Djibril Sidibe

Ancelotti wins on Everton debut

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Carlo Ancelotti got off to a winning start as Everton’s manager as they ground out a 1-0 win against Burnley on Boxing Day.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the winner late on in a tight, physical battled at Goodison Park as both teams went close early but the Toffees just about deserved to take all three points.

With the win Everton move up to 13th on 22 points, while Burnley have 24 points and sit one place ahead of them.


3 things we learned

1. Ancelotti expectant on sidelines: Whenever the camera panned to Carlo Ancelotti, in the dugout for the first time as Everton’s manager, he didn’t look happy. That level of expectancy drove his side on as the Toffees clicked through the gears late on and finally scored to get the win they deserved. He has so much experience and has won so many trophies and with that comes a level of performance he will expect. That should help get Everton out of a relegation scrap this season and then kick on next season.

2. Toffees continue to improve defensively: It started under Duncan Ferguson during his spell as interim boss and Everton have now conceded just twice in their last four games, as they’ve won two and drawn two. Mason Holgate has come back in and helped shore things up and playing with three center backs certainly helped them out. Everton have enough attacking weapons to win games, as long as they keep solid at the back.

3. Burnley dig deep ahead of tough stretch: The Clarets dug deep, as they always do, and were denied by some brilliant Everton defending in the first half. Sean Dyche‘s side didn’t force the issue enough and they now have a daunting run of games coming up as they play Man United (twice), Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester City in their next six PL games. The Clarets are only six points above the drop zone, so they know they have to beat some of the big boys at home in the coming weeks. Turf Moor, especially at this time of the season, will be key in deciding how their season goes.

Man of the Match: Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Ran himself into the ground up top and scored the winner. He is still so young and has all of the tools to succeed in the Premier League.


Burnley almost took the lead early on as Yerry Mina headed Chris Wood‘s header off his own line and Jack Cork then went close from the resulting corner.

At the other end Mason Holgate should have given Everton the lead from a set piece situation but Nick Pope saved superbly.

Lucas Digne had a free kick deflected wide as the home side grabbed a foothold in the game in the first half.

Richarlison had an effort before half time which caused Burnley problems but the visitors held their own.

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Bernard had a shot deflected wide in the second half as the Toffees clicked through the gears going forward. Djibril Sidibe almost bundled home after powering into the box as it was all Everton in the closing stages but Burnley remained a threat on the break.

Seamus Coleman flashed a shot just over from distance as the Toffees pushed for the opener but were frustrated by a stubborn Burnley defense.

Jordan Pickford then handled the ball outside the box but Burnley couldn’t make the most of a dangerous free kick.

Premier League Preview: Everton v. Arsenal

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  • Everton (18 points) sit 16th in PL table
  • Arsenal (22 points) sit 10th
  • Last meeting: Everton 1-0 Arsenal

Freddie Ljungberg‘s tenure as interim manager has but one game remaining, and the same could also be true for Duncan Ferguson at Everton, when the two sides meet at Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com). Mikel Arteta was announced as the Gunners’ new boss on Friday (he’ll take control of the first team beginning on Sunday), and Carlo Ancelotti is still widely expected to take over the Toffees in the coming hours or days.

Before the inevitable change takes place, though, Saturday offers another opportunity for a pair of hugely underperforming clubs to start the difficult climb up the Premier League table.

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Arsenal currently sit 10th, though they trail fourth-place Chelsea by just seven points. A second-half resurgence under Arteta could easily see them return to the UEFA Champions League for the first time after three seasons in the dreaded Europa League. For revenue purposes, it’s something the club desperately needs to achieve. With just one win in their last nine PL games, the Gunners should be nearly out of striking distance for a top-four finish, but all three of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have struggled to varying degrees and left the door wide open.

As for Everton, three wins from their last nine games were enough to pull them out of the relegation zone, though they still sit 16th, just three points clear of 18th-place Southampton. Ferguson guided the Toffees to a 3-1 demolition of Chelsea two weeks ago, followed by a 1-1 draw away to Manchester United a week ago. Despite their current place in the table — they are just four points out of 10th — things might already have begun to turn around at Everton.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (calf), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Lucas Digne (groin), Gylfi Sigurdsson (illness), Djibril Sidibe (illness), Fabian Delph (hamstring)

Arsenal: OUT – Sead Kolasinac (ankle), Dani Ceballos (hamstring), Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Rob Holding (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring)


Projected lineups

Everton: Pickford — Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne — Iwobi, Davies, Holgate, BernardRicharlison, Calvert-Lewin

Arsenal: Leno — Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers — Guendouzi, Torreira — Pepe, Ozil — Lacazette, Aubameyang


What they’re saying

Ljungberg, on the future of Arsenal: “The message from me is still the same, get behind us and support the team. It’s been an honor to have helped the club I love for the last few weeks and I am excited to work with [Arteta] and his staff moving forward.”

Ferguson, on his future: “Obviously [Ancelotti] is an incredible manager, he’s won everything. It would be fantastic to work under a top manager. I’ve worked with a few in the past, so I would like to continue my education if possible. I’m not looking to move away. I just want Everton to be successful. I want the new manager to come in and do a fantastic job. If I can be a part of that, then brilliant. I love the club and I love my job. If I go back to being a coach, then that’s fine by me.”


Prediction

Arsenal’s defensive depth is set to be tested with Kolasinac, Tierney and possibly Bellerin unavailable due to injuries. Every Everton attack should originate from wide areas, where they’re particularly strong, which should bring plenty of success on Saturday. Everton 2-1 Arsenal.

Fired up Everton shock Chelsea

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Everton beat Chelsea 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday as the Toffees reacted superbly to manager Marco Silva being fired in midweek.

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Goals early in each half from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin set them on their way to a massive three points for Everton as Chelsea wasted several glorious chances. Mateo Kovacic grabbed their lone goal to make it interesting, but Calvert-Lewin scored late on amid glorious celebrations from caretaker boss, and former Everton star striker, Duncan Fergsuon.

With the win Everton momentarily move out of the bottom three and have 17 points, while Chelsea lost for the second time in the last three PL games and remain in fourth but may only be three points clear of fifth-place a the end of the weekend.


3 things we learned

1. Ferguson’s bravery pays off: As a player Duncan Ferguson was totally committed and Everton’s caretaker boss received a performance from his players which would have made him proud. He set Everton up in an aggressive 4-4-2 formation with plenty of attacking talents and it worked. Chelsea couldn’t get out of their own half early in each half, and strong, committed defending rattled the Blues. Everton showed signs that Ferguson may be the man they’ve been looking for. He certainly fired up their talented but recently lackluster squad.

2. Clean sheets biggest issue for Chelsea: Four clean sheets in 24 games in all competitions this season isn’t good enough for a team which wants to finish in the top four. Frank Lampard had a face like thunder when Everton went 2-0 up as Chelsea were their own worst enemies time and time again. No team in the PL’s top 10 have conceded more goals than Chelsea so far this season. Tomori and Rudiger were missed as Christensen and Zouma were bullied by Everton’s attack. It’s a familiar story for Chelsea.

3. Physicality too much for Pulisic: He’s had an incredible few months for Chelsea but Pulisic was clearly targeted by the Everton defense on Saturday. The USMNT winger was clattered time and time again and was left on the floor on many occasions. He battled hard but was given no time or space on the ball. He will now be receiving special treatment like this every time he steps on the pitch in the PL.

Man of the Match: Dominic Calvert-Lewin – A real handful for the Chelsea defense as he battered them and scored twice. Led the line superbly and imitated what Duncan Fergsuon used to do. Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic scored a really good goal and ran the show in central midfield and he didn’t deserve to be on the losing team, but this was DLC’s day.


The Toffees got off to a perfect start as Richarlison scored with the first meaningful effort of the game.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin set up the move and ball was pushed to the right where Djibril Sidibe crossed for Richarlison to head home. Goodison went wild as Big Duncan Ferguson galloped down the touchline in celebration.

The Toffees almost doubled their lead as Theo Walcott crossed for Richarlison but the Brazilian couldn’t quite get on the end of it. Soon after Calvert-Lewin had a great chance but he never looked confident as Kepa saved it.

Chelsea were almost handed a way back into the game as Michael Keane gave the ball away inside his own box but Tammy Abraham and Willian failed to make the most of a glorious opportunity.

Pulisic then nutmegged Gylfi Sigurdsson to set up Willian who crossed for Abraham but Chelsea’s leading goalscorer couldn’t convert as the visitors finally woke up with Mason Mount crossing moments later but Abraham couldn’t get on the end of it. Mason Holgate then blocked Mount’s shot as Everton battened down the hatches.

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The second half continued at the same incredible tempo as Everton doubled their lead within a few minutes after having a couple of chances. Kurt Zouma‘s clearance caused havoc in his own box and Calvert-Lewin won the ball back and slotted home. Pandemonium at Goodison as VAR checked and confirmed there was no handball by DLC.

Moments later Everton almost made it 3-0 but Richarlison’s effort was saved by Kepa, and then Chelsea were back in it.

Azpilicueta’s run into the box saw the ball eventually find Kovacic on the edge of the box and his shot towards goal went in. VAR checked that Abraham hadn’t interfered from an offside position and he goal stood.

The chances kept coming for both teams as Everton were eager to put the game to bed as Walcott raced clear but Kepa saved at the near post.

Chelsea looked in control as the final moments arrived as the excellent Kovacic ran at goal but smashed just wide and then Mount blazed a great opportunity high and wide after Kovacic again pulled the strings.

Substitute Tom Davies got his header all wrong as Everton tried to wrap up the victory, with Jordan Pickford brilliantly denying Azpilicueta at the other end.

Calvert-Lewin then bundled home as Ferguson ran down the sidelines amid jubilant scenes as an Everton hero secured a massive win on his managerial debut.

Everton must think bigger than retread replacement for Silva

Photo by Richard Sellers - PA Images via Getty Images
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Marco Silva is out as Everton manager, the Toffees turning the page on a disappointing execution of their ambitious vision.

Despite plenty of investment, Silva’s Everton wasn’t able to do much of anything good and now sits in the Premier League’s Bottom Three after 15 match days.

[ MORE: Everton sacks Silva ]

Silva’s men finished eighth in the league during his first season, but the best he can say about his truncated sophomore campaign is that the club are into the League Cup quarterfinals.

So what will Everton do now? Well, Duncan Ferguson is in charge for the Toffees’ Saturday visit from Chelsea, though the club has vowed to “swiftly” find their next full-time boss.

Frankly, the club could do its next man a favor by taking its time, as the post-Chelsea fixtures are Manchester United, Leicester City in the aforementioned cup fixture, and Arsenal.

Back on topic, what the Toffees should do is appoint a man with vision. While it would be tempting to slide into the comfortable slippers that are David Moyes, appointing him or some Sam Allardyce or Mark Hughes type would be another step in the wrong direction.

That’s because this is truly an opportunity for the right coach to take the club in a tremendous direction. Everton might be in the drop zone, but its talent is a mile ahead of true relegation candidacy.

Whoever is hired — and this is why Big Sam is probably holding aloft a boombox outside Goodison Park — is going to “save the Toffees” and earn another season at the helm. Allowing that to be some retread would be a mistake.

Rafa Benitez isn’t going to come to Goodison Park because of his relationship with Liverpool, but a a manager of his ilk should very much be in play. The Toffees boast a still-improving star forward in Richarlison and two proper fullbacks in Lucas Digne and Djibril Sidibe.

Richarlison is 22, Alex Iwobi is 23, and Moise Kean just 19 and adapting to a new country. Defenders Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate, and Michael Keane are all under 26. A manager who can develop and fine tune talent will have a field day with this roster. Imagine Dominic Calvert-Lewin reaching his potential.

Their 9.1 shots allowed per game is a figure bettered by only Man City and Chelsea. The side has been prone to allowing those shots to be dangerous ones, but there’s every reason to believe that fixing their fourth-worst goals conceded total should happen soon given some adequate goalkeeping performances.

Jordan Pickford is England’s No. 1, but hasn’t been right for the Toffees. Logically, he’ll get back to at least average and start stealing some points. The goals are going to keep coming, and likely increase with the wins; Everton is eighth in the xG table.

The Premier League is better when Everton is a good side. The Toffees are not going to be relegated this season, and need to approach that hiring with that mindset. Get someone worth believing in, not just blind hope and a nod to the past.

Super sub Iheanacho gives Leicester stoppage time win

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Leicester City came from behind to become the second Premier League team to break the 30-point barrier following a 2-1 defeat of Everton at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Kelechi Iheanacho had a stoppage time goal awarded by VAR after he assisted Jamie Vardy‘s league-leading 13th goal earlier in the second half.

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Second place Leicester remains 8 points back of Liverpool, while 17th place Everton remains two points clear of the Bottom Three.

The last second capitulation may be the last straw for Marco Silva, whose Toffees looked set to get a fine point.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho stars off the bench: It’s been a tough run for the Nigerian at Everton since a high-profile move from Manchester City, but Brendan Rodgers called Iheanacho’s number at the right time. He set up Vardy’s equalizer before scoring deep in stoppage only to see the linesman’s flag up. But VAR showed Yerry Mina‘s knee kept Iheanacho’s shoulder onside by millimeters, and Iheanacho was able to celebrate a second time.

2. Richarlison unmarkable when at his best: When Richarlison is firing, there are few more powerful forces in the Premier League. The big man commanded the area on Sunday, not just with his opening goal but with another header off a corner that went wide of the goal and a terrific bit of strength and speed in working Caglas Soyuncu to produce an early second half chance for Gylfi Sigurdsson. His season total is up to six goals and two assists in 17 matches.

3. Vardy keeps firing: The veteran English striker extended his Premier League goals lead to 13 when he bundled in Iheanacho’s cross to give him eight goals and two assists in his last six matches. It’s an incredible run for Vardy, who nearly assisted a James Maddison goal moments after his marker.

Man of the Match: Wilfred Ndidi was everywhere, even shuttling the ball to Iheanacho in the run-up to Vardy’s equalizer. He passed well, and won balls left, right, and center. With apologies to Richarlison, the honor goes to the Nigerian.


Lucas Digne crossed to produce an eighth minute chance for Djibril Sidibe, but the Frenchman blazed his shot just over the bar.

At the other end, a falling Ayoze Perez dribbled a shot to Jordan Pickford.

It was almost all Leicester, so of course Everton went ahead in the 23rd minute. Alex Iwobi played a marauding Sidibe down the right side for a cross that Richarlison powered home with a header.

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Ben Chilwell won a penalty off Mason Holgate in the 34th minute, and VAR had a long look after the Englishman hit the deck despite no contact. The penalty call was withdrawn.

The second half saw Richarlison beat Soyuncu, a rare feat, to cut back for Sigurdsson. The Icelandic star had his shot partially deflected for a corner.

Wilfred Ndidi sent Ricardo Pereira on goal, but Pickford made a fine low save to keep it 1-0.

Holgate froze Ndidi when he took down a cross and switched to his right foot, but his drive was blocked.

Vardy made it 1-1 in the 68th minute with a goal in his sixth-straight appearance, racing to the back post to meet substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s pass through the 18 past Holgate.

He’d then produce an assist-worthy pass to Maddison before craning his neck to put a header just over the bar. Leicester City were knocking at the the door.

Richarlison set up substitute Moise Kean for an 80th minute arrow that flew into the outside of the side netting.

Iheanacho scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, and VAR defied the linesman to give him his first Premier League goal in a year.