Everton FC Season Preview - Lukaku Returns to Goodison
After a fantastic 2013/14, Evertonians are enjoying a summer of optimism rather than the usual lack of transfer activity and fear of losing their better players. Pundits feared for Everton after the departure of David Moyes but Roberto Martinez has breathed new life into the club and brought European football back to Goodison Park. This represents it’s own problem with added games, a much larger squad is needed to maintain a challenge in the Premier League.
This summer, Everton have seen Ross Barkley, John Stones and Seamus Coleman all pen new long-term contracts on top of Leighton Baines earlier in the year. This added to the permanent arrival of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku, new signings Muhammed Besic and Christian Atsu and no major outgoings shows that the club is certainly going in the right direction.
Romelu Lukaku (in) – Everton shocked everyone by smashing their record transfer to secure Lukaku’s services for £28m. Everton have been crying out for 15+ goal a season striker ever since the FA Cup final defeat of 2009 and they have finally found their man. Any success Everton have in the upcoming season will be built around Romelu Lukaku as he tries to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s elite strikers.
Gareth Barry (in) – Last season, Gareth Barry’s loan move to Everton was more than successful and anyone who watched Everton a lot can tell you that Barry is essential to the way the team play. Dropping in between the centre backs and dictating the play when Everton have the ball, and breaking up the play when they do not, Barry is a lynchpin in Everton’s midfield.
Muhammed Besic (in) – After a strong showing at the World Cup with Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Berlin born central midfielder earned himself a £4m move to Everton from Ferencvaros. Besic adds bite to the midfield where Everton have been lacking. Roberto Martinez will most likely use Besic as more of a holding midfielder along side either Barry or McCarthy, allowing Evertons attacking midfielders more freedom to roam.
Romelu Lukaku – Everton’s £28m man has a weight of expectation on his shoulders and has to deliver. Lukaku is by far Everton’s highest profile striker, with Arouna Kone looking likely to be his understudy. This means that Lukaku’s goals are going to be essential in picking up points for Everton.
James McCarthy – Everton’s unsung hero. For me, McCarthy was Everton’s best player last season. He covers the most ground in the team, possesses great positional awareness and fine range of passing. McCarthy’s best quality is his ability to know his role inside out. Through this, he knows his duty, he knows his limitations and he sticks to it. £13m looks a steal for one of the League’s best central midfielders, I expect another big season from McCarthy.
Leighton Baines – after a tough World Cup with England, Baines has a lot to prove again this season. Consistently the best left back in the league for the past 3 seasons Baines will undoubtedly be a big part of Martinez’s plans. His set piece prowess and roaming runs down the left flank offer Everton fantastic attacking options, but essentially he is a defender and his defensive work is also outstanding.
Possible Starting Line Up
Everton have the ability to once again be the surprise package in the Premier League. If The Toffees can take a decent haul from their opening fixtures of: Leicester (a), Arsenal (h), Chelsea (h) and West Brom (a) then momentum should be flowing. Everton need to keep themselves as close to the top 4 as possible until Christmas time and I expect a late surge as ever from The Toffees. Breaking the top 4 should prove a step too far due to the vast array of talent brought in by their rivals and I predict Everton to finish 6th and enjoy another season in the Europa League.
Do you agree that Everton will challenge for the top four but eventually fall just short, or that this can indeed be the season that the breakthrough finally occurs? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .