After a perfectly timed international break Everton faces the second half of their difficult opening fixture list over the next few weeks. First up though is a match against Tottenham Hotspur. The folks in North London have always given Everton a tough game the past five years, but they are beatable.
However, to get 3 points the Toffees are going to need to show more than we saw against Chelsea. Here are our 3 things to keep an eye on at Goodison Park this weekend.
Can Everton improve their effort?
Let’s be honest, the worst part of the Chelsea match was how uninterested Everton looked. There was no fire, not much running, and a general lack of caring by most players. Everton went down early and stayed down. The second half performance was better, but it really wasn’t good enough.
Hopefully that was just the effect of so many matches within a few weeks to start the season. It would certainly be understandable, especially without much depth due to injuries. But with a full 13 days between matches Everton should look a lot better this weekend. If the players aren’t putting in the effort on Saturday and making a go of the game, even if we have a more defensive strategy, there are some big questions that have to be asked of this squad and Ronald Koeman.
Will Sandro provide the offensive threat Everton needs?
The transfer window is closed. Everton did not find another striker to help fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku. That means Everton’s attacking output will come from some combination of Wayne Rooney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Sandro Ramirez and Oumar Niasse. The new arrival is supposed to be fit for the weekend match and it will be a good chance for fans to get a real idea of what he can do. We’ve seen glimpses in some matches, but this is the type of fixture where the team needs Sandro to step up.
Sandro doesn’t have to be Lukaku, though it would be nice. But he does have to be a threat to opposing defenses. His speed, ability to get outside, and hopefully shooting ability will test Tottenham. If Everton isn’t getting anything from Sandro it will be a long Saturday afternoon, even if Niasse gets a shot late in the game.
Can Everton function without true wingers?
Normally Tottenham has one of the best pairs of outside fullbacks in the Premier League. But right now it is a bit patchwork, perfect for attacks from the wings. As we’ve lamented on RBM, Koeman has decided true wingers are not something he’s interested in. But even without true wingers he has shown a desire to attack from the flanks using wingbacks and central players like Gylfi Sigurdsson played out wide.
Tottenham will provide an interesting test of this hypothesis because the flanks will be open and the center backs are not the type of behemoths in the air fans are used to seeing from clubs like Stoke or Newcastle. Crossing could work, but it requires getting players wide into dangerous areas. Saturday we’ll see if Everton can do it.