Everton flew out on Monday afternoon for the second leg of their preseason tour, this time to the Low Countries. While this trip is not as exotic as the East African jaunt last week, it’ll certainly be one more closely watched as the clock ticks down to the Toffees’ first competitive game of the season, the Europa League Third Qualifying Round first leg at Goodison Park in just over a week.
New signings Jordan Pickford and Sandro Ramirez linked up with the squad after being given an extended break following their exertions in the Under-21 European Championships. Also in the traveling party is Cuco Martina who was announced on Monday as well.
The Blues lined up in a 4-3-3 formation last week against Gor Mahia, fielding two entirely different lineups in each half. Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaassen acquitted themselves well, as did Ademola Lookman and Aaron Lennon in the first period before the trio of Kieran Dowell, Kevin Mirallas, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Kenyans nightmares in the second stanza.
After Wednesday’s game against FC Twente at lower league SV De Lutte's stadium Stock Sportpark De Akker, Everton are off to Belgium where they play KRC Genk on Saturday.
Twente finished in seventh place in the Eredivisie last season, but were excluded from the four-team playoff for a spot in the Europa League second qualifying round as the team is still serving a three-year ban for transfer impropriety by failing to declare full details of a third-party ownership contract.
Their top scorer was teenager Enes Ünal, on loan from Manchester City, who netted 18 times, just three behind champions Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jørgensen. However the youngster was returned to City at the end of the term and promptly shipped off to Villareal in Spain.
Some names on the squad list that will be recognizable to Blues are Oussama Assaidi who has featured for Liverpool, while Haris Vučkić has played at Newcastle United among a host of other English sides and defender Jos Hooiveld has played at Southampton and Celtic in the past.
Forward Ross Barkley once again didn’t travel with the squad, reportedly still suffering from a
shoulder groin injury while rumours swirl of a protracted move to Tottenham Hotspur.
Back in the squad despite transfer talk of his own is goalkeeper Joel Robles.
The rust was quite clear last week, but with some additional conditioning and training time we can expect to see a more cohesive performance from the Blues. Everton’s Europa League Third Qualifying round first leg game is in just over a week and Ronald Koeman will be eager to see who should feature in that crucial tie at Goodison Park.
We can expect to see a few more goals, and I’d back Everton to pot three or four in a better overall showing.
How To Watch
Predicted starting XI
Looks like 4-3-3 will be Koeman’s formation of choice with the current squad -
Pickford; Baines, Keane, Williams, Martina; Klaassen, Schneiderlin, Gueye; Lookman, Rooney, Mirallas.