Adel Taraabt is back in the Premier League as Fulham secure loan deal

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Whew!

For a moment there I though we might go through the 2013-14 Premier League season without Adel Taraabt.

Would’ve been a darn shame.

Fortunately, Fulham have came to our rescue – and Adel’s as well – as the West London club has completed the loan signing of the Moroccan playmaker from Queens Park Rangers.

For the Cottagers, snapping up Taraabt represents a major coup as one of the club’s biggest downfalls last year was the absence of a link play between the midfield and forward lines.

And we’re all familiar with Dimitar Berbatov’s famous advice: Keep calm and pass me the ball.

In Taraabt, Fulham have just that, a highly skilled link-up man who can both drive the attack and slip the cheeky pass that Berbatov craves.

Taraabt’s loan deal to Craven Cottage also represents a reunion with Martin Jol, who coached the attacking midfielder during his younger, more troubled days at at Tottenham Hotspur. After leaving Spurs in 2007, Jol examined the possibility of signing Taarabt when the Dutchman was the boss at Hamburg and Ajax, but a deal was never completed.

Now, six years removed from their time at White Hart Lane, Jol and Taraabt are reunited.

“I like his creativity,” Jol said  following Monday night’s friendly draw with Real Betis. “Sometimes it comes off when he scores a lot of goals and I think he was involved in 40 goals [during QPR’s 2010-11 Championship promotion season].”

Jol also spoke about his skill in dealing with players commonly sited to have attitude quirks. “It is like [Fulham striker] Dimitar Berbatov – sometimes these fantastic talents will be blamed, but I hope to find a way to gel him in together with the boys we’ve got.”

Jol made no secret about the bottom line with Taraabt: “I think he can do a hell of a job for us because he is a tremendous player on the ball.”

Few will take issue with Taraabt’s other-worldly skill and if Jol can gel him with the rest of the squad, the Moroccan could be exactly what the Cottagers need to improve on last year’s 12th place finish.

Taarabt is Jol’s sixth signing this summer after moves for goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, defenders Sascha Riether and Fernando Amorebieta, midfielder Derek Boateng and forward Ange-Freddy Plumain.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET