Hello everyone and welcome to PART EIGHT of Fancred's Ultimate Premier League Preview. This time we head to Liverpool to talk about the Blues from Goodison Park, Everton.
Liverpool's little brother finished in eighth place last season, thus missing any sort of European competition this year. They fired Big Sam Allardyce and finally brought in former Watford gaffer Marco Silva, who brought in a few potentially exciting players.
So let's just get right into this. Who are the players suiting up for Everton this season?
The Toffees hired Marco Silva as their new manager just a little under two months ago after over a year of courtship. This relationship was also directly responsible for the Portuguese native losing his job with the Hornets.
Silva is currently one of three Portuguese managers currently working in the Premier League, the other two being Nuno from Wolves and José Mourinho from Manchester United.
The gaffer appears set to utilize his 4-3-3, the same that he used at Watford.
Everton has one of the best keepers in Europe right now. Now while he finished last season fourth in saves (121), third in punches (22), and tied for seventh in clean sheets (10), it was during the World Cup that Pickford made a name for himself as the keeper for England. In seven matches, the 24-year-old made 17 saves and only conceded eight goals. Okay, maybe those aren't stellar stats on its surface, however, he proved to be a leader for the Three Lions in Russia. And heck, he successfully won a penalty shootout against Colombia.
Pickford joined Everton being on Sunderland's books for six years. And on the long list of things Sunderland has messed up over this past decade, only playing the youngster 35 times over that span is actually laughable. Instead of playing inside the Stadium of Light, Pickford was sent on a handful of loan assignments ranging from Conference Premier League sides Darlington and Alfreton Town to Championship squad Preston North End.
With Everton last season, Pickford played in every single league game and matches in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup, and Europa League.
So here's the thing. Everton has an okay defense. We really like their full-backs, Séamus Coleman and Lucas Digne. They're not a top-six quality tandem by any means, but they're still solid for what they are right now. However, just like with their rivals from across town, they only have one quality center back and a whole lot of old men in blue suits.
Nonetheless, Everton appears set to field Coleman and Digne at the sides and Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane in the middle. If something goes wrong and Silva needs a change, they also have Mason Holgate, Leighton Baines, Cuco Martina, and Matthew Pennington to send out there.
Let's start with Luis Digne, who joined the Toffees less than a month ago after playing 46 matches for Barcelona. He signed with Everton after the club sent 18 million pounds (23 million dollars) over to Camp Nou. He is signed with the Blues for five years.
The 25-year-old has a lot to prove in Merseyside as he has played more 30 league games in only two seasons, one in 2012-13 with Lille and the other in 2015-16 with Roma. But luckily, he has the time to grow into the role and could easily become a standout player for the Toffees.
Heading to the other side of the pitch, let's briefly mention Séamus Coleman. The 29-year-old moved to the Liverpool Blues back in 2009 after playing two and half seasons at Irish side Silgo Rovers. He has seen his playing time fall dramatically over time, from playing in 36 league games in 2013-14 to 35 in 2014-15, 28 in 2015-16, 26 on 2016-17, and 12 last season. This is thanks to them experiencing a number of injuries recently, including a broken leg in 2017.
Moving into the center of the defense, we will first discuss Michael Keane, who joined the side last season from Burnley, where center backs grow on trees. He finished his first season with the club with 206 clearances, 53 interceptions, and a 76 percent tackling success rate. Look for this 25-year-old to continue to grow into this role and become a more dominant center back.
And finally, we turn to the captain, Phil Jagielka. The 35-year-old has been with the club since 2007, joining the side after the Toffees sent four million pounds (5 million dollars) to relegation bound Sheffield United. Here are some clubs that were still in the Prem when Captain Jag arrived at Merseyside: Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth, Middlesborough, Wigan Athletic, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers, Reading, Birmingham City, and 11-point having Derby County.
The point is that he's been on this side for so long that it's probably time for Everton to make a change in order to give this man a break. Look for the Toffees to sign a new center back before the transfer window closes TOMORROW.
Everton's midfield is interesting because while it is probably the least exciting area of their team, it could end up being the best part if all the pieces worth together. We believe that the Toffees will field Idrissa Gueye, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Tom Davies. There is a possibility that they decide to switch Davies out for Kieran Dowell, who is returning from an excellent one-year loan spell at Nottingham Forest or even Morgan Schneiderlin, who appeared in 40 matches last season, but we'd go with that three.
Starting with Davies, he is the one with the most to prove. A youth academy graduate, the 20-year-old has compiled several appearances on the senior side since 2016. He has hit the field in 70 matches including seven in the Europa League last season. And while he is nothing close to a goal scoring threat, his pace and toughness make him a great option in the middle.
Next up we have Idrissa Gueye, who arrived in Goodison Park after his former club, Aston Villa, was relegated after the 2015-16 season. And while he is another midfielder who doesn't take too many shots, he attempted only 23 all last season, he is proficient enough at passing and tackling that he could see some time on the Starting XI.
And finally, we have the Icelandic Wonder Gylfi Sigurdsson. The 28-year-old played his first season at Goodison this past season after Everton sent an insane 40 million pounds (52 million dollars) to Swansea. And we don't know what side lost more, Everton who got four goals and three assists from a 52 million dollar signing, or Swansea that did nothing with the money and got relegated at the end of the season.
Siggy has bounced around the Premier League since 2011 when he joined Swansea on a loan from Hoffenheim. He then played some at Tottenham before moving back to Swansea and finally Everton. He will need to step things up if he wants to both make sure he doesn't become the Toffee's answer to Andy Carroll and help lead this side with Wayne Rooney gone.
Perhaps the biggest news that came out of Goodison Park this summer was when Everton picked up Richarlison from Watford for a starting fee of 35 million pounds (45 million dollars) with the possibility that it could balloon up to 50 million pounds (64 million dollars). Pundits immediately mocked this signing for being another example of Everton paying an exorbitant amount of money for a player who was not too impressive for the Hornets last season. In short, this move could end up being another Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The 21-year-old scored only five goals in 41 games last year, which was only half as many as old man Wayne Rooney's ten goals in 31 league matches. So, at least on paper, this is not exactly a thing fans should be too excited about.
One thing about Richarlison that should encourage Toffee fans is the fact that he already has a strong relationship with manager Marco Silva. Even though the two of them worked together for less than a full season, the young Brazilian scored all five of his goals when Silva was the gaffer at the Vic.
So he could actually end up being a solid signing for Everton, we'll just have to wait and see.
The other forwards the Toffees will field appear to be Theo Wolcott and Cenk Tosun. Wolcott, 29, was a player synonymous with Arsenal. He made an incredible 397 appearances for the Gunners from 2006 to 2018, scoring 108 goals in the process. He was a part of the Arsenal teams that won two FA Cups and two Community Shields. And even though they lost the 2006-07 Football League Cup against Chelsea, he did score a massive goal for his side.
Long story short, Wolcott leaving London was an absolute shock not only for Arsenal fans but for Everton fans. And while he didn't exactly kill it from the scoring perspective only bagging three goals in 14 games, he did add three assists, proving how much of a strong team player he continues to be.
And finally, we have Cenk Tosun. The German-born, Turkish national joined the Toffees back in January after playing three and half seasons at Turkish giant Besiktas. He helped lead the Black Eagles to two league titles and 32 games in continental competition. His best season came in 2016-17, when he bagged 20 goals in the league, good for second place in the Golden Boot. However, it can be argued that he was on his way to approaching 20 goals again in 2017-18 because he scored eight goals over a 16 game period. If he continued at that pace, he'd finish with 16 goals.
Instead, he made the move to Goodison where he still impressed, scoring five goals in 14 games. If he can adapt himself to Silva's quicker style than look out because this kid could become a STAR.
While we do not believe that they have the firepower at the backline to challenge against some of the really strong teams in the Premier League, we think that these guys could really surprise some people. They have a couple of players like Digne, Sigurdsson, and Richarlison who will all need to pull their weight. But with Burnley probably sinking due to their European commitments and Leicester City in flux right now, we think this could be an opportunity for Everton to clinch a Europa League spot.
So with that being said, we have the Toffees finishing this season in SEVENTH place.