Mikel Arteta will resist the temptation to rest his best players in the Europa League as Arsenal look to close on a first Premier League title in 19 years.

Arsenal are out of both domestic cup competitions, which has allowed them to focus on the league, where they hold a two-point lead over champions Manchester City and have a game in hand.

The distraction of the Europa League is soon to return, however, with the Gunners paired with Sporting CP in Friday's last-16 draw.

A run in UEFA's secondary club competition could hinder Arsenal's hopes of holding off City, with fans desperate to win the league for the first time since their 'Invincibles' season of 2003-04.

But Arteta will not think like that.

While the manager said Arsenal would have the opportunity to "share many more minutes around the squad", he will not leave key men at home for European games.

"We will try to pick, all the time, the team we believe is the best to win on the day," Arteta said.

"Because if you do something different people will say: 'Why did you pick this team and we didn't win in the Europa League?' You're never going to win that battle.

"We're going to pick the players that are in the best possible condition, because it's really important to win the game to be in a better condition to win the next one."

Arsenal are scheduled to visit Portugal on March 9 before welcoming Sporting to Emirates Stadium a week later.

Enzo Fernandez has urged Chelsea fans to trust the players, staff and head coach Graham Potter amid a poor run of form.

Chelsea have won just four of their last 19 games and are without a win in their last five after losing 1-0 at home to Southampton last weekend.

That is despite a significant outlay on new players in the last two transfer windows, including a record £106.8million (€121m) on bringing World Cup winner Fernandez in from Benfica in January.

The Blues sit 10th in the Premier League ahead of Sunday's trip to Tottenham, and Fernandez has called on the fans to back them.

"My message to the fans would be never forget that we are representing you," the 22-year-old told The Times. "Trust us. Trust the players, trust the backroom staff, trust the manager. Because we are all moving in the same direction.

"It is a restructuring of the club. We are going to be trying to win games, starting on Sunday. Then we can start to turn things around."

Fernandez became the most expensive signing in British football history when he arrived at Stamford Bridge, but he insists that does not factor into his thinking on the pitch.

"These figures are nothing to do with me," he said. "It's part of football. My job is to go out and give my best."

Fernandez was one of several new faces brought in by Chelsea, along with Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana and Joao Felix, who signed on loan from Atletico Madrid, and Fernandez would like the Portuguese attacker to sign permanently at the end of the season. 

"He called me when I got here to ask if he could be any help," Fernandez said of Joao Felix. "When you get on with someone it helps on the field. He's a great player, isn't he? Let's hope that Chelsea can do all they can to keep hold of him."

The former River Plate midfielder also enjoyed a breakout World Cup last year, helping captain Lionel Messi and Argentina to success in Qatar in December, and Fernandez described what it was like to play alongside his idol.

"He's one of those leaders who are really positive all the time, both in the example he sets in his play but also on a human level in the dressing room," he said. "He's down to earth and kind to everyone. He offers support to everyone within the squad, from the biggest stars through to the youngsters.

"I felt very conscious that he was with me all the way, giving me a lot of moral support. It was my biggest dream ever – to play with Messi. To then go on in that team to win the World Cup, it's almost like God has given me a huge gift... What can I take from that time with him? Energy. It was a special dressing room, a lively dressing room.

"Energy, positivity and a real will to win, but also keeping humble. I know I'm still young and I need to keep learning but maybe tomorrow, maybe at some point in the future, I want to really demonstrate that I'm a leader."

William Saliba vowed "I will be back to my best soon" following a difficult spell of form, ahead of Arsenal's clash with Leicester City.

The defender has played an integral role in the Gunners' Premier League title challenge this season, missing just 14 minutes, while no player has recovered possession in the defensive third on more occasions (100).

Although, the France international feels his standards have dropped in recent weeks since returning from the World Cup, where he played just 27 minutes in Les Bleus' run to the final.

Saliba lost all 10 aerial duels he contested in Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Brentford, while he struggled to cope against Erling Haaland in the defeat by Manchester City.

"I came back [from the World Cup], and I have this little period where I didn't play my best," he told Sky Sports.

"I know I have to work, to get back [to my levels]. I know when I play [well] and when I play [poorly]. We are lucky here, I have the coaches to help me grow.

"When you play well, it's good, also, to know when you aren't - [Arteta] tells you. He gives you advice every day - to get better.

"This is the best league in the world, there is no excuse. If I am bad, I am bad. I don't say: 'Yes, this is my first season in the Premier League'. I will be back to my best soon, but I have to work."

Mikel Arteta's side moved two points clear at the Premier League summit with a game in hand on second-place City when they twice came from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-2 last weekend.

It was a welcome boost for the Gunners, of whom questions had been asked following a three-game winless streak, but Saliba feels he and his team-mates demonstrated their credentials.

"We didn't start well [against Villa], it was a bad first half," he added.

"When we got into the dressing room, the boss gave us some good advice. We knew we could come back. We have a good mentality, and we never give up, and we trust each other. 

"We only focus on us, not on what the people say - and I think that's most important."

Liverpool reportedly view Bayern Munich's Ryan Gravenberch and Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham as their ideal central midfield pairing of the future.

Liverpool's interest in 19-year-old Bellingham has been well-documented, and they are believed to be one of the front-runners to secure his services, along with Real Madrid.

Gravenberch, 20, arrived at Bayern prior to the season from Ajax for an €18.5million fee, but he has made only one start this Bundesliga campaign, along with 12 appearances as a substitute.

Liverpool are due for a midfield overhaul this off-season with 33-year-old Jordan Henderson and 32-year-old Thiago reaching their primes, and the club appear to be preparing for an injection of youth.



According to Sport 1, Liverpool are "closely following" Gravenberch's situation in Munich, and have begun gathering background information about the young Netherlands international.

The report claims that Bayern are not looking to ship him off after just one season, but Gravenberch himself may indicate he wants out if his playing time situation does not start trending in the right direction.

With his contract tying him to the Bundesliga side until 2027, Gravenberch has no leverage to force his way to the Premier League, but that will not stop Liverpool from dreaming about potentially moving forward with Gravenberch, Bellingham and breakout talent Stefan Bajcetic all aged under 21.



– Planeta Real Madrid is reporting Paris Saint-Germain will look to secure Vinicius Junior if Kylian Mbappe leaves for the Spanish capital.

– According to The Mirror, Sergio Aguero claims Lionel Messi is strongly considering a move back to childhood club Newell's Old Boys.

– Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix would like to make his move to Chelsea permanent, per Fichajes.

– Marca is reporting Cristiano Ronaldo's team Al Nassr have been sounding out Sergio Ramos' interest in a move to Saudi Arabia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, after rejecting an advance from Newcastle United, Flamengo have handed 18-year-old midfielder Matheus Franca a new contract that includes a €200m release clause.

Jurgen Klopp knows Liverpool will have to make signings at the end of the season, but for now Reds fans must get behind the existing team.

In a difficult season at Anfield, Klopp has noted the strong reaction towards some of his long-standing stars.

Few of the players who have taken Liverpool to three Champions League finals have impressed this term, yet Klopp is asking supporters not to forget their past successes.

While the manager said Liverpool "have to be in the market definitely" before next season, his focus remains on the players at his disposal.

"The only reason I don't like to talk about that now is because there are still a lot of games to play," Klopp said.

"This team is the basis for all what we do and it was always the basis for all what we do.

"Even if people are now in the mood like, 'he can go, he should go', – my God, calm down, please. Go on YouTube and watch an old video and think: 'That's what he did, he threw his heart and soul on the pitch.'

"That doesn't mean we have to be thankful for the rest of his life, but that's still in there, so let's make a decision after the season. As long as we are together, let's support this group with all we have."

Klopp has previously bemoaned the spending power of clubs like Manchester City, Newcastle United and Chelsea, but he is still confident Liverpool will be able to get what they need in the market.

"My job is to make 100 per cent clear what we need from a sports point of view, and then other people are responsible for giving us the resources or whatever," he said.

"I think we played five years in a row in the Champions League, which is massive money, and went to the final three times in that time, which is also massive from a money point of view.

"We built a stand, we built a training ground, and the club is in a really good place, but around us obviously a few people are speeding up a little bit and you cannot ignore that. We cannot ignore these kind of things.

"It is still about finding the right players, not about bringing in a lot, and thank God in the world of football there are a lot of right players.

"Not all of them are affordable or want to come, but there are a lot of really good players out there."

Chelsea boss Graham Potter revealed he has received messages wishing death on him and his family during his short time in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Potter, whose team travel to face Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, has struggled to build a winning team since replacing Thomas Tuchel in September.

While Chelsea have bought extensively, assembling a large squad at great expense, Potter's Chelsea sit 10th in the table and are almost certain to miss out on a top-four finish.

The head coach has faced criticism in recent times, with a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton last week a low point of his reign.

Chelsea have scored just six goals in their last 11 Premier League games and have netted more than once in just one of their last 14 league outings.

While some fans still show patience, others have turned against Potter, and a small minority have expressed their disenchantment viciously.

Potter said on Friday: "If you go to work and somebody is swearing at you, it's not going to be pleasant. If you’re referred to as the worst person in the history of the club.

"I want to succeed here. There's this nonsense I don't care. My response would be, 'Where’s your evidence on that?'.

"Not that I'd let you do it, but you can ask my family how my life has been for me and for them. It's been not pleasant at all."

He remains "really grateful" to have the Chelsea job and knows some people will be dismissive of the problems of a football coach on a huge salary.

"Nevertheless if you ask me, 'Is it hard, is it tough, is it nice to hear?', as much as I've had support, I've had some not particularly nice emails come through that want me to die and want my kids to die. That's obviously not pleasant," Potter said.

He sees talk of him facing pressure in the media all the time, and is often answering questions on the subject.

"And if we don't get the results then obviously that's what happens," Potter said. "You suffer, and you get upset. When you're in private you show real emotion with your family."

The former Brighton and Hove Albion boss said he would continue to "act with an integrity that is right for me".

"I never want to be anybody else. I don't want to be fake," Potter said. "I'll do my best and if my best isn't good enough, OK, I accept that."

Bukayo Saka needs to protect himself from roughhouse tactics but manager Mikel Arteta warned he must stay within the laws of the game.

Saka reacted angrily to a challenge from Philippe Coutinho during Arsenal's 4-2 win at Aston Villa last weekend, shoving the former Liverpool man before team-mates intervened.

Saka has been involved in 49 Premier League goals for Arsenal (26 goals, 23 assists), and could become the youngest player to reach 50 goal involvements in the competition since Cesc Fabregas in 2008 should he score or assist against Leicester City on Saturday.

With teams increasingly looking to use tough tackling to halt the 21-year-old's sparkling displays, Arteta feels Saka has a right to defend himself.

"The first one who has to protect Bukayo is himself," Arteta said. "There's many ways to do that on a football pitch, within the rules, and he needs to learn and improve that.

"He reacted in a way, but that line is extremely thin and that cannot take him out of his game and lose his focus.

"But he can help that, as well, to have more focus, more determination, more belief for the next action. It's something he needs to do."

Saka is set to make his 32nd Arsenal appearance of the season against Leicester on Saturday, while he also started four of England's five games at the World Cup in Qatar.

Arteta pointed to Saka's mentality as the reason for his ability to play so many matches, explaining: "I really see his determination and where he wants to get to.

"He really wants to get there and have that resilience and that capacity to consistently show a certain level. He has a great physical element to be able to play every three days. Hopefully he can continue to do that."

With his team top of the Premier League table, two points above closest challengers Manchester City with a game in hand on the reigning champions, Arteta is hoping he can repay the Arsenal board's faith in him by delivering the Gunners' first Premier League title since the 2003-04 'Invincibles' campaign.

The former Gunners midfielder has endured rough periods since taking over in 2019, and he is grateful the board have stuck with him.

Asked how significant trust was between ownership and manager, Arteta said: "It's extremely important, obviously. The people you work with need to have faith, but at the same time they have to see every day what you are doing.

"I think it's something that works very close together, and I was lucky to have the people and the ownership we have. They believed we could continue to do the work that we wanted to do and gave me time. Hopefully we can repay that faith."

Jesse Marsch and other American coaches have been "cursed" by the popularity of television series Ted Lasso.

That is the opinion of Jim Curtin, who led the Philadelphia Union to the MLS Cup final last year.

Curtin has spent his entire coaching career so far with the Union, but other Americans have sought to make strides in the European game – with limited success.

Marsch is perhaps the most high-profile example, leaving the New York Red Bulls for Salzburg and then RB Leipzig before landing a Premier League job with Leeds United.

He lasted less than a year at Elland Road, however, and Curtin feels he was hurt by the emergence of Ted Lasso.

Jason Sudeikis portrays the title character in the Apple TV show in which he is appointed as coach of a Premier League club despite having little knowledge of the sport.

"I have to say I like [Ted Lasso], because if I say I hate it, I'm some elitist coach," Curtin told The Athletic.

"I love the humanness of it. I watched the whole first season.

"I give them credit for being at least close to capturing the feeling in the locker room. They get that there are people from different cultures, a**holes, nice guys, there are wives who are annoying, who are problems.

"That's all real. He comes off as loveable.

"Do I think it's set back the American coach 20 years? Yes, I do. We worked so hard to get to Europe, and then Jesse breaks in and it's like what a curse to have that show break out at the same time he's there.

"You can feel it with [Marsch]. He seems so angry at it, but if you show that, they'll chew you up and spit you out."

Senior Chelsea players have pointed to "the worst pre-season they've had" as a possible reason for their poor form, according to head coach Graham Potter.

The Blues make the short trip to Tottenham on the back of a four-game winless streak in the Premier League, including a home loss to rock-bottom Southampton last week.

For Potter, who succeeded Thomas Tuchel in September, the pressure has continued to build as his side have slipped further down the table.

Ahead of another difficult encounter for his misfiring team, he acknowledged there were no easy answers and discussed conversations he held with some of his players about their preparation for the season before he arrived from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The club visited the United States for three games in July, before playing Serie A side Udinese twice in Italy ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

"It is really tough," he said. "A few weeks ago, [I said] it is the toughest job of football, and there are reasons for that.

"Speaking to a few of the experienced guys, they said it was the worst pre-season they've had. Organisationally, the tour didn't work as well as they'd like. I wasn't there so I can't say.

"We thought we had made progress, but against Southampton, [it] was below par. The sky can fall. These are inconvenient facts, but that's the situation."

Potter insisted he still has the full backing of owner Todd Boehly and the Chelsea board, and added that he expects and deserves to be under the microscope.

"With results as they are, you accept criticism," he said. "That should come, that is fair. [But] the mood here has always been positive and respectful.

"That is not to say it is easy at all. My family suffers, my mental health suffers. Personally, it is hard. I've been under pressure here for four months."

Captain Cesar Azpilicueta was taken to hospital during the defeat to Southampton after he suffered a concussion, and will not be available for the Spurs clash.

Potter was pleased with his improvement though, adding: "He is as OK as you can be when you've had that. He won't be ready for the weekend, but he's doing well."

Pep Guardiola has dismissed criticism of Erling Haaland, insisting it is the team's fault when the striker struggles to influence a game.

Having struck an incredible 32 goals in 32 games this season for Manchester City, Haaland failed to score in draws against Nottingham Forest and RB Leipzig over the last week, having just 22 touches in the Champions League last-16 first leg in Germany, the lowest amount of any player for either side who completed 90 minutes.

Speaking ahead of City's Premier League trip to Bournemouth, Guardiola said it was up to the rest of the team to find their star forward.

"That is our fault, Erling has been impressive for us all season," he told reporters.

"I don't need numbers or metrics, I know immediately after the game who has been involved and who has not.

"Yes, of course, it depends on us. We need to look for him a little more."

The City boss was unsure about the fitness of trio Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, though while the latter could potentially be fit for Saturday's game on the south coast, the two defenders remain more unlikely to feature.

Guardiola also explained his decision not to make any substitutions during Wednesday's 1-1 draw in Leipzig, suggesting he had considered it at one point only for Josko Gvardiol's equaliser to alter his thinking.

It meant that City became the first team to make no substitutions in a Champions League game since Manchester United in October 2018 against Juventus.

"I'm not concerned [about squad depth], Kevin was not there, Aymeric, John," Guardiola added. 

"The second half I wanted to make a change, maybe Phil [Foden] or Julian [Alvarez] in a position close to Erling to be more aggressive, but after we conceded the goal we were good.

"When the situation is going more or less well I don't like to change things around normally, when I don't like what I see I will but I don't like to move things around [for the sake of it]."

City are two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League title race, having played a game more, and just three ahead of United.

Guardiola, a four-time Premier League winner, took the opportunity to offer a reminder that he was told English football would be more competitive than his previous jobs at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

"People told me when I arrived that the UK is different to Spain and Germany," he said. "Fortunately [for me], for most years it was only a two-horse [title] race.

"Now, finally, there is more."

Jurgen Klopp knows Liverpool have work to do in the transfer market, having foreseen their difficult season, but felt powerless to prevent it.

Having come so close to winning an unprecedented quadruple last year, claiming two cups and finishing as runners-up in both the Premier League and the Champions League, this campaign has been very different for Liverpool.

The Reds are down in eighth in the league, out of both domestic cups and on the brink of exiting Europe having lost 5-2 at home to Real Madrid on Tuesday.

It is anticipated the Merseyside club will be busy in the market at the end of the season, with Jude Bellingham reportedly a top target, and Klopp did not deny that as he detailed the ways in which his team must improve.

"I don't say everything around us is bad, is wrong, not at all, but most of the things are not right as well," he said. "That's how it is.

"We know we have to improve. We know we have to change things. We will. We have to do something in the summer, that's clear. For now, we just have to go through this and fight back."

Klopp was later quizzed on his mention of the need to "do something in the summer" and launched into a long answer explaining why this season has been so difficult for Liverpool, how they must work ahead of the transfer window and their plan to first "make the best out of this season".

Confirming the intention to do business in the window pre-dated this difficult stretch, Klopp said: "We are not that dumb that, 'today wasn't good, now we have to change'. It was clear, it was always clear.

"This team has a wonderful history, but the way this club is led is not by splashing the money or whatever, have a look if it works out or not. Our transfers always have to be on point.

"That makes it really tricky. We cannot make four transfers before we know who leaves the club, stuff like this.

"Last year, I knew it would be tricky. That was one of the main reasons why I signed a new contract, so people are not on top of all that and have to discuss 'then he leaves next year'.

"It's not because I'm that great – it would be the same situation with another coach, then it's 'bring Klopp back'. It's about the club and the stability.

"Last year was not the season for a big change. We played until the last moment, and if you want to change at this club, we cannot bring in players and then realise nobody wants to leave. It doesn't work like that.

"It was not possible to start it early, because we had final after final after final, played until the last moment of the Champions League final. Then we have a short break, then we have injuries, then the World Cup.

"So, with all the problems we knew we would have, this came on top.

"Now we are in it. I know it's too long, for me it's too long, because I have to face this press conference. Believe me, I don't like to talk about it all the time. I have to think it all the time – that's not as bad as to talk about it, to be honest, because I don't have to read it the next day.

"That's the situation. Now people are not happy. We try to fight through and make the best out of this season, that's the idea, and staying as good a person as you can.

"The better you behave in a moment like this, the better times will be after it and the more useful the bad times are.

"They have to be useful, because otherwise they are useless. Imagine that in all our lives if we had not learned from our failures or learned from when things didn't go well. We would not be the same people. We have to learn from this well, and we will.

"Now we are in this heated atmosphere, where we lose a game and it's 'everybody out', we win a game, 'give him a new contract'. I'm too old for that.

"We have to make our own plans, and that's what we do – but based on the way this club needs it. It's different to other clubs. That's how it is.

"It worked out so far, and we'll have to see if it will work still or we'll have to adapt. That's something for us in the offices, when we're not on the training pitch, and for my conversation with the owners."

Liverpool's Champions League collapse against Real Madrid was evidence to Jurgen Klopp his side are "not stable yet", even if back-to-back Premier League victories had hinted at a revival.

Klopp's men beat neighbours Everton and then fellow top-four hopefuls Newcastle United before hosting Madrid in the first leg of a last-16 tie.

But the defensive frailties that had been clear even in a 2-0 win at St James' Park – where Newcastle's 10 men generate more shots, expected goals and touches in the opposition box – came back to bite against Madrid.

After taking an early 2-0 lead, as Liverpool had at Newcastle, they lost 5-2 to all but end their hopes of a seventh European title.

Klopp acknowledged the focus must now shift to Champions League qualification through the league, but he is not ready to write off his team.

"What I saw in this game was a lot of things are back but not stable yet," he said, adding: "We have to work on that stability.

"The good things are really good and will be good forever, but we have to make sure we don't suffer from the few things that aren't working very well."

Consistency will be required if Liverpool are to close the seven-point gap to fourth-placed Tottenham, even with two games in hand.

"We cannot always go like this through a season," Klopp said ahead of playing Crystal Palace on Saturday. "We have to find some consistency in the way we play.

"Emotions are very important, but it cannot all be about emotions. 'Today I feel great, tomorrow not so well', stuff like this.

"We just have to start believing 100 per cent in ourselves again and bring our quality on the pitch."

But Klopp accepted it was to be accepted Liverpool would struggle to rediscover their best level after a difficult run, comparing their form to an accident with his car.

"Everything that happens in life has influence on confidence," Klopp said. "Recently, I scratched my car.

"Since then, I drive around corners like this [carefully]. For 37 years, I had a license, I think, and I never really had an accident, but everything has influence on confidence.

"After a few miles, you realise, 'oh, it was just unlucky', so I can just drive normal again."

One thing that has been consistent in recent seasons is Liverpool's record against Palace.

Following a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the reverse fixture, Palace are looking to avoid defeat in both Premier League meetings with Liverpool for the first time since 2014-15.

Miguel Almiron has signed a new contract at Newcastle United and hopes to have further cause to celebrate after the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

Almiron joined Newcastle from Atlanta United in January 2019, signing a five-and-a-half-year deal that was to expire at the end of next season.

Signed by Rafael Benitez, who soon left the club, Almiron initially struggled to replicate the form that had made him such a star in MLS.

His first Premier League goal did not come until December 2019, and he had netted only nine times in the competition heading into this campaign.

But Almiron has been a key man in an impressive Newcastle team under Eddie Howe, and is their top scorer with 10 goals in the league.

He has earned a three-and-a-half-year contract that will add two years to his previous agreement and keep him on Tyneside until 2026.

Newcastle are fifth in the Premier League, with a game in hand over fourth-placed Tottenham, and will face Manchester United in a Wembley final this weekend.

For Almiron, apart from the extension, playing a role in the club's first domestic cup win in 68 years would be reward for years of toil.

"The truth is that I've worked really hard since I came to Newcastle to improve my level and to be where I am at the moment," he said upon signing his contract.

"I also thank the staff and my team-mates, who have helped me a lot during these four years. I think this is a reward for that hard work, and I am very happy.

"On Sunday, we have a very important match, and while the new contract makes me really happy, the most important thing is that we celebrate this contract with a victory on Sunday."

Almiron is yet to score in the EFL Cup this season but provided assists in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Thomas Partey could return when Arsenal face Leicester City on Saturday and Mikel Arteta revealed Gabriel Jesus is "progressing well."

Partey missed the Gunners' defeat to Manchester City and the win at Aston Villa due to a muscle injury.

The midfielder, who has started all 18 of the league games he has been available for this season, may be back at the King Power Stadium this weekend, though, as the Gunners attempt to remain top of the Premier League table.

Arteta told reporters on Friday: "Thomas hasn't trained much, but looks like he could be available. Let's see how he trains today.

"He's a really important player for us, hopefully he can be available."

Jesus has been out since suffering a knee injury while he was on Brazil duty at the World Cup in December, but Arteta has provided an encouraging update on the striker's recovery.

"He's progressing really well. He's doing more and more on the field and he's not reacting [negatively], so that's really positive," Arteta said of Jesus.

"We want to have him as quickly as possible but also respect the timeframe we got from the doctor and the specialists. He's really pushing the boundaries right now."

Arsenal are two points clear of City with a game in hand after coming from behind twice to beat Villa 4-2 before the champions drew at Nottingham Forest.

Manchester United are only five points adrift of the Gunners, however, and Arteta does not believe it is a two-horse race for the title.

He said: "I think there are more teams involved and every day is going to be a race. Today it's how we convince those players to train better, to play better against Leicester.

"We're going to have to be really good to beat them, especially with the way they've been playing in the last few weeks."

Jordan Pickford has signed a new Everton contract, keeping him at Goodison Park until 2027.

Reports this week had suggested an agreement with Pickford was close and claimed there would be no relegation clause in the new deal.

Everton have won two of their first three Premier League matches under new manager Sean Dyche but remain firmly in a relegation battle, a point clear of the bottom three in 16th place.

However, that precarious position has not put off Pickford, whose four-and-a-half-year contract was announced on Friday.

Pickford told Everton's club media: "It's massive to sign this new contract at such a special club for me.

"The support I've had from everyone at the club since I joined as a 22-year-old has been so important to my family and me.

"I'm happy here and so are my family. We love it at Everton."

Pickford has been England's starting goalkeeper at their past three major tournaments – the first of those the 2018 World Cup.

That came at the end of Pickford's first season at Everton after joining from boyhood club Sunderland for £30million following their relegation.

Everton finished eighth in 2017-18 – one of three top-half finishes in Pickford's first four campaigns – but last season was a struggle as the club came 16th.

"Everton is a massive club," Pickford added. "The past few seasons have not been what we wanted.

"But we now have a manager who I believe will point us in the right direction and get us up the table. It's definitely my aim to be successful at this club."

Pickford was crucial to keeping Everton up last season, pulling off a string of brilliant saves in huge wins over Chelsea and Leicester City in May.

He carried that form into the new campaign, but he was unable to make the stops to ensure Frank Lampard survived a year in the job.

Based on Opta's xGOT model (expected goals on target), Pickford still has a positive goals prevented figure (1.8), which ranks him seventh in the league out of goalkeepers to have played at least one game.

England team-mate Nick Pope is ahead of him (2.9), while Liverpool's Alisson tops the charts with 9.8 goals prevented in the top flight this term.

Everton and Pickford welcome Aston Villa to Goodison Park on Saturday as Dyche aims to win a third straight home game.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.