Naby Keita may make his Liverpool return in Saturday's Merseyside derby but Fabinho remains absent against Everton.

Guinea midfielder Keita has not featured since the Reds' 7-0 mauling of Crystal Palace on December 19 due to an ankle injury but was back in training this week.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will take another check on Keita before the meeting with the Toffees at Anfield, though the German confirmed Fabinho – who missed the Premier League loss to Leicester City and Champions League win over RB Leipzig with a muscular issue – will sit out again, meaning captain Jordan Henderson is likely to partner Ozan Kabak once more in defence.

"Naby trained yesterday with the team, so we have to see what we make of it," Klopp told a news conference.

"Fab was not in training, all the others not as well. Nothing new.

"They all get closer – Fab gets closer, Millie [James Milner] gets closer and Diogo [Jota] gets closer, but not close enough for the weekend."

Klopp explained Keita could have been in contention to face former club Leipzig in midweek, a Champions League last-16 first-leg match played in Budapest that Liverpool won 2-0, only for illness to interrupt his recovery.

"Naby could have been in the squad against Leipzig, but it didn't make sense because he'd only trained two days with the team. So, we said stay at home, train two days of proper training sessions, but unfortunately Naby got ill a little bit and couldn't train these two days," he added.

"Yesterday we reintegrated him again. I just don't know, but we don't hold him back or whatever. Of course, after the injuries he had, we don't want to force him in or something like that, but it would be nice to have him.

"Is he able to play a few minutes on Saturday? I don't know. If he's not, if we speak about it and it's better to rather not play a few minutes then it is better to stay away from the team and just train proper, proper.

"Being around, on the bench, are not the most intense things and he needs to get used to the intensity again. No decision made yet, but he is not injured anymore and now we have to figure out how fit he is to play how many minutes."

Manchester City are counting the cost of the current financial climate and have slashed the budget assigned to lure Lionel Messi away from Barcelona.

The 33-year-old Barca captain could depart his boyhood team in the 2021 off-season after publicly trying, and failing, to force an exit from the Catalan club last August.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City has been the subject of much speculation, but Messi may have to compromise to make the move happen as the Premier League leaders' bargaining power has taken a hit.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FORCED TO LOWER MESSI CONTRACT OFFER

City had already tabled a five-year contract designed to tempt Messi to switch LaLiga for the Premier League – but the numbers have now changed, reports The Sun.

A package worth £600million (€693m) had reportedly been prepared in order to tie the six-time Ballon d'Or winner down for the rest of his career, should he opt to leave Barca at the end of the season.

But The Sun says City will now not match the terms set in August, and the offer has dropped to £430million (€496m), potentially opening the door for Paris Saint-Germain to swoop.

ROUND-UP

Chelsea have already made contact with winger Jonas Hofmann, according to Bild, as the Borussia Monchengladbach exodus threatens to begin following the news that coach Marco Rose is leaving for Borussia Dortmund next season. Hofmann played for Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund.

Milan midfielder Franck Kessie is also in Tuchel's sights, and the Blues could offer Fikayo Tomori to the Serie A giants on a permanent deal as part of a player-plus-cash exchange, reports Il Milanista.

- Everton loanee Moise Kean has netted 14 goals in 25 games for PSG and his parent club will not part with the Italy international for any less than £60m, says Fabrizio Romano, while Juventus want to bring the striker back to Turin, according to Le 10 Sport.

 

Everton 'will demand £70m for Moise Kean transfer' after impressing at PSG https://t.co/3PvjhBQ1rf

— Sun Sport (@SunSport) February 18, 2021

- 'If there are opportunities, I will have a look at them,' is what Wilfried Zaha told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, reports The Sun. The Crystal Palace winger has been previously linked with Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Gunners midfielder Lucas Torreira, currently on the fringes while on loan at Atletico Madrid, is close to securing a move to Fiorentina for next season, claims Gazzetta Dello Sport.

Following Manchester City's 3-1 victory at Swansea City in the FA Cup last Wednesday, Pep Guardiola's side won their 15th successive match.

In doing so, they set a new record for an English top-flight club in all competitions, overtaking the 14-game winning runs of Arsenal and Preston North End in 1987 and 1892, respectively.

They have since extended this streak to 17 after great wins over both Tottenham and Everton in the Premier League.

Back in 2017, it was claimed by some that City had secured 20 wins on the trot, between August 26 and December 3 until they eventually lost 2-1 away at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on December 6.

The bone of contention stemmed from the 12th game in this run; a 0-0 draw against Wolves in the EFL Cup, which saw City progress 4-1 in a penalty shootout.

Here at Stats Perform, we have worked on the basis that a penalty shootout is a method to find a winner of a tie or to decide a tournament/trophy winner, rather than to decide who won an individual match.

The official Laws of the Game, which are the responsibility of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) could be interpreted in other ways, but we have always held the belief that they explain the situation as we understood it.

A high-profile example of why the winner of a penalty shootout cannot be considered the winner of a match is that of the 2011-12 Champions League semi-final tie between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

The two sides drew 3-3 on aggregate and it was in the second leg – which Real Madrid won 2-1 on the night – that Bayern Munich progressed to the final with a 3-1 penalty shootout victory.

Based on the assumption that the team to win the shootout wins the match, you would have two winners in a single game; Madrid won 2-1 but also lost because of a 3-1 shootout reverse to Bayern, who lost as well due to suffering a 2-1 defeat in the actual game.

City have been involved in an occasion similar to this in recent times. They won 2-0 at home to Danish club Aalborg in the first leg of their 2008-09 UEFA Cup round of 16 tie, before losing 2-0 away a week later.

City progressed 4-3 following a penalty shootout on the night but lost the actual game 2-0.

Following City's current phenomenal run of form, the IFAB's technical director David Elleray spoke to Stats Perform and put the matter to bed, once and for all. He referred to Law 10.2 in the 2020-21 Laws of the Game.

Elleray told Stats Perform: "Law 10 makes it clear that a match is drawn, won or lost according to the number of goals both teams score in 'normal' time or in 'normal' time plus extra-time.

"'Away goals' and 'kicks from the penalty mark' (KFPM) [penalty shootouts] are not part of the match itself and are only used to determine a 'winning team' where one is required. For KFPM, this is made clear in the next section of Law 10."

"Thus KFPM (as with 'away goals') do not change the result of the match itself as they occur after the match has ended," added Elleray.

Clearly, we're not the overlords of the statistics world.

Clubs, competitions and statisticians may choose to deem 'penalty shootout' wins as match victories – we can't change that. What's important is that terminologies need to be tightened up by those that choose this way of thinking, as there is an important technical difference between a match that's won in 'normal' time (or after extra-time) and one that's drawn and then 'won' as a result of kicks from the penalty mark (penalty shootout).

For example, the latter might constitute part of a 'winning' run (general term) but, for some, not necessarily part of a 'match-winning' run.

We'd like to thank David Elleray for his time and willingness for his statements to be put on record for publication, hopefully clearing up any confusion about this subject.

It further highlights just what an incredible run of form City are currently enjoying.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Bernardo Silva is back to his "unstoppable" best after the Portuguese star shined in the Premier League leaders' 3-1 win against Everton.

After Everton forward Richarlison cancelled out Phil Foden's opener, Silva set up Riyad Mahrez to put City in front in the 63rd minute at Goodison Park on Wednesday.

Silva then turned from provider to goalscorer, collecting Gabriel Jesus' pass to extend the advantage with 13 minutes remaining and seal City's 17th successive win in all competitions.

Harking back to his outstanding form in City's 2018-19 title-winning campaign, Guardiola heaped praise on the impact Silva has made during his 28 starts this season.

"What a player. I can say that, what a player. Everything he does, he does incredibly well," Guardiola told reporters.

"The year that we won the second Premier League in a row, he was unstoppable.

"He was an important player for us and he's back.

"I'm more than pleased because, I've said many times, he's a lovely person.

"As a manager, you will dream to always have people like Bernardo. I think his mum and dad must be so proud about the son that they have."

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti congratulated Manchester City and declared them champions-elect after the runaway Premier League leaders powered to a 3-1 win at Goodison Park.

City opened up a 10-point gap over second-placed neighbours Manchester United after a commanding display against Everton on Wednesday, with goals coming from Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva.

Everton star Richarlison did net a first-half equaliser but it was not enough to stop the Toffees from falling to a second consecutive loss on Merseyside in four days, following the 2-0 reverse against Fulham on Sunday.

City have won their last 12 league matches, 17 in all competitions, and Ancelotti cannot see any team stopping Pep Guardiola's high-flying side from securing a fifth Premier League trophy and seventh English domestic crown.

"I think so. It's really difficult to say another name," Ancelotti said.

"Man City, in this moment, are in a good mood. They have fantastic quality, they have belief, they are strong.

"We tried to put the game on the strong side but it was difficult against Rodrigo, against [Ruben] Dias, against [Aymeric] Laporte."

Pep Guardiola credited Manchester City for showing patience in attack as they claimed a 3-1 win over Everton to move 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League. 

Phil Foden's deflected strike put City ahead at Goodison Park but the game was level at half-time after Richarlison turned in a Lucas Digne strike that came back off the post. 

Everton, who had lost each of their previous five league games against City and conceded at least twice every time, were looking resolute in defence until Bernardo Silva teed up Riyad Mahrez to score a stunning second goal. 

Silva added a fine third 13 minutes from time as City became the first side in English top-flight history to win their first 10 games of a calendar year. 

Manager Guardiola felt the less-hurried approach in attack in the second half proved key against a Toffees side who have now failed to win at home in five league matches. 

"A real tough game, not perfect conditions, the winter time, and they are so physical as a team," Guardiola told Amazon Prime. 

"But a solid performance. The guys ran like we had to do and it's three points.

"We had the quality up front but it always comes through the passes. When we arrived in the final third, we wanted to attack too quickly, we needed to be patient. The second goal is an example of that. 

"Sometimes it's fine, no problem, make an extra [pass], because at the end we have to try to get the players we play up front in better conditions to make the action." 

Richarlison's equaliser was the first goal City had conceded from open play in the league since a late consolation from Callum Hudson-Odoi in a 3-1 win at Chelsea on January 3. 

For Guardiola, the most pleasing aspect was that they limited Everton – who drew 3-3 with Manchester United at Old Trafford and scored five in an FA Cup win over Tottenham last week – to just three attempts. 

"Football is not defensive-offensive. You cannot win titles if you are not solid. It's important we concede few chances. This is the most important thing," he said. 

"We cannot forget this team scored three goals at Old Trafford, five against Tottenham, so it's a team that has ability up front to create chances. And we conceded few."

Manchester City moved 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League after a 3-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday. 

With in-form goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan missing through injury, it was fellow midfielders Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva who stretched City's winning run to 17 games in all competitions. 

Mahrez struck a sublime second for City in the second half, his fourth league goal on this ground, after a fortuitous Richarlison effort had cancelled out Foden's deflected opener. 

Silva's third 13 minutes from time – shortly before Kevin De Bruyne made a return from injury off the bench – ensured Carlo Ancelotti's side have only won twice in eight league games in 2021, and their season is in danger of unravelling. 

City controlled the first half-hour but Everton limited them to few chances, with Michael Keane covering well to deny Gabriel Jesus the clearest opening. 

The Toffees went behind in unfortunate fashion 32 minutes in, Foden's right-foot shot flying past Jordan Pickford via a big deflection off Seamus Coleman.

The lead last only six minutes, though. Coleman's cross from the right was smashed goalwards by Lucas Digne – Everton's first shot of the match – and the ball came back off the post and bounced in off Richarlison's knee. 

The second half followed a similar pattern, Jesus and Rodri each missing the target from presentable chances, although Gylfi Sigurdsson led two promising breaks for Everton that should perhaps have yielded more. 

City's pressure told 63 minutes in, Mahrez cutting in from the right and curling a superb strike in off the left-hand post after Silva had created some space. 

Silva capped a fine performance with the decisive third, collecting Jesus' lay-off, working space on the edge of the box and firing in a shot that Pickford could only parry into the net.


What does it mean? Record-breaking City continue title charge 

City's lead at the top over Manchester United now stands at 10 points after 24 games and, on current form, it is a gap that looks unlikely to be bridged. 

This was their sixth league win in a row over Everton and made it 10 consecutive top-flight victories to start the calendar year, surpassing the record of nine first set by Bolton Wanderers in 1906 and then United in 2009. 

Everton, who have lost three league games at home in a row for the first time in five years, stay seventh. 

Silva service 

Everton were just beginning to look comfortable in defence when Silva produced the telling impact, pulling apart the backline to set up Mahrez and then rifling home a goal of his own. 

The Portugal midfielder misplaced just two of his 62 passes, 43 of which were in the Everton half. 

Mina injury adds to mounting Everton worries 

Yerry Mina went off injured in the first half to leave Everton's task even more daunting, as well as give Ancelotti a selection headache ahead of the weekend trip to Liverpool. 

The Italian last lost three league games at home in a row back when he was in charge of Milan in 2006 and, with Southampton and Chelsea to play after the champions, this could be a tough few weeks for him. 

What's next? 

City head to Arsenal on Sunday, with Everton next up at the home of the champions for Saturday's Merseyside derby. 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is concerned the March international break could result in another wave of coronavirus positives for Premier League clubs.

City can go 10 points clear at the Premier League summit with victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday - a rearranged fixture after the initially scheduled December encounter was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Guardiola's squad.

Aston Villa also withdrew from action during the post-Christmas period and Newcastle United were affected similarly earlier in the season.

The Premier League responded by upping testing at clubs to twice a week and, in the most recent period returned, there were two positives from 2,970 players and club staff tested.

This represents a significant drop from 36 positives out of 2,593 tests between January 4-10 but Guardiola is wary of some of this good work being undone when his players and others begin travelling the globe again over the coming weeks.

City's Champions League last-16 trip to Borussia Monchengladbach has been switched to Budapest, with European games featuring Premier League counterparts Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea also switched from their original venues due to local COVID-19 protocols.

Asked whether the subsequent international matches next month will place members of his squad at risk, Guardiola replied: "Hopefully not but the only way to be protected from this virus is to stay at home and don’t move and social distance and no contact and don’t travel.

"Now the people are going to travel, the players are going to the national teams and it’s difficult after to control it, so I think something is going to rise unfortunately.

"I would love to say or to guess it's not going to happen but from experience it happened in two or three waves already worldwide, so if you move you take a risk to be contaminated, to get the virus again."

Earlier this month, FIFA granted clubs the right to refuse to release players called up to their national teams if there is a mandatory quarantine period of five days or more on their return.

For Premier League clubs - and significantly for City given the make-up of Guardiola's squad - this means players representing Portugal or South American nations can be held back because anyone returning from those countries will need to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days as they are on the UK's "red list".

Guardiola said there had been no discussions between clubs and federations to his knowledge and does not want the Premier League's handling of the pandemic to be undermined.

"I think the Premier League should be concerned about this, all the leagues [should be] concerned," he said.

"I know the national federations need to play, for the qualification, for the friendly games, for their preparation for the European Championship in summer time, this is normal.

"But the reason why there were a lot of cases in the Premier League and now there is no cases is because people don't move - home and training centre, game, home no more than this.

"The players are going to the national team, they know the situation. We'll tell them to be careful and after they go to the national team they are going to protect them as well."

City will try to extend a record-breaking run of 16 consecutive victories at Goodison Park. They will be without in-form midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (groin), although Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring) will travel with the squad after a month on the sidelines.

After the initial Everton postponement, Guardiola did not envisage City - or any other side - being able to put such a relentless run together.

"That’s true, everyone thought [the season] would be cancelled again," he added.

"Here in England in December and January, the cases rose amazingly but the Premier League and all the clubs, all the team managers and the protocols were so effective."

Manchester City are set to be without Ilkay Gundogan for Wednesday's Premier League trip to Everton due to a groin injury.

Germany playmaker Gundogan has been in a rich vein of form during City's ongoing 16-match winning run in all competitions.

A brace in Saturday's 3-0 victory over Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium took his 2020-21 goals tally to 13 - already the most prolific of the ex-Borussia Dortmund favourite's career, with 11 of those coming in his past 15 appearances.

But Gundogan pulled up with a tight groin shortly after beating Hugo Lloris for a second time and City boss Pep Guardiola is unlikely to risk him at Goodison Park.

"Gundo is much better but don't think he's available tomorrow," he told a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"Everyone else okay, except Nathan Ake."

Sergio Aguero was an unused substitute against Tottenham as he awaits a return from a bout of coronavirus, which arrived on the back of knee and hamstring injury woes for City's all-time record goalscorer.

"Sergio has been one year injured, so he cannot start from the beginning. But he's ready to come back. He was on the bench last game, he will be again," said Guardiola.

"As soon as we believe he can start he is going to take minutes."

City's record-breaking run has come almost entirely without Aguero's involvement, while Kevin De Bruyne has also been laid low by a hamstring injury over recent weeks.

The reigning PFA Players' Player of the Year is back in training, however, and nearing a return.

"He's getting better, really better," said Guardiola, who also confirmed centre-back Ruben Dias was fit again following a sickness bug.

"Today Kevin did all the training with the group with all of us, so he's feeling much better."

The midweek trip to Merseyside is City's game in hand on their nearest rivals at the summit, the originally scheduled fixture having been postponed in December due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Guardiola's squad.

A win would take them 10 points clear of Manchester United and Leicester City but Guardiola is taking nothing for granted against Carlo Ancelotti's men.

"Everton always has been one of the greatest teams in England," the City boss added.

"This season has been much better than the previous seasons. It is normal, Carlo knows his players much better.

"Like all the teams, Manchester City included, they have good moments and bad moments. But the quality from Carlo is always there."

With Lionel Messi's future far from certain at the end of the season, his former team-mate Neymar has apparently reached out to the Barcelona captain about a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazilian superstar Neymar played alongside the six-time Ballon d'Or winner for four LaLiga seasons between 2013 and 2017, before sealing a world-record transfer to Ligue 1 giants

It is understood Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are ready to make a play to bring Messi to the Premier League, but Mauricio Pochettino's PSG appear to be taking the direct approach.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PUTS IN A CALL TO MESSI

Lionel Messi's contract at his boyhood club expires in the off-season, less than a year after the Barcelona superstar sensationally tried to leave Camp Nou but found his exit plans blocked.

According to L'Equipe, Neymar – who is set to miss the Champions League trip to the Barcelona on Tuesday – has put in a call to convince Messi to join Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi will lead out Barca in the first leg of the last-16 tie, having stated he will wait until the end of the current campaign before making a decision on where he will play in 2021-2022.

ROUND-UP

- PSG star Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay put this off-season but is not planning on extending his current contract, which expires in 2022, claims ESPN.

Liverpool are looking for defensive reinforcements and they are monitoring Aston Villa's England Under-21 international Ezri Konsa, according to The Athletic.

- Bayern Munich's free-agent defender David Alaba has already agreed to join Real Madrid at season's end, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit a personal milestone as his first Premier League hat-trick saw Arsenal past Leeds United on Sunday.

Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin put Arsenal 4-0 up by the 47th minute at Emirates Stadium, though Leeds did strike back twice to make things a little more uncomfortable for Mikel Arteta's side.

That match followed on from Wolves beating Southampton in the day's early kick-off, and West Brom holding Manchester United to a 1-1 draw – Bruno Fernandes' stunner earning the Red Devils a point.

In the late game, lowly Fulham picked up a much-needed win by seeing off a lacklustre Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park.

ARSENAL 4-2 LEEDS UNITED: DOUBLE CENTURY UP FOR AUBA

On his first league start since January 18, Aubameyang was in sparkling form against Leeds.

Having opened the scoring after 13 minutes, Aubameyang netted from the penalty spot shortly before half-time, bringing up his 200th goal across Europe's "top five" leagues.

It was the 31-year-old's 369th appearance across spells at Lille (two goals), Monaco (two), Saint-Etienne (37), Borussia Dortmund (98) and Arsenal (62).

Since his Ligue 1 debut in 2009, he is one of just nine players to score 200 or more goals across the continent's five leading divisions.

Arsenal scored four (or more) goals at the Emirates for the first time in the Premier League this season, having last done so in a 4-0 win over Norwich City in July of last year.

Leeds, meanwhile, have won just one of their last 24 away league games in London (D6 L17), losing all four such matches this season by an aggregate 14-4 score, and the Whites remain without a win in nine meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (D2 L7).

Aubameyang was also the third player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick on Valentine's Day, after Matt Le Tissier vs Liverpool in 1994 and Michael Owen vs Sheffield Wednesday in 1998.

WEST BROM 1-1 MANCHESTER UNITED: MORE BRUNO BRILLIANCE SAVES LACKLUSTRE RED DEVILS

The Red Devils' only win from their previous five top-flight matches was the 9-0 hammering of Southampton at Old Trafford (D3 L1), while the Baggies have just one win in 11 under Sam Allardyce and have conceded nine more goals than any other team since his first game at the helm.

The ever-reliable Fernandes scored United's leveller just before half-time at the Hawthorns, with the Red Devils now recovering 22 points from losing positions this term – 10 more than any other team.

The Portuguese playmaker has 38 goal involvements in as many games for United – the only player with more in their opening 38 in Premier League history is Andrew Cole (46 in 1993-94 for Newcastle United).

West Brom's goal was scored after just 83 seconds by Mbaye Diagne – the earliest conceded by United in a Premier League game since Christian Eriksen's 11-second strike for Spurs in January 2018. He is the 12th different Senegalese player to score under Allardyce.

United full-back Luke Shaw has five league assists for the season, the most he has managed in a single campaign – he only had seven in total prior to the start of this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are unbeaten in all 12 away Premier League matches this season (W8 D4), only the fourth time a team has avoided defeat in their first 12 away Premier League games of a season: Arsenal in 2001-02 and 2003-04, and Liverpool in 2019-20, all of whom went on to win the title.

SOUTHAMPTON 1-2 WOLVES: SAINTS MARCH INTO CLUB-RECORD WORST RUN

It has been a miserable time for Southampton recently with Sunday's defeat to Wolves at St Mary's settled by second-half goals from Ruben Neves and Pedro Neto, which cancelled out Danny Ings' 25th-minute opener.

The Saints have now lost six consecutive league matches for the first time in their history, while they have led in each of their last four top-flight matches against Wolves without winning any of them (D2 L2), resulting in 10 points lost – the most points one side have dropped against another since the start of last season.

Only Liverpool (14) and Manchester United (12) have won more Premier League matches after going behind than Wolves' 10 since the start of 2018-19.

Meanwhile, winger Neto has been directly involved in nine Premier League goals this season (five goals and four assists), which represents the most of any under-21 player in the competition this campaign.

On the opposition side, Ings is one of only four players to score 30 Premier League goals since the start of last season, along with Mohamed Salah (36), Jamie Vardy (35) and Harry Kane (31).

EVERTON 0-2 FULHAM: MAJA MAGIC BOOSTS COTTAGERS

It was a first Premier League start to remember for Josh Maja, who is the second-youngest player to score on his full debut for Fulham in the competition, after Collins John versus Blackburn Rovers in April 2004 (18y 178d).

Maja is also the first Nigerian to mark his first Premier League start with a brace since Efan Ekoku for Norwich City back in May 1993 (v Middlesbrough).

It helped Fulham pick up their first-ever away win at Everton in league competition, on what was their 28th attempt. Coming into the game, they had lost each of their last 22 away league games against the Toffees.

The Cottagers consequently have a first Premier League victory since November, ending a run of 12 games without a win in the competition.

Everton have now lost three of their last four Premier League games at Goodison Park (D1), as many defeats as they suffered in Carlo Ancelotti's first 17 home games in charge in the competition (W8 D6).

Roses are red, violets are blue, have we got the perfect Valentine's Day content for you!

Questionable rhymes aside (okay, very questionable), love is in the air as long-standing couples and newly formed relationships celebrate the day of romance on Sunday.

The world of football is certainly no stranger to the language of love, so before you crack open a bottle of red and exchange cheap knock-off gifts with your significant other why not get some inspiration for love with our Valentine's Day facts with some help from Cupid!

(Well not Cupid, Opta – but the team at Opta are full of love!)

MATT LE KISS-IER LOVES TO SCORE ON VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine's Day is of course a day for love (and overpaying for those last-minute flowers and cards you forgot to buy…).

Two players have been particularly good at spreading the joy on February 14th with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen each scoring three times in the Premier League on this date – the most of all players.

Here's something even more interesting about that stat, though – each man's tally is a result of scoring a Valentine's Day hat-trick.

Le Tissier registered three against the Reds back in 1994, while Owen took home the match ball with a treble versus Sheffield Wednesday four years later.

Owen's three goals are part of 12 Liverpool have tallied on the day of love – comfortably the most by a team. Arsenal follow on seven, with Aston Villa and Southampton on four.

A ROSE FOR THE LADY?

Flowers are synonymous with Valentine's Day but none more so than the rose.

Two players named Rose have plied their trade in the Premier League – Danny (194 appearances) and Matthew (five appearances). The former, of course, is an England international who with his marauding runs from full-back has often been a, ahem, thorn in the side of opponents…

There are other love-themed names to have featured in the top flight. Valentino Lazaro played 13 times in the Premier League for Newcastle United on loan last term, while Valentin Roberge made 10 appearances for north east rivals Sunderland.

The Black Cats also had Donald Love on their books, the defender having previously represented Manchester United once in the top flight.

FOXES RACK UP THE CARDS

Whether from a partner or a secret admirer, it's always nice to receive a card or two on Valentine's Day.

Unless of course you're playing in the Premier League, in which case you want to see the referee keep their cards in their pockets.

In this regard, Leicester City have not been overly successful – the seven yellow cards representing the most received by a team on Valentine's Day. Arsenal follow closely behind with six, with Manchester City on four.

The Foxes also fare badly when it comes to red cards, having picked up two on February 14th – Danny Simpson and Hamza Choudhury account for those dismissals. The only other player to have been sent off on Valentine's Day is Everton hero Duncan Ferguson ... no, we weren't shocked either.

THE BEST BROMANCES

It goes without saying that we don't need to confine our love sharing to one manufactured day of the year…

No, we should be spreading the joy in our hearts all year round and these strike partnerships certainly succeed in that category.

Going back to the start of the 2015-16 season, no two players have combined for more goals than Spurs duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (33).

In fact, Kane features three times in the top-five – also ranking third with Christian Eriksen (19), and sharing 18 with Dele Alli.

Manchester City pairing Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are second with 20, while Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez (18), who fired Leicester to shock title glory in 2015-16, also feature.

Manchester City and Manchester United have been handed away draws against fellow Premier League sides in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

City, who won their sixth FA Cup in 2018-19 but were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual victors Arsenal last season, will play Everton at Goodison Park.

While City claimed a serene 3-1 win over Swansea City in the fifth round on Wednesday, Carlo Ancelotti's team overcame Tottenham 5-4 after extra-time in an instant FA Cup classic.

The teams will have a dress rehearsal for the last-eight clash on February 17, when they face off at Goodison in a Premier League match which was due to be played in December but had to be rescheduled due to a coronavirus outbreak at City.

Like their local rivals, United also fell short of reaching last season's final, going down to Chelsea in the last four.

United beat West Ham 1-0 after extra time on Tuesday and now face a trip to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side are flying high in the Premier League along with United and leaders City, who are five points clear of their neighbours at the top.

Last season's runners-up Chelsea went into Thursday night's match at Barnsley knowing the winners would be rewarded with a home tie against Sheffield United, who beat Bristol City at the last-16 stage.

The other quarter-final tie throws up a south-coast clash, with Southampton travelling to Bournemouth.

Games are due to be played across the weekend of March 20 and 21.

FA Cup quarter-final draw in full:

Everton v Manchester City
Bournemouth v Southampton
Leicester City v Manchester United
Barnsley or Chelsea v Sheffield United

Jose Mourinho expressed surprise over Gareth Bale ruling himself out of Tottenham's FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Everton.

Spurs took their hosts to extra time in a wonderfully chaotic game, eventually falling 5-4 to Bernard's 97th-minute winner.

Davinson Sanchez gave the visitors a third minute lead a Goodison Park and completed an unlikely brace to make it 3-3 before the hour - Erik Lamela having reduced the arrears after Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson were all on target during a crazy seven-and-a-half-minute spell.

Harry Kane came off the bench to net Tottenham's second equaliser, Richarlison having brilliantly doubled his tally, although Bale was not among the options on the bench to bolster Mourinho's attempts to save the game.

"I think it’s better for me to say," he said at a post-match news conference when asked to explain the Wales star's absence.

"So, we played against West Bromwich on the Sunday and he didn't play. On Monday, I was a bit surprised by him wanting to have a scan because he was not comfortable with some muscular area.

"So, he didn’t train on Monday and then on Tuesday he trained with the team but I was informed that his desire was to work with the sports scientists for a couple of days to strengthen that area. That's the reason why he’s not here.

"I don’t think it’s an obvious, clear injury. I would say he feels uncomfortable. Because of that he could not be 100 per cent, but I don’t think an injury."

Asked to elaborate further on whether Bale had disappointed him, Mourinho replied: "This is Everton post-match and Gareth was not here. The only thing I can say is I am being completely open and honest."

The incident marks another unhelpful chapter in Bale's as-yet deeply underwhelming return to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid, with the chances of a permanent switch back to north London looking increasingly remote.

A scorer in two of his four Champions League final successes at Madrid, fitness problems dogged Bale over recent seasons as he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has four goals in 16 appearances for Spurs this term, although only two of his six Premier League outings have been starts.

Matters at the other end of the pitch look to be a more immediate concern for Mourinho ahead of Saturday's trip to face in-form Premier League leaders Manchester City.

"I enjoyed the way we played when we had the ball from the first minute," he told BT Sport after the breathless affair on Merseyside. "We had a great dynamic, great movement and great character to fight against incredible mistakes

"But attacking football only wins matches when you don't make more mistakes than what you create.

"We scored four goals and four goals was not enough.

"It was the mouse and the cat. The mouse was our defensive mistakes and the cat was trying to compensate for that and playing very well."

Spurs must now lick their wounds after a punishing encounter, having seen City rotate their XI and saunter to a 3-1 win in their own last-16 tie at Swansea City earlier on Wednesday.

"Of course, City are great team, they rested a big percentage of their team," Mourinho added. "We have this situation but you can't cry."

Bernard settled a topsy-turvy FA Cup thriller as Everton beat Tottenham 5-4 after extra time to claim a place in the quarter-finals.

The hosts were second best during the opening stages at Goodison Park, either side of falling behind to Davinson Sanchez's third-minute header, although Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson – the latter from the penalty spot – were all on target in a crazy seven-and-a-half-minute spell.

Then it was time for Tottenham's comeback, with Erik Lamela reducing the arrears before half-time and Sanchez improbably poaching his second of the match.

Richarlison arrowed a high-quality finish beyond Hugo Lloris on the angle to convert Sigurdsson's brilliant 68th-minute throughball and, although Harry Kane had the desired effect from the bench to bring extra time, fellow substitute Bernard had the final word.

Tottenham's dominant start gave little indication of what was to come, with Lamela's header forcing a superb reaction stop from Robin Olsen, while Lucas Moura blazed the follow-up over.

Everton did not heed that warning and stood passively as Sanchez headed in Son Heung-min's corner.

Olsen was alert to deny Steven Bergwijn at close quarters after the half-hour mark and his team-mates soon turned the contest on its head.

Lloris kept out a dangerous Calvert-Lewin effort earlier in the half, despite a slight deflection off Ben Davies, but the England striker's sweetly struck 36th-minute effort on the end of Sigurdsson's clever flick proved too hot to handle.

Calvert-Lewin, who limped off early int the second half with a suspected hamstring injury, turned provider with a slick backheel of his own for Richarlison to smash in from the edge of the penalty area with similar venom.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was culpable on the first goal and fouled Calvert-Lewin for Sigurdsson to make it 3-1 from the spot.

That could have been game over, but the defending remained generous and Lamela played a one-two with Son that Yerry Mina failed to cut out and finished with aplomb.

Mina's Colombia team-mate Sanchez prodded in when Olsen kept out Toby Alderweireld's 57th-minute header – Everton's set-piece defending again leaving plenty to be desired.

But there was only fine attacking at which to marvel when Sigurdsson and Richarlison combined, the Brazil forward whipping home a wonderful left-footed finish.

Abdoulaye Doucoure's goal-line clearance to deny Lamela a brace was in vain as Kane converted the latest fine Son cross with a diving header.

Another repeated theme decided matters in the seventh minute of extra time, when Sigurdsson produced an exquisite drag-back and chip for Bernard to lash past Lloris.

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