Mamadou Sakho

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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.

Watch Live: Crystal Palace v. Arsenal

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Crystal Palace host Arsenal in a tasty London derby at Selhurst Park (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Roy Hodgson‘s Eagles sit one place and one point above Mikel Arteta‘s Arsenal heading into this game as the oldest and youngest managers in the PL lock horns.

In team news Palace have new loan signing Cenk Tosun on the bench, while captain Luka Milivojevic is suspended and Mamadou Sakho is out so they are replaced by Gary Cahill and Cheikhou Kouyate.

Arsenal are unchanged from the team which beat Man United last time out in the Premier League.

LINEUPS

Howe: Speculation of move away from Bournemouth ‘nonsense’

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Eddie Howe issued a stinging rebuke of reports linking him to a move away from Bournemouth, moments after his Cherries were beaten by 10-man Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

“This speculation is nonsense and I’m standing here as Bournemouth manager,” Howe said. “I live my days for the club and I always have been, and that will never change.”

[ RECAP: Palace 1-0 Bournemouth ]

Howe led Bournemouth to promotion from League One to the Premier League, and has kept the club in the top flight since its debut in 2015/16. His name is attached to all kinds of managerial jobs, from open gigs like Arsenal to currently held jobs like Everton.

The Cherries have finished 16th, 9th, 12th, and 14th, impressive feats, and again sit 12th after Tuesday’s loss.

Howe took responsibility for the loss, which came despite Palace playing 70-plus minutes with 10 men after a red card was given to Mamadou Sakho for a wild slide tackle.

“The sending off seemed to harm us mentally and we never stamped our authority on the game,” he said. “We needed a little bit more guile and creativity but it was lacking today. I’m not going to criticize the players and I’m going to take responsibility. It’s not good enough and I have to go away and think about what I do.”

10-man Palace tops Bournemouth, moves fifth

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Crystal Palace played down a man for more than 70 minutes but was still the more dangerous team in a 1-0 defeat of disappointing Bournemouth on Tuesday at Selhurst Park.

Palace moves into the Premier League’s fifth place despite Mamadou Sakho‘s early red card, using a Jeffrey Schlupp goal to collect the points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Cherries were very poor, out-shot by the Eagles despite their numerical advantage. Bournemouth has now lost four-straight league matches and sits 12th with 16 points.


Three things we learned

1. Super sub Schlupp piles woe on Cherries: Ghanaian international Schlupp was only brought into the match when Patrick Van Aanholt suffered a first half injury, but his pace and power proved the difference with just under a quarter-hour to play in South London.

2. Billing living up to his, well, billing: The Dane took a season to adapt to the Premier League but his sophomore season at Huddersfield Town was one of the lone reasons not to write off the Terriers until they were condemned to the Championship. He’s been just as good in his first year with the Vitality Stadium set, as the Danish international had won seven aerials and four tackles by halftime.

3. Sour Cherries in dreadful slump: Tuesday’s defeat marked the fourth-straight loss since a defeat of Manchester United, and Eddie Howe‘s men have just six points since Sept. 28. That was their first match since an embarrassing first half loss to Burton Albion in the League Cup. Next up: Liverpool and Chelsea. Yeesh. At some point, should Eddie Howe look for a new home? Might he not have a choice?

Man of the Match: One of three players who were influential on the left, as Schlupp joining Wilfried Zaha and assist man James McArthur in having fine days. Honors to the scorer.


There wasn’t much in the first 20 minutes, but Sakho made sure that opening sequence ended with vigor.

The Palace center back, making his first start of the season, earned a red card after he slid studs-up into the knee of Adam Smith.

The hits kept coming Palace’s way, as the hosts had to use a sub when Patrick van Aanholt pulled up with an injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Schlupp was the man who entered the match, and he provided the winner in the second half when he dribbled between Dominic Solanke and Jefferson Lerma to use Chris Mepham as a screen. Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale will still want it back.

Vicente Guaita was only asked to make three saves despite Palace’s 70-plus minutes down a man.

PL Sunday Preview: Palace host Leicester; Tottenham travel to Everton

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 11.

Crystal Palace v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Leicester City has plenty of things going for itself: a super reliable Jamie Vardy, an impenetrable backline, and a recent 9-0 win against Southampton, to name a few. In other words, what was supposed to be a year filled with trials and tribulations following Harry Maguire‘s record departure and Brendan Rodger’s first, full season at the helm, has been a close replica of the Foxes’ historic 2015-2016 season. Whether it will have a similar Cinderella ending is a different discussion, but there are certainly parallels.

How will this surprising Leicester hold up at Selhurst Park, though? If Rodgers has ever struggled at a venue, it’s Palace’s.

“As long as there’s green grass and posts, it doesn’t matter where the game is,” Rodgers said prior to Sunday’s game. “We go there to win. They [Palace] have got an outstanding manager who I’ve got a huge amount of respect for. The team is coached extremely well and they have some outstanding players.”

Palace, who’ve climbed as high as fifth in the table this season, are in the midst of a challenging stretch of games. A loss to Manchester City and a recent draw to Arsenal have slowed down the Eagles, who have top-three sides Chelsea and Liverpool lined up following Sunday’s bout. That wasn’t the topic of discussion in at Selhurst, however. Roy Hodgson, who is three seasons into his tenure, confirmed that there are contract extension talks being held with Palace.

“I just read today or heard today that Donald Trump, who is a little bit older than I am [by one year], is planning to stay on as President of the United States for the next five years,” Hodgson said. “With respect, this is an important job I have here but not as important as being the leader of the free world.”

“I must say I don’t wake up every morning thinking how old I am,” he said. “I don’t feel 72, no-one is going make me feel 72 or make me feel like I am too old. The day may come when I feel that way and it certainly hasn’t happened yet.”

INJURIES: Crystal Palace —  OUT: Mamadou Sakho (match fitness), Connor Wickham (match fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Vicente Guaita (groin) | Leicester City — OUT: Matty James (calf)


Everton v. Tottenham — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Surely, the season has more turns to give, but as it stands, Tottenham and Everton are far from meeting expectations. Only two points separate the two sides, who stand 13th and 17th in the table, respectively.

Tottenham are winless in their last three and have only picked up one win in their last five games. Their latest showing, a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, showcased glimpses of the formidable Spurs that made headlines last season. With Everton a lopsided loss away from hitting rock-bottom, Mauricio Pochettino and company have a slim psychological edge, if anything.

Maybe they’re unaware of their mental superiority, but the Argentine manager made sure to shine some light on the topic.

“We need to be positive, feeling that positivity makes us believe we can beat any team,” Pochettino said. “At the moment we struggle a little bit in our confidence.”

“The most important is how we are going to finish, it’s not nice to see you in the middle of the table but that is a reality we need to accept,” he added. “If you don’t accept the reality you are going to struggle. In our mind we know very well that we need time, to be strong, be solid and start to win because that is going to be the best thing for us.”

As for Everton, the team’s situation has distanced itself from the messages of hopeful. Only two points out of relegation, there’s a deep sense of urgency and panic at Goodison Park. It’s a now-or-never aura that surrounds the team, specifically boss Marco Silva.

“We have not achieved the results we want [this season] and taken what we deserve,” Silva confessed heading into Sunday’s bout. “The last game is clear of that but football is about results.”

“We need to change it as you can’t have two faces – one when you play at home and one completely different away,” he added.

Game on.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Bernard (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Yerry Mina (knee) | Spurs  — OUT: Erik Lamela (thigh), Hugo Lloris (elbow); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (hamstring)