Everton made mathematically certain of remaining in the Premier League on Saturday as Idrissa Gueye's goal handed them a 1-0 home win over Brentford, who are also safe after Luton Town's earlier loss to Wolves.

Luton's 2-1 defeat at Molineux meant Brentford's slim fears of relegation were behind them before kick-off, while Everton knew a third straight victory would also secure their place in the top flight for next season.

The Toffees' old wastefulness was on show in the first half, but Gueye powered home 15 minutes into the second period to hand them a third Goodison Park triumph in the space of six days.

The result saw Sean Dyche's men climb above their visitors to go 15th in the table, one place and point clear of Brentford, who can also plan ahead for 2024-25 in the top flight after pulling clear of danger.

Everton were without Dominic Calvert-Lewin through illness and Beto due to the head injury he suffered against Nottingham Forest. Their absences were felt when the first chance fell their way after six minutes, Youssef Chermiti failing to get a touch on McNeil's tempting cross.

Mathias Jensen had Brentford's first sight of goal 20 minutes in following good work from Vitaly Janelt, but in-form defender Jarrad Branthwaite denied him with a huge block.

The best opportunity of a low-key opening period, though, fell to Abdoulaye Doucoure, who sent an awkward volley spinning well wide after finding space on the stroke of half-time.

Brentford should have gone ahead within five minutes of the restart, but Jordan Pickford brilliantly smothered Ivan Toney's shot when his England team-mate looked destined to tap home at the far post.

McNeil then rattled the crossbar from range as Everton turned up the pressure, and they made the breakthrough on the hour.

Gueye fired into the top-left corner after Brentford failed to clear following a goalmouth scramble, with the goal confirmed by VAR amid questions about a subjective offside.

Keane Lewis-Potter worked Pickford from the edge of the box, but that was as close as Thomas Frank's men came to an equaliser, and Everton almost had a second when James Garner's free-kick struck the bar in stoppage time.

Everton rescue act complete

When Everton welcomed Burnley to Goodison Park on April 6th, they remained in severe danger of seeing a chastening campaign end in relegation.

However, a run of four wins in five games – the most memorable being Wednesday's 2-0 triumph over Merseyside rivals Liverpool – has dragged the Toffees clear and ensured there will be no repeat of last year, when they remained at the highest level by the skin of the teeth on a nervy final day.

Having earned their first win of the campaign against Brentford back in September, Everton have also done the double over the Bees for just the second time, previously beating them home and away in the second tier back in 1952-53.

Toney struggles continue

While Brentford had enjoyed a resurgence of their own prior to Saturday's game, beating Sheffield United 2-0 and Luton 5-1 in their last two matches, both of those victories came without injured striker Toney.

He returned to the Bees' lineup here but was uncharacteristically quiet, failing to beat Pickford when presented with the visitors' best chance shortly after half-time.

Toney has now failed to score in his last eight Premier League matches, his longest ever run without a goal in the competition. With Ollie Watkins and Dominic Solanke in fine form as Gareth Southgate prepares to name his England squad for Euro 2024, his barren spell has come at a poor time. 

Everton's big win over Liverpool shows they are "sticking to the task", so says Sean Dyche, who knows his team must keep their feet on the ground as they aim to overcome Brentford.

The Toffees won 2-0 at Goodison Park on Wednesday, taking a huge stride towards Premier League safety and denting their rivals' title hopes in the process.

Everton moved onto 33 points, eight clear of 18th-placed Luton Town with four games remaining.

It means that, should Luton fail to beat Wolves on Saturday, Everton - who face Brentford at home in an evening kick-off - would be able to ensure their safety with a victory.

Dyche, though, is taking nothing for granted.

Reflecting on the derby victory, Dyche said: "Well, it certainly says we're sticking to task, whatever comes at us. I'm certainly proud of that, because we've had some ups and downs ourselves.

"But it has to be parked because another one is coming around. Another important game, another chance, another opportunity to play at Goodison and get three points, so there is a lot on the next game. So they do have to have a window to enjoy that last night.

"That's the challenge. Of course, I said enjoy the moment, but I said let's go and do it again.

"It's a decent outfit in Brentford. They had a funny spell themselves and have come out of that. 

"It's not easy. There are no 'gimmies' in this league. I praised the players first last night and then said 'Right, tomorrow we come in and get on with business'.

"We've taken big steps, but there are more to come. We can control the situation ourselves, and that's what we have always aimed to do - even with the points taken away and all that sort of stuff. Grip hold of it and let's run with it and I think we're beginning to show that again. Three wins out of four now: three home wins, clean sheets, good signs."

Brentford boss Thomas Frank said: "It's been a tough season - everyone is in the Premier League, no matter where you are in the table. But this season in particular because of injuries and other things that have been happening."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Everton - Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Calvert-Lewin was immense against Liverpool, scoring for the third time in four Premier League appearances. The striker netted in Everton's 3-1 win over Brentford in the reverse fixture in September.

Brentford - Bryan Mbeumo

Mbeumo has been involved in nine goals in his last 10 Premier League starts, while Brentford have won 39 per cent of their league games when the Cameroonian has started this season (7/18), compared to 12.5% when he has not (2/16).

MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

Brentford have scored eight goals in their last two Premier League away games, netting five on the road for the first time ever in the top flight last time out at Luton. 

Everton have opened the scoring in each of their last four Premier League meetings with Brentford, doing so in the opening 10 minutes of the match on three occasions in that run.

None of the 10 league meetings between Everton and Brentford at Goodison Park have ended in a draw, with the Toffees winning seven of these to the Bees' three. However, the Opta supercomputer is predicting a draw is a likely result.

Having been unbeaten in their first three Premier League games against Everton (W2 D1), Brentford have now lost their last two against the Toffees.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Everton - 32.4%

Brentford - 38.2%

Draw - 29.4%

Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool's next manager has a big decision to make regarding Mohamed Salah's future, adding the Reds definitely need to move on from Darwin Nunez.

Liverpool's title hopes suffered a potentially fatal blow at Goodison Park on Wednesday, as goals from Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin handed Everton a memorable 2-0 win.

The defeat – Liverpool's first at Goodison since 2010 – means they are three points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal and one clear of Manchester City, who have two games in hand.

Jurgen Klopp now looks likely to end his final season at the helm with just February's EFL Cup triumph to show for his efforts, with Carragher declaring Liverpool's title hopes to be over on Wednesday.

He also believes Klopp's successor – which could be Feyenoord's Arne Slot if reports are to be believed – may need to shake up Liverpool's frontline.

"Mo Salah is Liverpool's goalscorer and he's gone off the boil. That's shone a light on others," Carragher told Sky Sports.

"There is a real discussion for the new manager about what the future holds for Mo Salah – it's the first time we've asked that question. He only has a year to go on his deal.

"He's looked a shadow of himself for a lot of this season but especially since he's come back from injury. He is Liverpool's legend, superstar, one of the all-time greats, but he's been so far off it."

Salah has 17 Premier League goals this season, but 14 of those came before he went to the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt in January.

Prior to that tournament, Salah boasted a shot conversion rate of 21.54 per cent for 2023-24, netting with 14 of his 65 total attempts in the competition. Since returning, he has only converted 8.57 per cent of his 35 efforts.

Salah's strike partner Nunez has also come in for criticism, with only Erling Haaland (30) missing more big chances than the Uruguayan's 26 this term. Haaland has, however, converted 34.78 per cent of his big chances to Nunez's 18.75 per cent.

Carragher does not believe Nunez is capable of further improvement after two up-and-down campaigns on Merseyside, saying: "I think I'm at the stage with Nunez where I'm not sure there's a question to ask.

"You want him to do well because he gives everything, he causes trouble, he gets the odd goal. 

"But after two years, when Liverpool are going for the title or in big games, you need your man to score at Old Trafford or at Goodison Park. This is the business end, the time to win. 

"He's ground to a halt. After two years there's going to be no improvement in him. This is what he is. 

"He can cause trouble but he's erratic with his finishing – it's not enough to win you trophies so there's a big decision to be made on him. It's not acceptable when you're going for a title."

Virgil van Dijk conceded Liverpool might be out of the Premier League title race after they suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat to Everton in Wednesday's Merseyside derby.

Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored in either half to give the Toffees their first win over Liverpool at Goodison Park since 2010.

Liverpool struggled to find a way through the Toffees' defence despite dominating for long periods, and the Reds' captain says they will not outlast Arsenal and Manchester City without major improvements.  

Speaking to Sky Sports, Van Dijk said: "If we play like today, then we have no chance to consider ourselves in the title race. 

"We have to just focus on the next game and that will be a tough one anyway, so we will see.

"We're very disappointed, in so many ways. I think everyone has to look at their own performances. Did they really give everything, and do they really want to win the league?

"We're still fighting and there are still games after tonight, but if we play like we did overall in the game today – not winning challenges and giving the referee a chance to give free-kicks like he did many times, then you have no chance to win the title."

Sean Dyche challenged his Everton players to "go and do it again" after his team defeated Liverpool at Goodison Park in the Merseyside derby.

Everton won 2-0 on Wednesday, clinching a home victory over their local rivals for the first time since 2010 thanks to goals from Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

While it also dented Liverpool's title hopes, the victory presented a huge step forward in Everton's hopes of staying up.

They are now eight points clear of the relegation zone, with four games left to play, and the possibility of points to come back should they successfully appeal the second of their points deductions for financial breaches.

Dyche, though, insisted the job is not done as he looks towards another big game on Saturday, when Brentford visit Goodison Park.

"Very pleased with the reaction," Dyche told Sky Sports.

"This was a different game with the organisation and the belief in the organisation. They're a good side, we know that. The commitment from us had to be there. The energy of the side and also the key moments.

"We spoke about the desire and the energy of the team and the physical side of the game. The lads did it on Sunday and they'll have to do it again. That's the challenge.

"We stayed focused tonight and I asked if they could stay with us and they did. Sunday was massive and now it was a massively important derby game. For people like Seamus Coleman, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he's so happy.

"We should be on 41 points and the story's different. Three clean sheets in three home games. The challenge for the players is to go and do it again."

Calvert-Lewin led the line brilliantly, converting Everton's second with a towering header early in the second half. He has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games for the Toffees, as many as in his previous 28 appearances in the competition.

"I thought [Calvert-Lewin] was outstanding tonight," Dyche said.

"We've been trying to get him back to where he needs to be and I thought he was outstanding. He gets a goal. He tried to get it over the line and I love that. The second one is a great header. No, I thought he was outstanding tonight.

"Jordan Pickford made some big saves in the first half. It's rare you stop these sides having chances so you need moments yourself. It's hard to pick out one or two [players]."

Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes were dealt a potentially fatal blow as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to city rivals Everton in an exhilarating Merseyside derby.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's header made sure of the Toffees’ victory – their first in a derby at Goodison Park since 2010 – after Jarrad Branthwaite had poked them ahead.

Luis Diaz came closest to launching a Liverpool comeback, but struck the post, leaving Jurgen Klopp's side with just one win from their last four top-flight outings.

Defeat leaves the Reds three points behind league-leaders Arsenal with four games left, with third-place Manchester City yet to play, while Everton moved eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Everton dominated the early stages and thought they had the chance to take the lead from the spot after just six minutes. Alisson felled Calvert-Lewin in a one-on-one, but the striker was offside in the build-up, and the penalty was overturned after a VAR review.

The Toffees looked particularly dangerous from free-kicks, and Liverpool were given a warning when Calvert-Lewin’s thumping header was parried by Alisson.

Liverpool were left to rue their slack defending in the 26th minute as it pinballed around their box, with Branthwaite’s low shot eventually beating Alisson and spinning over the line off the inside of the post.

Jordan Pickford made three big saves to keep Everton in front at the break, denying Darwin Nunez, Diaz, and Andy Robertson as Liverpool rallied.

While the Reds made a bright start to the second half, they could not take their chances, and Calvert-Lewin punished them from a corner as he rose unmarked at the back post to thump a towering header into the bottom-left corner for his third goal in four games.

Liverpool’s best chance fell to Diaz in the 69th minute as he finally unlocked Everton’s defence, but a brilliant curler struck the right-hand post – the 22nd time Liverpool have hit the woodwork in the league this season.

Mohamed Salah also squandered a late chance, blazing over the bar from close range to sum up a wasteful night for the Reds as Everton held on for a potentially pivotal result at both ends of the table.

Dyche’s defence rallies

Each of Everton's last seven victories in the Premier League have been to nil, an impressive feat as they have failing to win any of their last 12 when conceding at least once (D4 L8).

They had to dig deep to get another vital three points in the relegation battle, keeping Liverpool at bay with impressive blocks from the brilliant Branthwaite, James Tarkowski and Ben Godfrey, as well as excellent saves from Pickford, who was on form to deny Harvey Elliott and Salah in the dying embers.

This win also ended a run of 12 without a victory against Liverpool in the Premier League at home, which was their longest such run against any other opponent in their league history.

Nine days ago, Everton were thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea. Now, after just their second derby win in over 13 years, they are within touching distance of safety.

Title hopes extinguished?

For the 22nd time in all competitions this season, Liverpool were punished for a slow start as they conceded the opening goal.

Jurgen Klopp, on his farewell tour, was aiming to become the first Reds manager to win 10 Premier League Merseyside derbies but instead suffered just his second loss against the Toffees (W9 D6).

It was just Liverpool’s second defeat in their last 27 games against Everton (W12 D13), and with Man City having two games in hand, it could have just ended their title challenge.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepts results are all that matter at this stage of the season as he looks to end his final Merseyside derby with a rare victory at Goodison Park.

Klopp has lost just one of 18 matches against the Toffees – the behind-closed-doors game at Anfield in February 2021 – but across Stanley Park his record is just two wins and five draws.

He was surprised by some of the reaction to Sunday’s 3-1 win at Fulham, which attracted criticism for not being the most fluent, but insists winning was the main objective, with no margin for error in a title race in which they are currently third favourites.

“I know this is the last part of the season: it is not about playing the freshest football of the whole year – that would be strange if that works out with the schedule all the teams have,” said Klopp, who will be without Diogo Jota for at least a fortnight after the forward injured himself scoring at Craven Cottage.

“But you have to win games and I think we know how to do that and we have to make sure everybody understands the way we want to try (on Wednesday).

“I wouldn’t say it was straightforward but until two weeks ago everything was probably better than anyone would have expected.

“Then you have this week (losing to Atalanta and Crystal Palace) when the performances were not as bad as the results felt afterwards.

“And then it is like, ‘Why don’t you score enough? If you look at our numbers, yes, there are two teams who have scored more than us (Arsenal and Manchester City) but it is not like there are two teams who scored 50 goals more than us.

“It is always about how you can get the right feeling again for the situation and the next game and we usually do that. I am really happy now with the response.”

Liverpool’s disappointing run of games at Goodison stretches beyond Klopp’s arrival in 2015, with nine of the last 11 encounters ending in draws.

Klopp’s five draws are more than at any other away ground, but that has to change on Wednesday night if they are to maintain the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City.

“I don’t know exactly when my first derby was, 2016, but when I (first) came here it would not be honest if I said that is my game of the year. It wasn’t, I knew how important it was for the people, but didn’t feel it then.

“Now I know it and feel it. My understanding developed over the years. They are always difficult games, especially there, but it is not too important, what we had in the past.”

Losing Jota will not help in unlocking what is likely to be a determined Everton defence, especially as Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz have all looked below their best in recent weeks.

“Unfortunately Diogo scored the goal, felt a little bit and now we found out it’s a little bit more so he will be out for two weeks,” said Klopp, who revealed Jota had complained of a hip problem in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s a small one but we are late in the season, so obviously now it’s not a great moment for each injury pretty much.

“When I say two weeks, actually really it’s pretty much nothing but enough to not be available.”

Nottingham Forest will be given the opportunity to privately hear the VAR audio connected to three penalty claims in their match against Everton last Sunday.

Forest called on Monday for the audio between Stuart Attwell and on-field official Anthony Taylor to be released publicly.

Sources close to referees body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) insist it has nothing to hide and will give the club the opportunity to hear the audio in private, as it would any other club making a similar request.

The PA news agency understands no decision has yet been taken on whether this audio would also feature in the next edition of ‘Match Officials Mic’d Up’, which will air next Tuesday evening.

The audio related to a wrongly disallowed Luis Diaz goal for Liverpool at Tottenham earlier this season was released publicly, but in that instance there had been a serious communication error so the matter was treated differently.

Forest have been contacted by PA regarding the offer to release the audio.

The club have risked Football Association and Premier League sanction over their extraordinary response to the three rejected penalty appeals.

The club said in a statement on Sunday they had “warned” PGMOL that VAR Stuart Attwell “was a Luton fan” but that PGMOL did not change the appointment.

The Premier League said it was “extremely disappointed” by the statement, adding it was “never appropriate to improperly question the integrity of match officials”.

The league said it was investigating the matter in relation to the league’s rules, with regulations B.15 and B.16 governing the requirement on clubs and their officials to behave with utmost good faith.

Forest went on to release a further statement on Monday evening calling for the rules around referees’ allegiances to be updated to account for “contextual rivalries in the league table”.

Referees do already declare allegiances and will not be assigned that team’s matches, or certain other fixtures such as those involving direct local rivals of that club. For instance, Michael Oliver has spoken in the past about he cannot referee Newcastle games because he is a fan.

Other factors that determine appointments include which teams an official’s immediate family members support, as well as performance and the number of times they have officiated a particular team’s matches.

PGMOL takes all of that into account and endeavours to make the best appointments possible when allocating six officials to each Premier League fixture from a pool of 70 to 75, while also fulfilling Championship refereeing appointments.

Ultimately, it has confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of its officials.

No club is believed to have ever questioned the process in the manner Forest have since the birth of the Premier League 32 years ago, and nor have the club raised any concerns in relation to the previous occasions when Attwell has been the VAR at their matches this season.

English officials are clearly well thought of by UEFA, with eight included in the list for Euro 2024 this summer.

Taylor will lead one of two English referee teams at Euro 2024, with Oliver leading the other. Attwell and David Coote have been named as VARs.

Three Forest staff – manager Nuno Espirito Santo, full-back Neco Williams and referee analyst Mark Clattenburg – have been asked by the FA for observations on the comments they made about the officiating at Goodison Park.

Nottingham Forest have accused VAR Stuart Attwell of being a Luton fan after feeling they were on the wrong end of “three extremely poor decisions” during Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

Forest posted on X, formerly Twitter, soon after full-time that they were considering their options, having “warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game but they didn’t change him”, adding that their patience had now been “tested multiple times” this season.

The relegation-threatened midlands club were furious not to be awarded spot-kicks by Anthony Taylor for challenges on Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi by Ashley Young, who in the meantime had looked fortunate to escape a handball decision, with Attwell backing the referee.

Forest posted: “Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept.

“We warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game, but they didn’t change him. Our patience has been tested multiple times.

“NFFC will now consider its options.”

All three incidents were waved away by referee Taylor, with VAR Attwell opting not to reverse any decision, suggesting with the handball that Young’s arm had been deemed to be in a natural position when it was hit by Hudson-Odoi’s cross.

Forest head coach Nuno Espirito Santo backed the club’s statement in the main but played down the importance of Attwell’s allegiances.

Asked whether he agreed with his club’s stance, he said: “Yes I share (the view) because I saw the images. You see it so clearly, you don’t understand why the decision was against us.

“I honestly think the situation with Gio Reyna in the first half was a clear one and the handball, we can ask because if not, the ball goes to (Chris) Wood and there is an incident with Callum and Ashley Young.

“I share the feeling of the club because it is not only this game, it has been a while for poor decisions against us. It is not an excuse but we are not comfortable with the referees.”

Nuno stopped short of repeating the club’s suggestion Attwell’s appointment as VAR raised issues of impartiality, instead choosing to question the official’s inability to spot what he thought were three viable spot-kicks.

“I am aware of the complaint that the club was not comfortable with the VAR but the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) decided another way,” he said.

“It is not important if he is a fan of another club or not. The VAR is sitting down in a chair, they have time to assess the images.

“I would just like to understand the why – why we have always been on the end of bad decisions.

“It is a feeling of disappointment that we are always being punished and it is difficult to control the players with this feeling because they felt they worked hard and not got what they deserved.”

Asked whether he thought it was appropriate for the club to complain about the appointment of officials before a match, the Forest boss said: “I prefer not to answer if it is appropriate.

“It’s a feeling and trying to avoid what happened today and not raise any more suspicions or thoughts that no-one wants. It is about preventing.”

It is not the first time Forest have been incensed with refereeing decisions, and as a result they appointed former official Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst to fight their corner.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Clattenburg described the three decisions as “a joke” and said Forest had been subjected to “some egregious refereeing” this season.

He added: “You will have seen the statement released by the club — how the PGMOL were contacted to warn that it was not appropriate for a Luton fan such as Attwell to play such a pivotal role in a massive match that would impact the relegation race.

“Certainly, I would not have risked this situation if I were the head of the referees and all of this could have been avoided had the PGMOL simply made smarter appointments.

“Referees do not make mistakes deliberately but this was mind-boggling to watch. Why Attwell did not send Taylor to his screen, only he will know.”

The PA news agency understands the Football Association is aware of the post and is investigating. PA has also contacted the PGMOL for comment.

Amid the furore, Everton moved five points clear of the relegation zone after goals in either half for Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil.

The only downside to the day for the hosts was striker Beto being carried off after being knocked unconscious in a clash of heads.

“He definitely came around and could understand what is going on, a good early sign,” Toffees boss Sean Dyche said.

“It was fantastic how early the medical team came around, we hope for news over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The Everton manager was happy to have secured back-to-back home wins either side of Monday’s 6-0 humiliation at Chelsea.

“It is very pleasing considering the madness of the current situation – two wins and two clean sheets in three games, sandwiched by a horrible performance,” he said.

“The reaction was very important today.”

Nottingham Forest have accused VAR Stuart Attwell of being a Luton fan after feeling they were on the wrong end of “three extremely poor decisions” during Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

Forest posted on X, formerly Twitter, soon after full-time that they were considering their options, having “warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game but they didn’t change him”, adding that their patience had now been “tested multiple times” this season.

The relegation-threatened midlands club were furious not to be awarded spot-kicks by Anthony Taylor for challenges on Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi by Ashley Young, who in the meantime had looked fortunate to escape a handball decision, with Attwell backing the referee.

Forest posted: “Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept.

“We warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game, but they didn’t change him. Our patience has been tested multiple times.

“NFFC will now consider its options.”

All three incidents were waved away by referee Taylor, with VAR Attwell opting not to reverse any decision, suggesting with the handball that Young’s arm had been deemed to be in a natural position when it was hit by Hudson-Odoi’s shot.

Forest head coach Nuno Espirito Santo backed the club’s statement in the main but played down the importance of Attwell’s allegiances.

Asked whether he agreed with his club’s stance, he said: “Yes I share (the view) because I saw the images. You see it so clearly, you don’t understand why the decision was against us.

“I honestly think the situation with Gio Reyna in the first half was a clear one and the handball, we can ask because if not, the ball goes to (Chris) Wood and there is an incident with Callum and Ashley Young.

“I share the feeling of the club because it is not only this game, it has been a while for poor decisions against us. It is not an excuse but we are not comfortable with the referees.”

Nuno stopped short of repeating the club’s suggestion Attwell’s appointment as VAR raised issues of impartiality, instead choosing to question the official’s inability to spot what he thought were three viable spot-kicks.

“I am aware of the complaint that the club was not comfortable with the VAR but the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) decided another way,” he said.

“It is not important if he is a fan of another club or not. The VAR is sitting down in a chair, they have time to assess the images.

“I would just like to understand the why – why we have always been on the end of bad decisions.

“It is a feeling of disappointment that we are always being punished and it is difficult to control the players with this feeling because they felt they worked hard and not got what they deserved.”

Asked whether he thought it was appropriate for the club to complain about the appointment of officials before a match, the Forest boss said: “I prefer not to answer if it is appropriate.

“It’s a feeling and trying to avoid what happened today and not raise any more suspicions or thoughts that no-one wants. It is about preventing.”

It is not the first time Forest have been incensed with refereeing decisions, and as a result they appointed former official Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst to fight their corner.

The PA news agency understands the Football Association is aware of the post and is investigating, and has contacted the PGMOL for comment.

Amid the furore, Everton moved five points clear of the relegation zone after goals in either half for Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil.

The only downside to the day for the hosts was striker Beto being carried off after being knocked unconscious in a clash of heads.

“He definitely came around and could understand what is going on, a good early sign,” Toffees boss Sean Dyche said.

“It was fantastic how early the medical team came around, we hope for news over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The Everton manager was happy to have secured back-to-back home wins either side of Monday’s 6-0 humiliation at Chelsea.

“It is very pleasing considering the madness of the current situation – two wins and two clean sheets in three games, sandwiched by a horrible performance,” he said.

“The reaction was very important today.”

Television pundit Jamie Carragher has accused Nottingham Forest of lacking “class” after launching a social media broadside following a controversial Premier League defeat at Everton.

Relegation-threatened Forest were aggrieved not to be awarded three penalties – all against former England defender Ashley Young – as they lost 2-0 at Goodison Park, and later took aim at referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

The club described the decisions as “extremely poor” and implied that VAR official Stuart Attwell was a Luton fan – the Hatters are also engaged in a survival fight in a post on its official X, formerly Twitter, account.

Responding to the post, Sky Sports pundit Carragher said: “It tells you where we are with the Premier League now and the clubs. Stuart Attwell and Anthony Taylor have had an horrific day today, awful, and they should be rightly criticised for that and that could have real implications for Nottingham Forest.

“I get the frustration, but that, what I’ve just read there on social media, that’s like a fan in a pub. That is embarrassing from Nottingham Forest. I get the frustration.

“That rubbish that VAR’s a Luton fan – you can’t get involved in that you’ve got to show a little bit of class if you’re a football club.

“I get it, the frustration – the officials had an awful day, terrible – but you can’t get involved in that, that’s nonsense.”

Fellow pundit Gary Neville added: “It’s horrendous, the statement by that football club, and it lets the proud history of that club down.

“The inferred cheating, as suggested by a Luton fan being a VAR official, is absolutely ridiculous.”

Forest have enlisted the services of former referee Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst to fight their corner after believing they have been on the wrong end of a series of contentious decisions.

Their post read: “Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept.

“We warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game, but they didn’t change him. Our patience has been tested multiple times.

“NFFC will now consider its options.”

However, former Forest forward Stan Collymore was critical of the move, which he fears may be counter-productive.

Collymore tweeted: “Take the high road and keep making representation via club secretary. That’s the accepted 150+ year protocol.

“I GUARANTEE the only thing social media and owner rants will do is create more issues. Take. The. High. Road. It’s. Nottingham. Forest. Not. A. Pub. Team.”

Nottingham Forest have launched a bitter attack on referees chiefs after they were denied three penalties during their costly 2-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

Forest were furious not to be awarded spot-kicks by Anthony Taylor for challenges on Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi by Ashley Young, who in the meantime had looked fortunate to escape a handball decision with VAR official Stuart Attwell backing the referee.

Minutes after the final whistle, the relegation-threatened club posted on X: “Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept.

“We warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game, but they didn’t change him. Our patience has been tested multiple times.

“NFFC will now consider its options.”

The PA news agency has contacted the PGMOL – Professional Game Match Officials Limited – for comment.

Everton eased their relegation worries with 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, who once again had reason to feel aggrieved about refereeing decisions going against them.

A rare goal from Idrissa Gueye was followed by a similar long-range strike from Dwight McNeil on his 200th Premier League appearance to secure a second-successive home win – sandwiching Monday’s 6-0 debacle at Chelsea – and lift Sean Dyche’s side five points clear of the bottom three.

But Toffees defender Ashley Young lived a charmed life after appearing somewhat fortunate to escape three penalty claims against him, which the visitors felt were all more than justified.

Both clubs have had cause to rail against the Premier League this season: the hosts had eight points deducted for breaches of profitability and sustainability rules, although they are appealing against the latest docking of two.

Forest, whose appeal against the four they had taken away will be heard next week, have been so incensed by some of the officiating against them they appointed former referee Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst.

He is likely to be over-employed again after Young’s tackles on Gio Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose shot also hit the defender’s arm, were all waved on by referee Anthony Taylor with VAR offering no reason to reverse any of the decisions to leave them a point above the relegation zone.

Dyche made four alterations from the Stamford Bridge embarrassment but it was not the only change as the manager abandoned his usual matchday uniform of black mackintosh and black suit for training gear.

But if he was hoping to give off the air of a man confident of his game plan – having said on Friday he had told the players he would not allow them to get him the sack – it was not apparent for almost half-an-hour.

Former Liverpool defender Neco Williams had an early shot parried by Jordan Pickford; Everton’s first attempt on target – Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s weak header – did not arrive until the 27th minute.

Their next attempt proved far more valuable, however. Gueye had previously scored one Premier League goal from 99 attempts from outside the area so it was perhaps not surprising Forest’s defence were content to stand off the midfielder when he carried the ball forward previously, working on the assumption Everton had more dangerous players in possession.

But that tactic was misguided on this occasion as Gueye controlled Ola Aina’s poor header and found the gap low down between Matz Sels’ right hand and the far post from just outside the area.

It was only the Senegal international’s fifth goal in 187 league appearances across two spells for the club and his first in the league goal at Goodison since February 2017.

His only other strike this season was a late winner in the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace in mid-November.

Pickford’s brilliant save from a Chris Wood shot – five minutes before the interval – ensured that lead was maintained, as did VAR’s insistence Young’s arm was in a natural position from Hudson-Odoi’s volley.

Calvert-Lewin squandered the chance to give Everton some breathing space early in the second half when he fired wide from James Tarkowski’s knockdown, before Young tested the officials’ judgement once again when he went into the back of Hudson-Odoi.

Forest were still dictating play when Morgan Gibbs-White guided a shot over Pickford but wide and that miss proved costly when McNeil, like Gueye in the first half, squeezed a low shot in between Sels’ outstretched arm and the post, the ball going in off the inside of the upright.

Striker Beto, on as a replacement for Calvert-Lewin, departed on a stretcher late on after a clash of heads but even 17 minutes of additional time were not enough for a toothless Forest to launch a comeback.

Nathan Patterson’s Euro 2024 hopes have suffered a major blow after the Scotland and Everton right-back was told he needs an operation.

Patterson has been ruled out for the rest of the domestic season after suffering a hamstring injury against Chelsea on Monday.

The news will be a serious concern for Scotland head coach Steve Clarke, who also has a major doubt over Brentford right-back Aaron Hickey’s fitness.

Everton manager Sean Dyche said: “Patto will be out for the season, he will need surgery. It’s a very unfortunate injury. We’re disappointed in that one, for him as much as us as well.

“It’s a shame for Patto, he came on and looked sharp the other night, he’s been training really well, just getting back to where I think he can be – because I think he’s a very good player – and he’s very unfortunate with a really awkward fall.

“He won’t make another game this season, I’m sure.”

When asked about Patterson’s hopes of playing in the European Championship, Dyche said: “I don’t know on the medical side of the times other than this season, as in playing for us.

“But he will have surgery, so we hope that goes well and then it’s how quickly it settles, I’m sure.”

Hickey has not played since October – he also suffered a hamstring injury at Stamford Bridge – and is unlikely to play for Brentford again this season, but has not given up hope of making the Euros.

Celtic right-back Anthony Ralston has been in recent squads while versatile Bristol City player Ross McCrorie, who has featured at right-back in his career, was also a late call-up recently.

Clarke suffered a major blow earlier in the week when it was revealed that in-form Bologna midfielder Lewis Ferguson had suffered cruciate ligament damage, ruling him out of the summer tournament in Germany.

There was better news for Clarke from Norwich this week when it was revealed Grant Hanley is expected to return to training next week.

The defender pulled out of the Scotland squad for recent friendlies against Netherlands and Northern Ireland after suffering a setback following his recent return from a long-term Achilles injury.

While the Premier League title race unfolds, there is another tussle playing out at the bottom.

And this weekend, six of the teams at the wrong end of the table fight it out against each other.

On Saturday, Luton Town will hope to propel themselves out of the relegation zone by overcoming Brentford at Kenilworth Road, though the 15th-placed Bees will know that another win could all but end their worries of dropping down to the Championship.

At the same time, the two bottom clubs go head-to-head at Bramall Lane, with Sheffield United hosting Burnley. Both the Blades and the Clarets look likely to go down, though if either are to survive, then taking three points from this one is a must.

Sunday’s early game is a huge one at Goodison Park, as Everton and Nottingham Forest – both impacted by points deductions for breaches of Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) – face off. The Toffees are 16th, a point better off than the Tricky Trees, but Sean Dyche’s team are on a dismal run of just one win in 15 league matches.

Crystal Palace are perhaps not out of the woods just yet, though after their stunning win at Anfield last time out, the Eagles will hope to carry on the momentum when they face West Ham.

And using Opta data, we can assess the likelihood of the Premier League relegation scrap, as well as the underlying metrics behind each of these teams.

 

Let’s work from the top down.

Palace, after that shock 1-0 win over Liverpool, are now not considered to be relegation candidates by Opta’s predictive model, which gives them a 46.5 per cent chance of staying right where they are in 14th.

The Eagles are six points clear of Everton in 17th, and while not mathematically safe, Oliver Glasner’s team are certainly within touching distance.

It is worth noting, though, that according to the Opta power rankings, Palace have the most difficult run-in of all these seven teams, with the average rating of their remaining opponents coming in at 87.9. Like the Toffees and Sheffield United, Palace have six matches left to play, though they do not play any of the teams below them in that run.

Next come Brentford. The Bees have five games remaining but, with 33 points, are likely just a win away from tying up their safety, and they will be hoping that comes against Luton (as well Everton and Forest fans).

According to Opta’s model, Brentford have the second-easiest fixture list of any team in the league, with their average opponent rating of 85.1 higher only than Newcastle United’s (84.1).

The Bees do, though, face a trip to Everton after they head to Luton, so should the worst occur and they lose those matches, then Thomas Frank’s team could find themselves firmly back in danger. As it stands, Brentford’s chances of going down are a meagre 0.3 per cent.

Brentford are the second-worst expected goals underperformers in the competition this season, having scored six fewer goals than would have been anticipated based on the quality of opportunities they have created, suggesting that with better finishing, and a bit more luck, they would likely be clear of danger already.

And if that can be said for Brentford, then it can be emphatically repeated for 16th-placed Everton.

 

Even factoring in the eight points that have been taken off them this term, Everton – who were thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea on Monday – could have been out of danger had they simply come close to matching their xG. They are by far the Premier League’s biggest underperformers when it comes to that metric – Dyche’s side have scored 32 goals (which ranks 19th in the league) from an xG of 48, a whopping underperformance of 16.

Sunday’s clash with Forest kick-starts a huge week of home games for the Toffees, with a Merseyside derby against Liverpool following on April 24, before Brentford then visit Goodison Park.

With Forest, Brentford, Luton and Sheffield United among their final four fixtures, Everton should still have some confidence – they have taken seven points off those sides already this term, and a repeat of that could be enough, though a final-day away outing at Arsenal is ominous, given the Toffees have shipped nine goals in their last two visits to Emirates Stadium. Opta predicts they will stay up, but Everton do have an 8.9 per cent chance of slipping out of the top tier for the first time in over 70 years.

Below them, Forest will no doubt have been buoyed by Everton’s sorry performance at Stamford Bridge. However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s team do have a rather sizeable 29.9 per cent chance of going down, so a victory at Goodison Park could be vital.

Especially considering Forest’s next fixture comes against Manchester City, albeit it is at home, where they also face Chelsea in between away clashes with Sheffield United and Burnley.

Perhaps worrying for Forest, however, is that in their three matches against Everton, the Blades and Burnley this term, they have taken only four points. Interestingly, while Forest have shipped 58 goals – a figure which betters only the bottom three, they have been unfortunate to concede so many based on their expected goals against (xGA), which is actually the sixth best in the league at 47.4.

Then we have Luton. The Hatters have been one of the stories of the season, and despite their small budget have a brilliant chance of survival.

That being said, Opta’s predictive model does anticipate they will go down, with Rob Edwards’ side having a 54.3 per cent chance of finishing where they are in 18th, with their chances of finishing in 17th being 29.6 per cent.

Victory over Brentford, who beat them 3-1 earlier in the campaign, would see Luton move out of the bottom three, though, and with five games left, they do have what is considered a relatively easy run-in when it comes to the average rating of those teams they are going up against, at 85.4.

That being said, Luton’s defensive record this season is awful. The Hatters have shipped 70 goals from an xGA of 69.7. They will need to tighten up if they are to complete the great escape.

 

What about the bottom two?

Well, they are perhaps down and out. After visiting South Yorkshire on Saturday, Vincent Kompany’s Burnley team have to go to Old Trafford and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium either side of hosting Newcastle, and Opta’s predictive model suggests they will go down – they have just a 1.6 per cent chance of survival.

There is an even smaller chance of the Blades, who are 20th, staying up, at just 0.2 per cent.

Chris Wilder’s team are the team with the fewest goals scored in the top flight, at 30, while they have conceded 84 – the worst in the division, and while victory over the Clarets would provide a morale-boost, the Blades seemed destined for the Championship.

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