Season Preview: #4 Everton

If only Everton could start a season as strongly as they finish it – they lost eight times in 14 opening games at the start of last season compared to being defeated just twice in their final 18 games – which saw the Toffees finish seventh, four points ahead of Liverpool and eight points behind Chelsea. This was their second consecutive seventh placed finish – only once in the past eight seasons have Everton finished outside of the top 10 in the Premier League (11th in 2005-06).

David Moyes has surpassed the 10 year mark in charge of Everton and is the third longest-serving manager in the Premier League behind Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. The Scot continues to work wonders at Goodison Park on a shoestring budget. The Everton board, in fighting off interest this summer from Spurs following the departure of Harry Redknapp and keeping Moyes is arguably the best business that the club have done this summer.

The purse strings, have however, been loosened a small bit at Goodison Park this summer. The Toffees who are usually quiet when it comes to the transfer market have resigned Steven Pienaar from Tottenham for £4.5million. Moyes will also be hoping that last season’s star signing, Nikica Jelavic – scorer of 11 goals in 13 starts after have joined from Rangers in January – will rekindle the partnership he had with Steven Naismith during his time in Scotland. Jelavic might even be an outside bet for top scorer this season. As things stand, Everton seem to be hanging on to Leighton Baines, despite interest from Manchester United for the left-back, while after eight years of exemplary service, Tim Cahill has departed for MLS side New York Red Bulls.

The Toffees have an interesting mix of youth and experience within their ranks, Jack Rodwell emerged a couple of years ago and has become a first-team regular since then, the same with be expected of Ross Barkley who emerged last season and only turned 18 in May. This combined with the likes of Leighton Baines, Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Phil Neville have all been mainstays in the Everton squad in recent seasons. The only problem for Moyes is that he has one of the smaller squads within in the Premier League of only 20 players.

More of the same in regards to the Premier League should be expected from the Toffees this season, last season was only the second time that they finished above Merseyside rivals in 25 years. After the momentum that they gathered in the second-half of last season, the question is can Everton get a good start to this season and maintain it throughout?

Opening five fixtures: Man United (H), Aston Villa (A), West Brom (A), Newcastle (H) and Swansea (A)

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