With little fanfare and without shouting from the rooftops, Everton should be quietly confident for the season ahead where a top four challenge looks likely.
Earlier this week Everton boss David Moyes admitted “We’d love to have Landon [Donovan] but he looks too expensive for us and we just don’t have it. We don’t have the finances.â€ The sad truth is that if the Toffees did have the money for the Team America World Cup star, who impressed on loan last season, they would probably be tippedÂ to challenge for the title.
There is a reason David Moyes is 41.00 to be the first manager to leave a Premier League club with only Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson below him in the sack race. The wily Scot, constantly tipped for the Old Trafford job once Fergie leaves, has built up a side full of quality.
Unlike last summer, with Joleon Lescott poached by Manchester City, a summer of consolidation looks to have left Everton in excellent shape ahead of the new season with quality throughout the first XI.
The Premier LeagueÂ attributes of the likes of Tim Howard, Phil Neville and Leighton Baines are well known. Optimism should abound as the likes of Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta begin the campaign free of injury after missing large chunks last season and the abundance of quality in midfield is hugely impressive. (Everton are 15.00 to keep the most clean sheets in the Premier League.)
Jack Rodwell looks set to justify the price tag reportedly on his shoulders and with Arteta pulling the strings, Steven Pienaar and the returning Marouane Fellaini, who looked excellent before his injury last season, can on paper dominate almost any other Premier League side.
Throw in the fact that goals are guaranteed with the likes of Tim Cahill, Louis Saha and the astute free transfer of Jermaine Beckford and Moyes appears to have all bases covered. Another factor in Evertonâ€™s favour is the terrific form they showed at the back end of last season which should see them hit the ground running this term.
They lost twice in 2010 and since January notched the scalps of Manchester City (twice), Chelsea and Manchester United. This form has continued in pre-season where Everton won all three games on their tour of Australia, scored three at Preston, Tim Cahill hit a hat-trick at Norwich last Saturday and then beat namesakes Everton CD last night at Goodison.
Evertonâ€™s opening fixtures are Blackburn away, Wolves home and Aston Villa away. So, 7-9 points looks very achievable and David Moyes at 13.00 looks a good punt to be manager of the month in August.
Crucially, Everton should get off to a good start, unlike last season when they lost 6-1 in their opening game to Arsenal, and do not have the distraction of Europe. Merseyside neighbours Liverpool have had a summer of upheaval and can be expected to go far in the Europa League. Do not be surprised if the Toffees finish above Roy Hodgsonâ€™s side, giving them a great chance of gate crashing the Champions League. (Everton are 3.30 to finish above Liverpool.)
101gg predicts: Everton to finish fourth, above Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham.
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