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PL Preview: Manchester City v. Everton

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  • Man City has won only two of its last seven matches against Everton in all competitions and has managed only one clean sheet in that run. Everton has drawn its last three Premier League away matches against City, with only four goals being scored in these meetings (two each).
  • Under Pep Guardiola, Man City has conceded seven PL goals against Everton. It’s the most the club has allowed to any Premier League team in that span.
  • Man City hasn’t lost a PL match against a non “big six” opponent since January 2017, against Everton. Since then, it has won 139 points out of a possible 153 in these matches (W44 D7 L0).

For the first time since April, Manchester City enter a Premier League match on the back of a defeat, as the Sky Blues prepare to take on Everton at the Etihad Stadium, Saturday morning (U.S. time)  (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea shocked the world with a 2-0 win over Manchester City last Sunday, but after a strong mid-week performance, even with so many stars injured, Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola appear to feel confident the club can return to its winning ways. Guardiola said ahead of the match that Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and John Stones will all be assessed ahead of the match, and could play a part.

For Everton, Idrissa Gueye is an injury worry but after a wild, 2-2 draw with Watford, Marco Silva‘s side is looking for its first win since it beat Cardiff three weeks ago.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

A win for either team would push them up in the table, putting plenty on the line as the Premier League weekend action kicks off.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on facing Everton: “We make good games but we dropped four points. Tomorrow is another game, the Everton team has changed completely with Sigurdsson and Richarlison, Yerry Mina – it is a top side. I’m really impressed with how they have done so far. It will be a tough game. We will see how we react playing at 12.30 p.m. (local).”

Everton manager Marco Silva on the Man City challenge ahead: “Of course, we will have our plan for the match,” he said. “We know City are a very good team with a very good manager, too. We know we are playing against possibly the best Premier League team. They have a lot of individual quality. It will be tough for us, but it is a good game for us to enjoy, to challenge a team like (Manchester) City. Our players have shown we like these type of games.”

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Prediction

Manchester City is not used to losing, especially in the league, and should Aguero, de Bruyne and Stones return, it will be a very tall task for Everton to overcome the talent gap. Everton may make it a game for a while, but Manchester City should pull out the win at home. Manchester City 3-1 Everton

Asian Cup Wrap: South Korea clinches top spot in group, and more

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Heung-Min Son started, recorded an assist and went 89 minutes three days after arriving in the United Arab Emirates as South Korea finished off the group stage with a resounding, 2-0 win over China.

With the win, South Korea’s third straight, the Taegeuk Warriors advance to the knockout stages as one of the top seeds, where they’ll face a third-place team in their next match. Ui-Jo Huang scored on a penalty kick in the 14th minute to give South Korea the lead, and six minutes into the second half, Min-Jae Kim powered home a header off a Son corner kick to put the game away.

[READ: Goal-scoring Martinez re-signs with Atlanta United]

China won’t be too upset about the defeat. They finished in second place in Group C, and will open the knockout round against Thailand.

Elsewhere in Asian Cup action, Vitalij Lux scored a hat-trick as Kyrgyzstan beat the Philippines, possibly earning a spot in the knockout stages. It’s Kyrgyzstan‘s first appearance at the Asian Cup.

In Group D action, leaders Iraq and Iran, both enemies politically, perhaps finished with an appropriate scoreline. The two sides settled for a scoreless draw, seeing both advance to the next round. Vietnam, meanwhile, picked up its first win in a 2-0 victory over Yemen, potentially keeping its Asian Cup hopes alive for a few more days.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.