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Nikola Vlasic gets a chance to shine for Everton
Nikola Vlasic gets a chance to shine for Everton

David John has an anytime goalscorer pick as Everton wrap up their Europa League campaign in Cyprus on Thursday.

Such is the cataclysmic nature of Everton’s Europa League campaign this season, new manager Sam Allardyce can’t even be bothered to attend their final flourish against Apollon Limassol on Thursday.

Part of that statement is true - Big Sam won’t be present as he is unable to fly out to Cyprus due to a medical appointment so Craig Shakespeare will be at the helm for the deadest of dead rubbers.

Cast your mind back to the middle of summer as the Toffees went back to work early in a bid to qualify, overcoming two teams under Ronald Koeman with a squad that looked capable enough on paper of making a sizeable impact in the competition.

The reality has frankly been embarrassing with a string of hefty defeats and just one point registered in five attempts that came against this rival at Goodison Park when the hosts weren’t even capable of seeing out the closing moments with a lead against 10 men.

This boils down to little more than a mid-season, pre-season fixture with Shakespeare under instruction to give some of the youngsters a run out along with fringe flops Davy Klaassen and Morgan Schneiderlin as the latter duo desperately try to do something to catch the eye of Allardyce.

It would have been interesting to see what Allardyce may have done if his team had anything left to play for ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby but fortunately that is a bridge he won’t have to cross and come 8pm Thursday evening no-one is going to give two hoots.

You can get around 2/1 for this potentially rum bunch rounding things off with a win, still very much on the measly side even taking into consideration a rediscovered feel-good factor around the club currently after back-to-back Premier League victories under the new management.

The home side saw any chance of progress scuppered last time when beaten 4-0 at Lyon but they probably justify being favourites.

Some sort of result will see them retain third place in Group E and as long there is not too much fiddling around when it comes to team selection, you would fancy that would provide enough in the way of motivation having held both Lyon and Atalanta to 1-1 stalemates at the Tsirio Stadium.

Figuring out strategy and tactics for the visitors is a rather futile task with wholesale changes set to take place but I have an idea the promising Nikola Vlasic could get the nod for a place in the starting XI and might be worth a small roll of the dice in the anytime goalscorer market.

The £10m Croat has been pretty much on the outside looking in since his arrival at the end of August but he struck me as confident and ambitious in an interview earlier in the season and certainly has a big opportunity here to push his claims to get more time on the pitch.

He put his side into the lead in the reverse fixture and a repeat dose would at least leave one of the Everton players with a something positive to remember from the whole rather sorry episode.

As Everton jog off into the sunset for another season, Arsenal will be back in the new year following a table-topping effort in their group.

Arsene Wenger has used Europe successfully to build up some playing time for his own fringe performers and youth system and the reward will be the chance to challenge for some extra silverware in 2018.

We can expect the usual raft of changes but there will be a little additional pressure on the likes of Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott to deliver with a splendid recent run at the Emirates Stadium put to the sword by Manchester United on Saturday night.

Another slippery factor to add into the equation is that opponents BATE Borisov could still qualify with a victory if the other fixture between Red Star and Cologne ends in a draw so any chance of Wenger getting a relatively comfortable ride is in some doubt.

The Gunners were 4-2 winners in Belarus back in September having scorched into a 3-0 lead inside 25 minutes and there is every chance we are going to see more action in the penalty area with the visitors still alive and kicking.

BATE managed zero shots on target in a 0-0 draw last time with Red Star but surely the top scorers in their own domestic league by nine goals or more currently should create some opportunities in a bid to at least hold up their end of the bargain in a bid to get the three points they need.

It would be quite something if there were to be a repeat of Saturday’s excitement in north London but both teams to score is very much on the table if you are prepared to go in and play at odds-on.

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1pt Nikola Vlasic to score anytime v Apollon Limassol at 24/5

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Posted at 1535 GMT on 06/12/17.

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Most Read Football

Sergi Canos celebrates his goal against Leeds1

Loss effectively ends Leeds' hopes

Brentford dealt Leeds' hopes of an automatic return to the Premier League a hammer blow with a thrilling 2-0 win at Griffin Park.

=?UTF-8?Q?Burnley=E2=80=99s_Ashley_Barnes_celebrates?=2

Chelsea misfire in top-four battle

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