Both of these sides finished comfortably in mid-table last season. However, one side were certainly more content than the other with the way their season went. Very few Everton supporters were pleased with the way their side acquitted themselves in 2015/16 and the sacking of manager Roberto Martinez in May did not come as a surprise to many. With a new owner and manager on board, the Toffees are looking to push for a top six finish this time around. New boss Ronald Koeman has taken his time to conduct his summer business but with four signings now made, and another two or three expected, the Dutchman will be eager to get his first three points as Everton manager under his belt as soon as possible.
Not much has changed for West Bromwich Albion this pre-season. Survival was ensured relatively early last campaign and with only one summer signing, in the form of winger Matt Phillips, you would have to imagine that a low mid-table finish will be on the cards for the Baggies yet again. To say that Tony Pulis’s side are unspectacular, with their four centre-backs in defence, would be putting it lightly, but they do get the job done, as displayed in their impressive opening day victory at Crystal Palace last Saturday.
West Brom arrive into this one full of confidence following that 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park. Salomon Rondon’s second-half goal gave the Baggies all three points and they will be hoping to build on that result with another three points on Saturday. Meanwhile, Everton opened the season with a respectable 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur, a result which should set them up nicely for their trip to the West Midlands.
West Brom predicted starting XI Everton predicted starting XI
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Chris Brunt is still sidelined for West Brom, but Tony Pulis has confirmed that James Morrison could make another appearance from the substitutes bench as he attempts to regain fitness following seven months out through injury. Other than that, the former Stoke boss should have a full squad at his disposal for his side’s first home game of the season.
As for Everton, Muhamed Besic is out of action for the next six months whilst Koeman also confirmed that Seamus Coleman will be sidelined for at least another two weeks, ruling both out of making the trip. However, the Toffees’s top goalscorer from last season, Romelu Lukaku, has returned to training following a heel injury that forced him to miss last weekend’s opener, so could feature at the Hawthorns. Yannick Bolasie could line up against the Baggies for the second time in a week following his signing from Crystal Palace, and he could be joined in making his Everton debut by Ashley Williams, who is expected to play a part after sitting out the Spurs game due to a lack of match fitness.
This could be a cagey affair, with West Brom aiming to impose their physical style onto their more technically gifted opponents. The Baggies have the advantage of a settled side and in Salomon Rondon, a striker who looks like he means business this season. The Venezuelan will face up against a backline still in transition following the sale of John Stones and will need to be marked tightly by whoever Koeman opts for in the centre of defence.
The return of Lukaku will be huge for Everton and the Belgian’s quality may well make the difference against his former club. With Bolasie, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley for additional support, expect the Blues to find a way through an obdurate West Brom rearguard, but it will not be easy. If they can keep it tight defensively then we expect Everton to just about come out on top in this one.