Everton travels to the north east on Monday night to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The Toffees have made a good start to the campaign under Dutch boss Ronald Koeman, picking up seven points from a possible nine this season.
Former Toffees boss David Moyes is unlikely to be relishing the clash with his old side, as the visitors have some highly-talented attacking players.
However, those highly-talented players can blow hot and cold, which could be a major problem for Toffees boss Koeman.
Match-winner or the Invisible man
When you look at Everton’s attacking players one thing strikes you straight away. That is that although talented and match-winners on their day, the Toffees front men are highly erratic.
Those players I am talking about are Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Yannick Bolasie, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley. All players that can cause serious danger to opposition defences, but all players that can have stinkers in equal measure.
Lukaku has struggled for goals since March, having enjoyed a prolific campaign last season. There is a sense that if he scores one then he will start hitting the back of the net on a regular basis once again.
Bolasie and Mirallas are similar in the fact that they are both capable of delivering moments of brilliance but do not do it on a regular enough basis. If either can improve their end product then they would get far more goals and assists.
Barkley is very much a confidence player. He has the ability, but when he is not confident he tends to lose the ball on a regular basis and the crowd have a habit of turning on him out of frustration.
When Barkley is confident the youngster has the ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck. However, again the England international does not do it on a consistent basis.
Deulofeu fits the tag mercurial perfectly. The young Spaniard has pace and the ability to drive at defenders. While he was at Barcelona they believed he could be the next big superstar, but questioned his temperament.
He has shown very little signs of temperament problems at Everton, but there is so much more that the winger has to offer. He frightens the life out of defenders at full pelt. If Koeman can unlock something from the winger’s psyche he could be a fantastic player.
Most teams only have one such mercurial player, but not Everton they have hedged their bets with their attacking players, assuming that all of them cannot have an off day.
In truth, if they all performed to the best of their ability they could be fantastic to watch. At times some of the football the Toffees played early in Roberto Martinez’s reign was fantastic, which included strong displays from Deulofeu, Barkley and Lukaku.
Decisions to be made
Obviously, Koeman cannot use all five players at once, but will feel like he has good squad options for the rest of the season. The Dutchman is regarded by many as a good man-manager and if he can get those talented forward players to produce on a regular basis Everton could be a dangerous team this season.
Koeman will have difficult decisions to make when it comes to playing certain players and when to drop them to the bench. Deulofeu missed out last time out against Stoke and could do once again in the north east, as the Toffees seek to record a third league victory of the campaign.
Favourites for a win
Everton are favourites to defeat Sunderland at odds of 11/10 and add further to former boss Moyes woes this season. It seems quite simple if Everton turns up and play like we all know they can then they will beat Sunderland.
If any of the five of Everton’s attacking players produce their top form then it could get embarrassing for Sunderland. However, this is Everton we are talking about and they have a habit of letting the supporters down.
Much like opposite number Jurgen Klopp across the park, Ronald Koeman has to find the key to unlocking consistency in his players. If the Dutchman manages that major task then Everton could surprise a lot of people this season.
Can Ronald Koeman get the best out of his mercurial forward players?
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