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PL Preview: Everton v. Crystal Palace

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  • Everton has 3 straight clean sheets v. Crystal Palace
  • Everton owns 19 points in 10 games under Carlo Ancelotti
  • These teams drew 0-0 in the opening game of the season

Everton has one more clear opportunity to continue its great form before slamming headfirst into a brutal stretch of games as the Toffees host Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Saturday, with kickoff slated for 7:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

After this weekend, Everton breaks for two weeks before an upcoming fixture list that features consecutive matches against Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester City, and Tottenham with Norwich City the only lower-tier side sandwiched into that group.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The Toffees have won four of their last seven Premier League games, suffering just one loss over that span and finding themselves just four points back of fifth-placed Tottenham. One reason for the solid run of form is the relatively clean bill of health, which is only blemished by the long-term injuries to Andre Gomes – who will be returning soon – and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.

Crystal Palace has just one win in its last 10 league games, and while draws were sustaining the Eagles for a while, they have lost two in a row to Southampton and Sheffield United and desperately need a result to hang their hat on. They remain without striker Cenk Tosun who is out with a hamstring problem, while Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp remain long-term absentees.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Fabian Delph (suspended), Andre Gomes (ankle), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh). QUESTIONABLE – [none].

Crystal Palace: OUT – Mamadou Sakho (hamstring), Jeffrey Schlupp (groing), Cenk Tosun (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE – [none].


Probable lineups

Everton: Pickford; Digne, Holgate, Mina, Sidibe; Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Walcott, Iwobi; Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.

Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Tomkins, van Aanholt; Milivojevic, McArthur, McCarthy; Zaha, Ayew, Townsend.


What they’re saying

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti on Crystal Palace: “I expect a difficult game. Palace have their own quality and a manager with lots of experience. With the support of our stadium I think we can have three points. Now we have to be focused. It is an opportunity to climb the table [against Palace]. We have to close this period and prepare for the end of this season. The games are really difficult.”

Palace boss Roy Hodgson on his future at the club: “The fact is the chairman and I had very positive discussions during the week. I have no reason to doubt the intentions of the club are any different now to how they were: to ask me to stay. I’ll be having further discussions in the coming days and we’ll see where that leads.”


Prediction

It’s undoubtable that Everton is miles better under Carlo Ancelotti. Just look at the results…after earning just 14 points in 15 games under Marco Silva, the Toffees now have 19 points in 10 games under Ancelotti and just one loss in that stretch. That point haul is second only to Liverpool in the last 10 games as teams around them continue to stumble. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Everton climbs into a European place by the end of the season – in fact it’s somewhat likely. Still, Crystal Palace is a draw machine and after two tough-luck losses, they’ll be sure to defend hard. Both teams would be happy with a point here, and that is probably where they’ll end up via a 1-1 scoreline.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

Manchester United Watford live stream link
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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf