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Ronald Koeman: Everton improvement is impossible in Premier League this year

12 August 2017

Koeman was agitated in the dugout as sloppiness allowed the visitors to press in the dying minutes, with Shaqiri forcing an outstanding one-handed save from Pickford at the death as Everton held out for victory.

The Dutchman is also unable to call upon long-term injured trio Seamus Coleman (broken leg), Yannick Bolasie (knee) and Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), but will look to give six new squad members their Premier League bows. "If all the big ones are really strong and doing what they need, it is very hard". Koeman has already concluded Wayne Rooney's days as a striker are over and he sees the returning Evertonian in a deeper role. We must all concentrate on getting a good league run going and achieving some consistency in the Premier League.

Stephen Ireland is "a matter of weeks" away from a return while Ibrahim Afellay is still sidelined, having undergone knee surgery.

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The former Manchester United defender has tipped Wayne Rooney to score as well. The Toffees will be favored to collect all three points in the friendly confines of Goodison Park, but expect it to be a close contest.

Mark Hughes has warned his Stoke side not to get dazzled in the spotlight of the Rooney show.

Only Frank Lampard and Alan Shearer (8) have scored more goals on Premier League opening day than Rooney (7).

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Stoke are embarking on their 10th consecutive Premier League season.

Gareth Barry could feature in his 21st Premier League season, a record only bettered by Ryan Giggs (22).

Newcastle United are thought to be leading the chase to entice the Scottish-born player away from Merseyside, though local reports suggest Everton will only consider a sale if their £25m valuation is met. Though he also serves fair warning that they will not drag this out until the final day, so if either Spurs or Chelsea truly want Barkley, we better get a move on. This side plays some attractive football and they have done well in the past few seasons so I am interested in seeing how they play.

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Ronald Koeman: Everton improvement is impossible in Premier League this year