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Atalanta v Everton talking points

UK & international sports | Published:

Everton hope to get back to winning ways against the Italian side after successive losses in the Premier League.

Wayne Rooney before the Premier League match at Goodison Park

Everton play their first Europa League Group E match on Thursday when they take on Italy’s Atalanta in Reggio Emilia.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the talking points ahead of the fixture.

Everton in need of a boost

Everton will obviously want to make a decent start in their group, but they look in particular need of securing a positive result on Thursday. After going unbeaten in their opening six games of the season in all competitions, they have lost their last two and were notably poor in Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham. Toffees boss Ronald Koeman has stressed the Toffees, who make a daunting-looking trip to Premier League leaders Manchester United on Sunday, must “react” against Atalanta – as well as his confidence they will do so.

The venue

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The contest is taking place at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia rather than at Atalanta’s Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia home, which is to be redeveloped to make it fit for European competition. Everton will hope La Dea, who came fourth in Serie A last term, having to play their ‘home’ fixture away from their usual surroundings will make them less of a force than they would have been.

What part will Rooney play?

In Wayne Rooney, Everton have a man in their ranks who won the Europa League last season with Manchester United – and who has been in the headlines for off-field reasons of late, after he was charged on September 1 with drink driving. Rooney played the full duration of the game against Tottenham, failing to have much of an impact, and with the trip to his old club coming up and the 31-year-old then due to appear at Stockport Magistrates’ Court on Monday, he will no doubt be eager to make a constructive contribution in Italy.

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