Everton will be looking to improve on their seventh placed finish from last season, with heavy investment this summer looking set to make them contenders to break into the top six under the stewardship of Ronald Koeman.
The Toffees begin their campaign against Stoke City but have already been in action as they seek to secure qualification for the Europa League group stages and now look ready to compete to push on for the next level of European football. The Premier League remains an important target too, and many are expecting the club to be in contention for silverware this season.
How has their summer been so far?
It has been a summer of change for Everton, with seven players arriving and ten departing with three weeks of the transfer window left to go.
The departure of Romelu Lukaku for a huge fee has funded moves for the likes of Davy Klaassen from Ajax as Ronald Koeman has looked across Europe to pick out top talents. The £5.2 million purchase of former Barcelona striker Sandro Ramirez could be one of the bargains of the summer. Henry Onyekuru has also been tipped as one to watch in the future.
There has also been a keen focus on homegrown talent, with young English talents like Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane arriving from Sunderland and Burnley respectively. Experience has also arrived in returning hero Wayne Rooney, whilst free transfer Cuco Martina also adds depth. With deadwood like Arouna Kone, Aiden McGeady and Tom Cleverley sold, it has been a productive summer for the club.
On the field, pre-season results have also been promising and qualification to the Europa League group stage could soon be secured if Hajduk Split are beaten over two legs.
Manager: Ronald Koeman
Koeman didn’t enjoy a particularly convincing first season since joining the Toffees from Southampton, but he did enough to guarantee his position in charge and secure substantial investment. He has now had the chance to begin building his own side and move on from the Roberto Martinez era.
This season will be the real test of his abilities having spent big money. Without Romelu Lukaku, there may be a change in style and Koeman can finally get the side playing his way and he will need them to be pushing on and knocking on the door of the top six at the very least if he is to keep his job.
How could the Toffees line-up this season?
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Ronald Koeman has played around with a whole host of formations this summer, from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, to any kind of set-up you can imagine. It seems likely that given the quality in central midfield and the lack of options out wide, a 4-4-2 diamond will be his first choice set-up, though he may opt to add Phil Jagielka and play with wing-backs at other times.
Jagielka will likely miss out to new signing Michael Keane in a flat back four, with Mason Holgate seemingly leading the way to replace Seamus Coleman until he recovers from a broken leg.
In midfield, it’s likely to be the obvious candidates forming the midfield four. Up-front another addition seems likely before the window shuts at the end of this month, but Wayne Rooney and Sandro Ramirez seem set to start as first choice with the Spaniard playing in a more advanced role.
Who are Everton’s best fantasy football options?
The stand out star has got to be Davy Klassen. Little known by most Premier League fans, the former Ajax man arrives for a fee of £23.6 million having captained his former club to the Europa League final against Manchester United last season.
With 20 goals and 10 assists from midfield last season, he would be a wise pick for anyone looking to add points from midfield. He may take some time to adapt to life in the Premier League but given his impressive pre-season form, he could be an immediate threat for Everton and a star for your fantasy league side.
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Premier League Verdict
Everton are at the beginning of a process that will surely see them break into the top six. However, it seems unlikely that it will be this season. The Toffees have not effectively replaced Romelu Lukaku with a proven striker up-front and Sandro Ramirez may take time to find his feet.
On top of that, the top six have also strengthened sufficiently that they should be safe for now. If Arsenal lose Alexis Sanchez before the transfer window closes, then it may be worth re-considering.