Leighton Baines

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USMNT left back Robinson making waves with Wigan

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There’s a good chance that the United States men’s national team secured its right back of the future when Ajax defender Sergino Dest announced his decision to forego a possible switch to the Netherlands.

Is the USMNT’s long-sought answer at left back springing forth about 550 miles away in England?

[ MORE: Dest a win for Berhalter ]

Antonee Robinson, 22, left Everton for Wigan Athletic this summer following a terrific loan stint, and is now thriving in his second season with the Football League Championship side. His 1237 league minutes trail only veteran goalkeeper David Marshall.

Robinson is averaging 2.6 tackles and two interceptions per game show a steadiness without the ball, but the bell-ringing stat is his 26 successful dribbles. That’s a Top Ten figure in the league, just behind Jack Harrison and sea of attacking minds.

He wanted to it to happen at Everton, but his path was blocked by the club’s Player of the Season (Lucas Digne) and its player of the last 10 years (Leighton Baines).

“It’s a shame, because you’re sat watching training when you want to be joining in, but that’s football,” Robinson said. “There’s only so long you can wait. They brought in Lucas (Digne) in my position who was probably their best player last season and they had Bainesy who is one of the best left-backs to have played in the Premier League. I had to come here and play. Get thrown in and either sink or swim.”

He admits his $2.5 million move to Wigan is meant to earn him a place back in the big time. If he can manufacture another few months like this, that may happen this summer if the Latics cannot get promoted (They sit nine points back of the last playoff spot).

Playmaking left backs who can handle their defensive responsibilities are worth a lot more than what Wigan paid, and the profit would be welcome.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT back on the move in England

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Left backs! Get your left backs here!

We’ll learn a bit more about how much a Premier League club values an American asset in the next couple of weeks.

Everton left back Antonee Robinson spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic, and the Latics are said to have bid to bring the seven-times capped 21-year-old from Merseyside to Greater Manchester.

Robinson is yet to appear for Everton on a senior level, but has made 60 appearances between Bolton Wanderers and Wigan on loan the past two seasons.

[ MORE: USMNT faces T&T for first time since Couva ]

He was third on Wigan in tackles-per-game and second in interceptions-per-game.

Everton has 25-year-old Lucas Digne as the easy first choice left back following an incredible season at Goodison Park, and coverage from Leighton Baines. Will it be a sale or a Premier League loan for Robinson this season?

Let’s stay with left backs, and look to a team with one of the best in the Premier League. Liverpool have Andy Robertson, but Jurgen Klopp may be ready to pay nearly $58 million to secure depth at the spot.

The name is Junior Firpo, and the Real Betis man has that figure as his release clause. The Dominican Republic 22-year-old has 43 appearances for Betis and has scored five times with seven assists. He’s also played left mid.

Meanwhile, Arsenal is also looking to improve at left back but went a bit low with their opening salvo to Celtic over Bhoys star Kieran Tierney.

Tierney, 22, has 170 appearances at his young age, having scored eight times with 37 assists. Arsenal apparently bid just under $20 million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.

Consider that Liverpool bought fellow Scottish left back Robertson from Hull City for around $10 million in 2017, and that Robertson captains the Scotland national team while Tierney is not a regular.

The price for players has leapt since that point, and we imagine the deal won’t get done for under $25-30 million if it’s done at all.

Out of contract Premier League Best XI

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With the 2018-19 season in the books, Premier League clubs are already turning their attention to next season.

Players are coming towards the end of their contracts, with the PL’s summer transfer now open which means some players can move on free transfers when their deals expire, usually on July 1.

Which players are available to pick up at the end of their deals on freebies?

There is always a lot of chatter at this time of the year about who will stay, which players have a one-year option to extend their deals, and which clubs also have that option. Olivier Giroud will stay at Chelsea for one more season, but he would have been the top striker available on a freebie this summer, while Ander Herrera is expected to sign for PSG after announcing he will leave Man United when his contract expires. Plus, Aaron Ramsey has already signed for Juventus, so he’s not available to pick up on a free transfer.

However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding several star names at some of the PL’s biggest clubs. If you are a newly promoted club (Norwich, Sheffield United and one of Aston Villa and Derby County) you are no doubt looking at this list of experienced PL players and getting pretty excited.

Take a look at our “Out of Contract Best XI” below, as several players have yet to agree new deals with their current clubs.


Premier League, Out of Contract Best XI – 4-4-2 formation

—– Michel Vorm —–

Danny SimpsonGary CahillPhil JagielkaNacho Monreal — 

Antonio ValenciaMohamed DiameJuan MataAlberto Moreno — 

—- Daniel Sturridge —- Fernando Llorente —- 

On the bench
Willy Caballero
Leighton Baines
Danny Williams
Ander Herrera (expected to join PSG on free transfer)
Samir Nasri
Bakary Sako
Andy Carroll


Premier League Preview: Everton v. Chelsea

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  • Everton boss Marco Silva has defensive duo Seamus Coleman (illness) and Leighton Baines (back) available, although Phil Jagielka (knock) is ruled out.
  • Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma is unable to play against his parent club. The Blues could have striker Gonzalo Higuain available after he missed the midweek Dynamo Kiev win through illness.
  • Everton has failed to score in their last five Premier League meetings with Chelsea. They last failed to score in six consecutive league matches against an opponent between 1972 and 1979, a run of seven against Southampton.

Chelsea looks to build on its morale-boosting 5-0 win in midweek over Dynamo Kiev with a trip north to face Everton this Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com). It’s been quite the turnaround for Chelsea, which has won six games in the last month after a torrid run in the Premier League in January and early February.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Chelsea’s recent form has enabled them to stay in the hunt for the top four in the Premier League. With Arsenal and Manchester United off and both above them, Chelsea can overtake the pair and move into the top four with a win by a five-goal margin. It would represent a major turnaround after Maurizio Sarri was on verge of being sacked.

Everton meanwhile had another embarrassing moment in what’s been an underwhelming season. Last week’s 3-2 defeat to Newcastle saw them blow a two-goal lead for their 13th defeat of the year. The pressure keeps growing for Marco Silva and his job may be in jeopardy with another poor performance.

What they’re saying

Everton manager Marco Silva on Everton fans making an impact against Chelsea: “If the fans can repeat [that] atmosphere, we will be delighted about that. It is a quality team we are playing against, we have to show our quality also. With our fans, with the atmosphere we can achieve at Goodison again, they can push us to achieve the three points. I want to have some words to the fans who were with us at Newcastle, too, they didn’t deserve that result. I am 100 percent sure of that. Now we are back at home and if the fans can repeat what they did in the derby, it will be fantastic.”

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on the win over Dynamo Kiev: “We started very well. We wanted to start in this way because it was important to score after the result in Stamford Bridge. We were able to score after five minutes. For the opponent it was a difficult situation. We played a very good first half. In the second we managed the result. It was a wonderful performance for 90 minutes.”

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Prediction

Chelsea are in strong form recently while Everton can’t seem to catch a break. Even going on the road, the Blues are certainly the favorites to win and I expect they’ll find a way. Chelsea 2-1 Everton

PL Sunday preview: Merseyside, west London derbies on tap

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A big weekend of Premier League derbies wraps up on Sunday, when Merseyside and west London showdowns take center stage with plenty of title and top-four implications.

[ MORE: Man City win, lose KDB | Man United come back, beat Southampton ]

Watford v. Leicester City — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Brendan Rodgers is set to make his return to the PL when he debuts as Leicester manager on Sunday. Rodgers, who was appointed the Foxes’ new boss earlier this week, was in attendance for his new side’s 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday — a result that snapped the six-game winless skid (five losses) that ultimately cost Claude Puel his job. It was Leicester’s first victory since New Year’s Day. Rodgers was hugely successful at Celtic — two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups in two-plus seasons — his first stop after being fired by Liverpool in October 2015.

Up first is a trip to eighth-place Watford, a side that went to Anfield and suffered a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool on Wednesday, just five days after hanging five goals of their own on Cardiff City. The Hornets, under first-year boss Javi Gracia, haven’t lost back-to-back games since the first week of December, a streak which included a 2-1 defeat to Leicester in these sides’ first meeting of 2018-19.

INJURIES: Watford —  OUT: None | Leicester — OUT: Marc Albrighton (hamstring), Daniel Amartey (ankle)


Fulham v. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Fulham’s first season back in the PL will almost certainly end with the west London club making an immediate return to the Championship, but that fact hardly suffices to explain the Cottagers’ struggles this season: following Claudio Ranieri‘s dismissal and the appointment of Scott Parker as interim manager, Fulham have now employed the same number of managers as they have won games (4). The deficit they must overcome to pull off the greatest escape the PL has ever seen? 10 points with 10 games left to play, beginning with a visit from nearby Chelsea on Sunday.

Speaking of managers coming under fire of late, Maurizio Sarri‘s situation at Chelsea is hardly any better these days. Not only have the fans turned on him, but the Blues have lost three of their last five league games while also falling flat in the League Cup final. That league form has seen them tumble to sixth in the PL table, now five points back of fourth-place Manchester United, though Chelsea now have a pair of games in hand. Sarri says Kepa Arrizabalaga will reclaim his place as first-choice goalkeeper in one of the next two games after refusing to be subbed off in that final defeat, giving way to Willy Caballero to keep the clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

INJURIES: Fulham —  OUT: Alfie Mawson (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Andre Schurrle (illness) | Chelsea — OUT: Danny Drinkwater (undisclosed)


Everton v. Liverpool — 11:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Sure, Liverpool would be delighted to complete their second double over Everton in three seasons’ time, but the Reds will have their sights set much higher than Merseyside dominance on Sunday. Now two points back of Manchester City in the PL title race, Jurgen Klopp‘s side needs all three points from one of its toughest games each season to keep pace with the defending champions and remain on pace to lift England’s top-flight trophy at Anfield for the first time since 1990 (pre-PL era). Having only beaten the Toffees in the season’s first meeting via one of the stranger goals you’ll ever see, the trip to Goodison should prove more difficult than Everton’s ninth-place standing might indicate.

Everton have a bit more confidence now than they would have had this, the 233rd edition of the derby, been played earlier this week. After losing three straight, by a combined score of 6-1, Marco Silva‘s side bounced back with a 3-0 thrashing of Cardiff on Tuesday — a result that might have just bought the first-year Portuguese manager a bit of time. Of particular worry for Everton: star forward Richarlison, who paced the side with 10 goals until Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s brace against Cardiff pulled him one ahead, went without a goal for the entire month of February and has scored just one PL goal since Boxing Day.

INJURIES: Everton —  QUESTIONABLE: Leighton Baines (ribs) | Liverpool — OUT: Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Roberto Firmino (ankle)