Our football writer previews Everton’s clash on home soil with Tottenham on Saturday in week one of the 2016/17 English Premier League.
This could actually be the sleeper hit of the Premier League’s return to action. Everton- fresh off yet another disappointing season under Mr Nice Guy Roberto Martinez – will be hoping that the somewhat more stand-offish presence of Ronald Koeman will yield different rewards.
Spurs experienced a painful conclusion to a tremendous season last year; arch-rivals Arsenal even managed to pip them into second place in a dispiriting final few weeks of their title push. They have made some fine recruits and will be hoping that they can produce an away performance that was emblematic of their season. Everton, on the other hand, will be looking to exorcise some of the demons that plagued them last year at home.
Everton v Tottenham | Saturday 13 August | Goodison Park | 16:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Everton 2/1 | Draw 22/10 | Tottenham 14/10
The reign of Roberto Martinez ended in fairly ignominious manner, despite an F.A Cup final appearance. Martinez’s insistence on attack orientated tactics ultimately saw him look tragically one-dimensional towards the end. Koeman brings years of experience and a deeper reservoir of tactical knowledge. He will have to negotiate the loss of Jon Stones. Ashley Williams is an exceedingly adept replacement from Swansea, but the entire Stones saga has left a slightly bad taste in the mouth. Additionally, there is speculation that Lukaku is less than thrilled with life at Goodison at present. Perhaps his holiday with Paul Pogba in Vegas gave him a glimpse at the possibilities out there.
Lukaku has a minor foot knock, but I suspect that Koeman will quite simply have to start him against such quality opposition. A place that they may need to address is that central midfield area. McCarthy and Barry may lack the mobility to effectively deal with the likes of Alli and Wanyama. Furthermore, Kane will relish the idea of taking on an untried central defensive unit should Koeman see fit to start Williams.
Going forward, Everton still have many weapons. Barkley traditionally starts the season strongly while Lukaku is a pure goal-scorer. Lennon seemed to find an extra gear last season while Miralles and Deulefeou are further options. They need to offer more to their fans this season- but there is a lack of depth and self-belief in this perennially underachieving Toffees side.
Spurs built their title challenge last season on excellent away form that saw them control the tempo of games. Dier sat back in the pocket while Walker and Rose rampaged forward. This will be exactly what they look to do in this game.
New signing Wanyama will partner Dier in the heart of midfield, lending them both athleticism and a cutting edge from deeper areas. New signing Jannsen will likely miss out on a start as Pochettino sticks to the diamond formation that worked so well for them. Lamella will likely come off the right while Eriksen off the left.
Son is away on Olympic duty while Jan Verthongen remains on the injured list. Kurt Wimmer will slot in alongside Alderweireld in the heart of defence. Dele Alli will be key in this match. Barry and McCarthy are a pragmatic pairing, but they will find it hard to mark the enigmatic England number ten. He drops off into awkward pockets of space that may drag them out of position. And then there is Harry Kane. The striker cut a beleaguered presence at the Euros and will be looking towards the reassuring creature comforts of the Premier League for comfort.
Verdict: Both Teams To Score (Yes) 8/10
While I think Spurs could edge this one, the safer bet is to take both teams to score at 8/10. With both sides possessing quality strikers, I reckon we could be in for a bit of a goal fest at Goodison.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets.