We are just a few days from Everton kicking-off their Premier League season away to Leicester City. Despite a winless pre-season, Everton fans are still confident off a successful season under Roberto Martinez. New deals for John Stones, Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley were a high point for Everton during the summer, plus the signings of Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic and Romelu Lukaku made it a very successful transfer window for the Blues. Will the £28mil pay off? Can Everton finally breakthrough into the top 4?
The Boss – Roberto Martinez
Everyone loves Roberto Martinez. A new five-year deal is a big relief for Everton fans after interest from Barca and a few other clubs across Europe but it’s clear Martinez wants to build a new Everton side and he has a long-term plan.
Transfers – In’s and Out’s
In’s – Gareth Barry:
Out of all 4 loan players that came in, Gareth Barry was the most likely to sign for Everton. He is a key player in the Everton team, and completed more passes than anyone else in the Premier League, except from Yaya Toure and Steven Gerrard. Him and James McCarthy are the best defensive partnership in the league.
Impressed this World Cup, making 233 passes in just 3 games and kept Lionel Messi put when Argentina faced Bosnia, saying afterwords “Marking Lionel Messi was easier than I expected”. He has fantastic ball control, a amazing passer but loves going into the tackle. Expect a lot of yellow cards this season.
Everton fans went into utter meltdown and it’s obvious why they did. Signing Romelu Lukaku was something very unexpected for Everton. £28mil is a lot of money for a player, so Roberto Martinez is expecting goals from the Belgian. He can go on to become one of the best strikers in world football.
‘The Everton selfie king’ finally left the club after rejecting the chance to go out on loan and also rejecting a new contract. The Greek was looking to be Everton’s next number 9 after goals against Wigan Athletic, Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers back in 2011 but it never happened. He is now at Belgian club Lierse.
Gueye was released from Everton this season. David Moyes described him as “Everton’s secret weapon”, that never happened either. He did score however in the FA Cup for Everton against Stevenage last season. He is now at Millwall.
Keep the 4-2-3-1 or go for something different?
The 4-2-3-1 formation was a big success for Everton last season! The full-back work from Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines and the covering made by James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, made Everton look like a ‘Barca-esque’ side, with their play from the back and holding possession. Everton are a much more attacking side now, more confident in the final third. Everton fans have been calling out for a new formation, a 3-5-2 has been a popular choice. Fitting John Stones, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin in one defence would work, and it would bring back Martinez’s Wigan days with the 3 at the back formation. Roberto Martinez will stay with a 4-2-3-1 formation. I cannot see that changing.
Lessons From Last Season
Despite the success from last season, the squad depth wasn’t there. Everton suffered during the new year stages, having many injuries and no one to come in a fill the gap. It was also a limp over the finish line, thinking that we could get fourth, but loses to Crystal Palace and Southampton could’ve been prevented. The centre-back spot was weak and another winger is needed.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths: The defence. The Toffees, once again, where solid in defence last season. Everton conceded 39 times last season, only Man City (37) conceded less and Tim Howard kept 15 clean sheets last season, only Petr Cech (16) had more. Everton defenders also contributed upfront. 13 goals came from the Everton defence (6 from Coleman, 5 from Baines, 2 from Oviedo).
Weaknesses: Defensive depth – the left-back position is fine, but I do have concerns with centre-back and right-back. Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin are both fantastic defenders, but when both where injured John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz came in. Stones is a magnificent defender for his age, but Alcaraz is poor. He can make the good tackle from time to time, but he gets exposed so many times. Liverpool, Manchester City and Southampton where all defeats and Alcaraz was outpaced to many times. AS for right-back Seamus Coleman is one of the best, but Tony Hibbert (his only back-up) is ageing and not the ideal back-up right-back.
Key Player – Kevin Mirallas: The Belgain is such an important player for Everton. Kevin’s first season was full of injuries so he new that it was this year to impress the Everton faithful. Mirallas created 61 chances last season, more than any other Everton player and also scored 8 times and got 8 assists to his name. He is a very underrated midfielder.
Must Do Better – Arouna Kone: Harsh, but Arouna Kone needs to be of the mark if he is going to have any chance off competing next to Romelu Lukaku for the striker’s role. Last season where injuries, injuries and injuries, this is the make or break point for Arouna Kone.
One For The Future – Ryan Ledson: A must watch for the future. Ryan Ledson is a defensive centre-midfielder and his performances for the Everton youth have caught the eye of Roberto Martinez. He was even on the bench for Everton against Southampton towards the end of the season. Ryan led England in their Euro U17 victory and even scored a penalty in the penalty shoot-out. Wouldn’t be surprised if he made a appearance or two towards the end of the season.
Roberto Martinez will bring in another winger, wether it’s Christian Atsu or whoever, he will bring in another winger. It’s been a tough pre-season for Everton, not a single victory for The Toffees but the future is very much bright for Everton. Muhamed Besic has shown that £4m is a steal and we know what to expect with Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku. The main objective is Champions League, can Everton get there?
For me Everton aren’t a top 4 side just yet, Everton can push twice as hard as last season but one team needs to slip from the top four and I doubt Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal will drop. Louis Van Gaal has had a terrific pre-season and will take Man United up their. Everton can end above Liverpool and Tottenham.
Verdict – 5th