RelatedPosts Lampard: I still have confidence in Tomori Pirlo not out to copy anyone after Juventus’ comfortable opening win Mane double eases Liverpool to win over 10-man Chelsea Liverpool vs. Everton Venue:Anfield Stadium Kick off: 5:01PMLiverpool will look to replicate their astonishing Premier League form in the FA Cup when they meet local rivals Everton in the third round this afternoon. Jurgen Klopp’s men are cruising at the top of the table, while the Toffees are enjoying a resurgence of form under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield United handed Liverpool the incredible record of going a full calendar year without losing a game in the Premier League. The result leaves the Merseyside club 13 points ahead of closest challengers Leicester City with a game in hand, leading many to believe that the title is already destined for Anfield. However, while Liverpool’s resurgence in the league and in Europe has been remarkable, such success has not replicated itself in the FA Cup during the Klopp era. Since the 2015-16 campaign, Liverpool have not gone beyond the fourth round, exiting the competition at that stage on three occasions and losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round last term. Having not won the accolade since 2006, supporters will hope that their team places greater emphasis on going deeper in this competition – starting with a tantalising meeting with their biggest rivals under the lights today. For Everton, it was their last visit to Anfield in December – a 5-2 defeat – that put the nail in the coffin for former manager Marco Silva, who was sacked soon after. Since then, however, the Toffees have discovered a sense of rhythm that seemed to elude Silva and his players from the moment the 2019-20 campaign kicked off. Following a galvanising victory over Chelsea under caretaker boss Darren Ferguson, the club secured the services of Champions League winner Ancelotti in what must be viewed as a masterful piece of recruitment. The Italian has exerted an immediate impact, recording a pair of dominant victories over Burnley and Newcastle United ahead of performing impressively during a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad. Indeed, Ancelotti will point to the organisation and energy of that performance as a blueprint for how Everton must negotiate the trip to Anfield this weekend. Liverpool possible XI: Adrian, Hoever, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Salah, Firmino, Elliot. Everton possible XI: Pickford, Sidibe, Holgate, Keane, Digne, Davies, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Kean.Tags: Carlo AncelottiFA CupJurgen KloppLiverpool
JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoJohn Clay was frustrated after he lost a fumble in the first quarter Saturday. He did a good job making up for it.After a 27-yard run on Wisconsin’s game-tying drive, Clay took three straight carries in overtime, the last of which scored the touchdown that allowed Philip Welch to kick the game-winning extra point.“They gave me the nod to finish the game off, and that’s what I did,” Clay said.“They just kept feeding me the rock and they knew I was going to get positive yards.”Clay was put in the game to start the overtime after P.J. Hill suffered an injury on his two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.“I woulda went in,” Hill said, “but I didn’t want to put my team in a tough situation.”With Clay in the game, the Badgers kept the ball on the ground.“What we wanted to do was play basic power football,” Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said, “and John, for those runs, was probably a better option at that time for us.”In the first quarter, Clay had a lost a fumble on the Badgers’ opening possession that led to a Mustang score.“I had to make up for that fumble,” Clay said, “so every opportunity I got a made a positive out of it.”“They told me they was going to need me, so I just stepped up and did my job.”Despite the injury, Hill was fine watching Clay finish off the game.“He was able to make plays when it was time to make plays,” Hill said. “It was a real crucial situation, and he made something out of it.”Clay finished the game with 107 yards and two touchdowns while Hill finished with 61 yards and a pair of scores. Toon scores first touchdownIt may have been unconventional, but Badger wide receiver Nick Toon scored his first career touchdown late in the first half.Toon had a ball thrown his way at the Mustang goal line, but the ball was knocked high in the air after two Cal Poly defenders converged on him. The freshman stayed with the ball and caught it on the rebound in the end zone.“It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but it feels good to get the first one, and hopefully there are many more to come,” Toon said. “I think it hit the defensive backs helmet — I tried to jump up and grab it and it bounced in the air and I tried to concentrate on it and come down on it.”Bielema was impressed with the play.“Tremendous concentration by Nick Toon to close out the half there when the ball got deflected and he stayed with it and ended up with a touchdown,” Bielema said.Toon finished the game with two receptions for 40 yards and the touchdown. He did miss on a fourth-down catch in the fourth quarter that gave Cal Poly the ball in good field position.“I should’ve had it — it was kind of a weird ball,” Toon said. “I should’ve caught it.” Bowl location still up in the airWith the win, the Badgers are now 7-5 on the season, but the team isn’t sure yet which bowl game it will end up receiving an invitation from to close out the season.Bielema said he didn’t yet have information on where the team would be heading.“I told the guys in the locker room, ‘All I know is we won the football game, and that’s definitely not going to hurt us,’” he said.
Lane Kiffin knows it won’t be easy. Not on Saturday. Not against a team that has won each of its last 10 games by at least 25 points.USC’s second-year coach understands his team, winners of its last two games at California and Notre Dame by a combined 35-point margin, faces a challenge and beating No. 4 Stanford (7-0, 5-0) remains another issue.“Somehow they have found a way to be playing even better than they were last year,” Kiffin said.Last year Stanford finished 12-1 overall and No. 4 in the Associated Press top-25 poll.Riding a modest three-game winning streak, No. 20 USC (6-1, 3-1) hosts the Cardinal on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a nationally televised primetime showdown.“Stanford’s one of the best teams in the country,” senior linebacker Chris Galippo said. “This is one of the few games that has a lot of hype, but I think it deserves every bit of it.”At least one reason for the added attention might be the pair of quarterbacks scheduled to be on display Saturday night. Stanford boasts the Heisman Trophy frontrunner in Andrew Luck, who has completed more than 70 percent of his passes for 1,888 yards, 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions through seven games this season.“I don’t know how you could find a more efficient quarterback that’s ever played college football,” Kiffin said of the third-year starter. “For two straight years, he has been phenomenal on third down and you look at this year, they’re 100 percent in the red zone. That’s hard to do.”Similarly, USC’s junior signal caller, Matt Barkley, has amassed a rather impressive statline of his own with 2,006 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.Barkley has been aided by the play of his wide receivers: sophomore Robert Woods and freshman Marqise Lee, who have hauled in eight and four touchdowns, respectively, this season. Woods, who has been battling a sprained ankle all week, and Lee, who is dealing with a sprained shoulder, have been hampered by injuries in recent weeks but are expected to play against Stanford.Though much of the talk surrounding Saturday’s matchup has centered on Luck and Barkley, the running game could prove a determining point.In its last game against then-No. 25 Washington, the Cardinal finished with a school-record 446 rushing yards in a 65-21 rout of the Huskies. And currently, only 16 teams average more yards on the ground per game than Stanford, which averages 219 per contest.Despite that “run-first” mentality, only Houston (345) has scored more points than Stanford (340) this season.“That’s so unusual — to find a team that is so run-heavy,” Kiffin said of the Cardinal’s prolific offense. “Usually because the clock keeps running and because of the time of possession, you can’t score as many points.”Three weeks ago, it would have seemed as if USC’s chances of stopping Stanford, which has given up just two sacks all season, would be near-impossible. In an Oct. 1 game against Arizona, which had just one win at the time, the defense allowed 41 points, marking the first time in program history it had given up more than 40 points in consecutive games — it gave up 43 at Arizona State the week before.But in its last two contests —against Cal and Notre Dame — USC has allowed two offensive touchdowns and has forced eight turnovers. Additionally, after giving up 41 rushing yards against the Fighting Irish, USC’s defense ranks 11th nationally in rushing yards per game.USC’s own rushing attack has come on strong as of late. Against Notre Dame, with junior tailback Curtis McNeal serving as the team’s starter, the Trojans finished with 219 rushing yards — the most they have had in any game this season. Against the Irish, McNeal had arguably his best game as a Trojan, rushing for 188 yards on 24 carries.“I think just finally — midway through the season, having a consistent offensive line really helped,” junior left tackle Matt Kalil said. “We have to have the same focus we had against Notre Dame.”Last year’s game, however, was all about offense, as both teams combined for 72 points and 976 total yards in the Cardinal’s two-point victory. The game ended on a 30-yard field goal from kicker Nate Whitaker as time expired.As Barkley knows well, whoever ends up with the ball last might leave with a victory.“It really comes down to who controls the ball better — who manages the game, who doesn’t turn the ball over and who can drive it down the field and hold the ball for long periods of time,” Barkley said.Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will be televised by ABC.