A knee injury on the eve of the season had sidelined the England international until now, but thrown straight into the action he put in a 65-minute shift against Villa which provided a reminder of just what the Toffees had been missing. When captain Phil Jagielka opened the scoring with his second in three league matches there was a sense it was going to be Everton’s day, and a much-needed goal for Romelu Lukaku, who benefited from a mistake by Brad Guzan, and Seamus Coleman also on the scoresheet on his recall after a month out injured provided the confirmation. The return of midfielder Ross Barkley coincided with Everton’s first home Premier League win of the season, beating Aston Villa 3-0, and offered a glimpse of improvements to come from Roberto Martinez’s side. Press Association The loss of centre-back Nathan Baker to injury did not help Villa’s cause and Alan Hutton’s curling effort just wide of Tim Howard’s right-hand post was the closest they came to troubling the Everton goalkeeper in the first half. Barkley’s poise and vision then saw him pick out Coleman, who cut inside to force Guzan to palm away his left-footed shot, but the Villa goalkeeper should have done much better three minutes after half-time. The instigator again was Barkley as he rolled a pass inside for Lukaku to collect, and while his left-footed shot was on target it was hardly the most ferocious but Guzan allowed it to squirm under his arm. That touch of fortune may be exactly what Lukaku needs to boost his confidence levels and compensate for what is missing from his physical game. He certainly looked rejuvenated for the remainder of the half as he showed a greater determination to chase lost causes and hold up the ball more. Benteke may take a while to regain his match fitness but he showed no lack of sharpness to volley home after his initial shot had rebounded off the crossbar, but unfortunately for him his push on Alcaraz had already been spotted by referee Anthony Taylor. Villa will hope they are up to speed sooner rather than later after a fourth successive Premier League defeat without scoring a single goal, something they have not “achieved” since January 2001. Coleman completed their misery when he converted Baines’ cross after Osman’s quickly-taken free-kick 13 minutes from time. The return of Coleman, rated the best right-back in the country by his Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, should not be underestimated, but the fact Everton produced their sharpest passing display of the season on Barkley’s first appearance of the campaign was surely no coincidence. He showed the nine-week lay-off had not dulled any of his verve as he added an injection of pace and quick-thinking in the space between Villa’s defence and midfield, which presented the visitors with a number of questions. They struggled for an answer as Barkley, the continually excellent Steven Naismith and Leon Osman combined with full-backs Leighton Baines and Coleman to stretch play as Everton probed for gaps in their opponents’ back line. What they needed was a fully-functioning striker to take advantage but £28million record signing Lukaku is still well short of his best, with manager Roberto Martinez blaming the after-effects of the World Cup. His Belgium team-mate in the opposing ranks, Christian Benteke, had a more legitimate excuse – on his first start since rupturing an Achilles tendon in March – for not troubling centre-back Antolin Alcaraz, who was preferred to Sylvain Distin, left out of the squad despite Martinez insisting he is fit again after a dead leg. As is usually the case Barkley took centre-stage early on, volleying over a rebound from Osman’s shot, drilling a free-kick into the wall after he had drawn the foul and then casually side-stepping Ashley Westwood and forcing Guzan to tip over. That ultimately led to the opening goal as from the second corner in succession the ball came back to Baines, who delivered a perfect cross with his weaker right foot for Jagielka to convert a stooping header. After six goals in his previous 210 league appearances, the centre-back now has two in his last three after scoring a brilliant late equaliser in the Merseyside derby last month.
Press Association “[I’ve learned] a lot [from Arsene Wenger]. He is a coach who has many years in football and with Arsenal. I am learning from him and from my peers every day in training. I’m doing my best to be a better player every day.” While Arsenal have not been short of attacking options, with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez in fine form following a £30million summer move from Barcelona, the Gunners have been left brutally exposed at the back where their options have been hit by injuries to full-back Mathieu Debuchy and centre-half Laurent Koscielny. Debuchy suffered an ankle injury against Manchester City in September but has started to step up his recovery, while Koscielny has been sidelined by a troublesome Achilles problem with no firm return target set. “We are missing our defensive solidity at the moment, due to injuries,” said Wenger, who sanctioned the sale of captain Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona in August. “We are paying the price for Debuchy’s (injury), because (Calum) Chambers is a central defender. “I think we have a very good balance between Koscielny and (Per) Mertesacker, so we are losing experience at the back at the moment.” German playmaker Mesut Ozil has also been out of action for several weeks after sustaining a knee injury in the defeat at Chelsea before the last international break, and is not expected to be available again until the start of 2015. Wenger, though, is confident the former Real Madrid star, Arsenal’s club-record signing, can still make a big impact this season. “He will not be back until January. He came back from the World Cup with an injury,” said Wenger. “He had a very good first season with us. I think we will see the best of Ozil in the seasons to come.” Arsenal host Manchester United on Saturday aiming to recover from the 2-1 defeat at Swansea before the international break which left them in sixth place, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea. Speaking during an hour-long television interview with beIN Sports, Wenger said: “It is not established at all that he will leave at Christmas. “It is me who sets the price and (the reported deal) doesn’t correspond at all to his price. He is not for sale and there is no offer. “Podolski plays a position where there is a big competition. He came very late from his holidays [after the World Cup in the summer], so he started after his team-mates and was not good physically.” Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell is another who has found first-team chances difficult come by with Arsenal this season. However, Campbell issued a video on his personal website dismissing reports he was seeking a move away, having just retuned to the Emirates Stadium following a productive loan spell at Olympiacos. “What they have been saying is not true, I’m very calm. I have not been furious,” the 22-year-old said on www.sports.bycampbell.com. “Obviously, yes, I would like to be playing, but that’s something that has to be earned day by day. I have to keep training and waiting for the opportunity, I know it’s a very competitive team. “Arsenal is one of the best teams in the world where there are many important players. I have to be patient, keep training and I know my chance will arrive and I’ll have to take advantage of it when it comes. Podolski has yet to start a game for the Gunners in the Barclays Premier League this season, instead used as an impact player from the bench – as he was when he netted a dramatic last-minute winner in the Champions League away to Anderlecht. Wenger, though, stressed the 29-year-old had to face up to the competition for places in the Arsenal frontline and rejected reports any cut-price deal was on the table, with the likes of Napoli said to be one of several interested clubs. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists Lukas Podolski is “not for sale” – even though the German forward indicated he could look for first-team football elsewhere when the transfer window opens in January.
Ireland’s head coach Joe Schmidt has made no secret of his delight at that move and he will no doubt keep a keen eye on developments with O’Mahony. “It’s great to have the likes of Felix, Dave Foley, Stephen Archer and Dave Kilcoyne sign up and hopefully that brings another degree of confidence to the squad,” said Foley. “We’ve a good environment here: we’re competitive in the fronts that we play on. We want to win trophies and we have a good set-up, and we’d like to think that players who have high standards and who strive to win trophies will want to play for Munster.” Press Association O’Mahony’s two-year joint deal with Munster and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) expires this summer and the 25-year-old is locked in talks over an extension. Combative Munster captain O’Mahony’s influence has soared with both club and country in the past two years, to the point where interest from French Top 14 sides is inevitable. Munster boss Anthony Foley has admitted he will push for a “good deal” to ensure Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony commits his future to Thomond Park. Head coach Foley revealed he is taking an active part in joint discussions between Munster and IRFU bosses, to ensure O’Mahony is offered competitive terms to stay in Ireland. “We’re all involved in that and the rigmarole that goes on with it,” said Foley. “It’s important that we look after our players, that we make sure they get good deals and they also have the stability of ensuring they stay with Munster. “It’s important to push for a good deal for every important player.” Munster’s Ireland quartet Felix Jones, Dave Foley, Stephen Archer and Dave Kilcoyne signed new dual-level deals with the IRFU this week. Head coach Foley said the timing of the new contracts could prove a boost in nudging the fresh deal for O’Mahony over the line. O’Mahony himself has admitted he expects to make progress on the contract front in the next few weeks, with all the signs pointing to a renewal with Munster. Johnny Sexton’s summer return to Leinster from Racing Metro has proved a huge shot in the arm for Irish bosses aiming to keep all their top talents in the domestic set-up.
Davy Russell never let the front-running Balbir Du Mathan out of his sights and produced Liz Doyle’s 7-4 favourite to lead early in the straight before they bypassed the final fence because of low sun to win by eight lengths. “It’s coming together with him. He made two shockers in Naas but still ran a really good race against a really good horse,” said Doyle. Press Association “He was doing fantastic work at home and today he showed that work was right. He set a very, very strong pace. Patrick has a clock in his head and I knew that if he was going that pace, he was comfortable doing it. He burned off his rivals and nothing had a chance. “He has pace, he stays and he jumps. He’s got everything and I think he’s a really nice horse for Mr and Mrs Wylie. He’s one to look forward to. We’ll probably go the bumper route and go to Cheltenham. He’s really a chaser in the making. “He’s by Presenting, so his pedigree says he’ll go on good ground, and when you see him gallop at home he really flicks his toe out. The good ground at Cheltenham should suit.” “Davy said he travelled so well and to keep him to two and a half miles for the time being. We’ll probably go for the PJ Moriarty and have another look at him over the trip. “I’m still not sure with him. His dam is by Dr Devious so he might be a three-mile horse. Davy was delighted with the way he jumped. He was good long and short and he got a great feel from him. “I think the Martalines all want better ground. When he hit the better ground today coming out of the back, he picked up the bridle. “Hopefully he’s a nice horse, he still has a lot to prove. He beat some nice horses today, but he has to go and do it in Graded company. Hopefully he’s a nice horse for the festivals.” Le Vent D’Antan has been introduced at 16-1 for the JLT Novices’ Chase and the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by RaceBets. It has not been the best of meetings for Willie Mullins but at least he took the concluding race on day three, the Thornton’s Recycyling INH Flat Race. Up For Review (9-10 favourite), owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie, comfortably landed the odds by 10 lengths from Beyond The Obvious in the hands of the trainer’s son, Patrick. “I started working him in October and had him ready to run on November 1, but I just did too much with him and he went over the top so I decided to put him away,” said Mullins snr. Le Vent D’Antan went one better than on his fencing debut when taking the Ballymaloe Original Country Relish Beginners Chase at Leopardstown.
The draw left Hull and Sunderland in 16th and 17th place respectively, with the result doing little to help either side boost their survival hopes. Both face fellow relegation candidates in their next game as Hull travel to Leicester and Poyet’s Sunderland welcome Aston Villa to the Stadium of Light. The 47-year-old was sent to the stands after a confrontation with Tigers’ manager Steve Bruce as the two Premier League strugglers played out a 1-1 draw at the KC Stadium on March 3. The FA charged Poyet whilst Bruce was contacted to be reminded of his responsibilities and it is now believed Poyet will contest the charge and has requested a personal hearing. Press Association Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has denied a Football Association charge of improper conduct in last week’s draw at Hull, Press Association Sport understands.
Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has reportedly claimed Premier League outfits Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in the 21-year-old, along with a number of other clubs. With Palermo having already secured Serie A football for next season, Zamparini has instructed coach Giuseppe Iachini to rest the team’s leading scorer to avoid any complications that would affect his sale. “I have asked Iachini not to play Dybala in these last few games,” Zamparini said, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “It’s possible that in the next eight to 10 days we will sell the player, and I want to avoid injuries in this very delicate phase. “There is strong interest in him. In Italy there’s Juventus, Inter and Milan. “Meanwhile, in Europe there’s Paris St Germain and Arsenal, as well as Manchester City who would like to try and get him but must sell first for Financial Fair Play.” Palermo are ready to cash in on Dybala after the South American turned down a three-year contract extension in January. Dybala, who moved to Palermo in 2012 from home club Instituto, has scored 13 goals and set up 10 more in 34 league appearances to ensure the Sicilian outfit will be in Italy’s top flight for a second straight season. He started in Saturday’s goalless draw at Sassuolo that lifted Palermo to 10th in the standings with four games remaining. Palermo host Atalanta this Sunday. Paulo Dybala is set to miss Palermo’s final four Serie A games as the club prepare to sell their star Argentinian forward. Press Association
Press Association If Kane is called up by Southgate, he is likely to be left out of the England senior squad’s fixtures against the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia at the start of June, and excused from an Under-21 friendly against Belarus. It would still, however, give Kane less than three weeks’ break before the Young Lions’ opening tournament match against Portugal on June 18. England will play three group matches before a potential semi-final on June 27 and final three days later. Pochettino has previously said Kane will need a month’s holiday to recover from a campaign that will stretch to 53 appearances for club and country if he plays against Everton on Sunday. A month’s rest after the European Under-21 Championships would see Kane miss the majority of Tottenham’s pre-season training, which Pochettino sees as crucial to his team’s high-tempo style of play, before the new league campaign begins on August 8. “Could he miss the start of the season? Maybe,” Pochettino said. “But it is because of that I am sure the FA will take the right the decision for Harry Kane and for England. “I am happy if Harry is happy. In the end it is a decision for the FA, we need to wait for the FA’s decision. Gareth Southgate names his provisional squad for the tournament in the Czech Republic on Wednesday and if Kane is included, it will leave the striker only 18 days to recuperate after Tottenham’s post-season tour of Malaysia and Australia. Spurs face Everton on Sunday in their final Premier League fixture of the season before the squad fly out on Monday to face a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur on May 27 and Sydney FC three days later. “If Harry asks me, I will say it is his decision. If you have the possibility to play in the under-21s it is always the player’s decision. “We can advise him but it is up to the FA and the player. “The problem is there are different interests. We are a club in England and we need to be careful. “The manager’s decision in this case is to build the team and decide and pick different players. “His decision and our interests are maybe different to the FA’s. But we understand the decision will always be with the FA.” Kane has enjoyed a remarkable season at Tottenham, scoring 30 times in all competitions for his club, but the striker has been less prolific in recent weeks. One goal in seven has led to suggestions the 21-year-old is suffering from fatigue. “Harry is not tired,” Pochettino added. “The problem is when you play a lot of games in the Premier League and Europa League, you spend a lot of energy and it is not easy. “He is not tired, it is about next season. We can see him in the future because for us he is a future number one in the senior England squad.” Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino admits Harry Kane may miss the start of next season if he plays for England at the European Under-21 Championships this summer.
The 33-year-old Scot, though, knows he must now face up to the toughest challenge of his short managerial career, which had seen him start the season in charge of Hamilton against Arboath. “You are always evolving as a person, coach and manager. I am certainly better than what I was two years ago. I will have to learn fast, but I am prepared to put the hours in to make us as equipped as can be to compete,” said Neil, who is still completing his UEFA pro-licence coaching badges. “The next couple of days will be busy, we have two plans set in place in terms of recruitment, so we need to look at that. “We will need to add quality to the squad, but I will stick with the hard-core group of the squad and make sure they get their opportunity of going up. “They have shown enough from previous years in the Premier League for being there for a couple of seasons, so it is not as if they do not know what to do when they get there, and more importantly, they know they are capable of staying there.” Norwich took an early lead through Cameron Jerome, the former Middlesbrough trainee coming back to haunt his old club with a close-range finish following hesitancy in the defence on 12 minutes. Before Boro, who beat Norwich home and away in the regular season, could regroup, a fine finish from Nathan Redmond doubled the lead. The England Under-21 winger has attracted some attention this season with his all-action displays, which also included a goal in the semi-final second-leg win over East Anglia rivals Ipswich at Carrow Road. While Neil accepts Norwich’s best players will “always get interest”, his mind is very much on adding to the promotion-winning squad, rather than letting any key men further their career elsewhere. “Nobody will be leaving the football club who we don’t think can help us remain there (in the Premier League) and do well,” he said. The Canaries secured a swift return to the top flight following relegation 12 months ago when they defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley. It capped a remarkable second half of the campaign under the guidance of Neil, who presided over some 17 wins from 25 since his appointment in January, when Norwich were out of form and out of the top six. Norwich manager Alex Neil knows he will have to learn fast for life in the Barclays Premier League but will waste no time in getting started. Press Association
Likelihood of transfer happening: five out of 10. RB: Sam Byram (Leeds) – exciting 21-year-old right-back with one year left on his contract. Has been watched several times by Everton. Likelihood of transfer happening: six out of 10. CB: John Stones (Everton) – Jose Mourinho thinks Chelsea lack pace at centre-half and is desperate to sign the young England defender despite Everton insisting they will not sell. Likelihood of transfer happening: eight out of 10. CB: Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia) – Manchester City are said to be on the verge of signing the Argentinian centre-half, who may prove to be a dependable partner for Vincent Kompany. Likelihood of transfer happening: nine out of 10. LB: Ashley Cole (Free agent) – Everton are said to be interested in signing the recently released left-back as a short-term replacement for the injured Leighton Baines. (4-4-2 diamond) De Gea; Byram, Otamendi, Stones, Cole; De Bruyne, Carvalho, Januzaj, Pedro; Berahino, Benzema. GK: David de Gea (Manchester United) – coveted by Real Madrid all summer, but United insist they will not sell unless they get at least £35million for the Spaniard. Press Association Press Association Sport has created a team of transfers that could happen before the 6pm deadline on September 1. Likelihood of transfer happening: five out of 10. RM: Kevin de Bruyne (Wolfsburg) – Manchester City are looking to sign the Belgian, who was named Bundesliga player of the year last term. Likelihood of transfer happening: nine out of 10. CM: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon) – seems exactly the kind of player Arsenal need to protect their back line, but Real Madrid are also interested in the 23-year-old Portuguese. Likelihood of transfer happening: two out of 10. CM: Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) – of interest to Sunderland, who want to give the 20-year-old Belgian regular first-team football as part of a loan deal. Likelihood of transfer happening: five out of 10. LM: Pedro (Barcelona) – the Spaniard wants regular first-team football and Manchester United are working hard to seal a deal for the forward, who has a release clause of 30 million euros (£21.1million) written into his contract. Likelihood of transfer happening: eight out of 10. CF: Saido Berahino (West Brom) – Tottenham have had a bid for the England Under-21 international rejected as they look to provide back-up for Harry Kane. Likelihood of transfer happening: eight out of 10. CF: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) – Arsenal are known admirers of the striker, who continues to be linked with a move away from the Bernabeu despite enjoying six relatively successful years at the club. Likelihood of transfer happening: six out of 10.
West Ham have announced Nikola Jurcevic as Slaven Bilic’s assistant manager. The 49-year-old former Croatia international appeared at Euro ’96 in England as a player and has worked under Bilic with the pair’s national team, Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas. Jurcevic told West Ham’s official website: ” I am very happy that I can start work at the club. I am very motivated for the future and think we have a good team. I hope we will have a very good season. “I am very excited to work in England because I think the Premier League is one of the best in the world. “I know Slaven well and when I started my career as a coach and was a manager in Croatia, Slaven called me when he was national coach and we worked together for six years. We are good friends but we have a similar view on football and we work really well together. “I know it is a big opportunity for me and I am happy to work in the Premier League, live in London and work for a big club like West Ham.” Press Association