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.

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET

UCL roundup: Roma flounders against Atleti, PSG nets seven

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PSG-Celtic hogged most of the goals on Wednesday, but the action was wild across the day’s UEFA Champions League slate.

[ MORE: Celtic shocks PSG early, but Neymar and Co. take over ]

Group B now knows both of its sides that will advance into the Round of 16, but there will be plenty of drama on Matchday 6 as several other groups sort themselves out.

With PSG already knowing it would advance, Bayern Munich joined the French giants today after picking up a 2-1 win against Anderlecht. That didn’t stop the Parisians from putting on a show though, as Neymar and Co. put up a 7-1 drubbing of Celtic at the Parc des Princes.

That brings PSG’s goal total up to 24 in the group stage, which has well-surpassed Dortmund’s mark in the 2016/17 campaign (21).

Meanwhile, tight races in Groups A, C and D will see squads fighting in early December for the right to continue in this season’s competition.

Antoine Griezmann scored a massive goal for Atletico on the day to give Madrid side a 1-0 win over Roma, keeping the club’s UCL hopes alive. Atleti now sits just two points behind the Giallorossi with one match remaining.

Elsewhere, Juventus and Sporting CP will have an intriguing final matchday as the two sides currently sit one point between the other for the second position in Group D.


Group A

Basel 1-0 Manchester United
CSKA Moscow 2-0 Benfica

Table

1. Man United — 11 points  (ADVANCED)
2. Basel — 9 pts +4 GD
3. CSKA — 9 pts -1 GD
4. Benfica — 0 pts (ELIMINATED)

Whichever team finishes higher (CSKA or Basel) will reach UCL Round of 16, while other team goes to Europa League.


Group B

Anderlecht 1-2 Bayern Munich
PSG 7-1 Celtic

Table

1. PSG — 15 pts (ADVANCED)
2. Bayern Munich — 12 pts (ADVANCED)
3. Celtic — 3 pts
4. Anderlecht — 0 pts (ELIMINATED)

Celtic and Anderlecht are both in contention for the third position, which would send either of them to the UEL knockout round.


Group C

Qarabag 0-4 Chelsea — RECAP
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Roma

Table

1. Chelsea — 10 pts (ADVANCED)
2. Roma — 8 pts
3. Atletico Madrid — 6 pts
4. Qarabag — 2 pts (ELIMINATED)

Either Roma or Atleti will advance on Matchday 6, with the former taking on Qarabag and the Spanish side facing Chelsea.


Group D

Juventus 0-0 Barcelona
Sporting CP 3-0 Olympiakos

Table

1. Barcelona — 11 pts (ADVANCED)
2. Juventus — 8 pts
3. Sporting CP — 7 pts
4. Olympiakos — 1 pt (ELIMINATED)

Juventus will take on Olympiakos on Matchday 6, while Sporting faces Barcelona for the right to move into the Round of 16.