For English clubs, the transfer window is closed and the season has begun. The Premier League kicked off this past weekend, and Everton fought their way to a 2-2 draw away to newly promoted Wolves. On its own, a draw on the road to open the season is a solid result. When you factor in the fact that the Toffees were down a man for 50 minutes, things look even better. Plus, one of Everton’s new signings bagged a brace.
The Toffees were very active in the summer transfer window, trying to build their squad in order to challenge for one of the European spots this season. They are coming off an eighth-place finish, falling five points behind Burnley for the last Europa League spot in 2017/18. With the money invested in new players, Everton should make up that ground and possibly challenge for the top six.
Can Everton’s New Signings Clinch European Return?
The young Brazilian Richarlison did not disappoint in his debut. His brace in the season opener allowed Everton to escape Wolverhampton with a point. The first goal was down to instincts and reactions. After missing his header on a corner, he recovered quickly to slot the ball home.
His second goal was a curling beauty from the left of the box. He showed flashes of brilliance during his time at Watford and got off to the perfect start for the Toffees. His £40m price tag will come with loads of expectations. Everton did not spend that amount for him to simply show flashes, they will need him to shine brightly all season long.
The exciting 21-year-old was not the only signing Everton brought in this transfer window. They were also busy reinforcing their defence. Yerry Mina, Kurt Zouma and Lucas Digne all arrived this summer to help along the back line.
Mina played very well in Russia as his Colombian team reached the World Cup round of 16. Not only will he help at centre back, but as his goals this summer showed, he is a threat on set pieces and corners.
Zouma comes in on loan from Chelsea and should help add depth to the centre of defence. Digne will bring some youth and big game experience to the fullback position after his move from Barcelona. None of these three played in the opener, but will all be counted on as the season moves along. Andre Gomes and Bernard are also among Everton’s new signings.
Fighting For a Spot
The influx of new talent, plus a first-year manager in Marco Silva, means the squad will be full of competition. Everton’s new signings will look to justify their moves. Current players will see the new signings as a challenge to retaining their spot on the team sheet.
This inter-squad competition for minutes should raise everyone’s level of play and focus. The Toffees have added depth and talent to put pressure on the top six clubs. This added depth will also apply pressure to their own players.
New manager Marco Silva now has the option to sit players not performing well. He will have plenty of player choices at his disposal. Injuries and suspensions will also be an easier thing to manage with greater squad depth.
Last season, Everton allowed 58 goals while only scoring 44 in 38 league games. They still managed to finish eighth despite a 32 goal negative swing in goal differential from the season before.
If they hope to rejoin European competition and challenge the perennial top six in the Premier League, both those numbers need to improve. The defensive turnover will be noticeable with all of Everton’s new signings.
In attack, the additions of Bernard and Richarlison will put pressure on Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson to perform. The two attacking midfielders combined for only seven goals and six assists last season. Idrissa Gueye, Tom Davies and Morgan Schniederlin will rotate with Gomes to secure the middle of the park.
Striker Cenk Tosun had five goals after arriving in January. Oumar Niasse is the leading returner from last season when he found the back of the net eight times. For the second consecutive year, Everton’s leading goal scorer from the previous season is gone.
One of the two returning strikers will need to step up and reach double digits if the Toffees want to move forward. With a reinforced midfield supplying them, and the possibility of goals from defenders like Mina, Everton will hope to be more potent in attack.
They will need to find a consistent scoring threat if they hope to challenge for a European spot. Richarlison is an exciting attacking prospect, but it is unknown whether he can carry an attack yet.
The investment in the squad certainly adds to the depth of talent. Fitting the pieces together and finding the right balance in a deep squad will be Marco Silva’s challenge as the 2018/19 season moves forward.
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