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World Cup roundup, Day 10: Pulisic leads by example, Senegal brings joy

The 2022 World Cup is in full swing. At the end of every matchday, we’ll review the biggest talking points emanating from Qatar and break down all the action on the pitch. Below, we look back on Day 10 of the tournament.

Dest growing into tournament

Sergino Dest, with help from Weston McKennie and Timothy Weah, caused England problems in the United States’ second group game. There were similar collaborations down the right Tuesday against Iran. However, with McKennie thriving in a more central role in a vital 1-0 win for the U.S., Dest linked up well with Yunus Musah and was a popular target for cross-field switches.

Three of left-sided center-back Tim Ream’s four long balls from the middle third were sprayed to the right flank, where Dest’s positioning and positivity on the ball stretched Iran. The on-loan AC Milan right-back made slick touches in tight areas, and his off-the-ball movement tired Milad Mohammadi in the first half. Before the break, Dest had the joint-most touches with Tyler Adams (53), two completed take-ons, and three dangerous deliveries into the box.

Jam Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

One of those deliveries resulted in Christian Pulisic’s match-winning goal. Dest saw McKennie receive the ball in space in front of Iran’s deep defensive and midfield lines, and he took advantage of a rare Iranian lapse. Mohammadi and Ehsan Hajsafi were out of position – forward Sardar Azmoun was the closest opponent to Dest – so the full-back ran into the gap and under McKennie’s chip before nodding the ball across for Pulisic’s close-range finish.

Obviously, the U.S. will have bigger challenges the deeper it goes, and the Netherlands awaits Gregg Berhalter’s side in the round of 16. But, while the threat from Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay is considerable, Dest may have some helpful insight on plenty of Dutch players given his schooling in Ajax’s academy.

Pulisic doesn’t shy away from spotlight

Pulisic admitted in February that he puts “too much pressure” on himself to “save” the United States while on international duty. The “Captain America” tag certainly hasn’t helped.

There have been some below-par performances from Pulisic over his 55 U.S. caps, but there’s evidence to suggest he thrives in high-pressure games.

He scored a huge goal against Mexico and pocketed a hat-trick versus Panama during the qualification cycle for Qatar 2022. He knocked two past Jamaica to send the U.S. into the 2019 Gold Cup final and scored a high-pressure penalty to down Mexico in extra time of the 2021 Nations League final.

Pulisic added further proof to the argument that he flourishes on big occasions with his scruffy tally against Iran.

And let’s not forget, he’s still only 24.

Qatar ends World Cup on historic low

After more than a decade of planning the most expensive World Cup in history, all Qatar’s national team has to show for its on-pitch efforts is three dismal defeats. That’s hardly the return on investment organizers envisioned after spending approximately $220 billion to host football’s showpiece event – smashing the previous record of $15 billion set by Brazil in 2014.

As Qatar attempted to prove it belonged on the sport’s biggest stage, it became glaringly obvious that the 2022 World Cup host was way out of its depth. Over 10 days, the Middle Eastern nation tasted nothing but defeat.

KARIM JAAFAR / AFP / Getty

Tuesday’s loss to Group A winner, the Netherlands, was the final nail in Qatar’s World Cup coffin. The loss ensured that FIFA’s 50th-ranked nation, which had already been eliminated, ended the tournament on a historic low note. After becoming the first host nation to lose the opening match, Qatar then became the first host to lose its opening two games. Now, with zero points from three contests, Qatar will forever be remembered as the worst-performing World Cup host of all time.

Aside from Mohammed Muntari recording Qatar’s first World Cup goal, there was hardly a reason for home fans to cheer. Perhaps the nerves got the better of a Qatari side that never mounted a credible challenge to suggest it could compete with its Group A opponents.

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez conceded that his squad was “still slightly behind” the competition at the 2022 World Cup. That’s a generous verdict for a Qatar side that, even with the expansion from 32 to 48 teams, likely won’t be at the 2026 World Cup.

Cisse can bury 2002 heartache

Aliou Cisse carried the disappointment of slamming his decisive penalty against Alioum Boukar’s legs during the shootout in the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations final. His miss meant Cameroon won the tournament while Senegal’s wait to be crowned king of the continent continued.

Even captaining his country to the World Cup knockout rounds a few months later didn’t diminish his desire to make amends. He mentioned it while coaching Senegal to the AFCON final in 2019. His side lost 1-0 to Algeria in that showpiece.

But, at long last, Cisse should now be confident that he’s more than atoned for that penalty in Mali. First, he overcame huge pressure to lead Senegal to its first AFCON success earlier in 2022 – over 56 years after the country’s inaugural appearance in the tournament.

OZAN KOSE / AFP / Getty

“We would like to win this for him and our country because he deserves it after everything he went through as a player for Senegal and now as the coach,” Sadio Mane said about his national team boss days before he converted the winning penalty in the final.

Then, Cisse took Senegal into its second-ever World Cup knockout appearance courtesy of Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Ecuador. Instead of relying on Mane – who was confirmed out with a leg injury just four days before his country’s campaign began – Cisse created a stronger team dynamic. Five different players have scored Senegal’s goals in Qatar, and the midfield was near-impenetrable against Ecuador.

However, the main concern going into the round of 16 is with Cisse’s midfield. Will Senegal’s core be as impressive now that Idrissa Gueye is unavailable due to suspension?

Quick free-kicks

Southgate’s selection headache

With the entire nation clamoring for Phil Foden to start and England to play a more expansive style after its turgid performance against the United States, Gareth Southgate gave the people what they wanted versus Wales. He did the same with Marcus Rashford. The latter promptly scored twice, including a gorgeous free-kick, while Foden netted the other tally in a comfortable 3-0 triumph that secured top spot in Group B. It was just the Three Lions’ second victory in their last nine matches overall. Now the England manager, who’s constantly under the microscope, has a selection headache going into the last-16 clash with Senegal. Heavily criticized for being too wedded to certain players, including Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount, the 52-year-old tactician has a big decision to make. Foden and Rashford injected some life back into the England attack and deserve to start in the next round. Meanwhile, Sterling and Mount have consistently performed during Southgate’s tenure. Bukayo Saka didn’t start Tuesday, either, but has been a bright spot in the tournament. Someone will inevitably be disappointed when left out of the lineup against the African champion. In a way, it’s a good problem to have, but it’s a delicate situation Southgate needs to manage properly.

Paying tribute to ‘The Wardrobe’

Papa Bouba Diop, nicknamed “The Wardrobe” in England due to his imposing stature, was remembered by fans and players during Senegal’s final group match. The Lions of Teranga icon died exactly two years prior to Tuesday’s meeting with Ecuador. On the international scene, the defensive midfielder was best known for his match-winning goal against defending champion France at the 2002 World Cup. In addition to representing Senegal 63 times, Diop starred for numerous clubs, including Fulham, Portsmouth, and Lens.

LvG finds his best midfield

Marten de Roon isn’t the most fashionable player in the Netherlands’ squad. Far from it. But he might be one of the most important. The 31-year-old midfielder started his first match of the tournament Tuesday, and the Dutch, so stodgy and underwhelming against Ecuador, looked like a more cohesive unit in a 2-0 victory over Qatar. This comes with the caveat that Qatar is objectively the worst team at the World Cup. However, De Roon’s presence at the base of Louis van Gaal’s midfield helped liberate Frenkie de Jong, who slid to the left and pushed higher up the field in a No. 8 role, connecting with Daley Blind and Memphis Depay to create slick passing triangles. Reverting to a system that asks De Jong to play deeper in the last-16 meeting with the United States would be a mistake.

Croatia in hot water over fans’ Borjan taunt

FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Croatia on Tuesday after some of its fans displayed a banner designed to taunt Canada’s Yugoslavian-born goalkeeper Milan Borjan. The 35-year-old’s hometown of Knin is now within Croatian borders, but it was an ethnic Serb region until conflict in 1995 forced the Borjans and other families to flee. The message unfurled at Khalifa International Stadium on Sunday referred to this victory for Croatian forces.

Curtain closes on Wales’ golden generation

Defeat to England may have marked the unofficial end to the golden age of Welsh football. After Wales did brilliantly to end its 64-year wait to reach the World Cup, it became clear after three games without a win in Qatar that big changes could be on the horizon for the aging Dragons. The future of Gareth Bale’s international career is bound to dominate headlines in Wales. At 35, it’s unlikely that Bale will ever feature in a major tournament for Wales again. If that’s the case, it was a sad way to go out, as he touched the ball just seven times before being taken off at halftime against England with an apparent injury. While other members of the team, such as Aaron Ramsey, may also consider their futures, none will be missed as much as Bale. If he does hang up his international boots, Cymru will be forced to rebuild for a future without a player who, despite his recent dip in form, is the true definition of a generational talent.

Stat of the day

Rashford joined a very exclusive club Tuesday.

Tweet of the day

Senegal will have some additional support in its corner against England.

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Premier League

Key thoughts and analysis from Saturday's Premier League action

theScore examines the most important developments and biggest talking points from Saturday’s slate of action in England’s top flight.

Newcastle need another striker

Newcastle United accomplished several things Saturday. They set a new top-flight club record with their 15th consecutive match without a defeat and collected a sixth straight clean sheet in the Premier League. On an individual level, goalkeeper Nick Pope extended his shutout streak to 812 minutes. Newcastle also gained a place, moving to third in the Premier League standings. But they couldn’t beat 12th-placed Crystal Palace. When Newcastle’s staff and players went to applaud their boisterous fans, they knew they hadn’t accomplished the one thing they’d expected to do.

Their visible disappointment speaks to their rapid growth over the last 12 months. They conceded more goals in December 2021 alone than they have in the entire 2022-23 Premier League campaign, and they’re on course to reach the Champions League for the first time in nearly 20 years. Eddie Howe’s done a magnificent job changing the mentality of a team that stared at the genuine threat of relegation at this point last season. The turnaround has been amazing.

John Walton – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

But it must keep going. Newcastle have created an incredible opportunity for themselves. They know that, and that’s why they were so disappointed with the goalless draw at Selhurst Park. They’ve scored just once in their last four Premier League matches. If the Magpies can’t find any regularity in front of goal, they could just as easily slip out of the top four in the next few weeks. A strong defense will only take them so far.

As of now, Howe’s attacking options are slim. While Alexander Isak is talented, he’s still raw. Callum Wilson is experienced but not nearly prolific enough for a team with Champions League aspirations. Midfielder Miguel Almiron couldn’t possibly continue to score every week. Chris Wood’s departure also leaves Newcastle without depth.

It’s clear they need someone to take the pressure off Isak and allow Wilson to provide that depth. Maybe that player is Marcus Thuram, who already has a friendship with Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin, or Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who’d offer cross-happy Kieran Trippier a reliable target in the penalty area. Whatever the club decides, it needs someone who can do a job now. It doesn’t need a Championship prospect or South American prodigy who may or may not amount to anything in the future.

Leicester are at least competitive again

Though defending remains a glaring issue and individual errors continue to prove costly, Leicester City are showing signs they’re up for the fight against relegation.

Their performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion was positive overall. After conceding the opening goal, Brendan Rodgers’ side played with spirit and confidence on the counterattack, which had up until recently lost both its pace and potency. Jamie Vardy ran tirelessly after the ball, and Harvey Barnes, once considered worth as much as £50 million, scored for what seemed like the first time in ages. Even Marc Albrighton offered relief off the bench, prodding home a scrappy equalizer in the first half.

The Foxes just looked up for the occasion. That’s a win in and of itself. Rodgers openly questioned his players’ commitment after Leicester’s Boxing Day defeat to Newcastle United. If he intended to stir a reaction, it failed. Leicester racked up further losses against Liverpool, Fulham, and Nottingham Forest to drop back into the relegation conversation.

Malcolm Couzens / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Few believed they could contain a Brighton side that sliced Liverpool apart a week ago. So, it was quite clearly a blessing to see this team play with fire and intensity Saturday. Even if Leicester couldn’t pull off the win – Evan Ferguson, Brighton’s 18-year-old scoring revelation, leveled late on – the club still managed to earn a point from a losing position for the first time this season.

“What we had today was a real spirit and a mentality,” Rodgers told the BBC. “I think the supporters would have seen that, so in terms of that side and that aspect, we put a marker down for the rest of the season in terms of what we have to do in terms of our fight and mentality.”

Leicester will have to double down on the commitment they showed Saturday if they want to take anything from their next three home matches. Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, and Chelsea are all on deck. At least they’ll enter those games feeling slightly better about themselves. At this stage, little victories count.

Differing approaches to a rebuild

There’s not much to say about Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Anfield. Two teams earning a point apiece for such a monotonous match sometimes feels too generous.

The most interesting takeaway from Liverpool and Chelsea’s meeting was to compare their work off the pitch. It’s abundantly clear that both clubs need a refresh or an entire rebuild, and they’re entering their respective new eras very differently.

Chelsea are barging their way into the next chapter, knocking over lamps and shattering vases. Since Todd Boehly’s consortium took over the west Londoners last May, the club has spent well over £430 million on new players, including various clauses tied into the deals. Long-term contracts have been handed out to new arrivals, while other players are unceremoniously shunted down the pecking order. It’s hard to envision significant roles for some players out on loan like Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ian Maatsen, or even the likes of Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, and Trevoh Chalobah once next season kicks off.

Boehly is going all-in, putting Graham Potter’s man-management skills to the test as the tactician tries to keep his bloated squad happy.

Liverpool are more careful. Or, if you listen to their skeptical supporters, they are ruinously tentative. The acquisition of Cody Gakpo for an initial £37-million fee is good business, but it doesn’t address the area in most desperate need of recruitment.

The midfield is a problem and was notably outnumbered during the first half against Chelsea. Liverpool’s links with Jude Bellingham persist, and his presence would lift the whole squad. However, leaving that deal to the summer gives rivals more time to woo the midfielder and construct an appealing offer for Borussia Dortmund. The reported interest in Mason Mount has led to fears that the Reds are identifying alternatives should the Bellingham pursuit fail.

But the biggest questions are in the boardroom and dugout. Liverpool’s future is up in the air while Fenway Sports Group is open to selling shares – and perhaps a controlling stake – in the club. Jurgen Klopp appears drained 1,000 games into his managerial career. Those issues may need to be solved before Liverpool can truly move forward.

Quick free-kicks

Things could get bleaker for Everton

Everton are a mess. While the team trundled toward its sixth defeat in seven games at West Ham United, the civil war continued as away supporters used chants and banners to express their discontent with the board. Even if someone is brought in to replace Frank Lampard in the coming days, it appears things will have to get worse before they get better as Arsenal and Liverpool await the Toffees over the next two Premier League matchdays. The boardroom seems reluctant to use the January transfer window to bring in players who could make a difference, and the fans’ anger seems to hack away at the team’s confidence. Arnaut Danjuma, who’ll arrive on loan after losing his place in the Villarreal lineup, is wildly inconsistent, and Ellis Simms has only played around 20 minutes since he was recalled from his temporary stay with Sunderland. The Championship is beckoning.

Brighton finally have a No. 9?

Alex Dodd – CameraSport / CameraSport / Getty

Praising Brighton’s style of play but ruing their lack of a cutting edge up front was a near-weekly occurrence. It felt cliched. But now, the answer may have come from an unlikely source. Eighteen-year-old Ferguson was being lined up for a loan move in the January transfer window, but he’s since erupted with three goals in four Premier League outings. The Seagulls have tried and failed to find a reliable finisher in the past. Jurgen Locadia, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Florin Andone, and Neal Maupay have come and gone, while Aaron Connolly may never realize his potential. Ferguson, who was signed from Irish club Bohemians two years ago, has made a strong case to be their immovable No. 9 with his well-rounded game, which belies his tender years. His header to equalize at Leicester City was emphatic.

Forest quietly moving away from bottom 3

Nottingham Forest were below their best at Bournemouth – a team the East Midlands outfit has beaten just twice over their last 12 league meetings – and were missing goalkeeper Dean Henderson after he suffered a thigh injury during their previous outing against Leicester. Still, Steve Cooper was unsatisfied after Sam Surridge’s late equalizer in the 1-1 draw. “A point was the least we deserved,” Cooper told the Nottingham Post’s Sarah Clapson. Perhaps the Tricky Trees are recalibrating their expectations. Following Saturday’s results, Forest have collected the second-most points (eight) in the Premier League in 2023. Many people mocked the promoted club’s frenzied activity during the summer transfer window. But, with record signing Morgan Gibbs-White as its talisman, things may be starting to gel under Cooper. There are now four teams and four points between Forest and the drop zone.

Stat of the day

It’s been a strange season for Liverpool, with narrow wins and disappointing draws or losses punctuated by a 9-0 rout of Bournemouth in the Premier League and a 7-1 stroll at Rangers in the Champions League.

Tweet of the day

The wait for James Milner continues.

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Premier League

Arsenal brush Spurs aside, open up 8-point lead in Premier League table

Arsenal have plumped up an eight-point cushion at England’s summit.

The Gunners boosted their unexpected surge for the Premier League title Sunday with a convincing 2-0 win at archrivals Tottenham Hotspur.

After reigning champions Manchester City lost 2-1 in their own derby date at Manchester United on Saturday, Arsenal went two goals ahead in the first half at Spurs courtesy of a Hugo Lloris own goal and a fine long-range finish from Martin Odegaard.

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale produced some eye-catching saves during the encounter, but the visitors’ lead never appeared at great risk in yet another impressive display from Mikel Arteta’s side.

The league leaders were on their way to their first top-flight double over Spurs since the 2013-14 season after Lloris deflected the ball into his own net. Bukayo Saka collected the ball in space down the right flank, shifted the ball onto his right foot when Ryan Sessegnon tried to pressure him, and then smashed the ball across the six-yard box. Lloris fumbled the delivery into his own net.

Catherine Ivill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Arsenal again imposed their superiority later in the opening period. Thomas Partey – who rifled a superb drive against the post earlier in the half – slid the ball out wide to Saka, and the diminutive winger then moved the ball inside to Odegaard. The Norwegian playmaker adjusted his body in the space he was afforded before unleashing a low, unstoppable effort into the bottom corner from around 25 yards.

It was clinical. It was mature. Despite the youthfulness of Arteta’s squad, it’s clear that Arsenal now possess players who are made of sterner stuff than those who represented the club in previous years. If there were any doubts before kickoff, Arsenal underlined their title credentials in a dominant first half.

Charlotte Wilson/Offside / Offside / Getty

Tottenham were stronger during the opening 15 minutes of the first half – with the excellent Ramsdale denying shots from Harry Kane and Ryan Sessegnon in that spell – but Arsenal saw it through as Spurs almost lost their cool.

There was pushing and shoving after the final whistle when a Tottenham fan appeared to kick Ramsdale – who had been having a disagreement with Spurs forward Richarlison – as he collected his water bottle.

But as Arteta led Ramsdale and his players away from the ruckus, there was a wide smile on the head coach’s face. His mood was understandable. Eight points is a considerable lead after 18 matches. Catch them if you can.

“We’re in a good position, there’s no doubt about that, but we have to stay humble. There’s a lot we can still improve,” Odegaard said post-match, according to The Guardian’s Rob Smyth.

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Premier League

Key thoughts and analysis from Saturday's Premier League action

theScore examines the most important developments and biggest talking points from Saturday’s slate of action in England’s top flight.

Are Manchester United … back?

It hasn’t happened often in recent years, but if you looked closely, there was a smile on Sir Alex Ferguson’s face after the latest edition of the Manchester derby.

After almost a decade of letdowns, such an expression was rare. The Manchester United icon even became a meme when a video of the Scottish tactician went viral while the Red Devils were being humiliated in the last derby in October. With Manchester City leading comfortably on their way to winning 6-3, he was shown on camera as the commentator said, “Sir Alex Ferguson was asked in 2009 if Man City could ever go into a derby as favorites. He said, ‘Not in my lifetime.’ Now it’s every time.”

Fast-forward three months, and it’s a completely different tune for both teams. United’s strong form of late suggested Saturday’s affair at Old Trafford would be much closer than the season’s first installment of the Manchester derby. After going behind in the second half of Saturday’s encounter, United stormed back to change the narrative, scoring two late goals to seal a dramatic 2-1 victory over the reigning Premier League champions.

There’ll be plenty of debate in the days and weeks to come about United’s controversial equalizer. However, there’s no doubt that Ten Hag’s team has transformed after registering its ninth straight win in all competitions to cement its place in the top four.

“Now you see a proper team that works hard for each other,” Bruno Fernandes said after the game.

It might still be too early to mention United in the same breath as title contenders alongside City and Arsenal. But it’s safe to conclude that the problems that plagued United during their stuttering start to the season are officially a thing of the past. The win also sparked a glimmer of hope of finishing ahead of City in the table for the first time since Ferguson retired in 2013.

Match officials got it wrong in Manchester derby

The debate about the aforementioned equalizer won’t be much of a debate at all, actually. Unless it’s with a Red Devils supporter, there’s seemingly no doubt among the rest of the football world that United’s second-half goal shouldn’t have counted.

The linesman and match official got it wrong when they let Fernandes’ goal stand in the 60th minute, despite Marcus Rashford’s obvious interference in the build-up.

The United striker was miles offside when Casemiro’s pass was played through to him. Rashford raced to meet the ball before shielding it without making contact, allowing Fernandes to fire a curling shot beyond Ederson. It was an impressive finish, but had City’s defenders already turned off at that point, thinking Rashford was offside and a call from the referee was imminent?

Probably. But that didn’t matter in the end. Match official Stuart Attwell came to the head-scratching conclusion that the goal was good after seemingly receiving reassurances from the linesman, who initially – and correctly – put his flag up and called the play back for offside. But, after seemingly giving in to pressure from United players and irate home fans foaming at the mouth just feet behind him, linesman Darren Cann presumably told Attwell that he made a mistake.

The decision triggered a visible shift in momentum, culminating in United scoring a pair of goals with less than 10 minutes remaining against a City outfit that looked shell-shocked after the decision.

Liverpool have zero midfield presence

Jurgen Klopp said he’d never seen a worse performance as manager of Liverpool. Perhaps that’s true, but Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion couldn’t have come as a surprise. The Reds have been reeling for months. Their lack of consistency has made upsets like Saturday’s at Amex Stadium seem all the more routine.

Klopp tried to find a solution. He changed his formation Saturday, hoping his players would play a more compact game. He even made a quadruple change midway through the second half. Nothing worked.

The most alarming issue lies in midfield. For whatever reason – a lack of confidence, a lack of understanding, a lack of chemistry – Liverpool have made it easy for opponents to pass through the middle of the pitch. It’s a shocking development for a side that used to pride itself on its relentless pressing and made the field as small as possible. The opposite is now true. Liverpool give opponents virtually endless possibilities when in possession of the ball, and they don’t have the pace to recover.

Charlotte Wilson/Offside / Offside / Getty

But Brighton didn’t have to do all that much to cut through Liverpool. They’d find a player in open space after exchanging just a couple of passes and had the time to do virtually as they pleased when they entered the final third. The absence of any midfield presence only magnified Liverpool’s issues at the back, with Fabinho and Thiago hardly offering cover to their already-jittery center-backs.

Saturday’s capitulation wasn’t just a bad day at the office. It carried further hints and clues that Liverpool – as mighty as they were just a few months ago – are in disarray. Seven points adrift of fourth place, Klopp’s side suddenly finds itself in a dogfight for a Champions League berth. And there’s little reprieve in sight, with Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United, Newcastle United, and Real Madrid on the horizon.

Quick free-kicks

Guardiola thinks title race is over

It wasn’t just United that celebrated Saturday’s derby result. Arsenal also had to be delighted with how the game unfolded. The loss gives the Gunners a chance to increase their lead atop the Premier League table to eight points if they win Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham. So, it was probably music to Arsenal supporters’ ears after Pep Guardiola’s proclamation that the Premier League title race is over after City dropped points for the second time in four league games since the league restarted on Boxing Day. Though it might’ve been a genuine statement from the Spanish manager, waving the white flag in January could also be Guardiola’s way of waking up his troops following two straight losses in all competitions for the first time this season.

Trossard who? Mitoma steps up for Brighton

Bryn Lennon / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Despite all the drama around Leandro Trossard’s expiring contract and seemingly inevitable exit, his omission from Brighton’s matchday squad again made no difference at all. Roberto De Zerbi’s side easily handled Liverpool, making 20 to 30 passes at a time. While the Reds played poorly, the surging Seagulls upped their game, showing confidence on the ball. Japanese international Kaoru Mitoma continued to strut his stuff in Trossard’s place, tormenting Trent Alexander-Arnold with a sequence of penetrating runs that left the Liverpool right-back holding his hands up in frustration. If Trossard does end up leaving Brighton in January, fans can rest easy knowing Brighton have the personnel to continue playing high-octane football.

Fans are doing Everton no favors

Everton’s form is undoubtedly a cause for concern. Fans should expect more from a club of its stature. But the scenes that preceded Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton made a tense situation even worse. The club’s entire board refrained from attending the match at Goodison Park out of fear for their safety, with fans calling for immediate change at seemingly all costs. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright received emails that he wouldn’t leave Liverpool alive. The Athletic’s Greg O’Keeffe and David Ornstein reported that a fan had put club CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale in a headlock. Fans also crowded Everton’s team bus as it approached the stadium, setting off a menacing mood on Merseyside that seemed to hover over the players and affect their performance. Afterward, one fan demanded that Yerry Mina, who played no part in Saturday’s loss, stay with the club if it’s relegated. The environment at Everton is toxic, and it won’t get any better if the people who run the club feel unsafe.

Stat of the day

Maybe United have a bright future after all?

Tweet of the day

Cody Gakpo, Liverpool’s £37-million signing, might be regretting his move right about now.

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