Everton opens up their Premier League schedule by hosting everyone’s favorite team, Stoke City. Thankfully this is not an away match, nor is it a wet Monday night. But even with those things in Everton’s favor there are plenty of questions around this one. Here are 3 things to keep an eye on as the Toffees kick off in what is a must-win match, especially given Everton’s record on opening weekend.
Where will the goals come from?
Despite what anyone may say, Everton hasn’t filled the hole created by Romelu Lukaku’s departure. Yes, Wayne Rooney will contribute with some goals, Sandro Ramirez should as well, but Lukaku scored over 20 goals last year and he absolutely feasted on teams like Stoke.
Everton needs a consistent goal scorer and Saturday against the Potters will be an excellent test of the squad’s goal scoring ability. Ronald Koeman has already highlighted the need for another striker, but Saturday will provide an opportunity to see just where the current squad stands on offense.
Will preseason lethargy continue?
It is hard to say Everton has really shown much of a work rate in preseason this year. Even the two Europa League qualifiers saw Everton display a disappointing lack of effort. Sunday against Sevilla was pretty ugly as well. Does that continue against Stoke? Or will Everton treat this as the true beginning of the season? The players should finally be fit enough to put out some semblance of effort for at least 60+ minutes in this one.
It may not be fair to expect an excellent workrate, players are learning to work together and there is also still some fitness work to be done. But there needs to be better execution. Passes must be on target, shots should hopefully go somewhere near the goal, and defensive communication needs to be there. So far the only player that seems to put effort in is Jordan Pickford, and that’s not a recipe for success.
What is the best answer at RB?
I’d like to pretend that Ronald Koeman has a plan to replace Seamus Coleman this year. I really would. But when Mason Holgate continues to get trotted out at right back or right wing back I just can’t. Holgate could be a talented player, but he isn’t an attacking wing back. He provides absolutely nothing going forward for Everton and that just isn’t something this team can cope with.
We’ve seen Tom Davies spend some time there, and even James McCarthy. But this weekend against Stoke will provide us with another look at the RB situation, one that could become an even bigger problem than the one at striker. A team can survive with spotty goal scoring, it can’t survive spotty defending.