Welcome to the 2018-19 season Blues, what is the year ahead going to bring us?
Everton start off with a tough road game at newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers, knowing that they have never won a season opener away from home against a newly-promoted team. New manager Marco Silva will have quite the battle on his hands, as Wolves looked more a midtable Premier League side as they cruised to the Championship title last season.
The Blues endured a miserable preseason as the slow defence were exposed time and again trying to play Silva’s high line when in possession and using the zonal marking system defending setpieces.
Some deadline day fireworks ensured the Toffees had weapons to endure at least the first half of the season, but it might be a few weeks before Silva has all the new additions settled in and integrated. What should help is that three of the players know each other from their Barcelona days, while the two Brazilians and one Portuguese player should have no language issues with the manager.
Wolves are a fearsome proposition under Nuno Espirito Santo, and only got better with six additions during this transfer window. Portuguese World Cup players Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho came in as have Adama Traore and Leander Dendoncker. Loanees Ruben Vinagre, Diogo Jota, Leo Bonatini, Willy Boly and Benik Afobe all became permanent transfers over the summer too while Player of the Year Ruben Neves looked Premier League calibre last season.
The 3-4-3 formation finished the Championship as top scorers and least goals conceded as they picked up the most wins. It relies on a solid back three paired up with fast wingbacks for width and penetration. It’ll be interesting to see whether Santo sticks with that formation when playing against bigger and better teams that do well in possession.
The home crowd will be especially fired up today, thrilled to be back in the upper echelons of the game, with an insecure Everton side the perfect opposition for the Wolves to make an immediate mark.
Everton won’t have any of their four additions from deadline day, but Richarlison will likely start with Lucas Digne on the bench. Theo Walcott, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate all trained fully this week and should be in the squad.
Wolves will be at full strength, but face the same issue as Everton with their deadline day signings.
Everton did not pick up too many points away from Goodison Park last season - only 14th best in the Premier League with 3 wins. Marco Silva will be looking to start his Toffees tenure with a positive performance despite a poor preseason. Three points will be a big bonus.
The hosts will have all the momentum and the crowd behind them, and the bookies odds take that into consideration too, favouring a Wolves win.