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Has Everton’s expensive rebuild given it Top Four hope?

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There’s one each August.

Take last season. Buoyed by a seventh place finish under Slaven Bilic in 2015-16, West Ham United spent to bring Andre Ayew, Manuel Lanzini, Håvard Nordtveit, Gokhan Tore, Simone Zaza and a host of others to town.

Some worked out, some didn’t, some were hurt, but the Irons didn’t move the needle in taking all season to build any semblance of form. Prone to losing streaks, West Ham lost four-straight and five-straight matches in the PL, going six and seven games without a win.

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

This year, it’s again the seventh place finisher making noise, and some think Everton could finish higher than Merseyside rivals Liverpool in Ronald Koeman‘s second year on the job.

The Toffees need to handle Hajduk Split over two legs to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage, and Koeman has built up enough quality to make a deep run in the tournament and a nice climb in the Premier League standings.

When the biggest question mark of the big summer additions is England’s all-time leading scorer, well, big things are going to be expected from Goodison Park.

Everton has added Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaasen, Sandro Ramirez, Michael Keane, and Jordan Pickford. Those are potential impact players right up the middle of the pitch (perhaps with Sandro shipped wide because of Rooney). The Toffees still have Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gana Gueye as a killer midfield duo, Ashley Williams to team with Keane, and any number of prospects and valuable commodities (plus the leg peg of Leighton Baines).

And rumor has it Gylfi Sigurdsson is going to end up at Goodison.

Sure the club sold Romelu Lukaku and will be without influential fullback Seamus Coleman for some time, but there are many reasons to believe the Toffees can reach new heights.

Here’s the rub: and it’s the schedule. How far behind will the Toffees be in their chase for the Top Four after opening the campaign home to Stoke, then away to Man City, away to Chelsea, home to Spurs, and away to Bournemouth (with the Hajduk Split matches mixed into the first three encounters)?

That’s one heck of a gauntlet, one laden with away obstacles. But navigating that mess and still being within shouting distance will be a major victory, and one that could propel Everton’s status as a contender deep into the season.

VIDEO: Haaland scores 20-minute debut hat trick

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Teenager Erling Haaland came on for his Borussia Dortmund debut with his side 3-1 down against Augsburg.

He then score a hat trick in 20 minutes as they won 5-3.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule  ] 

Haaland, 19, has been on fire all season long with RB Salzburg and ahead of his $23 million January move to Dortmund he was linked with a move to Manchester United.

The Norwegian striker has now scored 27 goals in 23 appearances for club and country this season.

Whatever happens in the rest of his Bundesliga career with Dortmund, this start will live long in his memory.

Take a look at his incredible hat trick below.


Watch Live: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

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Chelsea seeks back-to-back league wins for the first time since Nov. 9 when it visits surprising Newcastle United on Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The hosts have scrapped their way to 26 points, five points both clear of the drop zone and back of seventh place. A draw at Wolves last weekend snapped a three-match league losing streak.

[ STREAM: Newcastle v. Chelsea ]

Chelsea maintains a five-point gap over Manchester United in its bid to claim a Top Four place, with the Red Devils meeting unbeaten Liverpool this week.

Electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin returns for the Magpies, who appear to set up in a 5-2-3 against the Blues.

Chelsea has N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic in the midfield with Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the wings.

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Newcastle

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Transfer rumor roundup: Moses reunited with Conte, Lazaro to Newcastle

Premier League transfer rumor roundup
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Inter Milan is still working the wings and it’s now affecting two Premier League sides.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

One day after Ashley Young left Manchester United to join Antonio Conte‘s project, Chelsea and Newcastle are set to be impacted by a Milanese departure and arrival. Jacob Bruun Larsen

First, Sky Sports Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio says Newcastle has agreed to a $3 million loan fee with a $27 million option to buy Austrian international Valentino Lazaro. The player’s agent is reportedly on Tyneside.

The 23-year-old made his name with Red Bull Salzburg, going on to earn 28 caps for Austria. He moved to Hertha Berlin and earned five goals and 13 assists in two seasons before a transfer to Inter.

He’s only collected 513 minutes under Conte, registering two assists. Lazaro has played a lot of right midfield but is capable up and down the flank on either side. He’s played pretty much everything but center back and center forward in his career.

Fun fact: Lazaro’s middle name is Lando.

As for the arrival, ex-Chelsea boss Conte is looking set for a reunion with Victor Moses. The 29-year-old Nigerian is currently on loan at Fenerbahce, where he’s got a goal and an assist in seven matches.

A thigh injury has cost Moses spells of six and four matches on the sidelines this season, but he should have plenty of treads left on the tires considering Maurizio Sarri only used him for 176 minutes last season.

Finally, Bournemouth looks ready to tempt Borussia Dortmund’s resolve over Jacob Bruun Larsen.

The 21-year-old Dane certainly has the goods to improve Eddie Howe‘s stagnant attack, but he may be rusty. Larsen has only played 158 minutes this season, grabbing an assist.

Prolific for BVB at youth levels, perhaps a change of scenery would trigger senior success for a man who made his Denmark senior debut in March.

Sky says BVB wants the deal to be a loan with an option to buy in the summer.

PL AT HALF: Goals, goals everywhere as Arsenal leads, Man City trails

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The Premier League’s six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs provided loads of late goals and a red card that’s a hilarious look for everyone but Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 


West Ham 1-1 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The Irons went ahead through an Issa Diop header of a Robert Snodgrass header, as the Scottish playmaker is having a day at the London Stadium, but Calvert-Lewin nodded home a Lucas Digne corner before halftime.

Southampton 2-0 Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saints’ rocket up the Premier League table continues at St. Mary’s, where Jan Bednarek and Shane Long have a two-goal lead on Nuno Espirito Santo‘s struggling men.

Brighton 1-0 Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Leandro Trossard smashed a shot home to give the Seagulls an advantage at the break.

Arsenal 1-0 Sheffield United – NBCSN [STREAM]

Gabriel Martinelli missed the first best chance of the match, cued up by exceptional passes from Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. The youngster didn’t miss his second, punching home a 45th minute deflected cross from Bukayo Saka.

Man City 0-1 Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

We told you Cenk Tosun‘s numbers were better than you thought, and the Everton loanee has nodded a Gary Cahill flick past Ederson at the Etihad.

Norwich 1-0 Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Bad, bad times for the Cherries; Steve Cook handled a ball in the box and was sent off, Teemu Pukki dispatching the penalty moments later.

Cook, wyd?