road woes
  • Martial, Mkhitaryan also score

Ex-Everton striker Romelu Lukaku helped ruin Wayne Rooney‘s return to Old Trafford, picking up a goal and an assist against his former team as Manchester United topped Everton 4-0 on Sunday.

Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored for United, which has the joint-most points in the league but sits behind Man City by alphabetical order alone.

Starting up top, Rooney provided several clearcut chances for Everton, but Lukaku had an assist before punching in an 89th minute goal and celebrating wildly at Old Trafford.

The ex-Toffees striker was also a threat, picking up a late assist, and will rue chipping a simple finish wide of the goal in the first half.

Everton is now winless in 11-straight away PL matches, a league-high, and remains 17th with four points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jordan Pickford didn’t have much of a chance on Valencia’s wonderful opener. A quick free kick was played short to Nemanja Matic, who hit a ball across the arc of the 18 for Valencia to smash home.

Romelu Lukaku snapped into action against his former club as the match neared the 20-minute mark, just shades away from providing a goal or assist as United looked to build on its lead.

That’s when Rooney nearly tied it up. Playing up top, he cut Cuco Martina‘s pass across his body but wide of the far post.

Lukaku then let Everton off the hook when he opened up 1v1 with Pickford and shot it wide of the far post.

Tom Davies was rightly deemed offside on a 29th minute chance that ended up in the back of the goal.

With all the focus on Lukaku, it was another former Toffee who nearly made it 2-0 when Marouane Fellaini challenged Pickford for a 50-50 ball but saw his effort miss the mark.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rooney almost bulled his way to an equalizer in the second half’s first minute, sliding to win a shot that De Gea blocked with his right leg.

A Pickford giveaway led United to a free kick and Ashley Williams to a yellow card when the defender shouldered Juan Mata to turf in the 63rd minute.

Mata’s left-footed free kick wrapped around the wall to clank off the post, and United couldn’t do anything with the ensuing corner.

Left back Ashley Young set Jesse Lingard up for a left-footed chance, but the attacker’s shot was rushed by Ashley Williams and skied over the frame.

Williams stopped Lingard from getting full purchase on a point blank shot in the 78th minute, but no penalty call arrived after Pickford stooped to collect the tame effort.

Mkhitaryan provided the much-sought equalizer in the 84th minute with Williams giving the ball away to Lukaku, who cued up the ex-BVB man for a finish past Pickford.

That’s when Lukaku scored, continuing United’s penchant for piling on late goals. And Morgan Schneiderlin gave away a penalty to Anthony Martial that the Frenchman finished to make it 4-0.

Chelsea – Watford preview: How to watch, stream info, prediction, odds

Chelsea - Watford preview
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
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Chelsea – Watford preview: Chelsea looks to rebound from a surprise loss to a relegation candidate when it hosts another scrapper on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (start time, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The Blues failed to take hold of third place after falling 3-2 at West Ham earlier this week, and will now face an ornery and underachieving Hornets side.

STREAM CHELSEA-WATFORD LIVE ONLINE

Watford’s 28 points are enough to be outside the drop zone, but just. Aston Villa and Bournemouth have 27 points each and also face top-four chasing sides this weekend.


Team news

Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah are available for Watford after being scratched from the Hornets last start for a reported quarantine infraction.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on the loss to West Ham: “Not the story of our season, but we have had many of these moments. Chance to go third but you have to do every part of the game to get them. The players in those moments have to show an extra mentality to get through a game like this. I have seen us play great games, but then I have seen opportunities to jump teams or close points, but we haven’t taken them. It shows the work we have to do.”

Troy Deeney on Watford’s struggles near the bottom three: “We’ve had chats. Everyone was frustrated so we’ve tried to park it as quickly as we can in regard to moving onto the next one, but there’s certainly been a lot of things said. It’s important we are able to do that as it doesn’t help anybody if people are not speaking up and saying what’s on their minds, so we had to get to a point where we understood everyone wants to win, no-one’s playing bad on purpose, but if you don’t get to the required standards you’re going to get called out and that’s ultimately what’s happened.”

Odds and ends

The odds reflect the task at hand for Watford at +750. A Chelsea win is -235.

Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham scored in a 2-1 Chelsea win at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

Prediction

The Blues bounce back, though not without warts in another 2-1 win.

Guardiola, Klopp disagree on gap between Man City, Liverpool

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Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp believe Man City and Liverpool are in very different places.

Very, very different places, according to the post-game reaction of Guardiola and Klopp.

[ MORE: Klopp happy with Liverpool ]

Asked by ProSoccerTalk after the game if Man City’s 4-0 win against Liverpool proves they aren’t that far behind the new Premier League champions ahead of the 2020-21 season, this was Guardiola’s response. Seriously, it was this long.

“The gap to Liverpool is more than 20 points. That is the difference between one team and the other one,” Guardiola said via Zoom. “It is 20 points. Like two seasons ago it was 25 [in favor of Man City], now it is 20 points for them. That is the reality. That result is not going to be confused with my players as to what is the reality. They were incredible, much better than us. We are not consistent and we have to recover the consistency that we had the previous seasons. It doesn’t matter anywhere we play. We take a result and points. But I am happy today because we beat a team who are the Champions of Europe and England. Like, they were really incredibly focused to beat us. I saw their faces, the way they shout, the way they communicated, they way they won it and that’s why. They didn’t come hear to celebrate absolutely anything.

“I think they celebrated and they are going to celebrate but I think they drank enough beers in the early days of the week but they came here to compete against us, without a doubt, and that is why for us, to prepare Arsenal and [Real] Madrid, it will be so important, this game, to take confidence and say ‘okay, we can do it’ but next season will be completely different. Everyone starts from zero and you have to show, first to Liverpool but especially for ourselves, that we can do it. That we can do what we have done these last few years, winning a lot of titles in many different competitions.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

ProSoccerTalk then asked Klopp what he thought about Guardiola pointing out the 20-point gap between Liverpool and second-place Man City?

“If anybody thought before that game that the quality gap between Liverpool and Man City is 20 or 23 points, I cannot help these people. That is how it is,” Klopp smiled. “Football is not about that. Football is about winning games and we did that, in a pretty impressive manner, to be honest. I saw pretty much all of the Man City games and even the games they lost were good. Unbelievable. It is the truth. It was not that they didn’t perform or whatever. They had moments when the opponents scored and that was tonight the case.

“We had our situations and if you’ve watched us before, you know we score in situations like this, more often than not. Tonight we didn’t. Not at all. Then to concede a penalty… I was really happy with the start of the game, to be honest. We were there, we were completely in the game, we pressed them, it was not comfortable for them. It was a good game. Both teams pressed high. Both teams tried to play football. When do you see that? You don’t see that a lot of times. In the very decisive moments, City was better tonight. You can see that in the result. We cannot change that. If anybody thought we were 20 points better than City, I cannot help them.”

This reaction from Guardiola and Klopp is somewhat predictable given their respective situations.

With six games of the season to go, Man City will finish a long way behind Liverpool in the table but don’t let that deceive you.

Pep Guardiola wants you to think they are a long way back to Liverpool which will in turn make his players think that and they will come back hungrier and fitter next season. Not to mention for the FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal and their Champions League clash against Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp wants you realize that Liverpool’s season has been incredible but it is not a true reflection as to their quality compared to Man City’s.

The real answer? Probably a bit of both. Man City and Liverpool are the clear title contenders and will be again next season but the result on Thursday proved they are very evenly matched. Well, they are closer than the current 20-point gap anyway.

Klopp perturbed after champions Liverpool blown out at Man City

Jurgen Klopp reaction
Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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“It’s all okay. It’s not nice. It’s not what we wanted.”

Jurgen Klopp was ornery after Liverpool were blown out of the Etihad Stadium in a 4-0 loss on Thursday.

The manager did not like a line of questioning after the huge loss, which came in the first match after the Reds clinched their first Premier League title in 30 years.

[ MORE: Man City 4-0 Liverpool ]

But you know the German wizard is a massive competitor. He took umbrage at the idea that Liverpool’s spirit was anything other than what it showed in the run-up to its title.

“I saw brilliant attitude, boys who were fighting with all they had,” Klopp said of the loss. “We didn’t behave (poorly). We lacked fluidity and in some situations, 50-50, they were just quicker than us. Then the pitch becomes big immediately. The first goal felt like five minutes along in a challenge with Sterling. There must be a second player. They used their chances not all but a lot. It it was 5-3 or something I would be positive as well. It’s a 4-nil and we had to take that.”

Klopp felt that there was a narrative being pushed that the Reds lost 4-0 because they were content with their title or still hungover.

“If you want to lead this story that we were not here with our focus. That’s the second time. I said I liked my team. It’s clear. We proved our point and that City is an incredible team. … By the way I do that always. I saw City’s season. I didn’t see a bad game. Even when they lost.”

The Reds are still the champions and a lot of the surprise from his anger probably comes from the fact that we’re just not used to seeing him after defeat.

Man City gives Liverpool guard of honor, 4-star thumping

Man City - Liverpool recap
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Raheem Sterling scored, won a penalty, and forced an own goal out of his former side as Manchester City gave Liverpool a guard of honor and then battered the newly-crowned champions 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

Kevin De Bruyne had a goal and an assist to move within three assists of equalling Thierry Henry’s PL single-season record for assists (20). It would’ve been two but Sterling’s second goal was changed to an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal.

MANCHESTER CITY – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Phil Foden scored City’s other goal and Riyad Mahrez has a stoppage-time fifth chalked off by VAR under questionable circumstances. The runners-up are 20 points back of Liverpool with six matches left each.

The four goals allowed were the most by Liverpool in a Premier League game since an Oct. 2017 loss at Tottenham.


Three things we learned

1. Weirdest… guard of honor… ever: Man City gave the new Premier League champions a richly-deserved guard of honor, as the champs walked onto the pitch between two lines of applauding runners-up. The empty stands helped deliver an extremely awkward first welcome for the new kings of England.

2. Sterling cuts up the champs: Ex-Liverpool star Sterling twice got the better of Joe Gomez in the first half. The first time was an unholy battle in the box where the winger didn’t go down after a few legit fouls before hitting the deck under a lesser shove. De Bruyne fooled Alisson Becker and converted his penalty just before the first half water break.

The second goal was class even if his first touch to fool the center back was a little heavy before slotting past Alisson. HIs third went down as Alexander-Arnold own goal but was headed home anyway.

3. Hangover, Pt. IV? Liverpool did not have its finishing boots or foreheads in the first half-hour despite having a good amount of dangerous chances, so their performance coming out of the gates makes it hard to put the blowout down to mentality. Although maybe the club’s perpetual drive to become a title-winner took a that will take a minute to reclaim.

Regardless, when we wrote about the “What now?” of post-title Liverpool, we pointed out that the Reds’ biggest obstacle to boasting the best league season of all-time is what City did two seasons ago.

In 2017-18, City lost twice and drew four times, collecting 100 points while scoring 106 goals with a plus-79 goal differential. The Reds are now at two losses and two draws with six to play, sitting on 70 goals and a plus-46 GD.

Still the champions, though, and you wouldn’t put it past them to score six-a-game for a while.

Man of the Match (and Player of the Year)

De Bruyne. He’s just incredible, one of only five players to score 10-plus goals and 10-plus assists across Europe’s top five leagues (Jadon Sancho, Lionel Messi, Alassane Plea, Serge Gnabry).


Man City – Liverpool recap

Gabriel Jesus was offside when he potted a third-minute breakaway.

Mohamed Salah could’ve had it 1-0 at the other end but his less-than-ideal take was collected by Ederson.

Liverpool put the first two shots on target before Kevin De Bruyne led a charge that finished with a blocked shot in the Reds’ 18.

The Reds countered through Sadio Mane, but the Senegalese sensation’s shot spun wide.

Salah then beat Ederson but not the goal post as Liverpool kept knocking at the door.

De Bruyne might’ve won a penalty off Virgil van Dijk in the 23rd minute, but referee Anthony Taylor blew his whistle and gave a foul in the run-up.

Sterling then did win a penalty off Joe Gomez in a minuscule bit of revenge for their early season dust-up(s).

Ederson deployed his best Manuel Neuer in racing well outside the 18 to deny Salah with a slide before clearing the danger with a second touch.

Sterling made it 2-0 on a Phil Foden-led rush, beating Gomez and then Alisson with a cool finish despite a tough first touch.

Foden delivered a goal of his own before halftime to make it 3-0, a tremendous 1-2 with De Bruyne to put the Belgian within three of Thierry Henry’s single-season assist record.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Jesus had a 49th-minute chance to provide City’s fourth but sputtered his shot to a stooping Alisson. Then Sterling drove the middle before taking a shot that was deflected just wide of the far post.

De Bruyne took an incredible first-touch pass and neatly had another assist when he found a shoved Foden for a missed effort.

Mane won a free kick on the edge of the 18 in the 56th as Liverpool hoped for a penalty.

Instead, City scored again when De Bruyne cued up Sterling for a shot that was slid into the Liverpool goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It should’ve been 5-0 when Mahrez beat Alisson in stoppage time, but the ball hit Foden’s arm in the build-up when Fabinho dragged the City man to the turf.