Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 15/8
The 2016/17 season in the Premier League kicks off this weekend as the expectations reach their climax after a summer of many changes. New-look Everton with Ronald Koeman at the helm begin their campaign at home ground as they welcome last season’s title runners Tottenham.
Last year was a roller-coaster ride for Everton fans, who were quite frustrated with their beloved club. Roberto Martinez opened the last season with Toffees playing exciting, attack-oriented football but his philosophy did not last as things quickly went awry for the Goodison club. It all ended in Roberto Martinez leaving the club while still maintaining the stance that bad luck, bad refereeing and individual errors were the only reasons Everton remained stuck in midtable instead of challenging for European places. Toffees are ready for a new beginning with former Southampton manager Ronald Koeman now at helm and the expectations have grown despite the lack of tangible efforts during the summer transfer window the fans expected to see. Everton lost their talented defender John Stones who became the second highest paid defender upon his move to Manchester City, but Koeman strengthened his squad only days later with the arrival of Ashley Williams from Swansea. Idrissa Gueye, Maarten Stekelenburg and Shani Tarashaj were the only other additions this summer and Koeman is tipped to make further investments in the final days of the market to bolster his ranks in order to be able to challenge for places in the new season.
Ramiro Funes Mori is expected to be promoted to first-choice defender following the departure of John Stones and is likely to start the game against Spurs, just like goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg who is hopeful that he has done enough to convince Koeman to put him between the sticks.
Romelu Lukaku remains the only doubt for the first day of the Premier League season as the Belgium striker is carrying a minor foot injury.
It’s been a quiet summer for Tottenham, who were expected to be more active during the transfer window in order to bolster their team and challenge for the Premier League title once again. Centre forward Vincent Janssen and defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama as the only summer signings are believed not to be enough for Spurs to remain in the race with heavily reinforced competition. Problems within the club resulted in head of recruitment Paul Mitchell resigning this week after a fall-out with the club chairman Daniel Levy. Known as a tough negotiator, Daniel Levy refused to sanction several proposed moves for players Mitchell had identified as perfect additions to Pochettino’s squad which was the main reason behind Mitchell’s departure. As a result, Tottenham’s transfer business is done for the summer and former Southampton boss Pochettino heads into the new season without his faithful confidant. Despite the problems Spurs remain strong with their wish to challenge the Premier League title once again and a strong start would be much needed as it would provide an excellent morale boost for the team. Tottenham’s final warm-up in the preseason against Inter Milan proved to be ideal preparation for the trip to Merseyside.
Jan Vertonghen returned to training following his ankle injury at Euro 2016, but the Saturday’s game is still coming a bit too soon for the Belgium defender. Kevin Wimmer is likely to deputise alongside Toby Alderwireld at the back.
Victor Wanyama is expected to start in the midfielder together with Eric Dier, while Eric Lamela will be deployed at right flank instead of Heung-Min Sun who is currently on Olympics duty in Rio.
Key Factors to Consider
- Everton are winless in their last four preseason matches
- Last two meetings between the two sides ended in draw
- Under 2.5 goals were scored in 5 of the last 6 Premier League clashes between Everton and Spurs
- Tottenham lost four of their five preseason duels
- Spurs ended the preseason with a comprehensive 6-1 win over Inter Milan
Pressure is high on both teams who are looking for a bright start to their respective campaigns. Everton begin a new era under former Southampton boss Ronald Koeman, while Tottenham are struggling to keep the inner balance after a turbulent last couple of days which resulted in head of recruitment leaving the White Hart Lane. We expect a close-knit competition and see home side holding a slight advantage entering this match.
Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 15/8