Frank Lampard did not take the Chelsea job too soon and will make a swift return to management, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Chelsea sacked their all-time leading goalscorer Lampard on Monday just 18 months after he arrived from Derby County, where he began his career as a coach one year prior.

He steered the Blues to a top-four finish in the Premier League and to the FA Cup final, but a run of two wins in eight top-flight games left them 11 points off leaders Manchester United in ninth.

Ancelotti, who coached Lampard for two years at Stamford Bridge, does not think Lampard was too inexperienced for the role.

"No, I don't think so," the Everton boss replied when asked if Lampard had taken the Chelsea job too soon. "I think where you start a career as a manager or a player, every career you don't have experience.

"It's important to have knowledge. I think what Lampard did as a player and what he did as a manager before going to Chelsea, has knowledge of football. When you have knowledge of football you can grow your experience, but everyone that starts a career has no experience.

"I want to compare to [Juventus coach Andrea] Pirlo. Of course they don't have experience, but experience is not the most important part of your job. The most important part is the knowledge and the management. And after that with the knowledge you can grow, you can improve your experience."

Ancelotti considers being sacked to be part and parcel of football management and does not think it will take long for Lampard to find another position.

"It's not unusual that a manager is sacked. Frank Lampard knows this. My personal opinion is that getting sacked is part of our job. We have to understand this," said Ancelotti.

"I was sacked everywhere, so I have to consider the fact it's part of our job. Frank will soon find another opportunity because he's a good manager. He did well at Chelsea but for the club it was not enough. It's simple.

"In the end it's not sad news. One door closes and for him that is Chelsea – I understand that Chelsea was his club, he played for them, but for sure he is going to have another opportunity soon."

Jose Mourinho is the only manager to have led Chelsea for more than two consecutive seasons – he did it in both his stints at the helm – since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

However, Ancelotti does not consider the Blues to be a tougher place to work.

"Chelsea is not more difficult than other clubs, it's the same," he said.

"Every club has expectations and when things aren't going how they like, what are they going to do? They are going to change 20 players? The easiest way is to change the manager.

"This is what happens in football. All managers know this. We have to consider this part of our job and nothing more."

On an unusually quiet New Year's Day by the Premier League's normal standards, it is fair to say West Ham's 1-0 win at Everton probably didn't capture the imagination of many neutrals.

A cagey and tense match for the most part, West Ham eventually claimed the three points in the latter stages to hand Moyes his first win at Goodison Park since leaving Everton for Manchester United in 2013.

In the almost eight years since, not a great deal has gone Moyes' way. But this was evidence that he appears to be on the right path with the Hammers and potentially enjoying the start of a reputational restoration.

His West Ham of 2020-21 have plenty of creative talent, but the team and system remain focused on being solid at the back. They certainly were on Friday.

Everton, who would have moved second with a win, managed just two shots on target in the entire match, three fewer than their visitors, and Moyes' men began to show a greater attacking threat even after the hosts introduced Andre Gomes and James Rodriguez from the bench.


It wasn't really until the second half that the game began to open up and Everton looked capable of potentially cutting through West Ham's resolute backline.

But even then, Angelo Ogbonna was colossal at the back, proving to be in the right place at the right time so often.

He made seven clearances in total, more than anyone else on the pitch, and also chipped in with a couple of interceptions.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin struggled to impose himself against the Italian, failing to register a shot on target, and the England international's Premier League goal drought increased to five matches.

Ogbonna hasn't always been a convincing defender during his time in England, but his was a prime example of just how imperious he can be.


In his brief time in the Premier League, Tomas Soucek's well-rounded style of play has attracted admirers.

While his distribution was occasionally a little slack here, it's clear why he is such an important figure for West Ham.

Soucek got the winning goal with a poacher's effort in the latter stages, his fifth in his past 10 Premier League games.

But he was an effective presence all over the pitch.

No one on the pitch recovered possession more often than Soucek (15), and Aaron Cresswell was the only West Ham player to better his 67 touches of the ball.


Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has faced Moyes more times in the Premier League without winning than against any other coach, drawing three and losing three of their six meetings.

Calvert-Lewin was always likely to be key if Ancelotti was to finally get the better of Moyes, but it wasn't to be.

Now five league games without a goal, his form is a far cry from run that saw him net 11 in his first 11 games in the competition this season.

When the back-up is a Cenk Tosun without a league goal since last January, while on loan at Crystal Palace, you have to worry about Everton's top-four chances.

Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira has been undertaking extra fitness sessions to prepare himself for a potential move to the Premier League.

Knee and abductor injuries forced Khedira, whose contract expires at the end of June, to miss the bulk of last season and he is yet to feature for Juventus under Andrea Pirlo.

The World Cup winner's 25 starts in all competitions since the start of 2018-19 is just one more than he managed in Serie A alone for Juve in 2017-18.

Khedira, who will turn 34 in April, is frustrated by that lack of game time and is hopeful of sealing a move to England, having already won league titles in Germany, Spain and Italy.

"It's unusual for me, and I'm not satisfied. I'm a competitive guy, I want to play. But in the meantime, I've adjusted to the situation and try to make the most of it," Khedira told The Athletic.

"I'm part of matchday preparation and video analysis. My influence is still there. I see myself as a bit of a mentor for the younger players.

"I'm keeping my energy levels and motivation high. But at the end of the day, I want to be on the pitch and fight for points. That's why I'm trying to change the situation or leave Turin to do what I enjoy most: playing football.

"The Premier League is still missing in my collection, to play there would be the icing on the cake.

"There are fewer breaks in the game and many counter-attacks, but this is what I like. I've done extra sessions with fitness coaches to get myself ready for the pace and intensity in the Premier League.

"My gut instinct and passion tell me I need to play football, if possible in the Premier League. I'm working towards that."

Tottenham and Everton have been touted as potential destinations for Khedira, given their respective bosses Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti coached him at Real Madrid.

"I'm so pleased that he's [Mourinho] doing so well at Spurs. No one thought he had it in him anymore. But he never stops believing, that's his secret. And now he's back. I find that fascinating, but I'm not surprised," said Khedira.

On Ancelotti, he added: "We've kept in contact over the years. Him and Jose are both amazing personalities from whom I've learned so much, about the game and about myself.

"They're both at clubs that play an important role in the league. So let's see what happens."

Khedira is approaching the twilight of his career with the utmost professionalism, something he began to properly hone after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo at work upon joining Madrid.

"Cristiano, Sergio Ramos, Kaka, world-class players and Ballon d'Or winners, they stayed out on the pitch longer than anyone else and spent more time in the training ground than anyone else, doing extra work," he said.

"I thought I knew what being professional was about but they were on a different planet altogether. They took it to its logical conclusion, showing total dedication.

"I realised then that I had about 10 hours each day to work on myself, on top of the four, five hours spent at the training ground, and that I could so much more than lounging on the sofa or next to the pool.

"It's no coincidence that Cristiano is at the top of his game for 18 years now, he lives and breathes football. To him and guys like Gigi [Gianluigi Buffon], football isn't a job. It's their passion, their calling."

Ronaldo will turn 36 in February but finished 2020 as the highest-scoring player across the top five European leagues with 33 goals in the calendar year.

It made him just the fourth player to hit that mark in Serie A history, following Omar Sivori (33 in 1961), Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) and Felice Borel (41 in 1933).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismissed suggestions Edinson Cavani might have been sent off before his game-breaking turn in Manchester United's 2-0 EFL Cup quarter-final win over Everton.

Cavani fired in a fabulous 88th-minute strike from outside the penalty area before Anthony Martial made sure of a repeat of last season's semi-final against holders Manchester City.

Earlier in the second half, Cavani appeared to shove Everton defender Yerry Mina to the floor after grabbing at his throat, but referee Andy Madley opted not to dish out any punishment with VAR not in operation.

Solskjaer told Sky Sports he felt Uruguayan and Colombian rivalries were in play at that point in a keenly fought contest.

"It’s two South Americans that have had a few battles before," he said.

"Not long ago they met [in World Cup qualifying].

"This was a proper game of football, with fans, some tackles, cards, chances at both ends – I enjoyed it.

"[Cavani] is a top striker – movement, quality and the left-foot strike was excellent."

A 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium was not enough to avert a 3-2 aggregate loss in last season's semi-final and defeats at the same stage of the FA Cup and Europa League to Chelsea and Sevilla respectively meant 2019-20 was a tale of what might have been for Solskjaer and his players.

"It’s a worse game to lose, a semi-final, because when you get to a final you get that feeling, the build-up. So we’re going to do everything we can to get to the semi-final in a good state," he added, with City set to make the short trip to Old Trafford on the week of January 4 for what will be a one-off game this time around,

Shortly after the Cavani-Mina incident, Richarlison suffered a nasty blow to the head in an aerial challenge with Bruno Fernandes and Eric Bailly.

The Everton forward was substituted and manager Carlo Ancelotti confirmed he had followed the advice of medical staff amid concerns over concussion.

"Richarlison is fine, fortunately," he told Sky Sports.

"He had a bad knock to the head, but we will see in the next few days [how he recovers].

"Of course the doctor [made the decision]. Now he is okay."

Edinson Cavani fired Manchester United into the semi-finals of the EFL Cup as his superb late goal inspired a 2-0 win over Everton

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have been imperious on the road this season and headed to Goodison Park having won all eight of their domestic away games by scoring at least three times on each occasion.

They peppered the Everton goal during the first half but had nothing to show for their efforts before the game became a more physical and fractious affair after the interval.

One such occasion saw Cavani grab at Yerry Mina's throat but the former Paris Saint-Germain star remained on the field to arrow a wonderful left-footed strike into the bottom left corner from 25 yards, with Anthony Martial making sure as Everton left themselves exposed chasing an equaliser.

Liverpool registered a historic win in their seven-goal blitz of Crystal Palace and the records of an unwanted kind kept coming for Arsenal in their defeat to Everton.

The reigning Premier League champions opened up a five-point lead at the top, with Merseyside rivals Everton their closest challengers after beating an Arsenal side slipping further into the abyss with each passing game.

Manchester City also got back to winning ways thanks to a Raheem Sterling-inspired success at Southampton, while Newcastle United and Fulham played out a draw at St James' Park in the late kick-off.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool: Reds run riot as Klopp overtakes Rafa

Jurgen Klopp registered a landmark victory in a historic win for Liverpool at Selhurst Park as the Reds won an away top-flight match by a margin of seven goals for the first time in their history.

German coach Klopp overtook Rafael Benitez (126) for the most triumphs as a Liverpool boss in the Premier League with his 127th success.

It was the first time the Merseyside outfit scored seven goals in a league game - each assisted by a different player - since a 9-0 triumph over Palace in September 1989, with the Eagles conceding seven in a home match for the first time.

Substitute Mohamed Salah netted a brace and laid on an assist for fellow two-goal forward Roberto Firmino - the 17th time the pair have combined for a Premier League goal for Liverpool, placing them behind only Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman (24).

Takumi Minamino, Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane were also on the scoresheet, the latter becoming only the fourth player in Premier League history to score in seven successive appearances against an opponent.

Southampton 0-1 Manchester City: Sterling sinks Saints again

Sterling's sweeping finish proved enough for City to return to winning ways at St Mary's Stadium as they became the first team to stop Southampton from scoring in the Premier League since the opening weekend of the season.

Match-winner Sterling has been directly involved in 11 goals in 16 Premier League meetings with Southampton – only against West Ham (14) has he had a hand in more.

Kevin De Bruyne set up that goal and now has 15 Premier League assists in 2020, which is three more than anyone else. The only time the Belgium playmaker set up more goals in a single calendar year in the competition was in 2017 (18).

City kept their opponents at bay from that point on and now boast the best defensive record in the division, conceding the fewest goals (12) and keeping more clean sheets (six) than any other team.

Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Arteta Holding on after latest defeat

Two days ahead of the one-year anniversary of his Everton appointment, Carlo Ancelotti celebrated victory over Arsenal to guarantee the Toffees a place in the top four at Christmas for the first time since 2004-05.

Rob Holding's own goal - the third by an Arsenal player in the Premier League this season - gave Everton the lead before Nicolas Pepe converted from the penalty spot for a team-high eighth goal involvement this term.

But Yerry Mina scored what proved to be the winning goal just before half-time to inflict an eighth defeat of the campaign on Arsenal, whose return of 14 points from 14 games is their fewest since 1974-75 (12 points when converted to three for a win).

Each of Mina's past four goals have come in the 45th minute - only Chris Eagles has scored as many consecutive goals in the same minute before, notching four times in the 90th between 2007 and 2011.

Goals are something Arsenal are still struggling for, meanwhile, having now failed to score from open play in their past five Premier League away matches, their only two goals in that run coming from the penalty spot.

Newcastle United 1-1 Fulham: Visitors pay the penalty in St James' stalemate

Newcastle benefited from another penalty - their third in six Premier League home games - as they recovered to earn a point against an improving Fulham side at St James' Park.

Callum Wilson made no mistake from 12 yards as he took his tally for the campaign to eight in 12 top-flight appearances, matching his return from 35 games with Bournemouth last term.

Fulham have conceded a league-high five penalties this season, including three in their past four outings, and had Joachim Andersen dismissed for the incident leading to the spot-kick - the third Danish player to see red for Fulham in the competition after Leon Andreasen and Claus Jensen.

However, Scott Parker's men - who led through Matt Ritchie's first-half own goal - held on to pick up at least a point when finishing a Premier League game with 10 men for the first time since they beat QPR 3-2 in April 2013, having lost on each of the five subsequent occasions.

Newcastle have failed to keep a clean sheet in their 11 most recent Premier League games on home soil, their longest run since February 2005 (also 11 games), but they still climbed two places into 12th.

Mikel Arteta knows Arsenal have a huge task on their hands after a 2-1 defeat to Everton left the Gunners without a Premier League win in seven games.

Arsenal will drop to 16th by the end of the weekend if Brighton and Hove Albion defeat lowly Sheffield United on Sunday.

The Gunners' points return of 14 from as many games this season is their worst record at this stage since the 1974-75 campaign (converted to three points per win).

Arteta's side have failed to score from open play in any of their past five Premier League away games, with their two goals on the road since Alexandre Lacazette's strike against Liverpool coming from the penalty spot.

Nicolas Pepe restored parity from 12 yards after Rob Holding's own goal put Everton ahead on Saturday, but Yerry Mina's header on the stroke of half-time proved enough to claim a third straight win for Carlo Ancelotti's and lift them into second place.

Sunday marks a year since Arteta was appointed as Arsenal boss. The Gunners have won more matches in cup competitions (14 of 17) than they have in the Premier League (13 of 34) in that timeframe, and Pep Guardiola's former assistant knows his team must fight to get out of the situation they find themselves in.

"Without conceding much we lost the game on two key moments," Arteta, whose side managed just two attempts on target at Goodison Park, told Sky Sports.

"We reacted really well. We dominated the game. We created enough chances at least to not lose. We hit the bar. We don't have the luck.

"We are in a big fight. We lost against Burnley without them having a shot on target, and now we lose because of a couple of chances.

"It's really difficult when you play a team who are defending low and wasting time. We make it difficult for ourselves conceding the first goal.

"I think we had 15 shots but only two on target. We need to improve our rate, that's the reality. We need to generate more to win football matches. When it comes to small details, the other team wants it more.

"The boys are absolutely still fighting. They're hurt right now."

While Arsenal have now lost as many league matches as they have won under Arteta (W13 D8 L13), Everton have guaranteed themselves a spot in the top four heading into Christmas since the 2004-05 season.

"We did very well [in our] last few games. Brilliant performances and fantastic results. We showed more consistency," Carlo Ancelotti told BBC Sport.

"This season we started well, then we had a difficult moment, but right now I'm really pleased.

"We are pleased; the position in the table is really good. But as I said last week it is not the end of the season, we have to keep fighting, but it was a top, top performance today."

Both teams are in EFL Cup action next. Arsenal go up against another of Arteta's old clubs in the form of City on Tuesday, with Everton hosting Manchester United a day later.

Arsenal failed to halt their dismal Premier League form as Everton claimed a 2-1 victory to keep the pressure on Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners, without the injured Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, have now gone seven league games without a win after Yerry Mina's header and Rob Holding's own goal lifted Everton up to second.

Nicolas Pepe's penalty had restored parity at Goodison Park, where Arteta spent six-and-a-half seasons as a player, but it was not a platform from which Arsenal could build.

Though Jordan Pickford's error led to David Luiz hitting the post, Mina's 45th-minute header ultimately proved enough for Everton to secure a third straight win.

Michael Keane was just inches away from breaking the deadlock as Everton started in confident fashion, and an opener came when Dominic Calvert-Lewin's header from Alex Iwobi's cross diverted in off Holding.

Eddie Nketiah sliced wide from Kieran Tierney's cutback to waste Arsenal's first chance, but Tom Davies' blind challenge on Ainsley Maitland-Niles handed the Gunners a reprieve.

Pepe made no mistake, sending Pickford the wrong way with a cool finish – the Ivorian's sixth straight successful penalty.

Bernd Leno thought he had kept the scores level heading into the break with a stunning save from Calvert-Lewin, yet Everton restored their lead when Mina headed in from Gylfi Sigurdsson's subsequent corner.

Despite the setback, Arsenal came out quickly after the restart, with David Luiz hitting the upright after Pickford flapped at a cross.

Ben Godfrey's powerful run nearly resulted in Calvert-Lewin snatching a third for Everton on the counter, before Richarlison went close to teeing up Iwobi.

Arteta turned to Gabriel Martinelli with just under 20 minutes remaining, though the Brazilian's timely return from injury could not spark a much-needed comeback.

Carlo Ancelotti is confident he can steer Everton to the Champions League after a promising first year in charge at Goodison Park – and is not ruling out a title challenge during his tenure. 

The Italian coach was appointed on December 21 in 2019, at which stage the club were stuck in the bottom half of the Premier League table. 

Everton ended up finishing 12th at the end of a campaign that included a lengthy pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there have been further signs of progress in the 2020-21 campaign so far. 

Four successive wins had them flying high in the early stages and while there was a dip in form following such a fast start, recent victories over Chelsea and Leicester City have the Toffees right in the top-four mix. 

For Ancelotti – who signed a four-and-a-half year deal – qualifying for European football's premier club competition has always been the target, albeit they could achieve that goal ahead of schedule. 

"We can be more competitive, I hope, this season but also next season. We need to have at least two years' time to improve and increase our level," Ancelotti told the Liverpool Echo ahead of Saturday's home match with Arsenal. 

"The target for next season will be to reach the top four in the Premier League. 

"And when you are in the top four and you are able to fight for the top four, it means, at least, you can fight for the title."

The additions of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan and James Rodriguez in the previous transfer window helped to strengthen the squad, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin's continued development - he has 11 goals in the league so far - is a further positive for Everton fans.

Ancelotti is determined to make sure Everton are playing in Europe next season, meaning he would be happy to compete in the Europa League or potentially the Europa Conference League, a new competition which UEFA plans to launch in 2021.

"This is the target," said the former Chelsea boss who won a domestic double during his two-year stint at Stamford Bridge.

"To be in Europe next season. If it is Champions League, that would be a dream for us but I think we can compete for a position in Europe, in general."

On this current season, he added: "It is true that we started really well, unbelievable, and then we lost some games but, in general, we are more stable as a team.

"We had some injuries, we lost a little bit of confidence, but we are quite stable in this moment. We can play good matches with more stability, compared to when I arrived."

Ancelotti's appointment was confirmed prior to a 0-0 draw with Arsenal last year - and the two teams meet again prior to Christmas in 2020.

Arsenal have won just 14 points from 13 Premier League games this season, their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1974-75, but have won more games (34) and scored more goals (110) against Everton than any other opponents in the competition.

Frank Lampard will remain patient with Kai Havertz and insists any critics must give the Chelsea forward time to adapt to the Premier League.

Up against a resilient Everton on Saturday, Lampard's side slipped to their first defeat since a penalty shoot-out loss to Tottenham in the EFL Cup on September 29.

It ended an unbeaten run of 14 games in all competitions, with the Blues missing the chance to go top of the table.

Havertz, who started on the right of a front three which also included Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud, put in a particularly frustrating showing.

The Germany international, signed from Bayer Leverkusen this year, was kept under wraps by Ben Godfrey, who played out of position at left-back in an Everton defence comprising four centre-backs.

Havertz had 42 touches, completed 22 of his 28 passes, registered one attempt at goal – which was blocked – and supplied one key pass.

Godfrey made a game-high five interceptions as he frustrated Havertz, with the youngster making way for Tammy Abraham in the 68th minute.

Yet despite Havertz's below-par display, Lampard backed the 21-year-old, who has scored one goal and provided one assist from 10 chances created across 10 Premier League appearances, to prove his quality.

"In the modern day there's going to be criticism of every player of every club that loses a game, or something went awry or a pass went astray, so we certainly should be patient with Kai Havertz from a Chelsea point of view, because he's a top-quality talent that's come into this league," Lampard told a news conference.

"He's playing on the right wing, he can play in any position across the front – he played off the right wing countless times before he signed for Chelsea and he can play in midfield also, so that's not an issue.

"We do have to be patient, not just with him, but any young player, because of the speed of the Premier League, so I've got no problem with Kai.

"If people want to jump straight on to criticise, just wait, give a young player time, whether it be a week or a month or six months or a year, whatever, because I know the player that Kai Havertz is going to be."

Everton had just 28 per cent possession at Goodison Park, with the hosts attempting just 241 passes compared to Chelsea's 639.

Yet Gylfi Sigurdsson's first-half penalty proved enough, as the Toffees restricted the visitors to just three shots on target – the last of which came from Kurt Zouma in the 28th minute.

Lampard spoke highly of his former manager Carlo Ancelotti before the match, and the Everton boss believes his old side have the potential to compete on all fronts despite their performance on Saturday.

"Yes, they are a fantastic team, a fantastic squad," Ancelotti told reporters.

"They are playing well and going to fight for the title in the end, and for sure in the Champions League they have possibilities.

"They are a young squad and perhaps sometimes they need the experience to manage difficult games, but it is only this. The quality of the team is top."

All eyes were on Old Trafford for Saturday's Manchester derby, though the 0-0 draw was ultimately a rather duller affair than many expected.

But at the very least, the draw actually took them a point closer to one of the title favourites in Chelsea, who suffered a shock defeat to an Everton side who had been struggling badly in recent weeks.

Newcastle United piled on the misery for West Brom with a late winner, while Aston Villa claimed a trademark – yes, that's right, and you'll soon understand why – victory at Wolves to continue their fine campaign.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

Everton 1-0 Chelsea: The pupil downed by the master

In recent weeks there has been plenty of talk about Chelsea being not just title challengers, but maybe even favourites. Such chatter will have been a little quieter after this.

Frank Lampard came up against one of his former Chelsea managers at Goodison Park, with Carlo Ancelotti arguably the coach to get the very best out of the former England international.

After all, Lampard scored 32 times in 60 Premier League appearances under the Italian – by comparison, he netted 49 in 140 matches for Jose Mourinho.

Nevertheless, Lampard will have undoubtedly been frustrated on Merseyside. This was his second defeat in 12 managerial games across all competitions against his former bosses, the other loss coming against Manuel Pellegrini last season.

It was a somewhat limp and unimaginative performance by the Blues, who failed to even register a single shot on target after the 28th minute despite having 72 per cent of the possession.

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Derby fails to live up to expectations

Neutrals always expect fireworks from the Manchester derby, but sadly on this occasion it was something of a damp squib and just the fifth goalless draw between the two giants in 47 Premier League meetings.

It was the third home league game this term in which United have failed to score, already one more than in the whole of last season.

City's lack of activity in front of goal – compared to their usual standards – was particularly notable, as Pep Guardiola's side managed just nine shots in total. Three of their previous four instances of attempting fewer than 10 shots in a Premier League away game have been at Old Trafford.

The stalemate also meant Raheem Sterling's remarkable record against United continued. In 17 Premier League meetings with the Red Devils, he is still yet to score – that is over 10 more games than he has faced any other team in the competition without finding the net.

Wolves 0-1 Aston Villa: Villans doing the business on the road

Aston Villa's brilliant form on the road shows no sign of stopping, with their 1-0 win at local rivals Wolves taking them to four away victories out of five this season.

Their 12 points picked up away from Villa Park is already one more than they managed in the entirety of last season, and they still have another 14 trips to make.

But let's not get carried away with this latest one – it wasn't pretty. There were a total of 38 fouls in this game (23 Wolves, 15 Villa) and the visitors' winner came right at the end.

Anwar El Ghazi got it in stoppage time, making it the fourth time they have scored a winner in the 90th minute or later since the start of last season. No other team has done so more than twice.

As for Wolves, Adama Traore's difficult spell stutters on. He was facing one of his former teams, but his inability to get a goal or assist means it is 19 league games since his last goal involvement, having contributed to nine in the 19 top-flight matches before that.

Newcastle United 2-1 West Brom: Magpies making the most of every minute

Steve Bruce's Newcastle may not be the most thrilling of sides to watch, but they cannot be accused of lacking spirit in the dying embers of matches.

They left it late against the Baggies on Saturday, with Dwight Gayle getting the winner eight minutes from time, the eighth time this term Newcastle have netted in the final quarter-of-an-hour of games.

That equates to 57 per cent of their 14 Premier League goals and, as you might expect, it is the highest proportion of a team's total in England's top flight in 2020-21.

But, impressively, Newcastle aren't just leaving it until the end. Miguel Almiron opened the scoring on Saturday after just 19 seconds. That's their second-fastest Premier League goal ever after Alan Shearer required only 10 seconds against Manchester City in January 2003.

There is little to be positive about for West Brom, however, as Slaven Bilic's men became the first team to concede 25 goals in the Premier League this season.

Chelsea missed the chance to move top of the Premier League table as Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty secured Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti a 1-0 win over his former club. 

Ancelotti endured a miserable return to Stamford Bridge last season with his current employers, Everton going down 4-0 in the capital. 

However, he came out on top in a second meeting with Frank Lampard, who was part of the Chelsea squad who secured a domestic double under the Italian coach in the 2009-10 season. 

The only goal of the game arrived in the 22nd minute thanks to an early Christmas gift from Edouard Mendy, the goalkeeper needlessly charging into Dominic Calvert-Lewin as the striker attempted to get on the end of his own flick-on from Jordan Pickford's long punt. 

Sigurdsson calmly rolled in his attempt from the spot for his first league goal in 17 games, much to the delight of the 2,000-strong crowd inside Goodison Park. 

Chelsea responded brightly to the setback of falling behind, Reece James striking a post with a low drive that Pickford appeared to get a slight touch to, while Kurt Zouma – who spent a season on loan at Everton earlier in his career – planted a close-range attempt straight at the England goalkeeper. 

Richarlison failed to capitalise on a clear shooting opportunity before the break for the hosts, slipping as he struck the ball with his left foot to make Mendy's life easier. 

Sigurdsson went close with a free-kick early in the second half and was then denied the chance to take another penalty when a VAR check found Calvert-Lewin offside prior to being bundled over by Ben Chilwell. 

Still, one goal proved enough as Chelsea failed to find an equaliser, despite Lampard sending on Tammy Abraham in place of the ineffective Kai Havertz to partner Olivier Giroud up top.

Mason Mount saw a free-kick kept out by a post as Everton held firm, in the process securing a third successive home win over their opponents as they moved into the top half.

FT. Big performance. Big win.



— Everton (@Everton) December 12, 2020 What does it mean? Sweet success for depleted Toffees

Everton had stuttered after an excellent start to the 2020-21 season, winning just once in their previous seven league outings after opening up with four wins on the spin.

Their cause was not helped by a shortage of full-backs - Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey did an admirable job either side of the excellent Michael Keane and Yerry Mina - in what was a battling display, as shown by them having just 28 per cent possession. Indeed, Chelsea failed to manage an on-target attempt in the entire second half.

Sigurdsson pulls the strings

The Iceland international has managed more Premier League goals against Chelsea than any other side in the competition, also scoring twice against them while playing for Tottenham and Swansea.

Everton's captain created six chances for his team-mates before making way in the closing minutes, while no one else on the pitch created more than two.

In it for keeps?

Mendy had seemingly solved the keeper conundrum at Chelsea, conceding just twice in seven league games prior to the trip to Merseyside. However, Lampard will have every reason to question why the signing from Rennes felt the need to rush out and confront Calvert-Lewin when the situation was under control.

What's next?

Chelsea are back on the road again during a full round of midweek Premier League fixtures, travelling to Wolves on Tuesday. Everton have an extra day to recover before they visit Leicester City.

Everton will be without star playmaker James Rodriguez as Carlo Ancelotti takes on his former club Chelsea on Saturday.

James, 29, sustained a minor calf problem in last week's 1-1 Premier League draw at Burnley and has not trained this week.

Everton have lost their last two home games against Leeds United and Manchester United, dropping to ninth in the table after topping the standings in the early stages of 2020-21.

Ancelotti has not lost three straight home league games as a manager since 2006 with Milan, while March 2016 was the last time it happened for Everton.

They will now bid to avoid that fate at Goodison Park against an in-form Chelsea side who sit third in the table.

"We have James out – he had a little problem in the game against Burnley," Ancelotti said at his pre-match news conference.

"He was not able to train this week, I think he will start to train next week. For this game, we don't want to take a risk.

"He had a charge on his calf muscle after the game against Burnley. Nothing special, but he was not able to train.

"We have to look at him after the game to see if he will be able to train and play against Leicester [City, on Wednesday]."

As well as James, Everton boss Ancelotti ruled out captain Seamus Coleman and midfielder Fabian Delph, who had both hoped to feature, while Lucas Digne and Jean-Philippe Gbamin are longer-term absentees.

"I'm not used to complaining about the players who are not available," added the Italian. "The players who are available trained well and are in good condition.

"We understand that there will be an important moment and test, not only on Saturday but in this period of December.

"So, I think we arrive at the game with confidence and motivation."

Ancelotti will do battle with his former player, Frank Lampard, who impressed under his stewardship at Chelsea.

He was in charge of 76 Premier League games with Chelsea from 2009 to 2011 and Lampard played in 60 of those, scoring 32 goals.

Only under Jose Mourinho did Lampard score more in the Premier League (49 in 140 appearances).

Frank Lampard is relishing a reunion with Carlo Ancelotti when Chelsea head to Everton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Blues legend Lampard played in 60 of Ancelotti's 76 top-flight matches at the Stamford Bridge helm, when the Italian averaged 2.07 points per game, aided by the midfielder's 32 goals.

Everton boss Ancelotti led Chelsea to league glory in 2009-10 but will be looking to put a dent in their hopes of repeating the feat this term when the sides meet at Goodison Park, where his tenure in charge of the Blues ended in 2011.

Lampard's men sit third, just two points off the summit and five clear of an Everton team who have suffered a loss of form, with the Chelsea head coach nonetheless still full of praise for his old mentor.

"I was heavily influenced by him as a player and a man," said Lampard, who hopes to have Christian Pulisic available after a slight hamstring problem.

"He is right at the top when I speak about the managers I've worked with for everything about him, the huge success he has had at a number of clubs.

"One to one I found him to be a great coach, a great man and I look forward at all times to seeing him and speaking to him."

Everton made a fine start to the season but have won just one of their previous seven matches, sliding into mid-table as a result.

However, the Toffees have triumphed in their last two Premier League home games against Chelsea – including a 3-1 win under Duncan Ferguson's tutelage in the corresponding fixture last season – and, in 11-goal striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, boast the division's top scorer.

Lampard, whose team cruised to a 4-0 win over the Toffees at Stamford Bridge in March in their final game before a three-month, coronavirus-enforced break, has some sympathy for how Everton's fortunes have changed.

"That's the nature of the Premier League, they started very well and have quality players, and have a fantastic manager who is one of the best in the world," he said.

"The Premier League is unforgiving. We all have patches where results are challenging but it doesn't change my thoughts about how I approach Everton.

"They are a very good side, with quality individuals, who can win games. I'm focusing on their strengths and dangers when we go there."

As for his own side's hopes of competing for the ultimate prize, Lampard added: "We're happy where we are but there's a long way to go. Words aren't important at this point."

Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight Premier League meetings with Everton, losing both games in which they conceded.

The man the hosts, who have leaked top-flight goals this term, will need to watch out for is Olivier Giroud, who has scored in each of his last six Premier League starts for Chelsea – only Mark Stein (seven between December 1993 and February 1994) has scored in more consecutive starts for the Blues in the competition.

Everton have confirmed Lucas Digne is set to undergo surgery on an ankle ligament injury sustained in training this week.

Left-back Digne has made an impressive start to the season, with his link-up with James Rodriguez – who has played predominantly on the right flank for Everton with the freedom to drift inside – a crucial part of Everton's attack.

From eight Premier League appearances this term, Digne has created 16 chances, second behind only James (18) in regards to Everton players, while the former Barcelona man has registered four assists, including two in a 3-2 win over Fulham last time out.

Digne has started every league game he has been available for this term, with the 27-year-old having been suspended for a defeat to Newcastle United following a red card in a 2-0 loss to Southampton on October 25.

Niels Nkounkou replaced Digne in that match, and the youngster would seem the natural replacement for his fellow Frenchman.

Everton added that Digne will go under the knife on Monday, before starting his rehabilitation process. No timeframe has been placed on his return, though it is expected he will be out of action for around two months.

That will keep him out of a hectic festive period, which includes an EFL Cup quarter-final tie with Manchester United.

Since Digne signed for Everton under Marco Silva in August 2018, the France international has missed just seven league games, appearing 78 times in the top flight.

Everton, who face Leeds United have only managed two wins from those seven games, conceding an average of 1.9 goals per game, compared to 1.3 with Digne in the side.

While Digne is solid at the back, the Toffees will be missing a huge creative influence going forward – he has created more chances than any other Premier League defender since the start of the 2018-19 season, while only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson (26 each) have more assists among defenders in that time.

Digne also ranks the highest for assists (15), interceptions (109), crosses from open play (357) and tackles (160) in Everton's squad since his Premier League debut.

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