Ronald Koeman

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Europa League: Arsenal hang 6 on BATE; youthful Everton impress

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in Europe’s “other” club competition, the Europa League…

[ MORE: Key battles in this weekend’s Manchester derby ]

Arsenal 6-0 BATE Borisov

Having already locked up the top spot in Group H, Arsene Wenger could have continued on playing a youth-heavy side in Europe, but the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere (perpetually), Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Debuchy are all either working their respective ways back from injury or needing minutes for fitness purposes, thus spelling an extremely tough night for Belarusian side BATE.

Debuchy, Walcott and Wilshere each scored in the first half to make it 3-0 at halftime, the first of which came very early on and in stunning fashion from the Frenchman.

An own goal six minutes into the second half made it 4-0, followed a penalty kick from Giroud and an exclamation-point sixth from Mohamed Elneny in the 64th and 74th minutes, respectively, for 6-0.

Apollon Limassol 0-3 Everton

Everton’s 2017-18 Premier League season has been, by their own lofty standards and expectations, a disaster. Now that Sam Allardyce has replaced Ronald Koeman as permanent manager — though he wasn’t in attendance on Thursday, due to a previously schedule medical appointment — perhaps the Toffees are set to hit their stride and pick up a run of positive results.

The most encouraging part of Thursday’s thrashing of Cypriot side Limassol was the youth which did the majority of the damage. A pair of 20-year-olds — Ademola Lookman (times two) and Nikola Vlasic — got the goals for a side which also featured 18-year-old Fraser Hornby at forward, 19-year-old Beni Baningime at right back, 18-year-old Morgan Feeney at center back and 21-year-old Harry Charsley at left back.

The future appears to be quite bright for Everton if: 1) they can survive this season, and 2) Allardyce gives the youngsters the games they need to develop into PL players.

Rijeka 2-0 AC Milan

Milan’s disastrous season continued with a defeat away to Croatian side Rijeka on Thursday. After spending wildly in the summer, the Rossoneri have struggled to a ninth-place standing in Serie A and largely limped their way to progression from Group D in the Europa League.

Thursday’s team was a strong mixture of big-money names and promising youngsters, and still, Gennaro Gattuso is seeking his first win as manager after two games in charge.

Elsewhere in Europa League

Villarreal 0-1 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Zorya 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Real Sociedad 1-3 Zenit St. Petersburg
Zulte-Waregem 3-2 Lazio
Atalanta 1-0 Lyon
Hoffenheim 1-1 Ludogorets Razgrad
Hertha Berlin 1-1 Oestersunds FK
Crvena Zvezda 1-0 Cologne
Vitesse 1-0 Nice
Marseille 0-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Sam Allardyce named new Everton manager

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Big Sam is back in the game.

Sam Allardyce, 63, has signed an 18-month contract to take charge of Everton who had been without a permanent boss since Ronald Koeman was sacked last month.

David Unsworth (who will step back into his role as academy director and U-23 coach) had been leading the Toffees on an interim boss but following their 4-0 win against West Ham on Wednesday, Allardyce has taken over permanently and he was in the stands to watch that win.

It is believed that Sammy Lee and Craig Shakespeare will arrive as Allardyce’s assistant coaches at Goodison Park, with Everton currently in 13th place in the Premier League table with just four wins from their opening 14 games of the season.

“Everton is a unique club and I feel really enthused and energized to come in as manager. Obviously the club has gone through a difficult spell and hopefully I can put that behind us as quickly as possible,” Allardyce said.

Following his departure as England boss in September 2016 after just one game in charge due to being embroiled in a undercover newspaper scandal, Allardyce took over Crystal Palace last December and kept them up before leaving them at the end of last season, pointing towards a decision to slow down and step away from the game.

It didn’t last long.

His proud record of keeping teams in the Premier League and not being relegated during spells with Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United, Sunderland and then Palace meant that Everton and other PL strugglers were keen to get Big Sam on board.

The Toffees have turned to an experienced head to keep them away from the bottom three and Allardyce’s appointment on an 18-month deal suggests that he is not the man to lead Everton in the long run, but his job will be to steady the ship and try and finish in the top 10 this season.

With Roy Hodgson landing at Crystal Palace and Alan Pardew taking over at West Brom, the same old faces keep getting jobs in the PL.

Allardyce has certainly done alright after his decision to step away from Palace and rebuilding this Everton squad may be a little easier than most people think. Getting them solid defensively will be his main challenge in the short-term but they certainly have an array of attacking talents to hurt opponents.

Allardyce, Everton finalizing terms; Unsworth in charge vs. West Ham

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After 37 days without a manager, Everton have finally settled on a new boss: Sam Allardyce is in the final stages of finalizing terms with the club and will be named the next Toffees manager in the next 24 to 48 hours.

[ MORE: Pardew named new West Brom boss ]

Everton made the announcement on Wednesday, hours before the scheduled kickoff of their Premier League clash with fellow strugglers West Ham United (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) at Goodison Park. The Toffees, who fired Ronald Koeman on Oct. 23 and have been led by interim boss David Unsworth ever since, enter the unlikely relegation battle in 17th place; West Ham sit 18th. Unsworth, who has amassed a record of 1W-1D-2L in the PL, will remain in charge against the Hammers.

In the days following Koeman’s departure, Allardyce was quick to withdraw his name from consideration for the job, but as Everton grew more and more desperate — after failing to land Burnley’s Sean Dyche or Watford’s Marco Silva, among others perhaps — owner Farhad Moshiri returned to one of the more obvious candidates this week as it became more and more apparent that the club must quickly pick itself or face a genuine relegation fight between now and May.

Allardyce has long been lauded a master battler of relegation, but two questions come to mind when considering that reputation: 1) how did it get this bad, that a relegation specialist is required; and, more importantly, 2) assuming Allardyce keeps them up, is he the one to rebuild this thing from the ground up starting in May?

Unsworth rips into Everton players after big loss

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David Unsworth loves Everton, but hates the performance of his rudderless team.

The caretaker manager and longtime Toffee wasn’t at a loss for words after a 4-1 shellacking at the hands of Southampton on Sunday

“It’s killing me,” he said.

[ RECAP: Saints 4-1 Everton ]

Unsworth has called the Everton job his dream job, but the Toffees have failed to do much of anything since cutting ties with Ronald Koeman.

They remain just two points clear of the drop zone. From the BBC:

“Confidence is as low as it has ever been. The club has to decide and the sooner that happens the better. The players need this resolving. What I see is a happy squad but I’d rather have an unhappy squad that’s winning. I want what’s best for the club and I hope the players do too.”

In other words, Everton’s squad is a sated bunch despite the losses. Somewhere, Koeman is smirking (He loves a smirk, though, to be fair).

Many fearful Everton supporters and neutral pundits have called for Sam Allardyce due to his record of never being relegated, but if a club feels it has to go with a domestic boss with a record might we suggest Tony Pulis? At least there’d be less “me first” talk after games…

PL Sunday preview: Man City go for 11 straight

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Manchester City’s bid to run away with the Premier League title continues on Sunday with a visit to one of the feel-good stories of the still-young season. Elsewhere, Burnley host Arsenal in a battle for the top-four (yes, really), and a pair of severe underachievers do battle at St. Mary’s Stadium.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool drop points; Manchester rejoices ]

Southampton vs. Everton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

It’s still early in the 2017-18 PL season, but no side has displayed levels of disarray capable of rivaling that of (permanent) manager-less Everton — at least, not yet. After firing Ronald Koeman on Oct. 23, David Unsworth was put in charge on an interim basis. Burnley’s Sean Dyche was coveted and unsuccessfully hired, as was Watford’s Marco Silva. Here the Toffees sit, a month later, 16th in the league table and just 12 points to their name from 12 games, with owner Farhad Moshiri publicly claiming a new appointment is imminent, and Unsworth completely in the dark.

“Look, what will be will be,” he said this week. “I’m a proud man, I’ve stood proud for the past five weeks and I will continue to do that until someone tells me otherwise. I was only made aware of this development as I came off the training pitch, and if it is the case that we are close to getting a manger, I am delighted. I just want what’s best for the club. They asked me to stand in and I was pleased to do it. There were never any guarantees.”

Sunday’s opponent, Southampton, meanwhile, have come under plenty criticism of their own these first three-plus months of the season. Same as under Claude Puel last year, Saints have struggled to create chances and score goals under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino — to the tune of nine goals in 12 games, a -5 goal differential and 14th place in the league table. A win on Sunday could vault them as high as ninth. Pellegrino insists his employment is safe.

INJURIES: Southampton — OUT: Mario Lemina (ankle) | Everton — OUT: Oumar Niasse (suspension), James McCarthy (hamstring), Ross Barkley (hamstring), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Maarten Stekelenburg (groin); RETURNING: Morgan Schneiderlin (toe)


Burnley vs. Arsenal — 9 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

For the first time in what feels like decades, the football club known as Arsenal has an almost entirely clean bill of health — only Santi Cazorla (out since October 2016) and an ill Theo Walcott, who already lives on the periphery of the squad anyway are unavailable for Sunday’s trip to Turf Moor.

On top of their newfound fitness, are also in the midst of a particularly purple patch of results in recent weeks — last weekend’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur erased memories of the defeat away to league-leading Manchester City. In total, the Gunners (22 points) have won six of their last nine games in the PL and would leapfrog both Liverpool and Tottenham to go fourth with a win on Sunday.

The Clarets, meanwhile, are the surprise team of the season thus far. Level on points with Arsenal, Dyche’s side could also finish the weekend by occupying a top-four place. With three straight wins and just two defeats all season, it’s no wonder Burnley have been approached time and again by “bigger” clubs in an effort to lure Dyche away from Turf Moor. Dyche is pleased with Burnley’s place in the PL pecking order, but his focus remains solely on reaching the 40-point mark, at which point everything else will be a cherry on top.

“The league table is to be enjoyed and I’ll probably do that for an hour before I start thinking about the next one,” he said after last week’s win over Swansea City. “We know it’s a big challenge going forward, and 40 points is the marker, so we look to the next challenge that comes our way and that’s Arsenal.”

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Tom Heaton (shoulder), Jonathan Walters (knee), Dean Marney (fitness) | Arsenal — OUT: Theo Walcott (illness), Santi Cazorla (achilles)


Huddersfield Town vs. Man City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

96 days have elapsed since Man City last dropped a point, in any competition. Since their 1-1 draw with Everton way back on Aug. 21 — game no. 2 of the 2017-18 season — Pep Guardiola‘s side has won 10 straight in the PL, as well as five straight in the UEFA Champions League, and another two in the League Cup — altogether, 17 straight victories for the runaway PL leaders.

Sunday’s trip to take on newly promoted Huddersfield affords the Sky Blues to make it 11 in a row in the PL, and re-establish their eight-point lead in the title race after Manchester United closed the gap to just five with a victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. It’s not just the results which have been so dominant for Man City, but the scorelines by which they’ve been achieved: 37-6 combined score during the 10-game winning streak; six clean sheets during the run; and, they have trailed for all of eight of a possible 900 minutes.

As for Huddersfield, this first season in the PL has been a stomach-churning roller-coaster ride for David Wagner‘s side. After winning their opening two games of the season, the Terriers went winless in their next six (three draws), followed by alternating wins and losses each of the last four weeks, including the shocking slaying of Man United, destruction at the hands of Liverpool and even worse from Bournemouth. For all the peaks and valleys, they’ll gladly accept their 10th-place standing a dozen games into the campaign, while remaining cognizant of the fact there’s still a million miles to travel in their bid to stave off relegation.

INJURIES: Huddersfield — OUT: Michael Hefele (achilles), Philip Billing (ankle), Kasey Palmer (fitness), Jon Gorenc-Stankovic (knee) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (knee)