Premier League Preview: Everton
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on August 3, 2016
Following an abysmal 2015/2016 season which resulted in Roberto Martinez being sacked, Everton are looking forward to the start of a new era with a new manager and new investment. The appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager is a real steal for the toffees with the legendary Dutchman having excelled in his two seasons in the Premier League with Southampton turning the saints into one of the best teams to watch in the league. More importantly for Everton Koeman established a solid defence at St Mary’s which is something Roberto Martinez seemed incapable of doing with Everton a complete shambles at the back last season. Everton finished last season in the bottom half of the table while Ronald Koeman led Southampton to the Europa League places. Everton fans will certainly be hoping their new manager can lead their team to similar exploits this season.
As well as appointing a new manager Everton have appointed Steve Walsh, the man behind Leicester City’s incredible transfer policy as Director of Football at Goodison Park. Walsh is the man who discovered players such as N’golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez who of course played such a key role in that sensational title win. If Walsh can do similar work at Everton then special times could be ahead at the club. The new ownership at Everton have acted shrewdly to appoint a proven successful manager and to begin implementing a new structure to hopefully improve the transfer policy at the club that has been much criticised in recent times.
Everton have not taken the same path as Manchester City did when they had new investment. Rather than spending crazy money on supposed big name players Everton have taken a rather more measured approach. So far Everton have signed goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg from Fulham to challenge Joel Robles for the number one spot at Goodison. A very good goalkeeper who spent last season on loan at Southampton with Koeman. Everton have also signed midfielder Idrissa Gueye from relegated Aston Villa. Gueye was one of the better performers in a shocking Aston Villa team last season and will certainly provide Koeman with an energetic presence in midfield and can provide good cover for Gareth Barry. Everton are also rumoured to be in talks to sign Ashley Williams from Swansea, if they can get Williams he will provide much needed experience and quality at the back.
So far Everton have resisted interest in their most prised assets John Stones and Romelu Lukaku but it remains to be seen if they will continue to resit interest in both players. Everton fans will be hoping it can be resolved soon and the cub can focus on bringing in more players to the club which they desperately need to be able to compete at the top end of the table. Everton fans will also want to see some of the much talked about investment put into the playing squad because so far we haven’t really seen any of the new money that was much boasted about.
So far Everton will line up pretty much the same as last season but of course a lot can happen in what remains of the transfer window. One thing for certain is that Ronald Koeman will have Everton more defensively organised than last season which will certainly put Everton in a better position than last season. Everton will be looking to finish in a Europa League place this season but will face fierce competition from several clubs in the most competitive Premier League season ever. With clubs all over the Premier League utilising the new TV money in transfer market Everton will face competition from potentially any club in the league to finish in a Europa League place.
A feature of Southampton under Ronald Koeman was the pace in the wide area’s to quickly counter attack and feed to the ball the Graziano Pelle. At Everton it is likely Koeman will want to deploy the pace of Aaron Lennon and Gerard Deulofeu on the wings to deploy a similar system at Everton to what he had a Southampton. If Romelu Lukaku remains at the club he will be the focal point of the attack for Koeman and has all the attributes to play a similar role as Graziano Pelle did at Southampton.
At Southampton Koeman had a knack for beating the top teams in the league. He managed to secure back to back wins at Old Trafford in his two seasons at Southampton. Koeman also shocked Arsenal with a 4-0 win at St Mary’s last season and much to the delight of Everton fans was able to lead his team to a comeback victory over Liverpool last season coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Wins over the top teams will be vital to secure a Europa League finish and having Ronald Koeman will certainly stand them in good stead to beat the top teams. With the mangers tactical ability and Premier League track record and with a few real quality additions to the squad Everton look well placed for a 7th placed finish and a potential Europa League finish. They will be a totally different proposition from last season with a better defensive record and a more energetic style of play.
On his day the mercurial Spanish winger can be unplayable. Possessing pace and an incredible dribbling ability Deulofeu can be a constant threat for Everton and can be a provider for his teammates but also has the ability to score goals himself. Deulofeu looks perfectly suited to Koeman’s style of play and can thrive this season in a similar way to Sadio Mane at Soutampton under Koeman if Deulofeu applies himself and is willing to work hard for the team which is something Ronald Koeman demands.
The fans favourite has looked very good in pre season under Koeman and will be hoping to find some consistency this season. Barkely never truly found his best form under Roberto Martinez but as we have all seen he possesses incredible quality. As an energetic player Ross Barkely will benefit from the high pressing system Ronald Koeman deploys and will look to exploit the spaces the high press exploits in the opposition lines to create for his team mates and to get goals for himself.
Everton certainly missed Leighton Baines last season in the left back position. The absence of Baines left a gaping hole in the Everton defence that was constantly being filled by youngsters who weren’t ready for the step up. The return of Baines will bring much needed leadership to a backline that was chaotic last season and will contribute to improving the Everton backline and bring balance back to the back four. A feature of Koeman’s teams are the way the fullbacks attack and get forward. On his day Leighton Baines is one of the best full backs in the league and his return combined with Koeman’s style of play will add a new dynamic to Everton’s left side in attack and in defence.