Thursday, 9 August 2012

Europa League push at best for the Toffee's

It is no coincidence that Everton's best form of the previous season coincided with a brilliant January transfer window for the club. Nikica Jelavic proved to be a real bargain addition scoring nine goals in his first 13 matches; however the returning Steven Pienaar's form during his six month loan spell at the club was the real catalyst behind their end of season form. The South African international has since gone on to make his loan move permanent, ensuring his stay away from the club was a very brief one.

After being heavily linked with the then vacant managerial position at Spurs, David Moyes will be hoping his loyalty is rewarded in the form of money to spend and reassurances that his best players won't be sold. He has added shrewdly so far in the form of Pienaar and Steven Naismith, who will look to continue his centre forward partnership with Jelavic from their Rangers days.

In the last three Premier League seasons Everton have started incredibly slowly, relying on their turn of the year form to fire them up the league. Of their first 20 games the club lost half of them, meaning they were consistently in the lower regions of the table; however their last 18 matches saw the Toffee's only lose twice. During that run the club beat the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs whilst coming from two goals down to rescue an unlikely point at Old Trafford.

Prior to the arrival of Jelavic the club really lacked firepower, and I worry where the goals will come from if the Croatian gets an injury next season. Aside from that the only other position I feel Everton lack strength in depth is the wide midfield areas. The controversial Royston Drenthe wasn't kept on, whilst the young Seamus Coleman and Magaye Gueye are talented however aren't ready to be consistent starters in a Moyes side.

Key player - Steven Pienaar. If there were a team for the best performing players in the second half of last season then Pienaar would be a shoe-in for the squad. It's fair to say Moyes brings out the best in Pienaar as the former Spurs man flourished in his free role last season, with his man of the match performance vs Chelsea in particular highlighting how technically brilliant he is. Given Tim Cahill's departure, there will be an added pressure on Pienaar to score more goals from midfield this campaign.

Prediction - 8th. If the likes of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini are still at the club come September then I do feel they can really compete with the best; however it wouldn't be a Summer transfer window for Moyes if he didn't have to part way with a Goodison Park favourite. A decent start is a necessity this time around, as they won't always be so good after Christmas. I expect them to sit comfortably in the top ten though.

View from a fan - @keith1878

What would be an ideal season?
European qualification via the league whilst finishing about Liverpool coupled with some good cup form and even some silverware.

What would be a nightmare season?
Having to sell Baines or Fellaini to keep the bank happy, financial meltdown whilst not having our good post-season form.

Do you have the right manager?
Yes. He's had a lot to deal with during his 10 years, but normally gets the right players on the pitch and fighting for everything.

Which Premier League player would you sign given the chance?
Mikel Arteta or Wayne Rooney. Other than ex players it depends where the annual injury crisis is, I like Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, they're both brilliant!

Should you cash in on Rodwell or keep him?
Need to keep him unless a big offer comes in, which is unlikely considering his injury record. This season is really make or break for him.

What players should we look out for this season?
Ross Barkley should get more chances this year following a season in the reserves. He was thrown in the deep end following the Arteta sale. Shane Duffy too, as well as Francisco Jr has had a decent pre season, few dodgy tackles but some decent skills, he could get a chance.

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