Koeman: Mourinho claim of Everton top-four finish ‘unrealistic’

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Everton manager Ronald Koeman says that his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho’s claims that the Merseyside club should be aiming for “at least” the top four this season is unrealistic.

Mourinho made the claim before his side completed a 4-0 win that Everton should be aiming for a top-four finish “at least” after having spent £140m in the summer transfer window.

Both teams were playing on level terms at Old Trafford following Antonio Valencia’s spectacular volley. Everton did not falter but instead attacked openly, with Wayne Rooney leading much of the offensive efforts.

However, a late flurry of goals then came for the Red Devils that sealed the game, starting with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on 83, Romelu Lukaku, on 89, and an Anthony Martial penalty in added time pushed United to joint-top with Manchester City, both teams having 13 points and 16 goals with two conceded after five matches.

The result condemned Koeman and his team to a fourth defeat in four games in all competitions, and they have failed to score in four consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since April 2006, including in their 3-0 Europa League defeat against Atalanta on Thursday.

It was almost reasonable that the Dutch manager did not conceal his frustration over Mourinho’s comments.

“I read the United programme and my colleague (Mourinho) told me about Everton spending £140m and so they need to go for the top four,” the Dutchman said. “If there’s anybody in this room and outside and sees this as something realistic for us, please comment. Be realistic. I’m not happy how we started the season, but please be a bit realistic about Everton. We need time, but it’s difficult in football.”

“Every manager in life has doubts. If you don’t win and you have a big number of players in your squad, you have doubts about how you need to start and the system to play. That is normal.”

Ousmane Dembele: new Barca signing set to miss out for four months

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FC Barcelona has announced that their new signing, forward Ousmane Dembele, could miss up to four months worth of fixtures after sustaining his injury to his thigh.

The French international will also miss France’s final two World Cup qualifiers away to Bulgaria and at home to Belarus in October, as Les Blues look to hold on their top spot on group A of the UEFA qualifiers — which guarantees their automatic qualification into the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.

Dembele, 20, who became the second most expensive player in the world after Neymar when he joined the Catalan side from Borussia Dortmund this summer, sustained the injury on his full La Liga debut against Getafe on Saturday.

Barca have since issued an statement on their official website, saying: “The tests have come back and show that Ousmane Dembele has ruptured the tendon in his femoral bicep in his left thigh.”

“The player will be operated on by Dr Sakari Orava in Finland this week. He is expected to be out for between three and a half months and four months.”

Dembele was making his first league start for Barcelona and his third overall, after coming on as a substitute in a 5-0 league win over Espanyol, started the 3-0 Champions League victory over Juventus on Tuesday and lasted 29 minutes against Getafe.

Getafe led early on through a wonder goal from Japanese International, and Barca, after losing Dembele, was forced to rescue the game through two second-half substitutes, with Denis Suarez levelling around the hour before Paulinho won the game late on.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said that the game was proof Barca could subvert pressure amidst difficult circumstances, and was happy to see two substitutes make such a vital contribution.

“The opposition put us under pressure but this comeback reinforces our belief that we are indeed capable of reacting to difficulty,” he said. “It is important for them as individuals, it gives them both confidence, whilst also showing that our squad is deep and we have many players who can help us.”

Napoli, Juventus and Internazionale stay on 100% form in Serie A

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Napoli, defending champions Juventus and Internazionale has kept their 100% form in Serie A running.

Paulo Dybala scored a hat-trick to add glitter to his 100th appearance for Juventus, taking his tally to eight goals in four games to defeat Sassuolo by 3-1 and mustering a terrific response to Juve’s midweek Champions League defeat to FC Barcelona.

The Argentinian international opened the scoring with a brilliant first-time shot curled into the net from 25 yards and another fine effort, this one poked home from just inside the box, before Matteo Politano pulled one back for Sassuolo.

However, it was not to be Sassuolo’s day as Dybala soon completed his treble, his second of the season in Serie A, with a free-kick shortly after the hour mark.

Napoli also bounced back from midweek disappointment in Europe as Benevento, still yet to pick up a point in their maiden Serie A campaign, were thrashed 6-1.

Maurizio Sarri’s team looked in the mood as they went 4-0 up inside 32 minutes through Allan, Lorenzo Insigne, Mertens and Jose Callejon. Dries Mertens then converted two second-half penalties, the second of which came in the final minute, to ensure Dybala was not the only hat trick scorer on Sunday and maintain Napoli’s spot on top of Serie A.

Meanwhile, Inter Milan were also able to keep up their perfect start to the season thanks to a 2-0 win against lowly Crotone.

However, while they found most of their previous three games easy, they had to fight till the end until Milan Skriniar broke the deadlock eight minutes from time and Ivan Perisic sealed the result in stoppage time.

Crotone, the only team yet to score a goal in Serie A this campaign, also threatened Inter on their end with keeper Samir Handanovic having forced into pulling off two fine second-half saves to deny Aleksandar Tonev and Marcus Rohden.

Sadio Mane regrets Ederson incident but will not change play style

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Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has expressed regrets for injuring Ederson’s face at Manchester City, but insisted he would not change his playing style despite being handed a straight red for the incident.

The red card also meant that Mane will miss Liverpool’s next three domestic matches, after an appeal against the length of his suspension rejected by the Football Association.

The Senegalese International will not be available for selection in Liverpool’s Saturday’s home game against Burnley plus two trips to Leicester City, in the Carabao Cup and league next week.

Mane had since apologised to the City goalkeeper for what he says was an accidental collision, one that forced Ederson off on a stretcher after eight minutes of treatment and also required eight stitches to a gruesome facial injury, but was clear in that he would not back off in the case of another challenge against an opposing goalkeeper.

“I think the next time I will get the ball before him, I will do my best,” Mane said. “My intention was not to hurt the goalkeeper. It was bad and I wish him the recovery to come back healthy. I am happy for him that he could play again [against Feyenoord on Wednesday] and help his team.”

“It is not what I wish. I think it was a challenge for the ball. I made contact and it was not what I wanted to do so I apologised to him. It is part of football and I cannot change anything. I don’t have his number so I just posted messages for him and I think he has seen them.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool may just be able to fill the void left by Mane with the returning Philippe Coutinho, who made his first Liverpool appearance in this season against Sevilla mid-week since Pushing for a move to FC Barcelona.

“It is always nice to welcome him back because he is one of our best players,” Mane said of Coutinho. “He will not only help my game but I think he is a very important player for Liverpool and he will help us to get better and better.”

Prediction:

Liverpool (3) — (1) Burnley