Guardiola pleased with response

Pep Guardiola said he was pleased with the way his Manchester City team responded to defeat at Chelsea, returning to the top of the table after victory over Everton.

City have gone top after beating Everton 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium, Gabriel Jesus scoring twice with Raheen Sterling also getting on the scoresheet. Dominic Calvert-Lewin got the goal for the Toffees which briefly gave them hope at 2-1.

Jesus opened the scoring midway through the first half, getting his first goal since August after being set up by Leroy Sane.

Sane was again the provider for his and City's second soon after half-time. Everton were back in the game through a Calvert-Lewin header but Sterling, on as a substitute, made the game safe for City who bounced back after their first defeat of the league season, at Chelsea last weekend.

That sent Liverpool to the top and they can return there with victory at home to Manchester United on Sunday.

However, City are there for a day at least and Guardiola was delighted with the way his team bounced back well from their setback at Stamford Bridge.

He told the BBC afterwards: "The players responded in a marvellous way. They have top players. Today was tricky, a dangerous, dangerous game.

"Everton is a top side, they draw at Stamford Bridge, at Liverpool it came down to the last second. I am very pleased.

"[Gabriel Jesus] settled so well from the beginning but it is better his family is here and strikers need to score goals. I am pretty sure he scored two nice goals that will be important for him."

City have another game in midweek; they are taking on Leicester City in the quarter-final of the EFL Cup at the King Power Stadium.

City are 4/11 to get the win which takes them to the last four of the competition with the Foxes 15/2. Jesus is 10/3 to score the first goal.

City are 7/4 to win the EFL Cup this season while they are 7/2 to win the Champions League.

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Pep hints at De Bruyne return

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has indicated that Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones could all be fit enough to face Everton on Saturday.

Argentina international Aguero has missed City's last four matches, including the 2-0 loss at Chelsea last weekend, while Stones had to be substituted during the midweek Champions League triumph over Hoffenheim.

Belgium international De Bruyne has missed most of the season because of knee injuries with his last appearance coming in the League Cup victory against Fulham at the beginning of November.

David Silva, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo are all currently sidelined but Guardiola is refusing to panic even though the hectic festive schedule is just around the corner.

The City boss said of Aguero: "He did the last two training sessions. On Thursday, he trained with the team. He has no pain and we will decide.

"With Keven De Bruyne, it is the same case as Sergio – he has no pain but we will see.

"On Thursday he (Stones) was in treatment. Today he is training. We will see how they feel because when you have just 60 hours of recovery (it is difficult). We will see.

"But we are not going to sign anyone in January."

City, 7/2 to win the Champions League this season, can be backed at 8/1 to beat Everton 3-0 and at 11/10 to keep a clean sheet against Marco Silva's side.

Premier League Preview: Can City End Toffees Draw Sequence?

The Premier League champions are brooding.

Knocked off the top of the summit after a first league defeat of the campaign was a blow enough.

But it also showed us fans that Pep Guardiola’s men are far from invincible, particularly when the impressive trio of Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are all missing.

Talking Points

Silva has been ruled out for the next few weeks with a hamstring injury and, with Aguero not guaranteed to return in time for the visit of Everton, this could be a tricky encounter.

It certainly wasn’t a given last season when Wayne Rooney continued his fine scoring record against Manchester City in his only second game since returning to his boyhood club.

That game ended in a pulsating 1-1 draw but much has changed since then.

City have gone onto be the main headline act in Premier League 2018 news, setting new records en route, while the Toffees have gone up and down and had two different managers.

They are an exciting prospect to see develop under Marco Silva, just as they were under Ronald Koeman when this fixture was played last season.

Lucas Digne is expected to step up for Everton to get a victory after a series of draws in the Premier League

Lucas Digne about to score a goal against Watford

However, despite some encouraging showings in recent weeks they have only taken points from their last three league matches and required a last-gasp free-kick from Lucas Digne to rescue a point against Watford earlier in the week.

While theirs is a work in progress, City are a work of art when at their finest and, despite the likely absence of their three best players, start as overwhelming favourites.

Leroy Sane scored twice in a 2-1 Champions League success over Hoffenheim in midweek, a victory which sealed top spot in Group F.

The average age of City’s starting XI in that match was 24 years and 95 days, the youngest for an English side in the Champions League since Manchester United against CFR Cluj in December 2012 (24 years 54 days).

In defence, there is also concern that John Stones might be added to the injury list after he felt discomfort in a knee in midweek and was replaced at half-time by Kyle Walker.

Guardiola suggested it was precautionary, but he can ill afford to lose another player before the Christmas schedule.

Despite all that, a look at the substitutes bench spoke volumes for the strength and talent of the expensively-assembled squad at Guardiola’s disposal and they are clearly favourites for the title.

The incentive to return to top spot in this one – for a day at least – will surely be too much for the spirited Toffees.

Top of Form

History

Everton remain without a win at Manchester City since December 2010 yet last season’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium was the third successive draw between the sides at the ground.

Then Rooney’s opener was cancelled out by a late Gabriel Jesus equaliser in a match in which both sides finished with 10 men – the hosts played the entire second half a man down.

It was also 1-1 two seasons ago when Romelu Lukaku put the visitors in front before Nolito equalised for Guardiola’s men.

It was a goalless draw the season before that.

City did get the better of Everton at home in 2016, however. They won the League Cup semi-final second leg 3-1 (4-3 on aggregate) thanks to a late Aguero goal to seal a place in the Wembley final where they beat Merseyside neighbours Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out.

The overall history in this fixture could hardly be closer. City have 69 wins to Everton’s 68 victories with 47 meetings ending all square.

Their most recent meeting came last Easter at Goodison Park when City were unstoppable on their way to a 3-1 success and the title.

The match was won at the break after first half goals from Sane, Jesus and Sterling with Yannick Bolasie netting the home side’s second half consolation.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester City vs Everton Over 3.75 Goals Over Under @ 2.20
December 15, 2018 20:30 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2018 betting odds would have you believe this will be a one-sided contest.

1X2 odds have City @ just 1.23 with Everton as far out as @ 12.00.

Even the draw is a seemingly unlikely @ 5.80.

If Asian Handicap betting is your preferred option then a tempting offer is Man City -2.00 @ 2.05 with Everton +1.75 @ 2.17.

As for a repeat of the last two meetings in this stadium, correct score 1-1 may tempt you @ 13.50.

Goals are certainly expected judging by the little difference in total goal 2-3 @ 2.37 and total goal 4-6 @ 2.17.

Place your bets – although I have been wrong before!

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Gracia expecting better results

Watford head coach Javi Gracia is confident that his team will soon get back to winning ways, having now gone six Premier League games without a victory.

The Hornets were set to end their winless run at Everton on Monday evening, only for Lucas Digne to fire home a last-gasp free-kick to rescue a 2-2 draw for the hosts at Goodison Park.

However, Gracia was far from downhearted, believing that his players had again given their all.

The Spaniard said: "We had a very good performance, we scored two goals and we played much better in the second half.

"I think we deserved a better result. As everyone can see, the team is full of confidence and I am proud of all of them.

"We can always take positives. For me, it's most important I can see in training and all our performances that the players have a strong mentality.

"I don't know when it will be, but I hope that soon we will be able to get better results."

Watford last tasted victory against Huddersfield Town in late October, since when they have lost to Newcastle United, Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester City, while drawing with both Southampton and Everton.

The Hornets have dropped into the bottom half of the Premier League table as a result of their dip in form and they are back in action on Saturday, when they play host to Cardiff City.

Watford are 8/13 to defeat to Bluebirds and are 8/1 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline, with the Hornets 10/11 to finish in the top half of the table come the end of the season.

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Silva not biting at Mourinho’s claim

Marco Silva refused to be drawn on Jose Mourinho's recent claim that his Manchester United side will finish above Everton this season.

The Toffees' chief had guided his side to sixth place in the Premier League ahead of this weekend's fixtures and they were ahead of United and Bournemouth on goal difference.

Speaking in the build-up to Saturday's home clash against Fulham, Mourinho insisted that his United side would end the campaign above Everton in the top-six places.

The Red Devils subsequently thumped Fulham 4-1 to move up to sixth, but Everton will move back ahead of them with a win against Watford at Goodison Park on Monday night.

When asked about his fellow Portuguese's prediction, Silva insisted that he will be happy to see how the season pans out instead of offering his own thoughts on who will finish higher in the table.

He said: "It is his prediction, nothing more. He knows what is his obligation, and what is the obligation?

"Top six. He knows, and let's see at the end of the season if his prediction is right or not."

Silva will go up against his former club Watford with no new injury concerns, while Morgan Schneiderlin could feature after missing seven matches with a leg injury.

Everton, who are 5/1 to finish in the top six, are 3/4 to win Monday's game, while the Hornets are priced at 4/1 and the draw is 29/10.

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Gomes’ form pleases Silva

Everton manager Marco Silva is unsure whether he will be able to keep Andre Gomes at Goodison Park.

The 25-year-old is on loan at Everton from Barcelona and has impressed in recent weeks.

Silva has suggested he would be keen to sign Gomes on a permanent basis but is unsure whether Barcelona would agree to such a transfer.

Gomes has featured in seven games since late October, and Silva said: "I think at first, I agree, he is doing very well. But what is most important for me is the team and the squad, I think it is not fair just to talk about Andre.

"If Andre is doing well then he is helping our squad. He is getting better every time. Taking his responsibility in the squad is important for me as well.

"But if he is doing well it is because his team-mates are helping him since the first day.

"He has enjoyed his first two months but let's see what we can do. We are working on that [his future], I don't know if I have an answer in one week or two weeks.

"It is not something that it is in our hands. The best scenario to look at is it is not just in our hands as a club, not just in the hands of Andre, there is a third party as well. Barcelona are included, let's see when we can talk about the situation."

Everton, 9/2 to finish in the top six this season, are 3/4 to beat Watford on Monday.

Silva confident goals will come

Marco Silva has defended his strikers at Everton but has not ruled out making a move for another forward in the January transfer window.

The Toffees have scored just two goals in their last four leagues games and are the lowest scorers of the top eight with 21 goals from their 15 games so far.

They are in sixth position in the table, albeit well adrift of Arsenal in fifth and ahead of a match at home to Watford, Silva's previous club, on Monday, the Everton boss is backing his strikers to come good.

He told a press conference: "If you want to just look at the last few games, look at the games we played. It is not easy for strikers to score at Stamford Bridge, and Liverpool have conceded just one goal at home [in the Premier League] this season.

"Yesterday [against Newcastle] we controlled the match and all the moments. We created many chances but just scored one goal. To look at the last four games is not fair because we had chances to score more than one goal. The chances we created in the first half were enough to win the match against Newcastle."

Silva added that all clubs in the Premier League were in the market for a striker who can score 20 goals a season though he stressed he was happy with the players at his disposal.

Everton are 8/11 to win at Goodison Park on Monday night with Watford 4/1 and the draw 5/2.

Silva also told the assembled media that Jordan Pickford had responded well against Newcastle after his error in the 96th minute led to Liverpool winning Sunday's Merseyside derby.

He also said that Morgan Schneiderlin could be fit enough to return against the Hornets on Monday.

Everton are 9/2 to finish in the top six in the Premier League while they are 80/1 to break into the top four.

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Silva focused on the present

Head coach Marco Silva has urged his Everton players not to look too far ahead, with the Toffees currently in sixth place in the Premier League standings.

Having suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 derby loss at Liverpool on Sunday, the Blues are back in action on Wednesday evening when they welcome Newcastle United to Goodison Park.

And Silva is keen to maintain a short-term focus and not get swept away by talk of a possible top-six finish, especially with Everton having finished in eighth place last season, some 14 points adrift of sixth-placed Arsenal.

The Portuguese told reporters: "For us, it's not important to talk about the top six. Our goal is to do better than last season.

"We achieve things step by step. Here we think game by game and we are taking it from the last match."

Everton are 8/15 to defeat Newcastle and are 6/1 to secure a 2-0 victory, with Richarlison priced at 5/4 to score at any time against the Magpies.

Meanwhile, Silva also played down rumours that his club are already on the lookout for a new striker, with his squad short of genuine goalscoring power.

He added: "In January, it is not the moment to talk about it now. We are doing our work, developing our squad now.

"When the market opens we are able to answer what we can do in that moment. At this moment, it is not the most important thing for me.

"About a striker, if any team can have a 20-goal striker they are not easy to find. We have to work with the players we have in our squad, give them the conditions to score more goals."

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Keane comes to Pickford defence

Everton defender Michael Keane has defended his goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after his error handed Liverpool a late winner in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

The hard-fought contest appeared to be heading towards a goalless draw when Virgil van Dijk's sliced effort in the last minute of injury time was not dealt with by Pickford, before Divock Origi tapped the ball home.

Keane has admitted the result was a tough one to take but has defended his keeper Pickford and feels the England shotstopper has been a key player for the Toffees this season.

"Everyone is devastated and silent in the dressing room, we are consoling Jordan," said Keane.

"He got unlucky. He has been brilliant for us. Everyone is devastated because of the work we put in. We had our chances and came close. We are devastated for ourselves and the fans."

Everton will look to bounce back in midweek action on Wednesday when they play hosts to Newcastle United in the Premier League.

The Magpies have won three of their last four games in the league as they prepare for the trip to Merseyside.

Everton are 3/5 to win, 29/10 to draw and 6/1 to lose to Newcastle.

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Premier League: Liverpool on 95 Minutes…Wow!

Liverpool 1-0 Everton

Liverpool won the 232nd Merseyside Derby in dramatic fashion as Divock Origi scored a last gasp goal to break Everton hearts.

Manchester City’s victory over Bournemouth on Saturday made this a must win game for the Reds, but for 94 minutes it looked like they would be frustrated, until England keeper Jordan Pickford dropped a massive clanger to hand Origi an early Christmas gift. And so Liverpool remains just two points behind the Champions at the top of the Premier League.

It’s usually safe with our us tips to predict goals when Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool takes the pitch but we had accepted a 0-0 draw until the amazing climax. The weekend’s derbies sure have delivered some amazing Premier League 2018 highlights!

Premier League 2018 highlights: Jordan Pickford failed to save Virgil Van Dijk's goal

Jordan Pickford apologises to his team-mates after his last minute clanger

Highlights of the game

In a thrilling first half Everton almost got off the perfect start when Lucas Digne launched a free-kick into the Liverpool area onto the head of Yerry Mina, but the defender planted his effort just past the post.

Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri put in a wonderful ball on 11 minutes but it just evaded Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane as both strained to get the vital touch.  Then Mane really should have put the Reds ahead a minute later when Mo Salah played a lovely ball over the top of the Everton defence, but Mane blazed his shot over as the Anfield crowd leapt to its feet.

Firmino then sliced a shot wide after good work from Salah, but then Everton came so close to going ahead. First Allison made a great save from a point blank header by Andre Gomes, and then as the ball bounced back off the Everton midfielder and towards the net, Joe Gomez somehow got back to clear it off the line.

The Merseyside Derby has dished up plenty of feisty affairs over the years, with red cards scattered across the games gone by, and it was Shaqiri who picked up the first yellow of this game, dragging Bernard to the floor.

The keepers were both earning their money and Jordan Pickford made a brilliant save when Salah put through Shaqiri and the Swiss star headed for goal, but the England keeper stood his ground bravely to deny the Reds. Then it was Alison’s turn at the other end, Gylfi Sigurdsson found Theo Walcott with a superb through ball but the Liverpool stopper nicked it off the feet of Walcott to keep the score level at the break.

Sane had another golden opportunity early in the second half, latching onto a ball from Firmino but the Senegalese star fired wide under pressure from Seamus Coleman. He’ll feel he should have scored with his second big opportunity.

Liverpool huffed and puffed but just couldn’t blow the Everton house down, though Divock Origi came so close on 88 minutes after the ball dropped at his feet from a corner, but he hammered his shot against the cross bar, and when Daniel Sturridge fired a shot in from the rebound it was blocked again by the Toffees rearguard.

And then it happened. On 95 minutes poor Jordan Pickford had a vital job to tip a hopeful lob over the bar, but he somehow squeezed it against the woodwork and the ball bounced down for Origi to pop it over the line and send the Anfield crowd into frenzy.

What a finish!

Key Statistics

Everton haven’t beaten Liverpool since 2010 in this great derby rivalry, but head coach Marco Silva has made the Toffees a hard team to beat with a sharp cutting edge. Losing in the way they did, at the moment they did was a cruel blow.

The Liverpool vs. Everton betting tips looked at the short odds on the Reds, as low as 1.40, and saw a relatively comfortable home win but it was anything but.

But a win’s a win, and Liverpool has now won 24 of the Mersey Derbies since 1993 to Everton’s nine. And Klopp’s side is still unbeaten in the Premier League with 11 wins and three draws.

It was a great day for the Liverpool boss, it’s the first time he has beaten Marco Silva in three attempts and the Reds’ current run of 18 matches unbeaten against Everton is their longest in history.

What’s next?

Liverpool takes the short trip up into Lancashire to face Burnley on Wednesday. The Clarets have had a poor start to the campaign and are still to recapture the never-say-die quality which has served them so well in the Premier League. Clop will not take this fixture lightly having lost 2-0 at Turf Moor back in 2016.

Everton entertains Newcastle United, another side at the wrong end of the table, and that’s a good opportunity to get back on track. The Toffees are still sixth, but eight points behind fifth placed Spurs.

 

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