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Know Your Opponent: Everton

Let’s chat with Royal Blue Mersey!

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur kick off the 2020-21 Premier League campaign tomorrow as they welcome Everton to north London. The Merseyside club finished 12th last season, taking only five points from their last five matches. Now they’ve gone and spent a lot of cash to revamp their attack and midfield in an effort to push back into European football.

Here to talk about the Toffees is Matthew Chandler from our sister site, Royal Blue Mersey. I sat down with them as well to discuss Spurs a couple of days ago, so give it a read when you get a chance. As for our coverage, we ask Matthew about the new signings, Everton’s new stadium, and what the expectations are for the season.

CFC: So, uh, Everton don’t seem to care about player value in the future with their signings, do they? What’s your thoughts on bringing in James Rodriguez and Allan.....and apparently Doucoure now?

RBM: Good signings. Our midfield was a pathetic, weak shambles last season, as Tottenham saw first-hand in that dismal 1-0 defeat in July. Allan provides bite in midfield and Rodriguez offers creativity - both of these qualities we patently lacked last term. Plus, both of these have worked with Carlo Ancelotti before, and clearly respect him, so that lowers the risks attached. Doucouré is the most exciting one for me, though. He is such a dominant force in that midfield and will make everyone else’s jobs so much easier, hopefully.

Plus, Everton haven’t really gone overboard here. Of the two 29-year-olds, Allan was initially valued at £35 million by Napoli; Everton paid £22 million for him, while Rodriguez cost £20 million and only signed a two-year-deal. There are even rumours flying about that Everton actually signed Rodriguez on a free now. Likewise, Watford rejected a £35 million bid for Doucouré from Everton last year, only to accept £25 million following relegation. Good business all round from Everton here (at last).

CFC: Everton had a glut of non-pressing AMs recently and they’ve predominantly been sold or benched. Why will James be different and how can James find his form under Ancelotti?

RBM: Rodriguez has said since joining that he thinks his best spell at Real Madrid came in his first season; his only campaign at the Bernabeu under Ancelotti’s management. The stats back that up; he never bettered his goals and assists haul of 13 each after that campaign. Like i said in the previous answer, it will help Rodriguez that he is reunited with a manager who has just signed him for a third time (Ancelotti also loaned him at Bayern Munich). That must fill him with real belief.

Why will he be different to what we’ve got? Well, the ones we’ve got can’t run or create much, so it’s a pretty low bar for him in that regard.

CFC: Everton have a couple of players returning from loan, such as Jonjoe Kenny, Sandro Ramirez and Matthew Pennington. Are any of your returning loan players going to see action?

RBM: Possibly Kenny, who had a decent year on loan at Schalke. With Seamus Coleman 32 in October and in decline, Kenny has to seize his chance and stake a real claim to be Everton’s first-choice right-back, though there are plenty who doubt his credentials for that role (myself included).

It’s hard to see many of the other returning loanees given a chance, though. Yannick Bolasie and Cenk Tosun are nice guys but not good enough, Sandro has been a disaster from day one, Muhamed Besic has had enough opportunities now and Pennington wasn’t even given a squad number for this season. Few Evertonians would mourn the sales of any of these players.

CFC: We’re making the assumption that your new stadium plans are on hold thanks to COVID. What has the club said about a new timeline?

RBM: Probably a little behind schedule, inevitably, but still hopefully open by 2023 as originally planned. The club recently released some new photos of a lovely-looking steeped plaza in a revised design along Liverpool’s waterfront, but there have been objections from certain groups about ‘filling in’ this largely untouched area with a 52,000-seater stadium. I still love Goodison Park, though, so I can’t say I’m too bothered from a sentimental point of view if the move is delayed.

CFC: What does a successful season for Everton look like in this campaign?

RBM: Top seven and a cup. It’s scandalous that one of England’s biggest and most successful clubs has won nothing in a quarter of a century. If you’re going to appoint big in Carlo Ancelotti and sign big in Rodriguez, Allan and Doucouré, forgive us fans for dreaming big.

CFC: So how mad are you going to be after all these good signings and you still finish 9th?

RBM: Come on now, we at least finished eighth the two seasons prior to 12th last term.

CFC: What’s the expected Starting XI for Everton on Sunday?

RBM: Hard to say with any certainty as the fitness of the three new lads are relatively unknown, but then needs must. I think at least one will start, but not all three. Mason Holgate is our best central defender, so for him to be out with an injury is a blow.

(4-4-2) Pickford; Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman; Gordon, Allan, Doucoure, Walcott; Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.

CFC: How about a prediction?

RBM: 1-1. Which feels optimistic on my point given Everton’s wretched record against Spurs. Happy just to get this one out of the way on day one, to be honest.

A big thank you to Matthew and everyone at Royal Blue Mersey.