THE EUROPA LEAGUE returns on Thursday night. Here Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) picks out his favourite fancy from Everton's trip to Atalanta.
Atalanta v Everton | Thursday 14th September 2017, 18:00 | BT Sport
Everton haven’t started the Premier League season how they necessarily would’ve wanted to. They were fortunate to beat Stoke and then get a point against Manchester City, this was followed by 2-0 and 3-0 defeats to Chelsea and Tottenham.
They sold Romelu Lukaku – who currently has more goals than the entire Everton team so far this season – and failed to replace him. They’re currently relying on an ageing Wayne Rooney, an inexperienced Dominic Calvert-Lewin and an unproven Sandro Ramirez in attack.
The Toffees last participated in this competition in 2015, where they were eliminated by Dynamo Kiev in the Round of 16. Lukaku scored in both legs of that tie, and how Ronald Koeman would love him in his squad on Thursday night…
Atalanta were the surprise package of Serie A last season, finishing ahead of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio in fourth place. Since then, key players Frank Kessie and Andrea Conti have both left the club to join Milan, but they still have squad strong enough to challenge most teams in Serie A.
Atalanta’s home form was one of the main reasons they managed to do so well in the league last season and I can see that continuing throughout this campaign. Alejandro Gomez is the key man for La Dea, scoring 16 goals in the league last season, and the Everton defence will have to keep a close eye on the Italian striker tonight.
I’m still trying to work out why Atalanta are 7/5 to win this match. Whether it’s because they lost Kessie and Conti over the summer or that they’re playing their home matches at Città del Tricolore rather than their usual home stadium Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, I think that’s a superb value.
I’m going to back Atalanta draw no bet at 71/100 with Marathon.
Atalanta v Everton – Atalanta draw no bet (71/100 Marathon)