Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Early. Encouraging. Everton.

Leave a comment

It’s early. We know.

But after five games, the signs for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton appear very, very good.

[ MORE: Center backs bigger in Texas ]

Their squad and spirit has the feel of some of the better upstart seasons we’ve seen in Europe: Grizzled veterans, ambitious additions, and young players who don’t know any better.

Start with adding three players who were arguably the brightest spots on their team’s dark 2015-16 campaigns: Swansea’s Ashley Williams, Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie, and Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye. Point of fact: starting a PL team with this trio from scratch would feel like a victory. Adding it to a corps is impressive.

One more time, for the road, how good is Gueye? Good enough that this feels accurate.

Toss in a mix of still growing young stars, whether established (Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley) or raw and fresh (Mason Holgate). Keeping Lukaku is huge and refusing to sell Barkley looks good right now, while taking the profit from John Stones and replacing him with a back in Williams who is — at this point in time — a decided improvement in actual defending.

Now add that to a proud and experienced base which understands the passion of the region — Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry, Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, et. al — and there aren’t any glaring holes in Everton’s early season (aside from schedule strength).

[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]

Following an Opening Day draw against Spurs, the Toffees have reeled off five-straight wins. Four of those have come in the Premier League.

No, the competition hasn’t been strong. It won’t be for a while, either, with Bournemouth and Palace up next for the Toffees.

Everton so far…
Toffees 1-1 Spurs
West Brom 1-2 Toffees
Toffees 4-0 Yeovil Town (EFL Cup)
Toffees 1-0 Stoke City
Sunderland 0-3 Toffees
Toffees 3-1 Middlesbrough

The potential for pain is there come December, with features four of six matches against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Leicester (the first three at home). April has a similar fear factor to it.

That’s why manager Ronald Koeman is stressing not just winning, but style.

“You see the reaction of the fans, they like it,” he said after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough. “The team is more aggressive but they need to run more and press more.”

As for Boro boss Aitor Karanka, he knows it could’ve been worse.

“I can be happy with the attitude of the team because other teams would have lost five, six or 7-1. We were battling to the end.”

It seems foolhardy not to notice that a well-built club that doesn’t face European competition congestion is looking lively early and, given the expectation of further investment around Goodison, there’s enough to believe the Toffees are on the verge of something quite decent.

Champions League wrap: PSV strikes late to win thriller (video)

Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Five first legs of the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round are in the books, including a thrilling back-and-forth with a show-stopping stoppage time winner.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]


PSV Eindhoven 3-2 FC Basel

Bruma scored a debut opener for the Dutch hosts, who fell behind 2-1 in the 79th minute before Sam Lammers and Donyell Malen struck in the 89th minute and second minute of stoppage, respectively, to put PSV ahead.

Basel will be okay taken two away goals home via Albian Aljeti and Omar Alderete.

Lammers came in for Mexican star Hirving Lozano in the 79th minute to score the leveler within 10 minutes before Malen, who went the full 90, kept his focus to deliver this clever winner.

The New Saints 0-2 Copenhagen

Pieros Sotiriou and Robert Skov scored on either side of halftime to give the Danish powers a healthy advantage heading into the second leg.

Elsewhere
FK Sutjeska 0-1 APOEL Nicosia
Saburtalo 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Olympiacos

Wednesday
BATE Borisov v. Rosenborg — 1 p.m. ET
Ferencvaros v. Valletta — 2 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2 p.m. ET
Maribor v. AIK — 2:15 p.m. ET
Red Star Belgrade v. HJK Helsinki — 2:45 p.m. ET
Dundalk v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Nomme Kalju — 2:45 p.m. ET

Rodgers says no close bids for Maguire

Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Those tired of seeing Harry Maguire‘s name in the headlines, hoping his transfer saga had concluded with weekend reports that Manchester United agreed to a fee with Leicester City, well, they are going to be sorely disappointed.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers credited Maguire for his professionalism — the center back scored in a friendly win on Tuesday — and said that the club’s vice chairman Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha has not received a fitting bid for the 26 year old’s services.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“There’s no big pressure to sell any player. If a player does leave Leicester City, then the player would need to be met because we have a top-level player, coveted by top-level clubs and I respect that,” Rodgers said. “Harry is on a long contract here and there’s been no valuation or near to that which would make Top have a look.”

Nooooooooooo.

Look, we’ve still got a few weeks until the close of the window, and every supporter has a target they want their club to acquire and some have some assets they hope stay in the same shirt at the deadline.

The Maguire story is getting a bit tedious now. He wants to go to Manchester United, but Rodgers is happy to keep him at Leicester. Maguire’s not the player who will quit on the club if he’s not sold, and Leicester’s hope of landing a replacement will dip as the deadline draws nearer and clubs like Burnley (James Tarkowski) realize their replacements options have been lessened by the wait.

Janssen leaves Spurs for Liga MX in $8M deal

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
1 Comment

Vincent Janssen‘s less-than-ideal tenure with Tottenham Hotspur has come to its end, and he’s moving his way to this side of the Atlantic.

Liga MX side Monterrey has agreed to buy Janssen, Spurs announced Tuesday. The deal is for a reported $8 million.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

The Dutchman turned 25 this summer. He played just 42 times for Spurs after arriving from AZ Alkmaar for around $25 million in 2016, scoring six times, but did manage five goals and four assists in a half-year loan to Fenerbahce in 2017-18.

Janssen saw his time with the Netherlands national team peter out during his tenure at Spurs. After a red-hot start, he has not been capped since 2017. Janssen has seven goals in 17 caps.

His time at Spurs cannot be labeled as anything but a gigantic bust, but Janssen is still pretty young and has a chance to recapture his career momentum.

And he looks pretty happy about it.

Transfer gossip: Newcastle eyes 2nd Brazilian, USMNT’s Arriola on move

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two players from the Western hemisphere may be heading across the Atlantic, one of whom is very familiar to American eyes.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

DC United winger Paul Arriola could be leaving Major League Soccer in a return to Liga MX or a move abroad to Europe.

CBS’ Roger Gonzalez says some of the big boys in Mexico are after the former LA Galaxy youth product who got his start at Club Tijuana.

Arriola, 24, has 28 caps with five goals and five assists for the USMNT, blooded by Jurgen Klinsmann in 2016. He has 12 goals and 10 assists in 57 matches for DC United since arriving from Tijuana.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Next up: Newcastle United may be in for another Brazilian attacker.

Marrony is the name, and Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol says the Magpies were alerted to his potential by the same source who claimed they were after Joelinton (who signed today after a $50 million deal).

The 20-year-old has a reported $37 million release clause, a left winger has a goal and an assist in two seasons with Vasco da Gama in Brazil. He also scored five times in 15 appearances for the club in the state league.

It feels a bit like a red herring or straight-up agent speak, but the Joelinton deal seemed unusual as well (albeit in a different way).