Everton manager Marco Silva has urged his side to embrace the challenge of taking on Premier League leaders Liverpool in Wednesday's Merseyside derby.

The 234th edition of one of English football's most famous fixtures takes place with the city's two clubs experiencing sharply contrasting fortunes.

Liverpool are undefeated and eight points clear of nearest challengers Leicester City in the Premier League.

Leicester ensured the gap did not increase last weekend thanks to a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Everton, who are fourth bottom and two points above the relegation zone.

Nevertheless, Silva wants his players to grasp the opportunity presented to them this midweek and pursue the club's first win at Anfield since 1999.

"There are many, many things to win in the game," Silva told a pre-match news conference, on the day star forward Richarlison lifted some of the gloom at Goodison Park by signing a new long-term contract.

"It will be tough. They are having a very, very good season. They are top of the table. At home they are beating all the teams they are playing against.

"The record for us is not good enough. Twenty years without a win there is a long time for our club and our fans.

"Look to that situation as a good opportunity for us to change what was the last 20 years in this football club."

Everton acquitted themselves well on the other side of Stanley Park last season, eventually falling to a 1-0 defeat as Divock Origi netted an injury-time winner that was made possible by a bizarre Jordan Pickford error.

"One of the toughest games they had last season at home was against us. It was a really good game from both teams and we want to embrace the challenge," Silva said.

"You know how it is in a derby - the form and who is on top in the table is not important because you are playing in a derby. We have to go with that thinking in our mind and embrace the challenge.

"The result [last season] [was unfair. We didn't deserve it at all. It was hard for us.

"In that game I saw Everton Football Club really embracing the challenge, playing face to face with them at Anfield.

"We were in a good moment in our season, with our full squad in good shape. If we can repeat the same type of performance, it will be really good."

Everton will face Liverpool once again in January after the FA Cup third-round draw paired them together – an outcome Silva felt was less than ideal for each club.

Absentees Seamus Coleman and Fabian Delph will have to target that game after failing to recover in time for Wednesday's match, although forward Theo Walcott is back from a bout of illness.

"Theo will be okay," Silva said. "He was sick and worked the last two sessions with the team. He will be in conditions to be in the squad.

"Coleman tried this morning again but is not in conditions to be fit for the match and Delph is not training with the team. Let's see in the next few days."

Everton forward Richarlison has signed a new deal that will keep him at Goodison Park until 2024.

The 22-year-old was signed from Watford in July 2018 for a fee that could rise to £50million and has largely impressed during his time on Merseyside.

He scored 13 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions last season, while his header in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Leicester City took his tally to six in the current term.

Marco Silva's side are languishing in 17th in the Premier League after picking up just four wins from their opening 14 games.

"I intend to be here a long time," Richarlison told evertontv. "This was the club which gave me the opportunity to show my football.

"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.

"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 honouring the shirt and making the fans happy. And I hope they continue singing my name."

Richarlison has scored six goals in 19 appearances for Brazil, with all his appearances for his national side coming after his move to the Toffees.

Freddie Ljungberg refused to criticise his inheritance from Unai Emery at Arsenal – hailing the departed head coach as a "great leader".

Ljungberg took charge of his first game as interim Gunners boss at the weekend, where they twice came from behind in an eventful 2-2 draw at Norwich City.

It meant Arsenal remained without a Premier League win away from home since the first weekend of the season, while their previous top-flight triumph of any description came on October 6 against Bournemouth.

Brighton and Hove Albion will be the next team that look to prolong that slump when they visit Emirates Stadium on Thursday, but Ljungberg defended Emery, who led Arsenal to the final of the Europa League last season before promoting the former Sweden international to his first-team coaching setup.

"I've done two training sessions now and I don't want to talk about the coaches before," Ljungberg told a pre-match news conference.

"I think Unai did a great job and was a great leader, and a fantastic coach. That's not for me to judge. I look forward.

"The main thing for me was that when we were at Norwich, we hadn't won an away game since the first game of the season.

"I felt that the players could react and, in my opinion, we played well offensively. It was good. But now we go forward."

Indeed, Ljungberg felt Arsenal's problems at Carrow Road came in transition, with an under-fire defence frequently exposed as a result.

"The general feeling is probably the same as I had after the match: we started extremely well, played very well offensively but had a problem transition-wise, so they got shots on target and chances just from the transition of an eight-yard sprint, which we need to stop," he explained.

"So that’s something we will focus on. Other things is my feeling that we got in behind their midfield and behind their backline a lot.

"But if we play a transition game like we did, we won’t win any games, so that’s something that I can coach and try to improve."

In terms of the methods Ljungberg employs to seek that improvement, he can call upon the inspiration and advice of some highly respected names.

A star of Arsene Wenger's celebrated Arsenal 'Invincibles' team, he also forged a strong bond with Sven-Goran Eriksson when his countryman was England manager.

A whirlwind start to life in the Arsenal hotseat – Emery was sacked last Friday in the wake of a sapping Europa League loss to Eintracht Frankfurt – means the 42-year-old has not yet had chance to catch up with Wenger, but that is something he intends to arrange.

"I would really like to speak to him. I'm in contact with him, but I haven’t spoken to him because it's been a bit hectic, but it’s on my list to do so," Ljungberg said, before confessing he has already borrowed what he can from the Eriksson handbook.

"Sven is intelligent, I spoke to him a lot when he was the manager of England because he was watching our games.

"I know in the past, some stories of how he treated players and how he made them feel good and things like that. I have stolen a little bit of those ideas.

"He’s a great coach. It's been a long time, and I hope I can speak to him soon."

Jurgen Klopp has sympathy for Marco Silva but says he is not surprised the Everton manager's position is subject to fevered speculation.

Silva has overseen a poor start to the season, with a last-gasp defeat to Leicester City on Sunday leaving them languishing 17th in the Premier League.

The Portuguese takes his beleaguered side to Anfield for the Merseyside derby on Wednesday knowing another defeat could see him lose his job.

Klopp saw enough in the defeat to the Foxes to suggest the Toffees are capable of turning a corner but knows a club with Everton's ambitions can only remain patient for so long.

"Of course, I have sympathy [with Silva] because I know how difficult the life of a manager can be," the German told a media conference.

"The last thing Marco needs now is that I feel sorry for him, but I am really on his side because I know about the job.

"The last game against Leicester was really good in a changed system. They caused Leicester a lot of problems and had their chances. In all other situations that would be a positive sign."

Asked if Everton are unfortunate to be just one place outside the relegation zone, Klopp responded: "The table tells the full truth at the end of the season. Come on, if you go through that squad, I'd say that is a really good squad but it is not 100 per cent right and not clicking.

"There is a lot of pressure there as Everton are a very ambitious club, rightly so, and if it doesn't go the right way the pressure increases pretty quickly.

"They are not the only ones in this situation; this league is really difficult for all of us and we have to respect that."

Klopp considers himself to be fortunate that his position at Liverpool has not been under threat since arriving in October 2015 and says owners can sometimes be too quick to dismiss a manager.

"In general, if you are in the job like mine then there is pressure there," he explained. "You have to deliver and if it doesn't work out they have to try something else.

"The most important thing before you sign a manager is that the people who sign the manager look for the right things. There are a lot of really good managers out there, but it needs to fit to the club and the ambitions. If it does, then everybody can be happy at the end.

"But, in general, the pressure comes too quickly and the decisions are made too quickly, because people are not patient enough."

Frank Lampard anticipates a "pretty emotional" night for John Terry when the ex-Chelsea captain returns to Stamford Bridge with Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Villa assistant Terry will be back at the club he spent almost two decades with as a professional, during which time he won 15 major honours, with many of those won playing alongside Lampard.

After leaving the Blues in 2017, Terry spent a season playing for Villa before joining Dean Smith's coaching staff in 2018.

Terry said it would be "too much" to play against Chelsea for a rival Premier League club upon joining Villa – who were at the time in the Championship – but he will face them as an assistant instead.

"It's not much different for me, I went up against him twice last year," former Derby County boss Lampard told a news conference.

"We obviously get on very well and I've got huge respect for him and the work he and Dean Smith have done there with Aston Villa.

"So I think it's more about John, and the reception he'll quite rightly get from the Chelsea fans - the most decorated captain, the greatest captain who won everything.

"He feels the club, everyone knows that, and I'm sure the fans will certainly show their appreciation.

"I'm sure it will be pretty emotional for John, and he deserves that moment, and I'll certainly be pleased to see his face back at the Bridge."

Terry has previously spoken of his desire to follow in the footsteps of Lampard and one day manage his old club.

For now he is still learning the ropes, with Villa boss Smith saying he has been an invaluable member of his staff.

"It will be special for him," Smith added of Terry's return.

"He'll get an unbelievable reception from their supporters and rightly so.

"He's very important. I love working with JT. He's brought something different to our coaching set-up.

"I feel like he's come into his own with us getting promoted to the Premier League.

"He's getting better and better as a coach. I've championed him a long time, saying he will eventually be a top manager as well."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hailed Lionel Messi as "probably the best player I have seen in my life" but thinks Virgil van Dijk should have been awarded the Ballon d'Or.

Barcelona superstar Messi the prestigious honour for a record sixth time on Monday, with organisers France Football declaring his seven-point margin over Van Dijk to be one of the narrowest in the award's 63-year history.

The Barcelona captain finished top of the count with 686 points, just ahead of Van Dijk's 679.

While recognising Messi as the greatest player of his generation, Klopp feels Van Dijk should have been rewarded with the prize for his stellar contribution to Liverpool's Champions League win last season.

He told a media conference: "The decisions are made by journalists, right? I see it slightly different. Lionel Messi is probably the best player I have seen in my life, but last season I cannot remember a more impressive season by a defender ever.

"It would have been right if Virgil had won as well. We won the Champions League and he had an outstanding season."

Van Dijk is likely to line up at the heart of Liverpool's defence for the Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield on Wednesday.

Monday's FA Cup third-round draw conjured up the exact same fixture for the first week of January, with Klopp revealing he would have preferred an easier tie to kick off their cup campaign.

"I didn't run through my living room and celebrate," he said. "It's not exactly what you wish for, but we have no problem playing Everton. It's a big game against big opponents. Obviously, we start the hard way. We cannot change that and we have time to prepare for that Everton game after this one."

Klopp confirmed Liverpool have no new injury concerns for Wednesday's game but says Joel Matip has still not recovered from a knee injury, which has kept him out since the 1-1 draw with Manchester United on October 20.

"Joel needs a bit more time," he explained. "It's healing but not exactly what we wish for."

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham will be given "every possible chance" to make his return against Aston Villa on Wednesday, Frank Lampard has said. 

The 22-year-old came off at half-time of the Champions League draw with Valencia on November 27 with a hip injury.

As a result, he missed the 1-0 home defeat to West Ham at the weekend when the Blues failed to score in the Premier League for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.

However, they could have their top scorer back when they host Villa, the club he spent last season on loan with.

"We're giving him every possible chance to be fit," Lampard said at a pre-match news conference.

"He's still got some pain in the area of the injury, [we will] make a judgement tomorrow.

"It's painful for him, so it's a pain threshold and whether it affects his movements. So I wouldn't want to commit today.

"He was in good form and with players that are important, you want to give them as much time.

"He's keen and we're trying our best to give him time, but if he's not ready we have to go in a different route anyway."


Midfielder Ross Barkley is likely to miss out again, though, with the England international having not played for Chelsea in almost two months due to an ankle injury.

The 25-year-old's comeback has been delayed due to illness, while defender Antonio Rudiger is still not ready to return from a groin problem.

"Ross has actually been sick," Lampard added.

"He was ill Sunday night, so he was in this morning but he's not recovered enough to be ready for the game.

"Rudiger is close, he's really stepped up his training, particularly in the last week.

"So we're hoping he'll be available in the next week to 10 days."

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho anticipates a warm reception from Manchester United supporters on Wednesday but says his time at the club is a "closed chapter".

Mourinho was sacked by United in December 2018 after a two-and-a-half-year spell in which he guided the club to EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs.

The Portuguese returned to management on November 20, taking over at Tottenham just a day after Mauricio Pochettino was dismissed by the north London outfit.

He has masterminded three consecutive wins across all competitions since his appointment and takes his resurgent side to United in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Mourinho – who has returned to Old Trafford as a television pundit this season – looks back fondly on his time at the club but says his focus is now solely on Tottenham.

"This is a closed chapter for me," he told a media conference. "I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened.

"I took my time to prepare myself for the next challenge. Honestly, Manchester United for me now is in my book of experiences; it's in my history book.

"I feel good. I like to play big matches; I like to play against the best teams and that is the most important thing. Going back to Old Trafford is to go back to a place where I was happy. I can say that I was happy. I have a great relationship with Manchester United supporters.

"I went back as a pundit, which is a different perspective. I was really humbled by such a beautiful reception.

"On Wednesday, I go back as the coach of the team that is going is try to beat Manchester United and that maybe gives a different perspective."

Tottenham have confirmed goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm remain out with elbow and calf injuries respectively, while Ben Davies (ankle) and Erik Lamela (hamstring) will also miss the trip to United.

Lionel Messi beat Virgil van Dijk to the 2019 Ballon d'Or by a slender seven-point margin, the award's organisers have confirmed.

France Football declared Messi's record sixth victory to be among the narrowest in the 63-year history of the prestigious prize.

The Barcelona captain finished top of the count with 686 points, just ahead of Liverpool defender Van Dijk's 679.

Third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not attend Monday's ceremony, tallied 476 points, 210 fewer than long-time rival Messi.

Sadio Mane, fourth on 347 points, was the only other player to exceed the 200-mark.

"The history of the award has had tighter scores, but the number of voting journalists - 176 this year - was [in the past] much smaller," read a post on France Football's website.

Runner-up Van Dijk praised Messi's "unnatural" ability and said he had complete respect for the 32-year-old.

When asked about five-time winner Ronaldo's absence, he joked: "Was he a candidate?"

Ronaldo's sister, singer Katia Aveiro, failed to see the funny side of the light-hearted comment, firing back at the Dutchman in a lengthy Instagram rant.

"Now, dear Virgil, where you are going, Cristiano Ronaldo has gone and has come a thousand times," she wrote.

"You see, my dear Virgil, that Cristiano Ronaldo was a three-time champion in the country where you have been playing for years and you still haven't got your hand on the trophy.

"Cristiano Ronaldo was even the best player and best scorer in the country where you play Virgil. By the way, he was even younger than you. Then, dear Virgil, Cristiano Ronaldo went to other places and became the greatest player in the history of a club... this club, with this Cristiano guy, even beat you in the Champions League final.

"Of these [Ballons d'Or], Ronaldo already has five, Virgil."

2019 Ballon d'Or points

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 686
2. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) - 679
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) - 476
4. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - 347
5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) - 178
6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) - 89
7. Alisson (Liverpool) - 67
8. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - 44
9. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) - 41
10. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) - 33

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Jose Mourinho will receive a warm reception from Manchester United supporters when he takes his Tottenham side to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Portuguese returns to United as a manager for the first time since being sacked by the Red Devils in December 2018.

He was appointed Tottenham boss on November 20 – just a day after Mauricio Pochettino's dismissal – and has steered his new side to three consecutive wins across all competitions.

Mourinho guided United to EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs during his two-and-a-half years in charge and Solskjaer has no doubts he will be well received on his return.

The Norwegian told a media conference: "[He will receive a] very good reception; that's just a testament to this club and these supporters.

"Of course, they remember the two-and-a-half years when he won trophies. So, for me, I'm 100 per cent sure our fans, staff and club will welcome him."

United have endured a difficult start to the campaign and are languishing in ninth after just four wins from their opening 14 games.

Solskjaer acknowledges his side must improve but does not think his players need the motivation of playing against their former boss to get back to winning ways.

"I don't think whoever the manager of the opposition team is will change [the players'] motivation," he added.

"They're motivated to do well for Manchester United, for themselves, for us as a group going forward. They also know it's about improving every day in training, but every time you step onto that pitch, it's a chance to be a part of this long-term.

"And that's always been the case at Manchester United when you put the shirt on; it doesn't matter who you play against, you've got to give it your all. The boys are a bit disappointed after Sunday [when they drew 2-2 with Aston Villa] but now it's all eyes on Wednesday."

Paul Pogba will not be fit for Manchester United's much-anticipated Premier League match against Tottenham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford on Wednesday as his improving Spurs side seek to secure a fourth successive win in all competitions.

United had hoped star midfielder Pogba would be ready for the marquee encounter but the France international has not sufficiently recovered from an ankle injury.

Scott McTominay, who also has an ankle problem, and the experienced Nemanja Matic are considered "touch and go" for the midweek fixture, which precedes Saturday's trip to the Etihad Stadium for the derby against Manchester City.

"Paul's not ready, no," Solskjaer said at his pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"He's still a bit away but he's working hard. He's out on the grass, so let's see how long it will take."

As for McTominay and Matic, Solskjaer said: "They're touch and go. Let's get this training session out of the way. We've got more games than this one, so of course I can't look at just the one game. We have got to look at the long term.

"I don't want to talk about all the injuries we've had but when you get Scott back, when you get Paul back, we have been light in midfield with three out for such a long time and that's affected us."

Solskjaer has been unable to call on Pogba since the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the end of September.

United have won five of 12 matches in all competitions since then and none of their past three, increasing the pressure on their Norwegian manager.

Premier League bosses Unai Emery, Mauricio Pochettino and Quique Sanchez Flores have all lost their jobs in recent times but Solskjaer denied being worried about his own circumstances.

"No, it doesn't make me more concerned, I’m just focusing on my job and that's doing as well as I can, looking forward to the next game, looking long-term to plan things with the board," he said.

"It's that time of year. It's never nice to see your colleagues lose their jobs in a very short space of time... sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don’t. But it doesn't make me any more concerned that it is December."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has insisted his organisation is not blind to the scourge of racism and will implement stronger sanctions on clubs and countries.

European football has been marred by a string of ugly episodes this season, from the monkey noises aimed at Inter striker Romelu Lukaku in a Serie A game against Cagliari to the racist abuse England players suffered during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria.

Brescia striker Mario Balotelli and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Taison both resorted to kicking balls into the stands in separate incidents in Italy and Ukraine last month.

Anti-discrimination body Kick It Out characterised the €75,000 fine handed out to the Bulgarian Football Union as symptomatic of UEFA's weak deterrents and Ceferin admitted more must be done.

He told The Mirror: "I understand that the players are desperate because of the punishments and the incidents that are happening again and again.

"Of course you want say [to UEFA]: 'Go to hell!' I know. But I am not so naive to think that we've done all we can and now everything is finished. We haven't.

"We are trying and we care. We are not just some guys in Nyon sitting eating fancy food and driving Ferraris.

"We are ready to listen to criticism. Every week there is something - not just since Bulgaria, not since England, not since Cagliari. We've been listening.

"Every week we hear about some s*** happening around Europe. And we speak.

"I went recently to the European Union. We speak with governments. We are trying to do something."

Ceferin pledged to investigate avenues for tougher penalties and said UEFA will address its own imbalances.

"Our disciplinary committee and other committees should be more and more diverse," he said.

"We have to bring black members in and we have to bring in more women.

"I agree that sanctions will have to be harsher and harsher. And I'm sure we will. I cannot tell you more but we will rethink all the disciplinary regulation and diversity in the disciplinarian gravity.

"In the future, one of the governing bodies where this happens will have to have severe sanctions, I know."

But the Slovenian administrator stopped short of agreeing to competition bans, saying: "I know we have to do more. But tell me which club was thrown out of the Premier League? And you have incidents almost every week. Also in Italy.

"The media attention is their oxygen."

Real Madrid have made Fabian Ruiz their top transfer target.

According to reports, "negotiations have accelerated" as the Spanish heavyweights aim to take advantage of the disarray at Napoli.

But the midfielder also has high-profile admirers in England and France.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEP UP FABIAN INTEREST

Napoli midfielder Fabian is a man in demand.

Madrid appear to be in pole position, with Cadena SER claiming the Spanish giants are "very serious" about taking the 23-year-old to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Negotiations over a contract extension at Napoli are said to have stopped and the Spain international is reportedly warm to the idea of joining up with Zinedine Zidane's side.

However, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain could look to force a three-way bidding war for the Spain international, who has previously been linked to Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Ex-Valencia head coach Marcelino has emerged as a left-field managerial candidate for Arsenal and Everton, according to the Daily Mail. The 54-year-old lost his job at the Mestalla in September following a reported falling out with owner Peter Lim.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fears he will be sacked if Manchester United lose their next two games against Tottenham and bitter rivals City, says The Sun.

- Former Premier League striker-turned-reporter Jan Aage Fjortoft claims Liverpool are favourites to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho – but the winger will cost the Premier League leaders €130million.

- Chelsea have offered little-used striker Olivier Giroud to Serie A sides Milan and Inter, according to CalcioMercato.

Barcelona are keeping tabs on 16-year-old PSG midfielder Edouard Michut, reports Le Parisien.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes Liverpool's mindset has been key to their Premier League dominance so far this season.

Jurgen Klopp's men are eight points clear at the top through 14 games, having won 13 and drawn one.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 26, said Liverpool's belief made everything else easier, as they prepare for the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Wednesday.

"The mindset that I'm in when we go into a game is that I'm going into it with the mindset that we're going to win. I think that's how we all feel," the midfielder told UK media, via The Telegraph.

"We're going into the games expecting ourselves to win and anything else we're disappointed.

"There's times in my career where I definitely haven't gone into all games 100 per cent confident that the team's going to come away winning, but with this team, I have that sort of belief in us.

"If we're on our A-game that's how I think we should come out of games. Obviously it might not happen every time but when you're going into games with that sort of mindset and belief it simplifies everything else."

Liverpool are unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions ahead of the Merseyside derby, before they visit Bournemouth on Saturday.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has said he is "honoured" to have written his name in football history after being awarded the Yachine Trophy at the 2019 Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris.

The Brazil international capped a memorable year for club and country by becoming the first person to win the accolade, given to the best keeper in the world over the past 12 months.

He won the Champions League with Liverpool in June and the Copa America with Brazil the following month, while also claiming the Golden Glove in the Premier League last season with 21 clean sheets.

Having seen off competition from Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ederson of Manchester City to come out on top, Alisson was quick to thank his team-mates for their help.

"I'm so honoured to win this prize," he told reporters. "I believe that, beyond receiving this trophy, there's the fact of being the first one in the history. 

"I guess I wrote my name in football history. Not only me but with the help of God, my family, my team-mates - this is always very important to say. I'm so honoured to be here tonight along with great players."

Alisson ranked seventh in the main Ballon d'Or award, which was won by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi for a record sixth time.

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