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Everton vs Stoke City – Match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

Jake Jackman

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Everton

Everton have had a busy summer and they are heading into the opening weekend in good spirits ahead of a match against Stoke City. They will have ambitions of breaking into the top six, but they may find that difficult to do given the strength of the teams that finished above them last season. On the other hand, the visitors will be looking to progress during the coming campaign after an underwhelming couple of years.

The big news that came out of Goodison Park this summer was the return of Wayne Rooney. The forward returned to his boyhood club and he will be hoping to end his campaign on a high back in Merseyside. It will be a lot of pressure to replace Romelu Lukaku, but he will relish the challenge. They have been one of the leading spenders and if they start strongly, they could be difficult to stop.

Mark Hughes needs to start the season well, otherwise he could quickly find himself out of a job. He is one of the longest serving managers in the Premier League, but Stoke have gone stale in recent years and a change could be required to propel them up the league table. The sale of Marko Arnautovic was a blow, but Kurt Zouma arrives in what should be a good loan deal. The Potters have a lot of talent, but their problem has been delivering consistency.

Pre-season form

The Toffees managed to qualify from their Europa League tie against Ruzomberok. The two performances weren’t excellent, but they got the job done and qualified for the final qualifying round. In terms of friendlies, they got a good win over FC Twente, but they didn’t play any top opposition.

Stoke City had a mixed pre-season, but they did test themselves against good opposition teams, which should have provided them with useful preparation. Last weekend, they beat RB Leipzig and delivered an assured performance.

Predicted line-ups

Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Wayne Rooney and Sandro are all in line to make their Premier League debuts for the club. Cuco Martina is another new signing that could feature.

Stoke could start with a 3-4-2-1 formation after using it against Leipzig. Mame Biram Diouf could start as a makeshift right wing-back, while Sadio Berahino could be the striker to start the season.

Team News

Aaron Lennon is a doubt ahead of the new season. James McCarthy and Ross Barkley are unlikely to feature until the end of the month. Yannick Bolasie, Ramiro Funes Mori and Seamus Coleman are on the long-term injury list.

Bojan has returned to the club, but he is suffering with a calf injury. Josh Tymon, Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland are other players that are unlikely to feature this weekend.

Score Prediction: Everton 2-1 Stoke City

It will be difficult for Everton at the start of the season as they have signed a lot of new players and they need time to gel as a team. They didn’t have a great number of friendlies, but they have played two competitive fixtures and that should give them an edge when it comes to fitness. Stoke are not looking like a great team and Hughes’ time at the club is coming to an end. The Toffees should have enough to earn the three points.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Everton

Everton should offer Crystal Palace former player Yannick Bolasie to get Wilfried Zaha

Everton are keen on signing the Ivory Coast winger.

Mathew Coull

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Everton have today been linked with a move for Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha. The Ivory Coast international has been in fine form for the Eagles this season, scoring nine and assisting five goals in 29 appearances, and is being targeted by a host of clubs in the Premier League.

The Sun is now suggesting that Everton’s main managerial target Marco Silva wants the winger to be his main man and the club are putting together a £60 million deal.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

It is, however, a tough field in terms of transfer opposition. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are also keen on the player this summer. For Everton to get their hands on the player they will need to do something a little different and offering Palace a ready-made replacement could be the best option.

The player in question is Yannick Bolasie. If Everton want Zaha, then offering the DR Congo winger back to his former club might give them the edge over their competition.

Bolasie joined Everton in 2016 for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £25 million. After a promising start to his career on Merseyside, a knee ligament injury saw him out of action for over a year. Since his return to action, the 28-year-old has struggled to find any good form, frustrating players with his inconsistent performances.

Many value the fact Bolasie can occasionally produce some magic. But if Zaha is around, he will be doing so on a more consistent basis.

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Offering him back to Palace would give the Eagles a ready-made replacement who knows the club. It would also help Zaha in his decision to leave Selhurst Park in good hands, as he clearly cares for his boyhood club.

There is also a school of thought that Bolasie’s presence at Goodison Park could help convince Zaha to come and play for the Toffees, given the pairs good relationship.

Either way, it is clear the £25 million star could play a pivotal role in Everton ensuring they are the ones to get their hands on Zaha this summer.

Fans will certainly hope that is the case, as Zaha would be a major signal of intent from Everton ahead of a new era at the club.

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Heurelho Gomes would be perfect back-up for Everton under Marco Silva

The Brazilian veteran would be a great option for Everton.

Mathew Coull

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Everton certainly do not need a new first-team goalkeeper. The Toffees have an excellent young stopper in Jordan Pickford who, in the long-term, has the potential to be a star for both club and country. This summer it appears he will be the number one goalie for England at the World Cup in Russia.

However, Everton may need to bring in a new stopper to back him up. Joel Robles is out of contract this summer and Maarten Stekelenburg continues to suffer from a long-term hip problem.

Everton, who are also after a new boss, are therefore likely to bring in a new face this summer. Well, if they make the managerial choice they clearly desire, the best option for back-up ‘keeper becomes clear.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The Toffees want former Watford boss Marco Silva to become the new boss at Goodison Park. His appointment would surely see a move for veteran Hornets stopper Heurelho Gomes become a possibility.

The 37-year-old has established himself as a top keeper in English football at Vicarage Road. After a mixed spell at Tottenham Hotspur, he has been fantastic for Watford for the past four years.

The 11-cap Brazilian international might be on his way this summer. Javi Gracia, Silva’s replacement at the club, was clearly not his biggest fan and dropped him for Greek international Orestis Karnezis.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Therefore, if Silva does get the Everton job, bringing Gomes to Goodison would appear something of a no-brainer.

With years of experience in the English game, he would be a brilliant back-up and mentor to young stopper Pickford. When called upon, Everton would be able to relax in the knowledge that the still talented shot-stopper was coming off the bench to do his duties.

The 37-year-old could be a cheap and shrewd piece of recruitment from Everton this summer.

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How Sam Allardyce’s failure to prove preconceptions wrong resulted in Everton exit

The 63-year-old was relieved from his duties at Goodison Park last week.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

Sam Allardyce was sacked by Everton earlier this week, bringing an end to his brief and somewhat controversial six-month reign at Goodison Park.

On paper, the 63-year-old has fulfilled the remit that he was given when he accepted the role in November.

Poor early-season form had left the Toffees with genuine fears of being drawn into a relegation battle and Allardyce successfully guided the team away from trouble and to a respectable top-half finish in the Premier League.

However, his dismissal came as little surprise and the reality was that the former England manager was nothing more than a short-term solution to Everton’s immediate problems.

Allardyce has a reputation for being a survival specialist who utilises a pragmatic, rigid style of football to grind out results.

This was highlighted during his recent spells with Sunderland and Crystal Palace where his philosophy and methods were able to produce enough results to pull both clubs out of the relegation zone and to safety.

However, his style of play is a means to an end. There is little aesthetic appeal and supporters only tend to tolerate it if their club is desperate for points or it is facilitating significant success on the pitch.

The decision of the Everton hierarchy to appoint Allardyce was logical and made business sense.

In short, the 63-year-old would guarantee that the Toffees retained their Premier League status, allowing the club to rebuild in the summer.

The question was, could Allardyce prove that the preconceptions about him being a nothing more than a survival specialist and only being able to produce a pragmatic style of football as false?

If so, then maybe there was a long-term role for him to play at the club.

Ultimately, the 63-year-old was only successful in cementing those preconceptions.

It has been a miserable six months for Everton supporters and there has been little for them to cheer over the cause of what has been a chaotic and disappointing season.

Allardyce’s reign was characterised by some positive results that came courtesy of a dire, pragmatic and, at times, just downright negative style of football.

Yes, Allardyce inherited an imbalanced squad, but the notion that the club was destined for relegation is completely false.

When he was appointed Everton were five points clear of the relegation zone and David Unsworth has just secured a 4-0 victory against West Ham in his final game as caretaker manager.

A seven-game unbeaten start to the 63-year-old’s tenure at Goodison Park effectively meant that The Toffees were well clear of trouble by the turn of the year.

There was no need to grind out results anymore – it was time to build to the future and give the supporters something to look forward to.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

However, Allardyce made no attempt to take off the shackles and the pragmatic style remained unaltered.

In the end, Everton supporters, and ultimately the club hierarchy, were left frustrated and struggled to buy into a future where Allardyce led the rebuilding process at Goodison Park.

There was no surprise to see the club opt to move in a different direction.

For Allardyce, his spell at Everton has only helped to reaffirm the perception that his role will always be that of a survival specialist and that his style of football simply does not suit progressive clubs looking to establish themselves in the top half of the Premier League.

His approach is begrudgingly accepted when results are the priority but is cast aside when entertainment and progress comes to the fore.

Everton and Allardyce were always a mismatch – now it is time for both to find more appropriate appointments.

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