Everton season preview
Ahead of the new Premier League season, Sky Sports examines Everton's strengths and weaknesses as well as giving you the chance to select your preferred Toffees XI...
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 14/08/14 11:11am
Can Everton enjoy another impressive season? Here's the lowdown on what's new at Goodison Park...
After sustained success with David Moyes some felt the only way was down for Everton, but instead the arrival of Roberto Martinez added a new dimension. The Spaniard created an entertaining team that continued to get results as they achieved their best points tally of the Premier League era. With further financial backing this summer there has rarely been so much optimism around Goodison Park.
Martinez’s work in the loan market was a feature of the club’s success last term and, unsurprisingly, the club snapped up the chance to acquire Gareth Barry on a permanent basis after a fine first season. The signing of Romelu Lukaku for a club record fee represents rather more of a coup and a huge investment for Everton. With Ross Barkley agreeing a four-year deal it’s a familiar looking squad but one that Martinez will hope has renewed focus.
Barkley’s efforts engendered excitement last season but his haul of six goals and no assists in 34 league games was a return that hardly reflected his vast potential. Martinez might be expecting this to be the year that Barkley makes the No.10 role his own, establishing himself as a real Premier League superstar in the process. If the England international can do that, he’s capable of dragging the whole team with him.
In the absence of too many fresh faces there will be expectations that the likes of Barkley and John Stones will kick on. However, there are others in the squad who could struggle to maintain their levels. Phil Jagielka is 32 on the opening weekend, while Steven Pienaar and Barry turn 33 and 34, respectively, during the season. Sylvain Distin even hits 37 later this year. If the senior players start to struggle, it could be a surprisingly disappointing season.
Sky Bet Title odds – 125/1
- Leighton Baines was the most creative defender in the 2013/14 Premier League, creating 49 chances for his team-mates. Seamus Coleman was second with 45.
- Everton only conceded two goals in the opening 15 minutes of their games last season, a joint-league-low figure.
- Romelu Lukaku has scored 32 goals as a loan player in the Premier League, more than any other player in the competition’s history.
I’m not sure Everton can repeat what they did last season. I’m a massive Roberto Martinez fan but I think they might have a tough time trying to repeat what they achieved in 2013/14 – and I don’t see them finishing fifth again. They’ve got some great young players such as John Stones and Ross Barkley - a player I love watching – but it will be very hard to match the high standard they set in the previous campaign. They’ve spent big on Romelu Lukaku but Belgium boss Marc Wilmots ended up dropping him at the World Cup and Mourinho was happy to let him go, so I think he has a point to prove. He can be powerful and a handful but he can also be like a trampoline, with the ball bouncing off him.