My Premier League previews continue with the focus this time on Everton. After a poor start to last season but still managing to finish eighth, manager David Moyes will be looking to push his side further up the table this season.
The squad is largely unchanged with Jermaine Beckford arriving from Leeds on a free transfer making him the only notable transfer. Beckford has had a good start to his Everton career, scoring two against Preston and one against a Chilean side that share the same name as the Goodison park club. An administrative failure for the club meant that promising midfielder Dan Gosling departed for Newcastle on a free transfer. With Manchester City buying everyone they possibly can and Tottenham retaining their strong squad, it may be too much for fans to expect Everton to push for a top-four finish, which is surely the goal for Everton.
In Tim Howard, though, Everton have a strong ‘keeper. The former Manchester United stopper has been solid for the last few seasons and his performances in the recent World Cup suggest that this season is going to be no different. In front of him Everton have got the reliable Tony Hibbert as well as Leighton Baines who, if this season goes his way, could be in with a shout for an England place. Joseph Yobo has also been a great servant to the club and Sylvain Distin has been a fantastic centre-back in the Premier League for the last few seasons. John Heitinga struggled with the English game last season but, now that he has had the summer to settle down and get used to the pace of the game, the Dutchman could enjoy a good season in English football.
The return of Phil Jagielka will be a huge boost to Everton. The versatile player was injured in the at the end of the 2008/09 season and, until now, hasn’t got back to full fitness and worked his way back into the first team. This season could be really important for Jagielka, who will not only be looking to get back into Everton’s first team action but also to try and break into the England squad.
In midfield, Everton are full of creativity and sheer quality. Mikel Arteta looks to be staying with the club after speculation throughout the summer that the Spaniard would be leaving the club. Arteta’s passing and quality on the ball will link up perfectly with the attacking flair and potency of Tim Cahill. Leon Osman is another player that can push forward and cause havoc in defensive ranks, while Phil Neville holds the whole team together. The captain sits back while Diniyar Bilyaletdinov can fly down the wings. Marouane Fellaini can also sit in the holding role but the Belgian is also very capable of pushing forward and causing problems with his height and power. Steven Pienaar had a poor World Cup and will be looking to improve his form as Everton look to get above sides such as Aston Villa and maybe even local rivals Liverpool.
One to watch next season, though, is definitely Jack Rodwell. The English midfielder impressed immensely last season and will be looking to improve further this season. If Rodwell can get a string of games under his belt this season he may well find himself being called up into the international set-up. Rodwell can play as a conservative central midfielder but can also roam forward with the best of them. This season is a big one for the nineteen year old.
Goals shouldn’t be in short supply for Everton this season with Louis Saha hoping to continue his fine form from last season. The Frenchman scored thirteen goals in thirty-three appearances last season and will be looking to improve further in 2010/11. Moyes’ main problem last season was the lack of strikers he had available. Yakubu Aiyegbeni, James Vaughn and Victor Anichebe will all feel like new signings to Everton this season after all three strikers endured torrid injuries throughout the season. Beckford’s arrival could be a real coup if the former Leeds striker can adapt to the Premier League. If it all clicks for Everton, though, this could well be a good season for the Toffees.
Where will they finish?: 8th
Official relegation odds: 13/2 (Bet365)
Star man: Tim Cahill
One to watch: Jack Rodwell
Main weakness: Everything has to click