After getting through the first two match weeks of the Premier League campaign with four points, the schedule is set to get a bit more hectic. A midweek Carabao Cup match at Huddersfield Town, before a visit to Brighton & Hove Albion on the weekend follows the recent Saturday tilt against Leeds United; the Toffees cannot rest on their laurels even as the first international break beckons, as doing well in domestic cups is of course, massively important for the club just like every year.
Aside from nabbing the ever-elusive hardware, added confidence, and the like, doing well in a competition like either the FA Cup or EFL Cup offers the obvious incentives of European competition in the following season. Everton, the club, the players, the coaches, as well as the supporters, could use all of the above at this point, and so winning across all three competitions, including the Premier League, of course, will be as crucial as it always is.
And so, looking forward ever so slightly, the early season schedule will be a test for the club and some of its not yet fully fit players, as well as a great opportunity to shore up some issues at different spots while looking to build confidence for the rest of the year. Huddersfield and Brighton might appear lesser foes, yet if we are to recall last season, the Toffees lost to many seemingly lesser outfits after doing well against better competition; vigilance will be necessary for these matches especially coming off of the heels of such a tight affair at Elland Road.
Huddersfield Town: A potential banana skin to be prepared for
Just one home match out of the first four for the Blues is rough luck, but with the squad that the team has, and with their excellent away record just last season, it might be quite useful to get some road matches out of the way early on.
When Everton visits John Smith’s Stadium, they will still have to be as careful despite Huddersfield sitting in just tenth place in the Championship after four games. Away Cup ties at lower league opposition tend to be tricky affairs, especially now that fans are allowed back into stadiums, and hopefully there are lessons learned from last season's disappointing and poorly timed performances against ostensibly lesser opposition.
Last year Huddersfield Town managed to finish in 20th position on the league table showing minimal attacking ambition. 32-year-old Jamaican-English center-forward Frazier Campbell along with 22-year-old Englishman Josh Koroma led the way with seven and eight goals, respectively, with others pitching in across the midfield or back defensive line. Stopping the pair will be key to getting the better of the Terriers on Tuesday.
Should wingers like Sorba Thomas or Rolando Aarons become more productive, that would put additional pressure on the Toffees own backline to defend whoever might be coming at them; this could include players like Danny Ward or Jordan Rhodes, too, depending on how the game opens or has progressed as time goes by.
The Blues should be able to prevail in this match, whether Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Richarlison play or not. With Moise Kean returning to the bench we can expect him to start at Huddersfield tomorrow, and Andros Townsend should start too.
With a proper victory at Huddersfield Town on Wednesday, all that will be left to deal with before the first international break will be Graham Potter’s Seagulls at the Amex Stadium this coming Saturday.
Brighton test before the first International Break.
During the hiring process that followed the shock departure of Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season, Graham Potter was often mentioned as a contender for the manager position on Merseyside. While it did not come to pass, there were certainly many reasons why he would’ve been a good hire; an intelligent, relatively young coach who is innovative, known for working with his players, and blessed with a calm, patient disposition.
Brighton avoided relegation last year with some strong performances they will be looking to improve their lot this season, and are off to an excellent start with two solid wins away at Burnley and then against Watford FC. While defender Ben White was sold to Arsenal earlier this summer, Yves Bissouma remains a major difference-maker in the middle of the pitch and is someone who knows how to disrupt play, only to then spark an opportunity for his side to strike.
When that opportunity comes, it will be up to Everton’s backline, perhaps even Michael Keane in particular, to stop the likes of Neil Maupay, Danny Welbeck, or a Leandro Trossard from capitalizing on the chance. A sturdy backline will be necessary, as will fluid midfield play and strong, attacking football from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as well as the rest of the attacking players for the Blues.
A victory at the coast would be big as the Toffees cannot afford to drop any points to teams lower than them in the table after the debacle of last season. Three points and their name in the hat for the Third Round draw would be the minimal expectation for the club going into the first international break, and good reason to feel positive about themselves and the way they have responded to the new expectations of the new boss.