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Guardiola praises Liverpool; injury update

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With the Premier League games coming thick and fast as midweek action now takes center stage, Premier League managers have been giving us injury updates on Monday and Pep Guardiola has praised Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has doffed his cap to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool once again, as the Reds have now moved 16 points clear of second-place Man City and have a game in hand on the reigning Premier League champions.

“We can’t deny Liverpool are extraordinary,” Guardiola said. “But everyday I live thinking about what we can do better. Some games are good, we concede few. We have scored more than Liverpool. I don’t have stats here but we concede more chances and drop points.”

In short from Pep: Damn, we should have signed more, and better, defenders this summer. Oh, and the injury to Aymeric Laporte was unlucky.

Guardiola has confirmed that Laporte is close to a return to fitness after the silky French center back missed the last four months with a knee injury. He also confirmed that both John Stones and Benjamin Mendy are doubtful for the trip to Sheffield United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

That starts our quick round up of injury news around the Premier League ahead of the midweek games…

  • Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said that Reece James has avoided a serious knee injury after coming off against Newcastle. He could play against Arsenal (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and Marcos Alonso is also back in the squad. 
  • Mikel Arteta said that Sokratis will not play at Chelsea due to illness, while Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson will both be out until early February.
  • Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that star Brazilian attacker Richarlison will miss their clash against Newcastle United on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) as he continues to recover from a knee injury. 
  • Newcastle’s injury woes continue as both Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Willems has ruptured his ACL after falling awkwardly in the 1-0 win against Chelsea. The Magpies will have to do some business in January to patch up their squad.
  • Southampton look set to be without Jan Bednarek for their trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com). The Polish center back, who has started every single PL game this season, has an Achilles injury. Palace welcome back Max Meyer as he’s recovered from an ankle injury caused by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s lunging tackle.
  • Bournemouth could have Lloyd Kelly back after his lengthy injury, as the Cherries take on South Coast rivals Brighton in a massive game at the bottom of the table.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 22

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The Premier League table’s Top Two is back to what we’ve seen for most of the season. Our Club Power Rankings are following suit, and honestly we’d be stunned if they change the rest of the way.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Look: Liverpool and Manchester City may be the two best clubs in the world, even with and perhaps because of the latter’s injury crisis.

The numbers are backing that up.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

20. Norwich City — Can versatile Lukas Rupp help steady the midfield?
Last week: 20
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 4-0 at Man Utd
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

19. Aston Villa — Welcome back Pepe Reina. Enjoy your first proper relegation scrap.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 6-1 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton

18. Bournemouth — If the manager was anyone other than a club legend, he may’ve been fired. That’s a credit to the Cherries, as they wouldn’t be luring anyone better than Eddie Howe, anyway.
Last week: 19
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City

17. Burnley — Sean Dyche has done enough if similar situations to make us leery of doubting him, but talent-wise this is one of his biggest challenges yet.
Last week: 18
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Chelsea
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester City

16. West Ham United — David Moyes isn’t going to win them all. Beating his longtime club would be a boon.
Last week: 15
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Everton

15. Newcastle United — There’s something about the spirit in this injury-riddled side, who is somehow getting by without Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles.
Last week: 16
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Chelsea

14. Crystal Palace — Speaking of injury crises, the Eagles somehow keep collecting points despite a status nearer to bare bones than adequate.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Man City

13. Watford — Fortune 500 companies ought to call Nigel Pearson and give him some sort of ‘Terry Tate, Office Linebacker’ role.
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-0 at Bournemouth
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

12. Brighton and Hove Albion — No shame in a 1-0 loss to Everton, but there’s no reward in performing well but dipping into a relegation fight. Three points from Villa on Saturday will bring some comfort.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Aston Villa

11. Arsenal — Looking steadier at the back and due for a big offensive day.
Last week: 11
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Sheffield United

10. Everton — We may be learning that Marco Silva might’ve alerted the world to Richarlison, but Carlo Ancelotti is capable of optimizing him.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at West Ham United

9. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s red and white army isn’t welcome on anyone’s fixture list. A win over Wolves puts them in frame for Europa League qualification. Wild swings.
Last week: 13
Season high: 8
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 at Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Wolves

8. Wolves — Suddenly winless in four matches with a total of two goals. Honestly, it’s quite surprising. Are they running out of gas?
Last week: 7
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Newcastle
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Saints

7. Tottenham Hotspur — With Boro in the FA Cup, Watford away, and Norwich City at home, Jose Mourinho has a chance to build confidence before a brutal run of February fixtures including Man City, Villa, RB Leipzig, and Chelsea.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Watford

6. Sheffield United — Barring a PL-record season from Liverpool, wouldn’t it be reasonable for a UEL-qualifying Wilder to be named PFA Manager of the Year?
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 1-0 v. West Ham
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Arsenal

5. Leicester City — The Foxes aren’t in danger of a long fall, but Brendan Rodgers could really use a win — gritty or otherwise — at Turf Moor.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Saints
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Burnley

4. Chelsea — Quietly unbeaten in four after their terribly uneven December.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Newcastle

3. Manchester United — Here’s a question for United fans given the success of its star loanee at Blades: What’s his price tag? David De Gea is still in his 20s, and Sheffield United’s goalkeeper is playing out of his mind on loan.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 4-0 v. Norwich City
Up next: 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday at Liverpool

2. Man City — They’re wonderful. There’s a bit of turnabout is fair play to what could legit wind up as an 85-90 point season falling 10 points shy of a title, given what City did to Liverpool last season. On pace to break their own record for goals in a Premier League season.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 6-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace

1. Liverpool — The grittiest grits to ever grit, and a lesson in buying into a system. A lot of teams could press the way the Reds do, but getting the players to commit to  it at this religious a rate is insane.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 1-0 at Spurs
Up next: 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday v. Man Utd

Everton edge past Brighton

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Everton made it three wins in their last four Premier League games as Carlo Ancelotti’s side are pushing for European qualification.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Richarlison‘s moment of magic in the first half sealed the win, as Brighton went close in the second half but couldn’t grab an equalizer.

With the win Everton are in 11th on 28 points, while Brighton are in 14th on 24 points.


3 things we learned

1. Defensive improvement continues: Everton have conceded three goals in their last five PL games and that has been the key to their recent success. Ancelotti hooked off two attacking players for Delph and Coleman and although some Everton fans were not happy it made sense. Everton need to be sensible and if they are, a top 10 finish is very likely.

2. Richarlison’s magic returns: A moment of brilliance from the Brazilian won the game for Everton and is now back to his best. After a run of five games without a goal he’s now scored in back-to-back PL games and aside from his goalscoring he looks hungry.

3. Seagulls sinking: Brighton continue to play well but they have won just once in their last seven games in the Premier League. That is a worry. They just aren’t clinical enough and they face Villa, Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham in their next four games. They need some big wins in those games to put them back on track.

Man of the Match: Richarlison – Delivered the moment of quality which won the game and was dangerous throughout.


Brighton started well but there was early VAR controversy as Lewis Dunk appeared to pull back Theo Walcott, but after a review no penalty kick was awarded to the hosts.

Brighton grew into the game as Alireza Jahanbakhsh looked lively but Everton were always looked the most likely to score first.

Richarlison first forced Mat Ryan into a save down low and moments later he put the Toffees 1-0 up.

Lucas Digne found Richarlison in the box and after a lovely piece of control and a clever turn the Brazilian curled home to make it 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

In the second half Brighton improved and had plenty of the ball as Leandro Trossard hit the crossbar with a stunning effort.

Everton thought they had wrapped up the win late on as a corner hit the post, then another effort struck the woodwork before Calvert-Lewin bundled the ball home.

However, VAR intervened as Calvert-Lewin clearly handled the ball. Glenn Murray twice went close late on as he forced Pickford into a smart save and the Seagulls forward was then just off target.

PL AT HALF: Mata’s sweet assist put Man Utd up; Chelsea, Everton lead

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We’ve seen eight goals in five 10 a.m. ET kickoffs across the Premier League, refreshed players giving refreshed performances.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United [STREAM]

Miguel Almiron gave the Magpies an early lead — WATCH HERE — but Leander Dendoncker answered quickly to put it level at the Molineux.

Chelsea 2-0 Burnley [STREAM]

Willian won a penalty that Jorginho converted, and Reece James set up Tammy Abraham for the Blues’ second goal at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United 1-0 Norwich City [STREAM]

A gorgeous, vintage Juan Mata pass found Marcus Rashford for the loan goal at Old Trafford.

Everton 1-0 Brighton and Hove Albion [STREAM]

Richarlison is the man on the score sheet at Goodison Park, his eighth league goal of the season.

Leicester City 1-1 Southampton [STREAM]

Dennis Praet put the hosts ahead but it’s been all Saints since, with Stuart Armstrong leveling the score and Danny Ings twice hitting the frame of the goal.

Gabriel Jesus brace drives Man City past Everton

Manchester City beats Everton video highlights
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
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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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

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.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

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.