Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Newcastle United

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  • They’ve met 164 times in all competitions, Everton winning 65, Newcastle 64 and 35 draws
  • Everton haven’t lost at Goodison Park in 2013, (8-0-3)
  • The Toffees have averaged the most possession in the Premier League this season (59.4%)

Everton stand alone in the Premier League, as the only team still unbeaten.

But will they come undone at home to Newcastle (3pm ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) on Monday at Goodison Park?

Roberto Martinez has overseen a seamless transition from the David Moyes era, as Everton have won two and drawn three of their opening five games, in a solid start to the 2013-14 season. And they will be hoping to extend their terrific home form against a Newcastle side who’ve only won once in their last 21 visits to Merseyside, and do not travel well.

Alan Pardew’s men have only won three of their last 22 away games in the Premier League, and after a disappointing home defeat to Hull City last weekend, the Magpies need a good response.

The last time these two meet was last season in January, as Everton beat Newcastle 2-1 at St. James’ Park thanks to a stunning free kick from Leighton Baines.

In term of teams news, Gareth Barry is in-line to make his 500th Premier League appearance if selected by Martinez, with only 10 other players reaching that landmark in PL history. While Darron Gibson is hoping to overcome a knee injury. For Newcastle, Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi could  be fit to return, by Argentine winger Jonas Gutierrez is still out with a hamstring injury.

What they’re saying

Roberto Martinez on Newcastle lack of summer signings: “They made their business early with the loan of Remy and after that they didn’t sign anyone. It seemed from the outside that they didn’t do good business, but the reality is the squad has been strong since January. They made a lot of good signings and that group of players are settled. I see a really good balance between experience and organization, but then a real threat with the likes of Remy, (Papiss) Cisse, (Hatem) Ben Arfa, (Yohan) Cabaye. You’re talking about top, top footballers who are in a good moment in their careers and full internationals. You take away the Manchester City game and they’ve been performing at a very, very good level, so it would be foolish for anyone to underestimate the potential of this Newcastle side.”

Alan Pardew on the importance of captain Fabio Coloccini: “I don’t know how to put that into words, really. He is very, very important, a very steady, calming influence. Last year when he wasn’t playing, there was something missing from the team. That’s why it’s so important that he stayed, and hopefully he will stay for a lot longer than this year as well. We have got a new back four this year because Mapou has played all year, and Colo, Mathieu and Davide (Santon),” said Pardew. That’s been our back four, with (goalkeeper) Tim (Krul), quite settled. Thank goodness, and long may that continue.”

Prediction

Everton’s home record has been immense in recent years, and Newcastle’s away form has been woeful. But let’s throw the form book out the window, because who thought West Brom would beat Manchester United and Man City would lose at Aston Villa over the weekend? But with a fired up crowd under the lights at Goodison Park, Martinez’ side should thrive and attack Newcastle from the start. I can see a tight win for the Toffees, or maybe the Magpies will nick a draw. Nah, Everton win.

UCL wrap: Napoli, Celtic win big; Nwakaeme volleys beauty (video)

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A day after three of five road sides felt good with their work in first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round, it was the hosts time to celebrate good results.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL first legs ]

Home sides in Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Israel posted wins. Spanish side Sevilla did manage a road win.

Napoli 2-0 Nice

Chances and even possession was at a premium for the visitors, and Napoli found its breakthrough from one of the more overlooked gems in the world. Dries Mertens scored in the first half, his sixth career UCL goal, and Jorginho converted a second half penalty to give Napoli a foot in the group stage.

Adding insult was a pair of red cards in the 80th minute, the first to Vincent Koziello for a dangerous tackle (it was a harsh call) and Alassane Plea was given a second yellow for protesting the sending off.

Mertens’ goal was smooth as silk:

Celtic 5-0 Astana

A pair of Scott Sinclair goals joined an Astana own goal as the Bhoys went a long way towards avoiding the tight tie that made the last round tricky.

Olympiacos 2-1 Rijeka

Heber gave the visitors a halftime lead in the 42nd minute, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe equalized in the 66th minute to minimize the damage for Olympiacos, who would go on to win.

Istanbul Basaksehir 1-2 Sevilla

Remember Eljero Elia? The Dutchman’s on his eighth club and third since leaving Southampton after just a half season, but he’s given his Turkish side hope against mighty Sevilla after Sergio Escudero gave the Spanish side an early lead and Wissam Ben Yedder nabbed the winner.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-1 Maribor

Goals from Anthony Nwakaeme and Shir Tzedek boosted the Israeli hosts to a come-from-behind win.

In the case of the former, it was a beauty:

Brighton breaks transfer record (again) with Izquierdo (video)

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Brighton and Hove Albion have broken its transfer record.

A week after setting a new club standard with the signing of Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven, the Gulls have signed electric Colombian attacker Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge for over $15 million.

[ MORE: Matuidi medical at Juve ]

Izquierdo averaged a goal every other match for Brugge last season and broke through to the Colombian national team with two caps this summer, scoring in a friendly against Cameroon.

With Propper and Izquierdo, manager Chris Hughton has two more playmakers who can better set the table for a strike corps that has been questioned at the Premier League level.

Brighton lost to Man City 2-0 on Saturday and next faces Leicester City at King Power Stadium.

Matuidi having a medical at Juventus ahead of move from PSG

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi was having a medical at Juventus on Wednesday ahead of a potential move to the Serie A club.

Juventus said that Matuidi arrived at Turin airport in the afternoon and was undergoing tests.

Juventus will reportedly pay PSG 20 million euros ($23 million) plus bonuses for the 30-year-old Matuidi, who had a year left on his contract with the French club.

[ MORE: Wenger issues updates on Alexis, Ox, Wilshere ]

PSG, which is also trying to balance the books after buying Neymar for 222 million euros, could not afford to lose Matuidi on a free transfer.

Matuidi played nearly 300 games for PSG in all competitions after joining from Saint-Etienne in 2011.

After a difficult first season, he quickly became an integral part of the team for successive managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.

He flourished from a largely defensive midfielder to a robust, tireless runner with an eye for goal and an enormous work-rate.

Overcoming some technical deficiencies in his game, Matuidi gradually earned himself a place in the France lineup and became a key player at the 2014 World Cup and last year’s European Championship.

At the beginning of last season, after Blanc was fired and replaced by Unai Emery, he expressed a desire to leave PSG and already wanted to join Juventus. But the club blocked his move, considering him too important to leave, and he stayed for another season.

Altogether, Matuidi has scored 33 goals for PSG in 295 appearances, becoming a well-respected player among fans and teammates alike, often taking a public stance when others would not and when tensions arose within the club.

In all, Matuidi has won four league titles, three French Cups and four League Cups with PSG.

This story has been corrected to show that Neymar’s fee was 222 million euros, not 220 million euros.

Furious Cristiano Ronaldo responds to five-game ban

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the Spanish soccer federation after his five game ban for pushing a referee in the back was upheld.

Ronaldo, 32, pushed the ref after he was shown a second yellow card in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at Barcelona on Sunday.

It capped an eventful El Clasico for Ronaldo who arrived in the second half as a sub, then scored a stunner to put Real 2-1 up.

He received his first yellow for taking off his shirt and holding it up to the Nou Camp crowd to mock Lionel Messi for doing the same in a goal celebration in April at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldo then received a second yellow for going down in the box under a challenge.

In an Instagram post the Real Madrid forward had the following to say about the decision which sees him banned for the second leg ag the Bernabeu on Wednesday as well as Real’s next four games.

“It seems to me exaggerated and ridiculous, this is called persecution.”