Fabian Delph

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Gomes return gives Everton boost despite defeat

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Everton lost the first game of a gauntlet four-game swing, losing 3-2 at Arsenal despite leading inside two minutes of the match. But while Everton left the Emirates without any points, it gained a massive boost with the return of Andre Gomes.

The Portuguese central midfielder, signed from Barcelona, made his return to the field on Sunday off the bench in the 59th minute for his first game since suffering a gruesome injury on November 3 against Tottenham. Gomes appeared to break his leg after a sliding tackle from behind from Heung-Min Son, but in less than four months, Gomes is now back in action.

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“I need to thank everybody. The team, they were great, my supporters, Evertonions, and also in general football supporters, everyone has been wonderful with me,” Gomes said after the Arsenal match. “(It) gives (me) confidence when you feel like you have the support of the people. I just pushed myself to the my limit, I wanted to be back as soon as possible, and I’m glad I have the help of everybody around me.”

This is huge for Everton and head coach Carlo Ancelotti. Without Gomes, and the oft-injured Fabian Delph (though Delph started against Arsenal), Everton really lacked pace and power in the center of midfield. Morgan Schneiderlin is a decent passer but doesn’t have the pace required for the Premier League, and then Ancelotti was dropping Gylfi Sigurdsson further back in midfield to play alongside Schneiderlin or Delph.

With Gomes back in contention for a starting spot, Ancelotti can play Sigurdsson closer to the opposing goal and partner him with either Delph or the still-young Tom Davies, who can do even more running to win the ball back and get it to Gomes.

“He did really well without problem,” Ancelotti said post game. “(He was) very strong in the tackle. The player is really important for us and he will play next game.”

Looking forward, it’s also huge for Everton to get Gomes back because they’re in the middle of one of the season’s toughest stretches. After facing Arsenal today, Everton hosts Manchester United, visits Chelsea, and then hosts Liverpool on Monday, March 16 in the Merseyside Derby.

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.

Everton overcomes two-goal deficit, red card to beat Watford

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Watford’s bid to leave the drop zone was canceled out in unlikely fashion as resolute 10-man Everton scored a 3-2 comeback win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra helped Watford to two-goal lead, but unlikely hero Yerry Mina scored twice in first half stoppage time for Everton.

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Theo Walcott scored late as Everton overcame Fabian Delph‘s sending-off to secure three points and ninth place on the table.

Watford sits 19th, two points off the safe spaces.


Three things we learned

1. Ancelotti’s contending Everton doesn’t quit: Down 2-0 away to Watford, Everton ironically showed how different they’ve become since firing former Hornets boss Marco Silva for Carlo Ancelotti. Mina stepped up with two clutch goals before the break. Delph’s second yellow card might’ve been reason to doubt the outcome, but the Toffees truly deserved all three points and Walcott delivered the goods. Everton is now a factor in the race for Europa League places.

2. Goalkeepers struggle: Ben Foster is one of the most consistent goalkeepers in this generation of Premier League backstops, and Jordan Pickford is England’s No. 1. You wouldn’t imagine either of those things are true in this five-goal match, which saw seven shots on target but just two saves (both from Foster). Woof.

3. Mina brace comes out nowhere: Mina entered first half stoppage time with one Premier League goal in 36 appearances for Everton. He left with three in what was a miniature version of Newcastle’s stunning second half comeback through Florian Lejeune.

Man of the Match: It’s Mina.


Gerard Deulofeu continued his remarkable return to form by setting up Masina’s goal, and the Hornets doubled their advantage through two other usual suspects.

Pereyra took advantage of a poor clearance and some quick thinking from Troy Deeney, cutting into the box to make it 2-0.

But hold on! Mina scored twice in four minutes of stoppage time, the first a close-range finish and the second an unmarked header.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Fabian Delph put hopes of any or all the points in the balance with a second yellow card in the 71st minute.

Remarkably, the Toffees got the winner. Moise Kean was the playmaker for Walcott’s stoppage-time winner.

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.

Premier League Preview: Everton v. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea sit 4th, with 29 points
  • Everton sit 18th, with 11 points
  • Last meeting: Everton 2-0 Chelsea

Everton’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League season has been beyond woeful (4W-2D-9L in 15 games) for any club, let alone one that had dreams of breaking into the top-six this season, resulting in manager Marco Silva losing his job on Thursday. Now, fewer than 48 hours later, the Toffees have to pick themselves back up and face a top-four side for the third straight game when Chelsea visit Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Having lost three straight PL games, including defeats to second-place Leicester City and leaders Liverpool this week alone, the next few weeks will go a long way toward seeing Everton leave the relegation zone in the rearview mirror or sink deeper and deeper into the muck of a season-long relegation battle. A piece of potentially positive news for Everton ahead of Saturday’s game: they are currently three games unbeaten against Chelsea (1W-2D-0L).

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As for the Blues, this could turn out to be a decisive week in their season. After losing to West Ham United last weekend, Frank Lampard‘s side bounced back with a win over Aston Villa on Wednesday. Then came the best news of all on Friday: Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half and they will be able to sign players in January, meaning their young, thin squad can be bolstered as the look to solidify their Champions League place for next season.

With a floundering side like Everton next up on the fixtures list, the chance to move further clear of the Champions League chasing pack is perfectly ripe. Tammy Abraham (hip) returned for the game against Villa and scored the opening goal to take is season’s tally to 11 (second, behind Jamie Vardy). The 22-year-old has benefited more than anyone from what turned out to be Chelsea’s one-window transfer ban, doing more than enough to secure his place for the second half of the season, no matter what business they do in January.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Andre Gomes (ankle), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee)

Chelsea: OUT – Ruben Loftus-Cheek (achilles), Antonio Rudiger (groin)


Projected lineups

Everton: Pickford — Sidibe, Keane, Mina, Digne — Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson — Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

Chelsea: Kepa — James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta — Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic — Abraham


What they’re saying

Interim Everton boss Duncan Ferguson: “I’m a coach at the moment so I don’t think that is something I am considering at this time. It is my dream to be Everton manager but I am also realistic. Who wouldn’t want to be manager of Everton? There will be many top managers who want this job.”

Frank Lampard, on the new-manager bounce: “[Marco] Silva tried everything for the club and I’m sure that he will go on to manage well elsewhere. They might have an extra energy tomorrow as they rally.”


Prediction

Chelsea have far too much balance between defense and attack to hand Everton the glaring opportunities they will need to beat a genuine top-four side. That said, there’s far too much talent in that squad to continue to get beaten every time out, and perhaps seeing someone else take the blame will lift the burden off them and allow them to perform. Everton 2-2 Chelsea.