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Silva hits back at Klopp's World Cup final taunt ahead of Merseyside derby

Silva hits back at Klopp's World Cup final taunt ahead of Merseyside derby

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LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri has said he considers his public spat with Kepa Arrizabalaga "closed" but has not yet decided if he will restore the goalkeeper to Chelsea's starting XI against Fulham.

Kepa was dropped for Chelsea's 2-0 win over Tottenham on Wednesday after being fined by the club for defying Sarri's attempt to substitute him in the closing stages of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.

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Sergio Ramos is a master, Wilfried Zaha knows how to win a free kick and chicanery from corners can be crucial.

When Boca Juniors and River Plate were set to meet in Argentina's most important match, Buenos Aires lost its mind, writes Wright Thompson.

Sarri said he was determined not to "kill" Kepa following the incident and still considers the £71.5 million signing his No. 1 goalkeeper, but stopped short of confirming that he will be back in place of Willy Caballero on Sunday.

"As I said after the [Spurs] match, the Kepa situation now is closed," Sarri said. "Kepa is our first-choice goalkeeper.

"But we are very happy for Willy, because now we know very well that he's able to play in a very difficult match. So I don't know: I'm sure that in one of the next two matches, Kepa will be on the pitch.

"I want to see the last two training sessions [before deciding the team for Fulham], of course, but for every player. On Sunday, we played for 130 minutes, and for 95 minutes on Wednesday.

"We need to value the recovery because we ran for 15km on Sunday on average, and the average in the last match was 12km. We need to consider that."

Chelsea have no significant injury concerns ahead of Sunday's trip to Craven Cottage, but one player unlikely to feature is Gary Cahill.

The 33-year-old's last appearance for Chelsea came against PAOK in the Europa League group stage in November, and Sarri has made it clear that Cahill does not meet the technical requirements to play at the heart of his defence.

Asked if Cahill has played his last game for Chelsea, Sarri replied: "I don't know. I know very well he's in the last year of his contract and there are some problems for a new contract.

"But for this, you have to ask the club. He is training with his teammates, of course. I know very well that in the dressing room he is very important. We use him in the right way, I think. Every player, every member of the staff, knows very well that he's very important for our dressing room."

Sarri also warned that Chelsea's preparations for Sunday's match have been complicated by Fulham's decision to sack Claudio Ranieri and replace him with Scott Parker this week.

"I'm really very sorry [for Ranieri]," Sarri said. "But I know very well his character, so I know very well that we will see him very soon on another bench.

"It was really a very difficult situation from the beginning, I think. It's not easy to be able to do the same job in two different situations, and so he was unlucky. The situation was difficult; the situation now is difficult.

"But I think they have also opportunities to save themselves, so we'll have to play a very difficult match. A derby. We need another very good performance.

"Usually, when there is a change of coach, there is a reaction. And so we have to front, also, the reaction. Then it's difficult for us to prepare the match to know their new systems and ideas. It's a difficult match."

Mauricio Pochettino has said Tottenham should be praised rather than criticised for being four points above Arsenal at this stage of the season.

Third-placed Spurs were 10 points ahead of the Gunners this time last week, eyeing the title rather than merely Champions League qualification. But after two successive defeats against Burnley and Chelsea, they are now looking over their shoulder, with fourth-placed Arsenal closing in ahead of Saturday's north London derby at Wembley.

However, Pochettino has taken issue with the suggestion that the margin should be bigger.

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Sergio Ramos is a master, Wilfried Zaha knows how to win a free kick and chicanery from corners can be crucial.

When Boca Juniors and River Plate were set to meet in Argentina's most important match, Buenos Aires lost its mind, writes Wright Thompson.

"I think the feeling is a little bit weird," he told a news conference. "It should be that everyone before the start of the season [would] sign to be in the position that we're in today, and you're [saying to] me, 'It's only four points, that Arsenal or Manchester United are below us, or Chelsea.'

"I think we're living in different realities because, with all the circumstances, Tottenham deserve big praise to be in the position that we're in at this moment of the season.

"Of course we're disappointed in the last two results but we need to keep going and trust in our team. It's going to be tough on Saturday but we believe we can deliver a good job."

Pochettino has accepted a Football Association charge of improper conduct after confronting referee Mike Dean after Saturday's defeat at Burnley and is now waiting to discover his punishment.

A touchline ban is possible, potentially against Southampton on March 9, but Pochettino feels that would be harsh.

"A ban? Why? I don't believe that it's going to happen," he said. "I don't think that's going to be fair. It was a conversation [with Dean], no? Maybe it was close but it was a conversation.

"I don't believe it's fair but I'm going to accept if they ban me and I can't be in the dugout against Southampton. It's different if it's fair or not."

Harry Kane has escaped punishment after a clash with Cesar Azpilicueta during Wednesday's defeat against Chelsea. The Spurs striker leaned his head into Azpilicueta's but referee Andre Marriner, who saw the incident, took no action and the FA have cleared Kane to face Arsenal.

"He was very professional in the action," said Pochettino. "I wasn't worried because I knew that what happened was going to happen.

"He's a player that cares about the club, the team and the result and it's normal to behave like this. The reaction is fantastic from my point of view because it's a player that cares about what's happened.

"It should be strange or different if he didn't show that character or show the message that he cares about the result, the situation, the club. That is the most important thing in my point of view."

Spurs recently won four successive matches while Kane was out of action with an ankle injury, while they have lost both games since his return, but Pochettino has scoffed at any suggestion of a correlation.

"It makes me laugh," he said. "It's unbelievable, but that's the era we're living in.

"For different circumstances we didn't win but Harry is one of the best players, not only here in Tottenham but in England, in Europe and the world. That is no doubt and there is no debate."

Tottenham will also be looking to Son Heung-Min for goals after drawing a blank in their midweek London derby defeat at Chelsea, and Pochettino has revealed he nearly signed the South Korean for Southampton when he left Hamburg in 2013.

"We were very close but in the end he was so young and his family preferred, rather than leaving Germany and the Bundesliga, to keep him there and he preferred to move to Bayer Leverkusen rather than Southampton," Pochettino said. "But we were so close."

LIVERPOOL, England -- Marco Silva has hit back at Jurgen Klopp's suggestion that Sunday's Merseyside derby is Everton's World Cup final.

Klopp said the 233rd meeting between the local rivals would take on greater significance for Everton because of the circumstances surrounding Liverpool's 1-0 win at Anfield in December.

ESPN+ is America's home for a host of professional soccer leagues from around the world, highlighted by Italy's Serie A, Major League Soccer, UEFA Nations League and English FA Cup. |
ESPN+ schedule

ESPN FC's experts ranked the best men's players and managers in world football. Check out the list.

Sergio Ramos is a master, Wilfried Zaha knows how to win a free kick and chicanery from corners can be crucial.

When Boca Juniors and River Plate were set to meet in Argentina's most important match, Buenos Aires lost its mind, writes Wright Thompson.

Silva, however, believes Liverpool celebrated Divock Origi's 96th-minute winner as if they had won the World Cup themselves as Klopp was fined £8,000 by the FA for his reaction to the goal.

"I didn't see [a] big, big difference," Silva said of December's derby at a news conference on Friday. "I managed my first derby with Liverpool in December and what I felt was a special match for both teams.

"They celebrated that lucky goal -- a lucky moment they had in the last seconds of the match -- [like it] was a final of World Cup for us and to them. They celebrated more or less the same. I didn't see a big difference."

Everton last won a Merseyside derby in October 2010, having failed to beat Liverpool in their last 18 attempts.

"We have to be ourselves, to believe in ourselves," Silva added. "It's a long time, a long period without a win for us as a football club. That shows it's a difficult match.

"If we can perform on the level we performed last December it will be very good because in that performance we are always close to winning the match.

"If I can sign now to perform in the same way, I will sign straight [away] because that means we will be really close to winning the match. Because in that match we deserved something more."

Georginio Wijnaldum is expecting a "big fight" at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon, with Liverpool sitting one point clear at the top of the Premier League.

The fixture has produced 21 red cards in the Premier League era -- more than any other clash -- and Klopp wants his players to channel the intensity of the derby in the correct way.

"We always want to be very, very, very aggressive, but in the best football way," he told a news conference. "That means being ready to hurt yourself and not the other guy. It's a ball we fight for, not a bone or whatever."

Meanwhile, Liverpool's Roberto Firmino is in contention to feature on the weekend, having sat out the midweek thrashing of Watford due to an ankle injury.

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