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Late drama galore as Palace hold Man City

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Crystal Palace scored a 90th minute equalizer to draw 2-2 at Man City on Saturday.

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Cenk Tosun had given Palace an early lead and it looked like that would be enough but Sergio Aguero struck twice in the final 10 minutes to put City 2-1 up, then Wilfried Zaha‘s run and cross was bundled into his own net by Fernandinho as the Eagles snatched a point.

With the draw Man City momentarily close the gap on Liverpool at the top of the table to 13 points but Liverpool have two games in hand. Palace sit in ninth place on 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. City’s set piece problem: Palace’s first goal summed up the issues City are having each game due to their lack of fit and in-form defenders. Gary Cahill rose above City;’s defense and Tosun was left unmarked to head home his header. For all of City’s stunning play on the ball, defensively they always look vulnerable from set piece situations. That is why they are so far off Liverpool.

2. Zaha leads Palace: Over the last few months Zaha has been superb and he really is taking games by the scruff of the beck. Palace have lost just one of their last 10 and are tough to beat and Zaha and his teammates never give up. Saturday was the perfect example of that as his probing run and cross set up the equalizer and he was a constant threat.

3. Title race will be over on Sunday: Anybody who had a slight feeling that City could get themselves back in the title race will now be feeling otherwise. Liverpool are 13 points clear of second place City and have two games in hand. Liverpool have been superb but City are dropping so many needless points.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha – His running, passing, crosses and general play was just stunning. Maybe he’s playing for a move away? Maybe he’s finally settled after a unsettled summer.


Man City dominated early on as Aguero’s free kick was saved by Vicente Guaita.

Kevin De Bruyne hit the crossbar from a free kick as Man City battered Palace, but the Eagles felt they should have had a penalty kick as Wilfried Zaha went down in the box. But VAR was used and said no penalty.

Palace took the lead from a set piece situation as a corner was headed across goal by Gary Cahill and Tosun nodded home his first Palace goal on his first start for the Eagles.

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Sterling curled just wide as City worked hard to get back in the game, with Aguero’s shot into the ground finding Bernardo Silva but his shot was saved by Guaita.

On the break Palace almost doubled their lead as Zaha found Tosun but his shot was saved by Ederson.

A huge moment of controversy then arrived as a penalty kick was awarded for a handball against Jairo Riedewald but VAR looked at the decision and overturned it as the ball his his leg first, then deflected onto his hand.

Man City did grab a deserved equalizer as a Gabriel Jesus cross to the back post found Aguero who finished.

Late on City laid siege to the Palace goal and they went ahead. Aguero struck in the 87th minute as Benjamin Mendy whipped in a lovely cross and the Argentine nodded home his second in five minutes to complete the turnaround but more late drama followed.

Zaha raced down the left wing and crossed into the box as Fernandinho could do nothing but put the ball into his own net to make it 2-2.

Watch Live: Aston Villa v. Manchester City

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Manchester City bids to move back into second place in the Premier League when it visits Aston Villa on Sunday. (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Danny Drinkwater will make his Villa Park debut in a midfield with Douglas Luiz and Conor Hourihane.

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Aston Villa enters the day in the Bottom Three and will finish there without an upset of City, who passes Leicester City with a draw or win.

Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both start for Man City, as John Stones is fit to partner with Fernandinho in the the back line.

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Man City

Gabriel Jesus brace drives Man City past Everton

Manchester City beats Everton video highlights
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Gabriel Jesus scored two goals as Manchester City firmed up its Top Four footing with a 2-1 win over Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

City now has 44 points, eight more than fourth-place Chelsea and 11 fewer than leaders Liverpool who have two matches-in-hand.

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Richarlison scored the lone Everton goal. The Toffees stall in 10th with 25 points.


Three things we learned

1. It pays to be a City center forward: Gabriel Jesus’ two goals were fine finishes. The 22-year-old Brazilian potted his 12th and 13th goals of the season in all competitions to go with six assists in 1600 minutes. Sergio Aguero was rested, having scored 14 times in just under 1200 minutes.

Entering play Wednesday, Jesus and Aguero ranked first and second in expected goals per 90 minutes of Premier League play at .91 and .88. No player with more than 300 minutes has more than .70 per game.

It’s also worth noting that xG said Jesus has actually cashed in 3 fewer chances than expected. It’s not crazy to think he may be handed the wheel next season.

2. Bravo follows the story line to keep Everton in it: The gap between Ederson and Claudio Bravo is a significant one, and the Brazilian’s illness had the Chilean back in gaffe mode. City led 2-0 when Bravo badly mishit a pass that ended up in the back of his net within a half-dozen seconds.

3. Calvert-Lewin lucky to stay on: In-form Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin couldn’t keep up his goal scorring run on Wednesday, but is very fortunate to have not been sent off for an 86th minute scissor tackle of Fernandinho on the end line. A yellow card was shown, but it could’ve been much worse for the center forward.

Man of the Match: Easy one, this time, as Gabriel Jesus was wonderful and the difference. Fernandinho also very decent in the win.


City looked to have a dream start with a classic City goal. Riyad Mahrez slipped in Joao Cancelo and the fullback crossed for Phil Foden‘s finish, but VAR spotted Mahrez offside.

VAR denied Riyad Mahrez a penalty shout, and the Algerian saw another chance go for naught in the 45th.

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Jesus scored in the 52nd minute to finally get through Ancelotti’s defense, running to meet Ilkay Gundogan‘s invitation. Jordan Pickford could only get a piece of the effort.

The Brazilian potted a Mahrez pass in the 58th minute to make it 2-0.

City clawed one back off a poor Claudio Bravo clearance, as Richarlison raced to the back post to deposit a deflected Theo Walcott shot.

Pickford denied Jesus a hat trick in the 73rd minute as the Brazilian didn’t get enough on a back post header.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v. Everton

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v. Everton
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Everton looks to continue its upswing when Carlo Ancelotti leads his Toffees into the Etihad Stadium to meet Manchester City (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s been 3-1 in favor of Man City the previous two meetings, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring the lone Everton goal in each contest.

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Calvert-Lewin has scored five times in his last five matches, growing in form and confidence for the improving Toffees.

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City is a point back of Leicester City for second in the Premier League, while Everton’s 25 points are 10 back of fourth place.


Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT — Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — David Silva, John Stones.

Everton: OUT — Andre Gomes, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Alex Iwobi, Morgan Schneiderlin.


Probable lineups

Man City: Ederson, Zinchenko, Stones, Fernandinho, Walker; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo, Aguero

Everton: Pickford, Baines, Holgate, Keane, Sidibe, Delph, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Iwobi, Tosun, Calvert-Lewin.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on Ancelotti’s appointment at Everton: “I was with him, it was an honor to be with him a few times, dinner and talk, Uefa meetings and private dinners. He is an incredible gentleman. He conducts one of the greatest and more experienced teams in Europe, the list is huge and when that happens it is because you are an incredible manager. I think it is incredible news for English football he is back and I think he can make an incredible job there.”

Ancelotti on Man City’s table problems: “Liverpool have won all of the games. That is why (Man City trail). It is a fantastic run but maybe Man City aren’t at the same level as last year. That’s the difference. They remain a fantastic team with fantastic players and a fantastic manager. It’ll be a tough test but we need confidence to compete and focus on our football.”


Prediction

Ancelotti’s men will be up for a fight like they were last time these two teams met under Marco Silva. We’ll shave a goal off that scoreline and say 2-1 to the hosts.

Premier League midseason grades

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We are at the halfway point of the Premier League season, so now seems like a good time to dish out grades to each team.

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Based on the opening half of the 2019-20 campaign, which teams have impressed? Who should be doing better?

Below we give grades on all 20 teams and evaluate their first half of the season.


Arsenal: F
Unai Emery was fired, defensively they are all over the place and Arsenal currently sit closer to the bottom three than the top four. A terrible season so far and former captain Mikel Arteta has a huge job on his hands to make them competitive again. The only saving grace is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to bang in the goals. Aside from that, shambles.


Aston Villa: D-
A decent enough start as Dean Smith‘s side showed plenty of promise after big spending in the summer but things have unraveled very quickly. Jack Grealish is doing his best but Wesley has struggled and defensively they are weak. A relegation battle beckons for Villa, and that was not expected. Smith is on borrowed time.


Bournemouth: D
Eddie Howe‘s side are in their toughest stretch since being promoted in 2015 and aside from their defensive injuries, the biggest concern is that they no longer seem capable of scoring at least two goals every game. The Cherries are slumping and it may be tough for them to turn this around. Losing Brooks to injury was a huge blow, while Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have gone off the boil.


Brighton and Hove Albion: B+
Graham Potter has had a huge impact. Brighton have gone from being one of the worst teams in the PL to watch to one of the best. Trossard and Maupay have been big attacking additions and the Seagulls should be clear of the relegation scrap. A brave hire in Potter has paid off, as he’s already signed a new deal at the Amex.


Burnley: C+
Typically Burnley. Tough to play against, grinding out wins at home and they’ve gone back to being solid defensively. Chris Wood, Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Barnes give them extra firepower and the Clarets should be battling for a top 10 finish.


Chelsea: B+
A proper Jekyll and Hyde season for the Blues who have lost at home against some very poor teams but won at Spurs, Arsenal and have pushed the big boys all the way. Frank Lampard has kept faith in the youngsters with Abraham, Mount and Tomori ever present, while Pulisic is coming in to his own. A UCL last 16 berth was a huge bonus and sitting in the top four at midway is much better than many expected. They now have the added bonus of being able to buy new players in January.


Crystal Palace: B+
Roy Hodgson continues to work miracles with a banged up squad and the fact Wilfried Zaha is finally refocused (close to the January transfer window…) has pushed them away from the bottom three. Palace need to spend some money in January to help them stay midtable, while Gary Cahill has been the bargain of the season so far as a free agent.


Everton: C-
Marco Silva was a disaster and had he stayed, the Toffees were likely going down. Duncan Ferguson galvanized the squad as interim boss and made them hard to beat, while Carlo Ancelotti has arrived to add his experience. Big names players will arrive in January and the summer. Things are looking up for Everton who have too much quality to go down.


Leicester City: A+
Pretty much the perfect season so far as Brendan Rodgers side have a 9-0 win on the board, Jamie Vardy is in the form of his life and the Foxes sit second in the table and are looking good for a top four finish with a young, talented squad also in the League Cup semifinals. Their title hopes are done and dusted but a top four finish would be a superb return, especially after selling Harry Maguire in the summer.


Liverpool: A+
Talking of perfect seasons… Liverpool could legitimately go the entire campaign unbeaten and even though they probably played better last season they are grinding out wins this season. Jurgen Klopp‘s side have that psychological edge over the rest of the PL and even though they have had some injuries to key players, they’ve dealt with it with ease. 17 wins from 18 games is incredible and Sadio Mane has been the star man for the newly-crowned World Club Cup champs. They will soon become the PL champs as their title procession has begun.


Manchester City: B-
Their inability to sign a new center back in the summer has come back to hit them hard. Kompany left and Aymeric Laporte‘s injury means that Fernandinho has had to play as a center back, and Otamendi and Stones just haven’t been good enough. Full back is also an issue and even though Kevin De Bruyne is firing on all cylinders and they look great in attack, City are back to the team they were in Pep Guardiola‘s first season in charge. They will soon go all-in on the Champions League.


Manchester United: B
Very similar to Chelsea as their young side have shown glimpses of brilliance but they’ve lost against Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Watford and Bournemouth. Defensively they are still coughing up easy goals and David De Gea is having a poor season, by his high standards. That said, Rashford, Martial and James are looking very good as a trio, while Maguire and Wan-Bissaka have slotted in seamlessly. Finding the right balance in central midfield in the second half of the season will be key if they are going to finish in the top four, but wins against Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester, plus their draw against Liverpool, prove they can mix it with the big boys. Finding consistency has to be their biggest aim for 2020.


Newcastle United: B+
Results wise it has been an amazing first half of the season for the Magpies and much-maligned boss Steve Bruce. They aren’t great to watch, at all, but Newcastle are almost closing in on the magic 40-point marker and are solid defensively. For now the natives at St James’ Park are on their side and Bruce has weathered the early storm. Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton need to produce more goals and if they do, Newcastle can push for the top 10.


Norwich City: C
The Canaries are punching above their weight week in, week out. Daniel Farke is a very good coach and he’s getting the best out of his limited squad, while Teemu Pukki is getting the goals to keep them competitive. Todd Cantwell is a gem and Norwich have had to deal with lots of injuries defensively. The only major negative is that they have been playing really well and attacking teams but they are a little naive and have been punished in plenty of games. It will be a huge surprise if they stay up.


Sheffield United: A-
Another newly-promoted team who have been open and attacking but the Blades have the defensive stability to get results. Chris Wilder‘s side are pushing for a top six finish and have only lost once away from home, at Man City, in the opening half of the season. From their overlapping center backs to Mousset, McGoldrick and McBurnie up top, they have been a wonderful addition to the PL. Fleck, Lundstram and Norwood are all so underrated too. Basically you can praise this entire team as Wilder has done a wonderful job keeping their identity intact while adapting to the PL.


Southampton: C
Probably where they should be at, just above the relegation zone. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side have recovered well from the 9-0 hammering at home by Leicester and in Danny Ings they have a Matt Le Tissier-esque savior. Ings scores almost every game and in Moussa Djenepo they have another top attacking talent. Saints need defensive reinforcements in January and if they can add quality at the back they should kick on in the second half of the season and be clear of danger. That said, the ownership need to realize that a relegation scrap will be the outcome each season until they make more funds available to spend.


Tottenham Hotspur: C+
Where do we even start with Spurs? Mauricio Pochettino was fired after a terrible start to the league season as problems brewing with players not signing new deals and Daniel Levy over transfers carried over from the summer months. Step in, the Special One. Jose Mourinho has added a cutting edge to this Spurs side and he’s refocused them. Defensively they are shambolic and they miss captain Hugo Lloris. Mourinho’s main aim is a top four finish and to go on another deep run in the UCL.


Watford: D-
The Hornets are on their third manager of the season and they’ve finally got going. Javi Gracia was fired quickly after a poor end to last season and a poor start this time around, then former boss Quique Sanchez Flores didn’t last long before Nigel Pearson arrived. Big wins against Man United and Aston Villa have followed and has them within touching distance of safety but it is still a tough road ahead. Troy Deeney‘s return to fitness is a boost and Watford believe now they can stay up with veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster in fine form.


West Ham United: F
The Hammers have hired David Moyes to replace the man who replaced him, Manuel Pellegrini. This will be very interesting. West Ham had a great start but have wavered badly and that has coincided with Lukasz Fabianski‘s injury. Now he is back and Moyes has returned they will be tougher to beat and Anderson, Haller, Antonio and Fornals have the quality to unlock opposition defenses. Still, a relegation battle is coming up and the Hammers ownership would have wanted a top six finish. They are underachieving massively.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: A-
Could they build on last season? Yep. They are probably better. Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore have improved in attack and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side will be in the top four hunt this season. They are in the Europa League last 32 after a gruelling run of qualifiers and Thursday-Sunday action but their main focus will be on qualifying for the Champions League. They can take it to the top teams in the PL but how long can they keep going with a relatively small squad?