The Premier League returns with an eye-catching managerial contest at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham will welcome Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton side. Both men have glittering trophy collections, but they are still trying to make an impact at their new clubs. There will be more pressure on Mourinho, as their supporters will be expecting a much better campaign. Meanwhile, the visitors have added proven quality for their ranks and many believe they will be a tougher nut to crack.
Although Tottenham were inconsistent under Mourinho, the Portuguese coach will point to results as an indication of improvement. In the period following his appointment, Tottenham were the 4th best Premier League team. Only Liverpool (65), Manchester City (56) and Manchester United (50) picked up more than Spurs, who collected 45 points under Mourinho. The gap to Liverpool shows the work that still needs to be done, but based on his time so far, supporters will be expecting to challenge for top four. The signings of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Matt Doherty should help in that aim.
It was a surprise that Carlo Ancelotti decided to take over at Goodison Park with Everton languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table. However, the finances in the league mean that clubs with ambition can attract the very best, even if they aren’t in European competition. That said, the Italian won’t settle for that to remain the norm, as he will demand the club grow to his level. The signings of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure suggest that the Toffees have ambition to compete in the top eight this season. They certainly have the manager to compete in the upper echelons of the division.
Following lockdown, Tottenham conceded only seven times. This ranked them as the fourth best defence during this period.
Meanwhile, Everton scored only seven times following the restart, which put them in the bottom five attacks in the division.
This could be a big season for Harry Kane. In the recent Amazon documentary All of Nothing, the striker can be seen talking about his desire to be considered one of the best players in the world. At times, he has managed to reach those heights, with excellent goal-scoring at the highest level. However, injuries have held him back and he will be hoping that he can stay fit over the next 12 months. If he does, he has the quality to score more than any other player in the league. That is a big if, especially considering the amount of matches that Tottenham will have to play in a short period. Mourinho will need to manage him carefully, but there will be a preference to start him in league matches. Everton have struggled on their travels in recent months and Kane will see this weekend as a great opportunity to get off to a scoring start. Last season, he scored on the opening weekend. He will be hoping to repeat that feat on Sunday.
There has been a focus on the exciting recruitment done by Everton in recent weeks. However, their key man for the campaign will still be Brazilian striker Richarlison. During the last two seasons, he has managed to score 13 goals in each of them. At the age of 23, he will be looking to push on to the next level. He will be helped by the creativity of James Rodriguez operating behind him. Tottenham have been strong defensively under Jose Mourinho and that is a trend that could continue. Everton will need the clever movement of Richarlison to cause the home side problems. Since his move to Goodison Park, he has performed well against the top six. Further to that, he is usually a player that starts a season well. He will be a big threat to Spurs.
Giovani Lo Celso is facing a late fitness test to see if he is able to feature against Everton. Tottenham will be unlikely to risk him, with Dele Alli likely to start. Japhet Tanganga will miss the game. New signings Højbjerg and Doherty are likely to feature.
Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina are both doubts for the visitors. Mason Holgate remains on the sidelines. It is expected that Doucoure, Allan and Rodriguez will be in the squad.
This will be a fascinating opening contest, between two sides that will be hoping for improved campaigns under their high profile managers. It will be more important that Tottenham get off to a winning start, as they need to keep in touch with the top four at start for as long as possible. Last season, they were cut adrift early and it left them with a near impossible task to turn it around. They should have enough to beat Everton, based on the visitors’ issues on the road last season.
Tottenham 2-0 Everton