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Ramiro Funes Mori could be the beneficiary if Ronald Koeman decides to pull Phil Jagielka from the starting XI again after his start against Hull just three days ago.
If Everton are on an upward curve under Ronald Koeman then 2017 promises to be a year of significant progress for the Blues.
Off the pitch, big things are hoped for in terms of moving the long-standing stadium issue forward but on it, the search for an avenue back into Europe is uppermost in the minds of everyone connected to the club.
The opening of the January transfer window provides a big opportunity to strengthen the squad to achieve that aim and a home game against Koeman's old club offers the prospect of kicking off the new year with a victory.
Friday night's 2-2 draw at Hull represented more evidence of Everton's powers of recovery after going behind but the two dropped points proved costly as the top six continue to pull away from the chasing pack. Of particular concern, Manchester United came from behind to beat Middlesbrough and Tottenham walloped Watford to increase the gap between themselves and the Blues.
Given that those clubs appear to have quickly restored the order almost guaranteed by their superior financial resources after Leicester upset the apple cart last season, it is becoming increasingly important for Everton to start turning draws into wins. Any side that can string a sequence of wins together can make progress in the top flight and capitalise on any slip-ups by the teams above them so while long-term progress is the key aim, retaining an interest in the battle to finish in the top six must remain the immediate aim.
The visit of the Saints affords Koeman's men the chance to make amends for arguably their worst display under his tenure when they lost on the south coast five weeks ago. Infamously, after conceding in only the first minute, Everton managed just one shot on target in 94 minutes of football and went down to a meek 1-0 defeat.
The Dutchman has assured his former team that the Blues are a different proposition now that they have found some resolve and attacking purpose in recent weeks, qualities that have seen them win two and draw two since their disappointment at the St Mary's, offsetting defeats against Watford and Liverpool. Koeman sees the progress being made and is hopeful that results will start to reflect that in the coming weeks.
“[A]way against Southampton was one of the worst performances of the team of this season,” the manager said in the Liverpool. “The team is different now.
“I think we showed, after a real disappointment against Watford, in how we played against Arsenal, how we played against Liverpool and in two away games since, that we can take a lot of positives from recent performances.”
Koeman also indicated that he will be making further changes to his starting XI in view of the fact that this will be the third game in the space of seven days, with the cup tie against Leicester looming on Saturday.
“It's a really tough period of games for everybody,” he explained. [Y]ou need to do some changes in the team. It's all about the freshness of the players.
“The boys showed really good spirit against Hull and we will see now what is the best team to start against Southampton.”
Where those changes are made in the team remains to be seen but the main contenders must surely be the elder statesmen in the side who came in for criticism after the Hull game. Gareth Barry was a surprise starter of his second match in four days and Phil Jagielka returned to the team in central defence alongside Ashley Williams but the pitfalls of having three over-30s in the spine of the lineup were exposed, first by the Tigers' strong start to the game and then the change in impetus after 18-year-old Tom Davies entered the fray for the last half hour.
On that basis, a recall for Ramiro Funes Mori and, perhaps, Mason Holgate if the manager opts for three centre-halves, and a long-awaited first start for Davies under Koeman would not be surprising. Nor, too, would be a return to the flank for Aaron Lennon in place of Enner Valencia who was busy but limited at the KCOM Stadium until he, too, was withdrawn in favour of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Recent injury casualties Maarten Stekelenburg and James McCarthy are unlikely to be involved but of the two, the Dutch ‘keeper is the more likely to be passed fit.
Southampton have been something of a mixed bag since the last time the two clubs met, losing heavily at Crystal Palace, at home to Tottenham last Wednesday and falling to West Brom on New Year's Eve but beating Bournemouth away and Middlesbrough at home.
They have been weakened by the loss to injury of Charlie Austin — he scored that winner against the Blues in November — and are now lamenting their lack of firepower. Meanwhile, Virgil van Dijk's sending off against the Baggies means that Claude Puel will be without his best defender for his team's trip to Goodison Park.
Both absentees should be big boons for Everton and enhance the sense that the Blues really should win this game if they are to show evidence of the improvement Koeman says he is seeing.
Kick-off: 3pm, Monday, 2nd January, 2017
Referee: Kevin Friend
Last Time: Everton 1-1 Southampton
Predicted Line-up: Robles, Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Lennon, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (91)
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1 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:10:28
I think he'll go back to a 3-4-3.
Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori
Coleman, Gana, Davies, Baines
Lennon, Lukaku, Mirallas
Personally, I'd play Barkley ahead of either Lennon or Mirallas.
2 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:21:14
He needs a goal and a few games. I believe he can make a massive impact.
3 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:22:10
4 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:26:05
I don't expect to see Davies in the starting line-up. Centre midfield is such a demanding position for an 18-year-old. Bringing him on with 30 minutes to go against a tiring team makes a lot of sense. He brings a lot of energy and tenacity onto the pitch, but it's a big ask for an 18-year-old to bring it from the start and sustain it.
6 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:36:24
Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines;
Valencia, Gueye, Davies, Mirallas;
8 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:40:53
I think we have looked better with 3-4-3 so I would go:
Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori;
Coleman, Gueye, Davies, Baines;
Mirallas, Lukaku, Lennon.
But I expect Barkley will be in for Lennon.
10 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:44:41
It's about time we started a game confidently and gave the opposition no chance to build theirs. Get into them from the first whistle!!!!!!!!
11 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:45:27
Everybody has their opinion, but in my humble opinion Valencia is not the answer. He constantly runs into players and loses the ball after being set up in good attacking positions, and then looks down at the ground without trying to retrieve the ball.
I am all for attacking players and appreciate they have to take chances going past defenders, but when they lose the ball, they should at least try and get it back. Valencia is a Championship player at best and IMO should not be in the Everton squad.
12 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:47:58
It's only rarely that we take six points of a team. When we can manage that .we are challenging the European spots. So I suppose what I am saying is that its all about consistency. But we are at present ,chalk and cheese.And this Premier League is dog eat dog.
Anyhow, is Koeman just learning what his best team is game by game? I think that he is. Let's see after the crazy Christmas fixtures if he manages to field a settled team (barring Gueye)... If he sticks with the same formation. Because right now you would need to be in Mensa to work out what he is trying to do... Its like the bloody krypton factor .trying to work out our tactics.
The predicted team looks good. Let's see how Gueye and Davies perform (hopefully). Albeit for only one game. And let's hope that Holgate and Calvert-Lewin can get their chance soon.
Off topic, but are Jags and Barry finished?I think that they are. They should now only have cameo rolls to play. We cannot base or build a team around players of their age.
I think of those two players ( plus a few others) like this. First are we going to ever win anything with them? Secondly ..how many teams above us would have them in their squads..
Baines is also on that list. Also all the deadwood .
Last comments: let's hope that we do reverse form with Southampton. We could do with the win. But this old supporter now realises ( after watching that performance against Hull ) that Koeman now needs at least two transfer windows. After that ...no excuses. COYBs
13 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:53:02
Wouldn't surprise me to see Cleverley winning a place in our first team lotto draw tomorrow.
Koeman doesn't know what he's doing.
And more worryingly, neither do the players!
14 Posted 01/01/2017 at 22:58:12
15 Posted 01/01/2017 at 23:03:06
Was just trying to keep it simple to emphasising the ridiculous number of places apparently up for grabs every game regardless of any individual or team performance in the previous one!
16 Posted 01/01/2017 at 23:06:12
17 Posted 01/01/2017 at 23:06:59
18 Posted 01/01/2017 at 23:17:07
19 Posted 01/01/2017 at 23:18:00
20 Posted 01/01/2017 at 23:25:20
Koeman is becoming an enigma with his team selections and I do not like a back four without some aerial power which is what he started with on Friday. Some teams rely heavily on set pieces and Everton somehow seem to get stung by them too often.
Everton's midfield is still full of mistakes and allows even bottom feeders like Hull to dominate them. Soton will be smarting from their recent results so Everton need to be on their game right from the off.
21 Posted 02/01/2017 at 00:45:11
22 Posted 02/01/2017 at 00:46:38
I'm tired of hope & promise.
Actually, I'm sick and fuckin tired of looking at the positive. Bollocks.
I want silver.
I want SILVER.
Dick Turpin or Long John... IDGAF
Just win something.
Even a fucking argument.
23 Posted 02/01/2017 at 00:50:24
24 Posted 02/01/2017 at 00:59:06
25 Posted 02/01/2017 at 01:23:31
Maybe the efforts of Davies and Valencia can give the likes of Barkley, Mirallas and Lukaku the chance to show their quality.
26 Posted 02/01/2017 at 01:58:09
To encourage other signings in the summer, a realistic bid for the FA Cup should be high on his agenda. We have Leicester in the 3rd round so I hope fingers are extracted from whatever orifice Kenwright and Elstone habitually insert them and that before kicking off against the Champions we have signed some top notch additions.
That will send a message of serious intent to the bizarre world of professional football in this country. Hey, it may even excite those... what are they called? Oh yes, home fans!
27 Posted 02/01/2017 at 01:59:17
He cannot have both. The energy and two way game created by having Holgate, Valencia and Davies in the side. Not the best players but they give balance to the side. Both full backs are far more adventurous and sure footed with them in the side and preferably as a back 5.
Valencia, despite lacking the technical skills has created turnovers. Having Gana and Davies in the middle moves the midfield further up the field, closer to Rom n Ross. Playing the back 5 has Williams more anchored and less pulled out of position with a more mobile Funes Mori and Holgate in tow.
These small crumbs of comfort, need to be seized and developed. If Koeman continues meddle when he has a tiny window of opportunity then the fella is off his head. Stick to 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 to utilize the back three and stick to high energy players who go both ways.
28 Posted 02/01/2017 at 02:45:02
That would mean disaster of Stamford Bridge proprtions, so fingers crossed for Mac and/or a new signing. I'd also like to see a cheeky bid for Fabregas who is a benchwarmer these days: if we've got the money to waste on Bolasie, Barry's new contract and a new (unnecessary) obscene wage increase for Rom, then surely it's worth a punt for one of the most creative midfielders in the game, and still under 30?
Maybe Barkley's departure could play a part; it would be beneficial to both parties, especially if the persistent rumours about his penchant for late night partying are true.
I can see us beating The Saints tomorrow, if only because they will be understrength and we (hopefully) won't have Jags and Barry playing 2-0, Lukaku and Funes Mori.
29 Posted 02/01/2017 at 03:10:00
I'm aware that there are two teams on the pitch, and their purpose is to prevent us from doing what we intended, but it would be nice to be on the front foot from the start, for a change.
30 Posted 02/01/2017 at 03:48:42
Up the Blues!
31 Posted 02/01/2017 at 04:29:23
Love some of your optimism guys and discussion re formations. I'm not knocking you for a moment but we could play 1-10 and I will still wake on Tuesday morning to a match report which says:
Once again, Everton didn't turn up in the first half and then early in the second, conceded a silly, avoidable goal to a side bereft of their main striker. In the absence of their £30 million pound rated defender, the Blues still couldn't manage a shot on the Southampton goal until the 79th minute and eventually scored a scrappy equaliser in the 87th, via a deflection.
There that's saved Ken Buckley a job.
32 Posted 02/01/2017 at 06:00:00
Big changes needed in the playing staff though. Valencia is merely a trier but how a club like ours is so bereft of different options to Lukaku is a mystery. Instead we rely on Kone, Valencia and (not ready yet) Calvert-Lewin.
We need goal scorers desperately. Baines misses a playmaker in front of him instead of Mirallas who I think we should look to get shut of in the summer. Cleverley, Gibson, Oviedo, and Jagielka can all go too.
33 Posted 02/01/2017 at 07:57:20
Anyway, his mum has him on a strict 10pm curfew from what I've heard.
34 Posted 02/01/2017 at 08:01:16
Koeman is the new Martinez – happy to pick up his over-inflated salary and complicit in our demise.
36 Posted 02/01/2017 at 08:45:19
You could of course be spot on with your view on how things will develop in the coming month, but I think that might lead to a parting of the ways between the club and the manager. According to the Mirror The Goodison boss has told the Iranian billionaire that the Dutch defender – who Koeman signed for Southampton when he was in charge on the south coast – is his No 1 target and he wants the deal done now.
If the new owner or the board don't back Koeman in this window, regardless of whether or not Van Dijk arrives, the signal will be, that Everton FC have failed to back their manager in the market; given the Dutchman's personality, I can't see him hanging about to continue the 'project' should that be the case. Whether a high value centre-half should be Everton's number one priority is debateable. But it's going to be very interesting to see what actually happens in the coming days and weeks.
37 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:02:14
The conspiracy theories and scaremongering is bordering on lunacy! The whole "Did he? Didn't he?" when Moshiri contacted Jim White after Sissoko deal fell through was laughable. Now, you've got a guy implying the new billionaire major shareholder is not going to spend money after paying over the odds for Koeman and employing a Director ofFootball aka talent spotter!! Unbelievable!!
Jonathan (#34), Moshiri is here to spend! He has what Kenwright never had, lots and lots of money!!! You're either very thick or just here on the wind-up!!
38 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:07:58
39 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:14:05
41 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:27:10
42 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:38:39
With regards to the transfer window it is a real test of what our new owner is or is not going to do. The weaknesses are there for all to see, has he got the resolve and cash to help the manager to sort them out. The time for a statement of intent has arrived! Business done early like all the big clubs and no stories after midnight on the last day of the deadline of who we tried to sign.
43 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:53:12
Oh and have we signed anyone it's 2nd January, we should have had at least two in. 😂
44 Posted 02/01/2017 at 09:53:41
Being an Evertonian, we very rarely get what we really want, but surely it's not too much to ask for a bit of youth and energy, to shake us out of our current style, which just seems to be, "Let's turn up, and wait to see if anything good can happen."
45 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:17:34
We've become very predictable lately and, when Koeman names the team, we will know exactly what will follow. Let's hope he's brave and we go for the win.
46 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:25:02
" According to the Mirror". Right away you're post loses some credence. The fact that this journalistic gem is peppered with "it is believed", "is likely to be", and even better, "making a direct plea", "has told the Iranian billionaire".
Since when did this Dickus Headus, so-called journalist John Richardson become a close confidant of Moshiri and Koeman? When did he get the nod to sit in during their face-to-face discussions regarding transfers? Or do you think he's padding out a non-story with some make-believe assumptions of his own?
When the squadron of Flying Pigs have landed, Virgil van Dijk might sign, but why he would sign for us over Champions League football next season with Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd in addition to a bigger salary? Ask Richardson that one.
Not having a pop at you, Patrick, just surprised that you have been sucked in by such ludicrous shite.
48 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:38:08
Hopefully Tom Davies, Barkley and Gana with Coleman and Baines wide of them. Lukaku and Mirallas up front... Maybe go 3-4-3.
In that case, it would be Davies or Barkley to start with Gana. Mirallas, Lukaku Valencia or Lennon as front 3.
49 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:38:34
We need his energy and guile. Give him a start today, Ronald.
50 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:42:03
I will be far more considerate in my choices in the future, time to get ready to go the game let's hope we start the year off with a victory and a good performance.
51 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:42:28
The Mirror is the same paper that tried to destroy Rooney for having a few too many, admittedly a mistake, while trying to please members of the public who'd asked him to join their celebrations and then "allegedly" fucked him over by "allegedly" selling photos to the press.
The same paper that then prints a back page headline of "The Drinks are on me" when a player, recently arrested for drink driving, scores a goal.
So Rooney puts at risk his own liver, while the other player puts at risk members of the public and other drivers due to a total disrespect for the laws of the land and a total disregard for the safety of others.
The Mirror is no better, or worse for that matter, than any of the rags for inventing, and that's exactly what it is a lot of the time, any old shite to fill column inches.
The fact that some people fall for it still surprises me, and that's no disrespect to Patrick, honestly.
I can understand everyone, including me, is keen to make five or six signings this month that will make a huge difference to us, four would actually be a real coup in my eyes.
Will it happen? Rather than, like a few on here already, take a complete negative approach even to today's game.
Like investment blurbs say, past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
Let's wait and see.
52 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:43:31
53 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:45:35
54 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:52:58
55 Posted 02/01/2017 at 10:54:06
Totally agree. Well said.
56 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:00:54
Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori;
Coleman, Gana, Barkley, Davies, Baines;
57 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:05:38
Is Gana still available? I heard that players in the Premier League were being allowed to play on the 2nd and 3rd of January before going to AFCON but wasn't sure.
58 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:12:20
59 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:27:53
60 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:31:36
I would bring back Galloway, now that the window is open; Baines has been so poor, he stands off and allows so many crosses into the box.
61 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:39:47
Even Gueye was average against Hull. Like many others, I would like to see Davies and Holgate start.
62 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:47:55
I began to think it was me being stupidly optimistic on occasion and taking to the blue rose-tinted glasses too often but the degree of negativity that's on this site nowadays, and increasingly so, just beggars belief. We've had some beauts on here calling for Koeman's head after 12 games and one difficult transfer window.
Right, time for an early lunch and off to the match, Happy Near Year to you, Patrick, and COYBB.
63 Posted 02/01/2017 at 11:51:04
A good performance from the lads today is all I want. 90 minutes of cut and thrust
64 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:02:54
65 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:13:36
I am predicting 3-0 today and a return to a nice warm feeling inside after our last banana skin.
66 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:20:50
We get very excited to see a new player and feed off their enthusiasm but that does not always mean it's the right choice. Having said that, I think we do need that energy in the middle and having more mobile players brings the best out of Ross and Romelu.
I'm going for:
Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori;
Coleman, Davies, Gana, Barkley, Baines;
68 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:26:12
Can we see the aggressive Lukaku today who can look really good when he is, rather than the arms pointing and sulking that we see too often?
Can we see Barkley getting into the box at every opportunity rather than waiting outside the box. Also he has a good shot in either foot but seems reluctant to shoot from outside the box why?
A win today will be a good return of 7 points out of our last 3 games and, considering 2 were away, that I think we be a good return. Well... time for lunch before heading for Goodison.
69 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:27:24
70 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:30:53
Holgate in the back 3 with full backs pushing up as those two are better than any of our so called wingers have been:
I would also have Dowell on the bench ready to come on for half-an-hour if we need creativity.
71 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:36:37
My only requirement for today is that Barry doesn't start. I think the rest will follow..
72 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:43:27
The right team, that. Somehow I think Koeman will revert to type safety first and play 2 defensive midfielders unfortunately.
73 Posted 02/01/2017 at 12:44:35
The other three don't want the responsibility of using the ball and either pass it to who is next to them or hoof it long, usually to the opposition. Holgate, as young as he is, is more steady and can carry the ball looking for an opportunity to pass to another player in blue.
Hoping for a win today, mostly to give the team and club some confidence going into the second half of the season; a good performance would be nice as well and is long overdue.
74 Posted 02/01/2017 at 13:07:04
I'd like to see Davies and Holgate start: definitely not Cleverley or Jags.
75 Posted 02/01/2017 at 13:18:53
76 Posted 02/01/2017 at 13:21:22
The top 6, from Chelsea down to Man Utd, are firmly established. Curiously, our record to date against teams in this tier this season is not totally forlorn, even factoring in the 5-0 trouncing at Chelsea:
P 6 W 1 D 3 L 2 F 5 A 10 Pts 6. In the form table of games between the top 7 only, we are ahead of both Arsenal and Spurs.
Against the bottom 7 clubs we have yet to lose, but it is easy to identify dropped points in draws at home to Palace and Swansea and away to Hull. Our record reads:
P 7 W 4 D 3 L 0 F 13 A 4 Pts 15
Curiously, it is the mid-table fixtures against teams from ourselves in 7th to Watford in 13th we have been poorest.
P 6 W 2 D 0 L 4 F 7 A 8 Pts 6
These are the fixtures in which we most need to improve our results in. Southampton is in this group. Let's hope today is the start of garnering more points from teams in this tier.
77 Posted 02/01/2017 at 13:36:45
78 Posted 02/01/2017 at 13:42:23
One game we have a back four then a back three then we have the attacking players coming in and out, then Jags plays then he gets dropped then he plays again. None of this is helping anybody at the club.
I'd like a back three of Williams, Funes Mori and Holgate, Jags is done now for me. With Baines and Coleman pushing on as attacking wing backs. Then stick with that and allow those players to become comfortable with the system and with each other. Once you have that part of the team settled, then you can work on the midfield.
I desperately want to see a striker playing up top with Lukaku but, let's face it, we have been screaming for that for three years under Martinez and now under Koeman and neither men seem intelligent enough to understand that Lukaku is best with the ball along his side or in front of him and not playing him alone so he has to have his back to goal and having to make the ball stick which is something he can't do. Having another player up front with him who can do that work and allowing Lukaku to just focus on scoring would transform our whole play. After all you don't score many goals with your back to it.
How many other managers in the Premier League play in a way that has their best scoring threat blunted by their own tactics?
80 Posted 02/01/2017 at 13:49:39
I am hopeful of a 10-point improvement on our 1st half of the season in the 2nd half of the season. That would give us a respectable 64 points.
81 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:02:17
82 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:09:16
83 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:10:11
84 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:10:51
85 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:11:18
Already my patience has been soothed. They might stink the place out but Koeman gets a little credit.
A couple of players there should be thinking "This is my big chance." I hope they take it.
87 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:12:50
88 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:13:58
89 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:16:33
90 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:16:34
Both Baines and Coleman are happier getting forward, while Mirallas is much better playing as a second striker. In the other positions, will Koeman go with Barry or Davies and Barkley or Lennon, Calvert-Lewin or Valencia?
91 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:18:49
It's only taken 19 league games. Let's hope for a rip-roaring afternoon.
92 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:20:59
93 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:21:32
95 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:23:10
96 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:23:17
More like he wants revenge for the St Mary's game.
97 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:28:43
99 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:35:48
With Virgil out they could be weak at the back and it would be nice for Calvert-Lewin to kick on 2017 with his first goal.
I hope the team can reward Koeman for his brave line-up.
100 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:38:41
And Lennon words fail me (apart from WTF?). How much longer are we going to persist with this backwards passing, no threat, has been?
Don't give me any 'hard-working, tracks back' bullshit. He's paid to get forward, get crosses in and get goals none of which he ever looks remotely like doing in every game he plays.
Koeman should have kept faith with Mirallas at least he has pace and knows where the goal is. Lennon is such a waste of space.
Delighted to see Davies in there with Barkley though. Let's see if they energise each other.
But it's always one step forwards, one step backwards with the Dutchman. The ultimate tinkerman... without a plan!
102 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:52:37
103 Posted 02/01/2017 at 14:56:34
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