Everton fans were given a taster of what the Ronald Koeman era may bring to the club during the first half against Tottenham last weekend. But a laboured second period was a hangover from the Roberto Martinez era and sobering reminder of how much remedial work needs to be done on the squad.
That said there was plenty to be positive about during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. The team played with a tempo and aggression rarely seen since David Moyes’ departure three years ago and fully deserved their 1-0 lead at half-time.
Idrissa Gueye in particular impressed, suggesting he could well be one of the signings of the summer at a little over £7m.
Sadly, Koeman wasn’t lying when he said the squad was only 70% fit and their alarming drop off after the break meant they were clinging on for a point at the end.
There was also a worrying lack of options from the substitutes bench, with the sight of Arouna Kone entering the field in the second half drawing howls of derision from the home crowd.
The arrivals of Ashley Williams and Yannick Bolaise therefore are timely ahead of Everton’s first away trip of the season.
Another week of hard training should also mean the players are better prepared and conditioned to last 90 minutes – a worryingly basic requirement that was so often lacking under Koeman’s predecessor.
After a relatively quiet summer in the transfer market so far West Brom were tipped by many to struggle.
But last week’s season-opening win at Crystal Palace suggests the canny Tony Pulis will once again sprinkle enough magic on the Baggies squad to keep them away from danger.
They contain all the elements of a typical Pulis side; extremely fit, extremely well organised and extremely dangerous from set pieces and crosses from wide areas.
Pulis does admit though that his side is short on numbers and hopes to add five new faces before the end of the transfer window.
Matt Phillips is their only summer signing so far, the forward costing £5.5m from Championship side QPR.
His transfer kitty has no doubt been boosted by the recent takeover of the club by a Chinese Investment group.
Their star player remains Saido Berahino, though speculation continues to rage about his future at the Hawthorns.
Stoke have already had a bid turned down for the forward this summer with the Baggies insistent it will only take an amazing offer – and successful search for a replacement – for them to do a deal.
Last season’s meeting proved to be one of the rare highlights of an otherwise dismal campaign. Despite falling 2-0 down at the start of the second half two goals from Romelu Lukaku and another from Arouna Kone sealed a remarkable comeback that briefly lifted Everton up to fifth in the table.
Yannick Bolaise could make his Everton debut having completed his £26m move from Crystal Palace on Monday.
Ashley Williams is in the squad but will be assessed having returned to pre-season late following Euro 2016.
Romelu Lukaku could make his first appearance of the season after resuming training following a heel injury.
Everton will still be without Seamus Coleman though with the Ireland defender likely to be sidelined for at least two weeks with an ankle injury.
If Everton can maintain the level of performance shown during the first half against Tottenham for 90 minutes against West Brom then they should come away with all three points.
Their fitness levels should have improved following another week of gruelling training while the arrivals of Williams and Bolaise offer valuable options.
West Brom are always a tough side to beat and will be full of confidence following the opening day win at Selhurst park.
However, I fancy Everton to snatch the win and truly launch the Ronald Koeman era in style.
Predicted Everton XI: Stekelenberg, Baines, Williams, Jagielka, Holgate, Barry, Gueye, Bolaise, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku.