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Reports: Chelsea may activate Ake buyback; Gueye wanted by PSG

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Bournemouth and Everton are in the headlines for reasons other than the Toffees’ 2-0 defeat of the Cherries at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Both sides are being mentioned in Sky Sports transfer centre as potential sellers of lynchpins, which makes the rumors both eyebrow-raising and differing degrees of unlikely.

[ MORE: Southgate, Simeone on Man Utd list ]

One seems wildly amiss, with Paris Saint-Germain linked with a $51 million bid for Toffees midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye (although could Marco Silva use the dough to bring in ol’ Watford pal Abdoulaye Doucoure? We digress).

The box-to-box giant would certainly help PSG boss Thomas Tuchel in his bid to succeed in the Champions League, but the money would seemingly have to be higher for Everton to consider selling a key part of Marco Silva’s attack-first XI.

The same fee is being quoted for Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, though the Cherries might have no recourse if the 23-year-old Dutchman fancies a return to Stamford Bridge.

Sold in 2017 after a successful loan stint at the Vitality Stadium, Ake has played 60 times between the loan and permanent stints with Eddie Howe but reportedly has a $51m buyback clause in the deal.

For what it’s worth, we’re now seeing why Real Madrid and Barcelona are putting ungodly release clauses in contracts for players; Eight deals sealed by Premier League clubs this summer and fall are worth more than Ake’s release clause, which would’ve been a Top Two or Three transfer fee for a defender fee when he was signed. Now it’d be sixth.

Watch Live: Everton v. Bournemouth

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Marco Silva could use some relief at Everton, which won’t come if Bournemouth wins to pass its Sunday hosts on the Premier League table on Sunday (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Goodison Park is the scene for the Cherries’ visit. Everton hopes for a respite from its miserable run, which started with the club in sixth place when the calendar hit December and could see them in 12th with a loss.

A win, on the other hand, would see Everton climb into 10th.

Bournemouth is 0-7 against Top Six clubs, but 8-3-3 against the rest of the league. It won’t have Callum Wilson, who has a hamstring strain which is not considered long-term.

The two sides drew earlier this season at the Vitality Stadium.

LINEUPS

Everton: Pickford, Digne, Zouma, Keane, Coleman, Gomes, Gueye, Bernard, Sigurdsson, Lookman, RicharlisonSubs: Stekelenburg, Walcott, Mina, Tosun, Davies, Calvert-Lewin, Kenny.

Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Cook, Ake, Clyne, Brooks, Lerma, Gosling, Fraser, King, Stanislas. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Mousset, Ibe, Daniels, Rico, Simpson.

PL Sunday preview: Litmus test time for Spurs, Man United

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures will see a pair of top-four hopefuls do battle head-to-head, as Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Everton v. Bournemouth — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With just one win in their last eight PL outings, Everton will be hoping that their narrow victory over League Two side Lincoln City in the FA Cup last weekend will help to right the ship once back in league play. Marco Silva‘s fingers crossed it does the trick after slipping to 11th in the league table.

“Winning matches is the best way to win confidence and to start playing at our best level,” he said this week. “The best way to show (our quality) is by the results and the wins. We achieved the main thing against Lincoln and we have to work strongly again to achieve a good result in the next match.”

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: None | Bournemouth — OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee), Dominic Solanke (hamstring)


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

Sunday’s showdown at Wembley will serve as a litmus test for both Tottenham and Man United, as well as their respective managers. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will put his unblemished record as United boss on the line against Mauricio Pochettino, who might just replace him at Old Trafford in the summer.

With all due respect to the likes of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, third-place Spurs will pose a challenge Solskjaer’s side has not yet seen since Jose Mourinho was fired following a humbling defeat to Liverpool last month. United didn’t fare so well the first time these sides met this season, as the Red Devils suffered a thoroughly embarrassing 3-0 defeat that home in August. While Solskjaer has restored the attacking intent at United, he will be without a number of key defensive figures on Sunday, with Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian all reportedly unavailable or left out of the squad.

Along the same lines, Spurs are enjoying their best run of results all season, despite experiencing a rash of injuries — particularly to the midfield, where Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have, somehow, become an irreplaceable duo. Finally, Eric Dier (appendectomy) is expected to return, as is defender Jan Vertonghen (thigh), thus affording Pochettino a majority of first-choice midfield and defensive options. Son Heung-min, who has amassed seven goals and five assists in his last seven games (all competitions), will play on Sunday before departing to join up with South Korea at the Asian Cup. It was agreed between the two side that Son remain with his club until after the game against United, missing the first two group games in the process.

INJURIES: Tottenham —  OUT: Mousa Dembele (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee) | Man United — OUT: Eric Bailly (suspension), Chris Smalling (foot), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed)

Everton’s owner hits out; aim is to ‘win the Premier League’

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Owner Farhad Moshiri has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Everton Football Club since he took over in February 2016, but the former Arsenal investor hasn’t had a good time of things so far.

Speaking at Everton’s general meeting the majority shareholder revealed that he has told manager Marco Silva that sitting in 11th place in the table “is just not good enough” but that he has the full support of the board to deliver the goods.

Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Everton’s CEO, has added that she believes the Toffees must win Premier League titles as the plough ahead with plans to move into a new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock which would cost close to $630 million and seat close to 60,000.

“To win Premier League titles and compete regularly in the Champions League in a world-class, world-renowned football stadium,” Barrett-Baxendale said of Everton’s ambitions.

Steady on…

Evertonians will be delighted to hear all of this but on the pitch not much has changed since Moshiri took over. Sure, he’s chucked plenty of money at the Merseyside club but he’s also had four managers in Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and now Silva, with only a seventh place finish to show for it.

The fact Everton made Silva their number one choice and gave him plenty to spend in the summer shows they have faith in him, but these comments from Moshiri show that frustration is building in the boardroom as well as the stands at Goodison Park.

Under Silva and new director of football, Marcel Brands, there have been positive results this season but also plenty of lows recently as the Toffees have lost four of their last five PL matches.

“We did our homework and we put a big bet on Marco and we stick with him. He has our total support and we have a professional in Marcel Brands who monitors the progress,” Moshiri explained. “Consistency has been an issue but we have had some terrific performances and the challenge in the second half is to have more of those performances. The football management team are totally focused on it. We know what we are and I’m comfortable.”

Everton last won silverware in 1995 and although they are still in with a decent chance of finishing seventh and qualifying for Europe this season under Silva, the development of the playing style is not going as well as Moshiri and Evertonians had hoped.

Richarlison, Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes have all been top signings, but some of the other recent buys (Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun and Yerry Mina to name a few) just haven’t worked out.

Being the ‘best of the rest’ must be Everton’s aim and if Moshiri and Everton’s fans are unhappy with that, they must be more patient. Is sacking Silva, just like Koeman, really the road he wants to go down again?

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 21

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It’s been just 16 days since our last check-in with the Premier League club power rankings, but three more matches have been played and the title race is open again (which technically means it was never closed, but whatever).

[ MORE: Title odds for Top Five leagues ]

All this ahead of a weekend which could see big shake-ups at the bottom of the PL table and our power rankings, as Burnley hosts Fulham and Huddersfield Town heads to Cardiff City.


20. Huddersfield Town — Steve Mounie scored his first goal of the season in the 2-1 loss to Burnley, which is not good considering he’s their $15 million striker, had played almost 1000 minutes at that point, and the season started in August.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Flunked its Arsenal test to the tune of 4-1 (it wasn’t that bad), but all will be forgiven with a win at Burnley.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Newcastle United — If owner Mike Ashley doesn’t give spend significant money this month, he’s going to lose Rafa Benitez and his spot in the Premier League. That’ll make a club’s price tag on the takeover market sink something fierce.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

17. Burnley — Sean Dyche has his men bag above the red line, and will be looking to truly exhale by beating Fulham at Turf Moor.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Getting a point at Leicester on Saturday would say something big about manager Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Saints revolution.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Cardiff City — The Bluebirds can essentially vanquish a relegation rival from their rear view mirrors by handling miserable Huddersfield Town this weekend.
Last week: 17
Season high: 15
Season low: 20

14. Bournemouth — Cherries versus the Top Six? 0-7, 0 points. Cherries versus everyone else? 8-3-3. This, perhaps, is why Eddie Howe is always linked with clubs that have a bigger budget; He doesn’t quite have the ponies to run with the best, even for 90 minutes.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

13. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson‘s men are back in time for another second half run. This is what they do.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

12. Everton — They’ll have to be addressed in a longer post, but I have serious questions about Marco Silva that I’d ask loudly if I wasn’t terrified for Evertonians sake that it would mean Big Sam or some other demon of bad football would be back. Richarlison needs to bail out his benefactor, and soon.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. Watford — I kinda hate this team — not the club, Watford supporters — for clearly being capable of contending for the Top Seven but not putting in consistent performances. Just one win from its last three matches would’ve had them in seventh.
Last week: 9
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

10. West Ham United — Manuel Pellegrini‘s men have hit a rough patch, but are showing heart and you wouldn’t bet against them getting something from Arsenal this weekend.
Last week: 7
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

9. Brighton and Hove Albion — Unbeaten in three and a sexy pick to steal a point from Liverpool?
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

8. Wolves — Has there ever been a team to have a winning record against the Top Six but a losing record against the rest of the field? Their results are the Moussa Sissoko of results. That’s really unfair to Raul Jimenez, who runs his shorts off, but we’re talking about results not performances.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

7. Leicester City — They’re doing it again, luring me into the belief that the Foxes are the clear favorite to finish seventh. This all but guarantees a weekend loss to Southampton at the King Power Stadium.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

6. Arsenal — Just eh. A 4-1 win over Fulham flattered the Gunners, and the club’s clear focus on the future is healthy but uninspiring when it comes to the season.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

5. Manchester United — Still haven’t played much of anyone in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, but that changes this week with Spurs.
Last week: 6
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

4. Chelsea — A new center forward or fully functioning Alvaro Morata could inspire a charge, but right now the Blues look an Eden Hazard injury from dropping out of the Top Four and needing to lean on the Europa League for UCL qualification.
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

3. Spurs — Tottenham still has all five of its Top Six rivals left on its schedule, with three of those away from Wembley/White Hart Lane. It will be difficult to rise above third.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — More games like the 2-1 win over Liverpool please. Not because City won, but because it was so much fun. Now can they run through the final 17 matches without dropping more than a point or two?
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Even with the loss to City, the schedule says Liverpool would need to choke in a big way in order to fail in its bid for a first top-flight title of the Premier League era.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4