Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Everton

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•Everton have won four of their last five Premier League away matches.

•Leicester City have failed to win any of their last five Premier League matches on the opening weekend (0-2-3), (W-L-D).  Everton have only won three of their last 11 opening-day fixtures (0-7-1).

•Everton had a winless 2014 preseason, while Leicester was unbeaten, including a 1-0 victory over the Toffees. 

•Leicester have not beaten Everton in nine attempts since a 2-0 Premier League home win in August 1998, but seven of the ensuing nine matches were drawn. 

Tomorrow, Everton will battle newly promoted Leicester City at King Power Stadium, in each team’s first Premier League fixture of the 2014-15 season. Tune into NBCSN at 9:45 a.m. ET for the start of the match’s coverage, as Everton boss Roberto Martinez looks to build off of a promising 2013-14 campaign that saw his club finish fifth place for Europa League qualification.

Leicester City, meanwhile, is the reigning titleholder in the Championship, the second-lowest English football division, after manager Nigel Pearson failed to seal a promotion for two-straight years. Although their main goal is to avoid relegation, the Foxes are striving to jump into the lower-mid table. Their offseason was a success, notably because of the club-record signing of Argentine striker Leonardo Ulloa for £8 million. Last year, Ulloa notched a 23-goal season at Brighton & Hove Albion following a £2 million transfer from Spanish side Almeria. City also acquired a slew of veterans and youngsters on free transfers: Louis Rowley, Matthew Upson, GK Ben Hamer, Marc Albrighton, and Jack Barmby.

Nonetheless, Everton’s dealings this offseason was more impressive, as the Toffees were able to finalize stays with some of their most important players. Striker Romelu Lukaku transferred from Chelsea for a club-record transfer of $29 million, while youngster Ross Barkley inked a four-year deal, and Gareth Barry signed a three-year contract on the heels of his release from Manchester City. Plus, the four-year extension of Seamus Coleman, believed to be one of the best fullbacks in the BPL, and 20-year-old John Stones, Everton looks primed to make headway in the Premier League for years to come.

Match Absences/Inclusions

Anthony Knockaert has fought past an ankle injury. Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton, though, probably won’t be risked with respective thigh and groin injuries. Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku have fitness issues, and Martinez will make the game day decision on them. Additionally, Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu could debut.

What they’re saying

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson on Martinez and his hopes for the squad in the Premier League, via the team’s official website: “I’ve a lot of respect for Roberto Martinez. At Wigan and Swansea he was a man who goes out his job in a very defined way. He has his own values and it is very interesting that he has been recruited for what he is……I’m not sure how exactly people think we’ll do. It’s an unknown quantity. We can utilise that. We have to play the game, not the occasion. It should be a great occasion for the club.”

Roberto  Martinez on transfer window moves, per Yahoo Sport UK“In football you always have to try to use the transfer window to your advantage and see if there is anything that can help the team be prepared until the next window opens. We are always looking at that. In terms of the squad that we have, I’m delighted with what we achieved [this summer] and the continuity that we have got. That will allow us to carry on working on what we did last season. In terms of being desperate to bring someone in, the answer is no, we’re not.”

Prediction

In a perfect world, the odds favor Everton, and they should win this game conformably. It’s opening day, though, and even top-tier  side’s can struggled against weaker opponents. So, even though Everton should win by at least a goal, perhaps ending with a 2-1 scoreline, I would watch this one. It has upset potential.

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

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On a single-digit Tuesday that severely limited the attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC dueled in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Jonathan Osorio’s second half goal put the Reds in front and Sebastian Giovinco had a goal and an assist and the visitors take a 2-0 decision back to Ontario.

The best chance of a preseason quality first half saw Dominique Badji flub the best chance of the stage into the feet of Alex Bono.

Toronto took the lead, nabbing the away goal through Osorio’s header of a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And the Atomic Ant got on the board with a goal of his own off an Auro assist with 17 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Georgia teen heading to Schalke ]

Tuesday’s other first leg saw Herediano and Tigres play to a 2-2 draw in Costa Rica, with the Liga MX visitors taking a pair of away goals but shocked by a pair of stoppage time concessions.

Francisco Meza scored in the 15th minute and Lucas Zelarayan seemingly put it to bed with 15 minutes to play.

But Yendrick Ruiz converted a 90th minute penalty kick before ex-DC United forward Jairo Arrieta did this ahead of the Feb. 22 second leg in Mexico.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”