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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.

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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

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.

Richarlison signs new long-term deal with Everton

Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
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The man who brought Richarlison to Everton may not be long for the club, but the Brazilian star forward’s future is set at Goodison Park.

The club announced a new deal for the 22-year-old on Tuesday which will keep him on Merseyside through the 2023-24 season.

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Richarlison arrived from Watford for $53 million last season, and delivered 13 goals and two assists in his first season as a Toffee. He’s added four and two this season, and has 22 goals and nine assists in his Premier League career.

“It was here I managed to get a place in the Brazil national team and it was here I have scored lots of goals in the Premier League,” he said. “The club trusts me and I trust them. The supporters have a lot of affection for me and I try to give back all this affection as much as possible on the pitch. I go out and put my life on the line for them. I try to sweat blood and tears for this club. I intend to continue honoring the shirt and making the fans happy. And I hope they continue singing my name.”

It’s only been 28 months since Richarlison arrived at Watford from Fluminese for $15 million, uncapped. He now has six goals and four assists in 19 caps for Brazil and has been an unqualified success, though certainly there are expectations of better things from him in the future at Everton.

Super sub Iheanacho gives Leicester stoppage time win

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Leicester City came from behind to become the second Premier League team to break the 30-point barrier following a 2-1 defeat of Everton at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Kelechi Iheanacho had a stoppage time goal awarded by VAR after he assisted Jamie Vardy‘s league-leading 13th goal earlier in the second half.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Second place Leicester remains 8 points back of Liverpool, while 17th place Everton remains two points clear of the Bottom Three.

The last second capitulation may be the last straw for Marco Silva, whose Toffees looked set to get a fine point.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho stars off the bench: It’s been a tough run for the Nigerian at Everton since a high-profile move from Manchester City, but Brendan Rodgers called Iheanacho’s number at the right time. He set up Vardy’s equalizer before scoring deep in stoppage only to see the linesman’s flag up. But VAR showed Yerry Mina‘s knee kept Iheanacho’s shoulder onside by millimeters, and Iheanacho was able to celebrate a second time.

2. Richarlison unmarkable when at his best: When Richarlison is firing, there are few more powerful forces in the Premier League. The big man commanded the area on Sunday, not just with his opening goal but with another header off a corner that went wide of the goal and a terrific bit of strength and speed in working Caglas Soyuncu to produce an early second half chance for Gylfi Sigurdsson. His season total is up to six goals and two assists in 17 matches.

3. Vardy keeps firing: The veteran English striker extended his Premier League goals lead to 13 when he bundled in Iheanacho’s cross to give him eight goals and two assists in his last six matches. It’s an incredible run for Vardy, who nearly assisted a James Maddison goal moments after his marker.

Man of the Match: Wilfred Ndidi was everywhere, even shuttling the ball to Iheanacho in the run-up to Vardy’s equalizer. He passed well, and won balls left, right, and center. With apologies to Richarlison, the honor goes to the Nigerian.


Lucas Digne crossed to produce an eighth minute chance for Djibril Sidibe, but the Frenchman blazed his shot just over the bar.

At the other end, a falling Ayoze Perez dribbled a shot to Jordan Pickford.

It was almost all Leicester, so of course Everton went ahead in the 23rd minute. Alex Iwobi played a marauding Sidibe down the right side for a cross that Richarlison powered home with a header.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Ben Chilwell won a penalty off Mason Holgate in the 34th minute, and VAR had a long look after the Englishman hit the deck despite no contact. The penalty call was withdrawn.

The second half saw Richarlison beat Soyuncu, a rare feat, to cut back for Sigurdsson. The Icelandic star had his shot partially deflected for a corner.

Wilfred Ndidi sent Ricardo Pereira on goal, but Pickford made a fine low save to keep it 1-0.

Holgate froze Ndidi when he took down a cross and switched to his right foot, but his drive was blocked.

Vardy made it 1-1 in the 68th minute with a goal in his sixth-straight appearance, racing to the back post to meet substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s pass through the 18 past Holgate.

He’d then produce an assist-worthy pass to Maddison before craning his neck to put a header just over the bar. Leicester City were knocking at the the door.

Richarlison set up substitute Moise Kean for an 80th minute arrow that flew into the outside of the side netting.

Iheanacho scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, and VAR defied the linesman to give him his first Premier League goal in a year.

VAR awards late penalty as Brighton tops Everton

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VAR awarded a penalty for the first time in Premier League play as Brighton and Hove Albion twice struck late to defeat Everton 3-2 in a back-and-forth affair at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

The referee hadn’t spotted Michael Keane‘s foul against Aaron Connolly but the eye in the sky did, and Neal Maupay finished from the spot. Then Lucas Digne couldn’t prod a stoppage time cross over his goal, recording an own goal with Glenn Murray lurking behind him.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pascal Gross also scored Brighton’s first PL free kick goal in a game of firsts, as the Seagulls leapfrog Everton and move 12th with 12 points.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a Richarlison-inspired own goal accounted for the Toffees’ offense, as Everton again failed to build league momentum and sits 16th with 10 points.


Three things we learned

1. Gross, point blank: We pointed out in the club power rankings that Pascal Gross is top five in big chances created and key passes despite Brighton’s status as a relegation scrapper. The German playmaker was given a chance by an Andre Gomes foul, and buried his free kick. Jordan Pickford should’ve done better but that doesn’t make the strike any less easy on the eyes. Brilliant, deserved stuff.

2. VAR does its job: The commentary team on the broadcast laid out the reasons to award a penalty to Brighton in a way the referee clearly couldn’t explain to Everton’s players. Michael Keane fouled Aaron Connolly in the box, and replays showed how difficult it would be to spot the foul from field level. Moments after Brighton went down, it was level through Maupay.

3. Everton’s inconsistent season continues with more bad Fortune: Don’t get us wrong — The Toffees bear the brunt of the blame for the loss, but had the better of the play. That means absolutely nothing when there are four big mistakes contributing to three conceded goals. Andre Gomes committed a needless foul and Jordan Pickford flubbed his chance to stop a free kick goal, then VAR awarded a penalty for a Keane foul, and Digne had no choice but to try and improbable clearance than turned into an own goal since poached Murray was running free behind him. A solid team goal from Brighton, but this feels more like an Everton loss than a Seagulls win (and Graham Potter won’t care one bit. A fine win).

Man of the Match: Either Dan Burn or Dale Stephens, and we’ll use the former’s hockey assist on the winner to nod to Burn.


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Brighton needed less than a quarter of an hour to take the lead, a needless Andre Gomes foul setting up Gross for a free kick.

The German midfielder drove his shot over the wall, and Jordan Pickford as slow to react. The goal looked great, but the keep will want it back.

Zonal marking did little for Brighton on a poorly-defended corner kick, and VAR upheld Richarlison’s near post header in the 20th minute as it went off Webster for an own goal.

Richarlison made a terrific move down the right to set up two players for a cutback, but flubbed his pass.

Gross had the ball in the goal off a Davy Propper cross, but was offside.

Calvert-Lewin put Everton back in front off an inch-perfect through ball from Mason Holgate, but VAR quickly gave Brighton a chance to level from the spot.

Michael Keane fouled Aaron Connolly, who left the match for Murray before the spot kick. Maupay slotted past Pickford for 2-2 in the 80th minute.

That wasn’t the end of it, as Burn played Leandro Trossard into the box and the Belgian’s cross was pushed behind an equal parts stranded and indecisive Pickford for an o.g.