Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool smash five past rivals Everton

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Sadio Mane had a goal and two assists as Liverpool tore through Everton back line in a 5-2 win at Anfield on Wednesday to bring their table lead back to eight points.

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Divock Origi scored twice, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum also scoring in the win.

Michael Keane and Richarlison netted for Everton, who slipped into the relegation zone. The Toffees sit 18th, a point behind three teams.


Three things we learned

1. Klopp’s “second choice” attack brings first class results: Origi continued his Toffee-killing ways with a first half brace, and Shaqiri delivered a goal while Adam Lallana didn’t look too rusty in a rare start. The manager has done this to his Merseyside rivals before, thumbing his nose at the gulf in class by keeping stars out of the Starting XI. It’s difficult to perceive it as anything but that, especially considering that there’s no giant ahead: Bournemouth is Saturday’s opponent.

2. Reds open floodgates and own back line in 6-goal first half: Make no mistake about the fact that Liverpool was much, much better than the Toffees in opening a 4-1 lead before halftime, but Richarlison’s wide open headed goal as the teams headed to the locker rooms showed the

3. Toffees do little to save under fire Silva: There was graft and guile, but Everton had little impact on a wobbly Reds back line. Alex Iwobi and Richarlison had their moments, to be sure, and the two goals are nice, but the Toffees were carved up like a holiday feast. Now in the Bottom Three, Everton looks at the following fixtures ahead: Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal, with a League Cup trip to Leicester City thrown into the mix.

Man of the Match: Origi had two great goals and Sadio Mane relished his Derby day. He would’ve gotten our nod after a goal and two sensational assists but he missed an 81st minute chance as if to prove his fallibility and then blew a breakaway chance in the 85th. Origi gets his derby due.


Origi had Liverpool ahead before the clock hit six, finishing a lightning counter attack. It was inspired by an incredible pass from Sadio Mane, and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made the highlight look better by charging to the top of the 18 and letting the Belgian walk around him.

Shaqiri had it 2-0 just over 10 minutes later. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent a rocket cross some 60 yards that Mane took down with his chest before playing the Swiss striker into the box for calm finish past Pickford.

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The Toffees answered through unlikely source Keane, who walked over Dejan Lovren after trapping a Alex Iwobi pass and drilled it past Adrian in the 21st minute.

Iwobi then sent Calvert-Lewin behind the Reds back line, but the Everton youngster took a sloppy touch. Virgil Van Dijk fouled the player but it wasn’t called by Mike Dean and VAR was not going to call it back.

Origi had it 3-1 before long, though, running onto a long ball from Dejan Lovren and taking two classy touches to complete his brace.

Liverpool were still in danger at times, as Richarlison was denied an assist from a sliding Lovren in the 44th.

Mane then made it 4-1 before the end of the half, as Alexander-Arnold led a counter attack off an Everton corner.

Richarlison answered in first half stoppage, turning a Bernard cross past Adrian with a fine header.

Liverpool started the second half in brighter fashion, and Everton’s chances were fewer and farther between. Tom Davies mishit a chance that Adrian comfortably gathered in the 65th.

Mane missed two chances to seal the deal, but Moise Kean let him off the hook by beating Adrian but firing wide in the 85th.

Wijnaldum added Liverpool’s fifth in the 90th minute, taking a feed after Roberto Firmino roasted Mason Holgate and poking past Pickford.

Ballon d’Or 2019 results revealed

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The full results for the 2019 Ballon d’Or voting have been announced during the glitzy event in Paris on Monday, as the top player on the planet was crowned.

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Lionel Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or, setting a record for the most wins by a single player in history.

Messi, Virgil Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo finished in first, second and third place respectively for the coveted trophy, as Messi has overtaken Ronaldo who has won the Ballon d’Or five times and VVD was aiming to become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the award.

Remember: leading journalists along with national team coaches and captains vote for the winners of this award.

Below is the list of players from the 30-man shortlist and where they finished.

28. Joao Felix
28. Marquinhos
28. Donny van de Beek
26. Karim Benzema
26. Georginio Wijnaldum
24. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
24. Kalidou Koulibaly
23. Hugo Lloris
22. Heung-Min Son
20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
20. Dusan Tadic
19. Trent Alexander-Arnold
18. Antoine Griezmann
17. Roberto Firmino
16. Sergio Aguero
15. Matthijs de Ligt
14. Kevin De Bruyne
13. Eden Hazard
12. Raheem Sterling
11. Frenkie de Jong

The top 10…

10. Riyad Mahrez

9. Bernardo Silva

8. Robert Lewandowski

7. Alisson

6. Kylian Mbappe

5. Mohamed Salah

4. Sadio Mane

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

2. Virgil van Dijk

1. Lionel Messi

Comparing this Leicester City squad to the title-winning team

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Leicester City sits second place in the Premier League table in mid-November, eight points back of a historic Liverpool position.

Since winning the title, Leicester City has finished 12th, 9th, and 9th and suddenly are challenging for a Champions League place yet again. The simple fact that the Foxes have managed to sustain considerable top-flight success over the course of the last six seasons might be even more impressive than their lightning-in-a-bottle title run.

While there are a few holdovers from the title-winning campaign, like goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Jamie Vardy who stand out among the crowd, there has understandably been considerable turnover from that title team. Midfielders N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater were sold for significant sums of money, as was winger Riyad Mahrez. Both members of the center-back partnership Wes Morgan and Robert Huth put together are 35 years old (Morgan is still with the club but has logged just 28 Premier League minutes thus far).

In now are rising stars like Wilfred Ndidi, Ricardo Pereira, Ben Chilwell, and Youri Tielemans, looking to write their own place into Foxes history.

So, naturally, we thought it fitting to compare the two sides. In another universe where Liverpool doesn’t dominate the Premier League landscape in record-breaking fashion, could this current Leicester challenge for a title? The only way to find out is to pit them against the squad that did. Here we go.


GOALKEEPER – Kasper Schmeichel (15/16) vs. Kasper Schmeichel (19/20)

Now 33 years old, Kasper Schmeichel has become one of the faces of Leicester City. Fans adore his leadership and calming presence, and respect his dedication to the club. But how does he stack up now against the likes of his younger self? With five clean sheets in 12 appearances under Brendan Rodgers this season, Schmeichel is up to his old tricks. Among qualifying goalkeepers, Schmeichel ranks second in the league in overall score according to SofaScore’s rating system, and has has managed to do so without facing a ton of shots – Leicester City has conceded the fourth-fewest xGA according to UnderStat.com.

So how does that stack up to the legendary title-winning season of 2015/16? That year, Schmeichel recorded 15 clean sheets in 38 league appearances, one behind Petr Cech‘s 16 for the league lead. He had the fourth-highest saves per goal conceded total in the league at 2.8, behind just Cech and a pair of goalkeepers with higher volume in Vito Mannone and Fraser Forster.

VERDICT: DRAW – Schmeichel is up to his old tricks, and has kept his level of play high through the years. Leicester City still has a rock between the sticks.

CENTER-BACK – Wes Morgan/Robert Huth (15/16) vs. Caglar Soyuncu/Jonny Evans (19/20)

Wes Morgan and Robert Huth built an unlikely center-back partnership at Leicester City. A former Chelsea youth product, Huth was on his fourth club after spending six years at Stoke City toiling in the middle of the Premier League table. Morgan, meanwhile, had been a career Championship player, with the previous campaign his first in the top flight. Together, they logged a massive 6,570 Premier League minutes en route to a defensive performance that saw them concede just 36 goals in 38 games, one off the league’s stingiest defensive output. By April, the two led the top-four defenders in blocks, and both appeared in the WhoScored’s top 15 for center-back ratings at season’s end.

Today, an equally unlikely circumstance has led Leicester City to the league’s best defense. 23-year-old Caglar Soyuncu has developed into one of the best young center-back prospects in the league next to experienced former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans. Thanks to that pair, Leicester City is one of just two teams to have conceded a single-digit goal total through 12 matches alongside Sheffield United. Soyuncu ranks 3rd in WhoScored rating among CB’s with at least 7 appearances, while Evans is 11th, and the former is a beast in the air and pressures with accuracy. Also, he can dribble?

VERDICT: SOYUNCU/EVANS – While Wes Morgan and Robert Huth will live in club lore, the longevity potential for Soyuncu/Evans and their underlying statistics prove they are far more than a one-hit-wonder and can be a massive asset for this club moving forward.

FULL-BACK – Christian Fuchs/Danny Simpson (15/16) vs. Ricardo Pereira/Ben Chilwell (19/20)

One of the more under-heralded fan favorites of the 2015/16 title team, Christian Fuchs is another that will live on in club lore. He was energetic and a lively presence in the dressing room. Along with his full-back partner Danny Simpson, both players were seemingly on the decline before coming to Leicester – Fuchs had made 16 and 25 league appearances in his final two season at Schalke before being shipped out, while Simpson had lost his starting place at Newcastle two years prior and spent a season in the Championship with QPR before Leicester City gave him another shot at the Premier League. Somehow, things clicked under Claudio Ranieri and the two took off, providing both defensive cover and overlapping contributions moving forward.

With Fuchs a bit-part player and Simpson off at Huddersfield Town, they have been replaced by two of the best full-backs in the Premier League. Ricardo Pereira was the second-best right-back in the league behind Trent Alexander-Arnold last season according to WhoScored, while Ben Chilwell has earned a regular spot on the England national team.

VERDICT: Pereira/Chilwell – Fuchs is an absolute fan-favorite and Simpson’s revival was stunning to behold, but like the current center-back pairing Pereira and Chilwell have the longevity to serve the club for years or become valuable assets, and the two have already earned personal accolades the previous duo would not have achieved.

DEFENSIVE MID – N’Golo Kante (15/16) vs. Wilfred Ndidi (19/20)

This is one of the most fascinating player comparisons in recent soccer memory. N’Golo Kante’s rise to become one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, earning PFA Player of the Year in 2016/17 and finishing 8th on the Ballon d’Or list for 2017. Kante was the most important player on the title-winning squad – quite simply, Leicester City doesn’t win the title without Kante leading the league in tackles per 90 (4.7) and interceptions per 90 (4.2). His ability to halt opponent counters in their tracks was mind-numbing.

And yet, Leicester City’s only gone and produced his clone.

Wilfred Ndidi leads the league in interceptions per 90 minutes and is second in tackles behind tackle machine Aaron Wan-Bissaka. At just 23 years old, the Foxes are staring another N’Golo Kante in the face, a player who many believed – rightly so – was a once-in-a-generation type midfield product.

VERDICT: N’Golo Kante – while Ndidi is a massively promising player who is producing another season like Kante’s in 15/16, it will be hard to top one of the most legendary performances of the past decade, one backed up by Kante’s rise to stardom over the past few years.

CENTER MID – Danny Drinkwater (15/16) vs. Youri Tielemans (19/20)

Danny Drinkwater has flopped since his move to Chelsea, but don’t let that cloud your memory of his performance as N’Golo Kante’s midfield partner. Drinkwater was massively important to Leicester City during the title run, scoring two goals in 35 league appearances and assisting seven more, providing a dynamic presence in midfield to both calmly hold possession and provide dangerous moves forward. Still, admittedly being next to Kante made Drinkwater look better, and that proved true through the rest of his career.

Tielemans, on the other hand, is putting up numbers of his own that prove he’s his own player outside of any lift he gets from being slotted next to Ndidi and James Maddison. His passing percentage is way up from his days at Anderlecht and Monaco, and while he still struggles with turning the ball over on occasion, his heavy volume (55 passes per 90, 13th among non-defenders) and key passes (1.8 per 90, 17th in the league) suggest Tielemans has settled into an important role with the club.

VERDICT: Tielemans – While Danny Drinkwater was important to Leicester City’s run, his peripherals suggested Chelsea probably should have been more careful with its money. Tielemans has made significant strides since his disastrous time at Monaco and has become an important cog in midfield.

ATTACKING MID/WINGER – Riyad Mahrez/Marc Albrighton vs. James Maddison/Ayoze Perez (19/20)

Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton offered vastly different skill sets that mixed well under Claudio Ranieri. (Getty Images)

Riyad Mahrez’s road to becoming Leicester City’s record sale was at times a bumpy tale, but there were no higher highs than he had in the 2015/16 title run. The Algerian international became a Premier League sensation with his 17 goals and 10 assists, doing it all for the Leicester City attack. He produced an xG of 11.88 for himself, with a silly goal conversion rate on top of that. In addition, he set his teammates up for a nearly equal 11.45 xA total, picking up 20 big chances created and dribbling successfully at a rate of 3.5 per 90 minutes. By contrast, Mahrez’s wing partner Marc Albrighton is a mostly forgettable player for casual fans, but he was massively important in other ways. Playing in every single Premier League match that season, Albrighton helped keep the shape and offered a more rigid foil to Mahrez’s marauding, with Fuchs overlapping on the left.

This season, James Maddison is the standout attacking player for the Foxes, with the 22-year-old developing into a key contributor up front. The youngster is eighth in the league in key passes per 90 minutes, and he himself is ripping off over three shots a game, with four league goals already to his name. Still, Maddison could be creating more – with 23 shot assists on the season so far, only two have qualified as “big chances” according to SofaScore. Ayoze Perez has not quite brought the explosiveness we saw in his Newcastle days over to the King Power Stadium, but his three-goal haul is also proving important early on.

VERDICT: Mahrez/Albrighton – while this duo was sorely one-sided, the season Riyad Mahrez had for Leicester City that title-winning campaign was an attacking display for the ages. Maddison is an extremely solid future asset contributing at a high level for such a young age, but he still has distance to cover to reach the heights of Mahrez that fateful year, who finished as the highest rated player in the entire league according to WhoScored.com.

STRIKER – Jamie Vardy (15/16) vs. Jamie Vardy (19/20)

Alongside Schmeichel, Jamie Vardy is the face of Leicester City. His out-of-nothing story makes him special to Leicester City fans, and his goalscoring prowess has been critical to the club ever since they were promoted to the Premier League. Vardy has made a career of scoring out of nothing – his top-flight career has seen him score 91 goals, a massive +11.5 differential over his 79.5 career xG.

Yet, a closer look provides a fascinating underscore of the evolution of the 32-year-old’s career. This season, in just 12 matches, Vardy has bagged 11 goals on an xG of just 5.19, meaning nearly 6 of that +11 career differential has come just this campaign. The Foxes striker is taking just two shots per 90 minutes, and yet has scored on nearly half of them – absolutely astronomical conversion numbers that are surely unsustainable, even if Vardy’s career has been built on exceptional finishing.

While those numbers are surely inflated by the relatively small sample size of 12 matches this year, they aren’t all that different from the title-winning season. That campaign, Vardy took 115 shots – 3.28 per game – and scored on 24 of them, and his 0.19 xG per shot is quite close to the 0.21 he is putting up this season. Most interesting, he scored 18 of those 24 goals with his right foot, a variance which has evened out this season as Vardy becomes more competent with his off side – four goals with his right, four with his left, and two with his head.

VERDICT: 15/16 Vardy – This season’s Jamie Vardy just isn’t shooting at the volume you’d expect from a striker of his finishing caliber, and he needs to find a higher volume if he wants to keep up the ridiculous goal conversion rate that will surely regress towards the mean.

BENCH – Leonard Ulloa/Shinji Okazaki/Andy King (15/16) vs. Demari Gray/Harvey Barnes/Hamza Choudhury (19/20)

It is impossible to discuss the epic season Leicester City had in 2015/16 without talking about Leonard Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki, who combined came off the bench 30 times in league play and were often called upon to rescue points. Andy King became a club icon as a Leicester City youth product who fans took a liking to, brought off the bench 16 times himself to close a game down.

Brendan Rodgers has Demari Gray and Harvey Barnes at his disposal to inject life into a game, while Hamza Choudhury is a talented young player who has shown flashes of being able to do the job himself should anything happen to Ndidi. Still, Grey – who was a member of that title-winning squad – has not become the star many thought he would a few years ago and Barnes is still showing his age at 21 years old. The group has yet to become true super-subs and Rodgers has been somewhat forced to run with his main group – five players have played every minute of this Premier League campaign so far (Schmeichel, Soyuncu, Evans, Vardy, Pereira) while another (Tielemans) is has seen just seven minutes of rest.

VERDICT: 2015/16 – It felt like every time Ranieri called upon the cavalry, they would deliver in the given situation. Gray has yet to develop into the player many believed he would years ago, and Barnes is still a raw product.

England thrash Montenegro, qualify for Euro 2020

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The future has arguably never been brighter for the England National Team.

The Three Lions absolutely mauled it’s opposition, Montenegro, 7-0, on Thursday evening at Wembley Stadium. With the win, England officially qualified for Euro 2020 next summer, though that outcome never seemed in doubt, even from the start of qualifying matches in March.

England captain Harry Kane finished with a hat-trick, but it was Kane’s teammates that provided the bright spots for manager Gareth Southgate on a night where he played a very youthful side.

22-year-old Ben Chilwell finished with three assists, 22-year-old Tammy Abraham scores his first England goal, and 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount started and looked very strong as an attacking midfielder. 18-year-old Jadon Sancho was bright too and 21-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold has clearly locked down the right back spot over Kieran Trippier.

Of course, the opposition quality of Montenegro, or other group stage opponents – Kosovo, Bulgaria – isn’t great. But England isn’t just beating the teams it’s supposed to beat these days, it’s absolutely pummeling them.

Playing in a fast, high-tempo style with links to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, England has scored an incredible 33 goals in qualifying through seven games. The Three Lions have scored five goals or more on five occasions, and the one win they had under five goals? A 4-0 win over Bulgaria at home.

Its a long, long time in soccer terms between now and June 12, the start of Euro 2020. Plenty can go wrong between now and then, (injuries, poor form, end of season exhaustion) and Southgate will have a very difficult job on his hands settling on a final squad of 23-players.

But if this qualifying tournament has shown us anything, it’s that England has a set style of play, it will play it at home and on the road, and against any other team it faces. And that alone is reason for excitement as England fans wait with baited breath for the start of the next Euros, where England will surely get home games at Wembley.

Halftime: England races out to 5-0 lead

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Coming off a 6-0 rout of Bulgaria last March, England picked up right where it left off as it ran away with a 5-0 lead at halftime.

Captain and striker Harry Kane bagged himself a first half hat-trick, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford found themselves on the scoresheet as well. It’s the latest data point that predicts England to be one of the contenders for next summer’s European Championships, set to take place across Europe but with Wembley Stadium hosting the semifinals and final.

Oxlade-Chamberlain started the fun in the 11th minute, in his first England start for 19 months, since suffering a torn ACL in April, 2018 which ended his season and most of the next one. Left back Ben Chilwell floated a cross from left to the right wing where Oxlade-Chamberlain controlled it perfectly and fired a strike into the bottom corner.

Eight minutes later, it was Kane with a header goal through two Montenegro defenders off a Chilwell corner, giving the young left back his second assist of the game. In the 23rd minute, Kane again headed home a Chilwell corner from the edge of the six-yard box, beating his defender to the spot.

Rashford made it 4-0 to the Three Lions in the 30th minute after collecting a rebound off a save from Montenegro goalkeeper Milan Mijatovic. Rashford then curled a strike around the Montenegro defenders and inside the post for another goal. In the 37th minute, Kane finished off his hat-trick with a strike inside the box after a great feed by Trent Alexander-Arnold.