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Everton at Sheffield United: Match Preview | Can the Toffees get off the mark?

A win could haul the Blues off the bottom of the table

Doncaster Rovers v Everton - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Everton go in search of their first Premier League points of the season when they take on newly-promoted Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

After three successive defeats the Toffees at least managed to squeeze past Doncaster in the Carabao Cup, scoring their first two goals of the season in the process.

Both goals came from summer signings, with Beto’s second half cameo in particular enough to get Evertonians excited.

Doncaster Rovers v Everton - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The Portuguese forward was named man of the match despite only playing 45 minutes, where he scored, hit the post and had a goal disallowed.

He is the kind of powerhouse striker Evertonians love and the first time we have genuine cover for Dominic Calvert-Lewin in two years. It is also the closest we have had to Romelu Lukaku since he left six years ago.

The hope is that the presence of a target man will help the rest of the team click into gear and avoid performances like against Fulham and Wolves, where they did everything but score before succumbing to a late defeat.

The optimism generated from that win was tempered somewhat by a quiet deadline day that saw Alex Iwobi, Tom Cannon and Neal Maupay leave, the latter on loan, and no new players come in. It leaves the squad light on numbers in certain areas and relying on some good fortune on the injury front over the next few months.

The opposition

Sheffield United v Lincoln City - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Boss Paul Heckingbottom did a brilliant job to bring Sheffield United back up as Championship runners-up after two seasons away, but life back in the top flight has been tough so far.

Like the Toffees they have lost their first three league games before their season took another dip in midweek, with defeat to League One Lincoln on penalties in the Carabao Cup.

A host of injuries haven’t helped, including to last season’s joint top-scorer Oli McBurnie, while their other joint top-scorer Iliman Ndiaye left for Marseille.

But those injuries are starting to ease and the squad has been boosted by some work in the transfer market. Eleven players have arrived including Gustavo Hamer from Coventry, Cameron Archer from Aston Villa, James McAtee on loan and a certain Tom Davies on a free transfer.

Time will tell if they are enough to keep the Blades away from danger, but their battling performance in pushing Manchester City all the way last weekend suggests they will be no pushovers.

Previous meeting

Everton 0-1 Sheffield United, 16 May 2021

Everton v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Everton’s season was wilting and Sheffield United were already down the last time the two teams met behind closed doors at Goodison in May 2021. Teenager Daniel Jebbison scored the only goal for just the Blades’ second away win of the campaign.

Team news

Stoke City v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images

Beto is in contention to make his first Everton start after impressing off the bench against Doncaster in midweek. Dwight McNeil and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will also be assessed after making quicker than expected recoveries from injury.

Vitalii Mykolenko is likely to miss out after limping off against Doncaster. Dele Alli, Jack Harrison and Seamus Coleman are also still unavailable.

What they said

Doncaster Rovers v Everton - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Everton boss Sean Dyche: “Sheffield United work as a unit, they work hard, they have a team spirit. They put on a good show against Man City.

“They are new to the division, they’ll have the crowd with them. We’ve performed well for two out of the three. We have to score goals.

“We started losing bodies at the end of pre-season. We lost a couple at VIlla, then last night that we’re hoping aren’t too serious. It’s not ideal.

“Then you add in the window, it’s been difficult to add the players we want.

“But two positive performances but nobody cares because we’ve got nothing. The brutal facts are clear.”

Final word

The second half at Doncaster, particularly the performance of Beto, gave me hope. The first half gave me nightmares. Let’s see which Everton turns up on Saturday.