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Vardy, Iheanacho power 4-star Foxes past Villa

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Kelechi Iheanacho again collected a goal and an assist and Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester City punished Aston Villa in an entertaining 4-1 at Villa Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jonny Evans also scored for the Foxes, who maintain their place eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jack Grealish scored for Aston Villa, which stays ahead of 18th place on Southampton on goal differential.

Leicester City hosts Liverpool on Boxing Day, a date to circle on the calendar.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho emergence a new wrinkle: Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho was always lurking as a possible star during his time at Man City, but couldn’t break through and transferred to the King Power Stadium. Life hadn’t been easy at his new home, but a goal and an assist in consecutive Premier League fixtures can make a difference as Leicester hopes to challenge Liverpool. Resting Jamie Vardy on occasion without a big drop-off would be a potentially monumental development.

2. Vardy’s party a record bash: The 15th and 16th goals of Vardy’s PL run put him on pace for 38. That would be six better than Mohamed Salah‘s 38-game record and four better than the 42-game mark shared by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Even when he makes mistakes, he finishes.

3. Hobbled Mings a big worry: Villa star center back Tyrone Mings pulled up with an injury but attempted to fight through it. Full credit to him, as he’s been the easy star of the newly-promoted side’s start to life in the Premier League, but an absence or step back from the block and clearance machine will be a major blow to Dean Smith‘s side.

Man of the Match: It’s between Vardy and Iheanacho — James Maddison was also good — and we’ll choose Vardy because we gave it to Iheanacho at midweek.


Kelechi Iheanacho slipped Vardy through on goal, and the Foxes striker nearly blew his chance despite dribbling the keeper.

Ezri Konsa would’ve liked to challenge Vardy following the unusual mis-touch, but the defender was felled by his own sliding keeper.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

After Anwar El Ghazi just missed a promising bid to equalize, Villa’s Bjorn Engels slid to break up a Vardy pass to a wide open Iheanacho.

The Nigerian got his goal in the 41st, a James Maddison cross deflected goal ward and off his leg for 2-0.

Grealish bounced a shot through traffic and inside the far post after Vardy couldn’t clear a corner kick.

Leicester needed less than four second half minutes to restore its two-goal advantage, the unmarked Evans perfectly placing a back post header across goal off a corner kick.

Everton provides update on Gomes injury, players in shock

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Everton has provided an update on the Andre Gomes horror injury that left Goodison Park in shock on Sunday, saying the midfielder was scheduled for surgery today to repair a broken and dislocated ankle suffered while falling to the ground after being brought down by Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son.

Gomes was left with a gruesome injury that saw players from both teams stunned and emotional as the Portuguese midfielder screamed in pain. Son himself was utterly inconsolable on the field, and when he was eventually sent off – a decision Mauricio Pochettino slammed after the game – he walked straight down the tunnel head in hands.

The club issued a further update, saying that Gomes’ surgery went “extremely well” and that he is “expected to make a full recovery.”

The moment brought both teams to an emotional threshold, and while they finished the rest of the game as Everton rescued a 1-1 draw at the death, the aftermath was a time for both teams to come together as the players coped with what transpired on the field.

According to a report by Greg O’Keeffe and Charlie Eccleshare of The Athletic, who detailed the incident and its aftermath at Goodison Park, the moment haunted players from both sides and Everton players especially were collectively struggling to deal with the emotions. A backroom staff member reportedly emerged from the locker room back onto the empty pitch and proclaimed, “There are grown men crying in there.” The report states Son was still visibly distressed as much as 25 minutes after the match had ended.

To help Son pull himself together, Everton captain Seamus Coleman entered the Spurs dressing room and helped console the South Korean. This was a particularly poignent gesture given that Coleman himself suffered through a devastating leg break back in 2017 that has left him with more than just physical wounds. Coleman’s words, according to The Athletic report, “temporarily seemed to soothe Son’s devastation.” It didn’t last long, however, as the report details how Son walked through the mix zone with his head in his hands, not even speaking to the Korean journalists waiting for him.

The gesture was not lost on Pochettino, who made sure to share his gratitude with the media during his post-match press conference. “The players from Everton were fantastic,” he said. “The captain came to the dressing room to console Son. I want to say thank you to the players and Coleman, who came in on behalf of the squad of Everton.”

Son was far from the only person on the field to be scarred by the moment. Spurs defender Serge Aurier was also deeply affected by the incident. Aurier was also involved in the challenge and may have felt some responsibility, seen praying on the field in the immediate aftermath while Gomes received treatment. Everton striker Cenk Tosun, who immediately attempted to console Gomes as everyone realized the seriousness of the injury and medics rushed onto the field, spoke about how he is struggling to erase the look of horror on his injured teammate’s face from his own memory. The Premier League is even reportedly ensuring a sports psychologist will be made available to referee Martin Atkinson in the aftermath of the incident.

Current and former Everton players took to social media looking to wish Gomes well in his recovery. The most poignant of which came from former Everton and current Copenhagen defender Bryan Ovideo, who himself suffered a gruesome leg break in an FA Cup game against Stevenage.

Gomes has a long recovery ahead of him and is almost surely done for at least the rest of the season, but he is far from the only one affected by the distressing scenes at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Everton’s Coleman consoles Son after Gomes injury

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As both Everton and Tottenham Hotspur come to grips with the gruesome injury suffered by Andre Gomes, it’s worth noting that Toffees player Seamus Coleman made a huge gesture after the 1-1 draw.

Spurs forward Heung-Min Son badly missed with a slide tackle that sent Gomes airborne, the Everton man breaking his ankle on an awkward landing.

[ RECAP: Everton 1-1 Spurs ]

Son was given a yellow card — later turned to red — but went pale as a ghost after he saw Gomes’ injury. Dele Alli said Son was crying in the locker room well after the incident.

It wasn’t too long ago that Coleman broke his leg on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, with Wales defender Neil Taylor’s reckless challenge costing him a long spell on the sidelines.

Coleman will remember learning that Taylor wanted to visit him in the hospital, and sought out Son after Sunday’s events.

Toffees midfielder Fabian Delph summed up the feeling in the Everton team room.

 “We feel just as you can imagine,” he said. “It’s difficult time for us. He is one of our brothers, someone we care about. It is difficult to put into words how we feel. As soon as we could get in touch we will send him our best. It’s difficult to see. It’s hard to talk now.”

Obviously, everyone’s minds are with Gomes right now, and Son as well. It was a reckless slide but not a malicious tackle.

Watch Live: Everton v. West Ham

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Everton host West Ham United at Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Toffees have called this a ‘must win’ game to get their season back on track.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Marco Silva‘s men have lost four Premier League games on the trot and fans are starting to increasingly call for the Portuguese coach to be fired.

As for West Ham, Manuel Pellegrini‘s men have had a topsy-turvy start to the season but look set for a sustained push for a top seven finish this season.

In team news Everton make five changes from the team which lost at Burnley last time out, as Djibril Sidibe comes in to replace the suspended Seamus Coleman.

West Ham have Declan Rice in midfield after he struggled with illness over the international break, while Robert Snodgrass is back on the bench. Pablo Fornals and Arthur Masuaku come into the starting lineup for the Hammers.


LINEUPS

Premier League preview: Everton v. West Ham

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  • West Ham is unbeaten in 6 away PL games, 1 off club record
  • Everton has scored just 1 second half goal this season
  • West Ham has not scored in 4 of past 6 PL meetings with Everton

Everton manager Marco Silva looks to cool his scorching hot seat and pull the Toffees out of the relegation zone as they host West Ham on Saturday morning, live on NBCSN at 7:30 a.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Everton v. West Ham ]

With just seven points through the first eight matches of the season, Everton sits 18th in the Premier League table and has a hard choice to make about Silva’s job status should they continue to stumble. The club has scored just six goals thus far, third-worst tally in the league. Silva’s biggest job is to shore up the defense, but not far behind is returning Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson to their peak attacking form. The pair have just two goals and two assists in Premier League play between them, and none in their last three games. Sigurdsson especially has been a complete disaster, leaving Moise Kean completely on an island up front, still yet to open his goalscoring account. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been more willing to chip in with his two goals, but it still hasn’t been enough.

They match up against an in-form West Ham side that lost before the international break to Crystal Palace but before that had gone six matches unbeaten, including three straight clean sheets against Norwich City, Aston Villa, and Manchester United. The Hammers sit eighth in the table with 12 points, just two points off the top four.

The purchase of striker Sebastian Haller was highly praised over the summer, and he has already paid dividends with four goals in league play. With Felipe Anderson in good form supporting the attack, the Hammers are a danger up front, especially for an Everton defense left without protection after the departure of Idrissa Gueye. Still, the loss of in-form goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski hurts, and they’ve given up three goals in three halves of play without him so far.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Seamus Coleman (suspended), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Cenk Tosun (groin). QUESTIONABLE – Fabian Delph (hamstring).
West Ham: OUT – Lukasz Fabianski (thigh), Winston Reid (knee), Michail Antonio (hamstring).


Projected lineups

Everton: Pickford; Digne, Mina, Keane, Sidibe; Schneiderlin, Delph, Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin.
West HamRoberto; Fredricks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble, Anderson, Lanzini, Yarmolenko; Haller.


What they’re saying

Everton manager Silva on not panicking: “We are together in this situation. One month ago, before the first international break, we were in sixth position and in a good moment. I am the first one to take responsibility but it is good to see the players take it as well.”

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini on attacking mentality: “I think that we are where we deserve to be. I am very pleased with the style of football. We scored a beautiful goal against Crystal Palace, we are making chances and trying to score, we play the most amount of time in the opposite half, we have more shots on target. The fans deserve to have our style of football and we will not change that whether we are winning or losing.”


Prediction

Everton is in a bad place, but there’s too much talent on that squad to continue like this…right? West Ham is in good form but lost before the international break and isn’t impenetrable. Everton will score a goal (surprise!) and secure a 1-1 draw that’s enough to postpone Marco Silva’s departure at least another week.