With no Europa League commintments this season, Everton will be aiming for a marked improvement on their lowly 11th placed finish in the Premier League last term.
The Toffees returned to European competition for the first time since the 2009–10 season, but playing on a Thursday night soon took it’s toll and the club were nowhere near as competitive as they were a year earlier. Roberto Martinez will be tasked with another push for European qualification in 2015/16 and thats exactly what online bookmakers expect from Everton who are odds-on to finish in the top half of the Premier League table.
It wasn’t just the league form that disappointed fans as Everton were early casualties in both cup competitions, losing to West Ham on penalties after a replay in the FA Cup 3rd Round and to Swansea in the League Cup 3rd Round. While not among the favourites to lift either of those trophies this season, Everton are certainly capable of going on a decent run and some excellent odds can be had for those fancying them to go all the way.
The season begins with the visit of newly promoted Watford, but games against Manchester City(H), Tottenham Hotspur(A), Chelsea(H), Liverpool(H), Manchester United(H) and Arsenal(A) inside the first 10 fixtures suggest it could be difficult to put a good run of results together early on. The festive fixtures look okay on paper, but trips to Man City and Chelsea come shortly after new year before the second Merseyside derby away to Liverpool in February. Games against Arsenal(H) and Manchester United(A) precede a fair run-in, with the final game of the season at home to Norwich.
Manager – Roberto Martinez
Goalkeepers – Joel Robles, Tim Howard, Russell Griffiths
Defenders – Tony Hibbert, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka(c), Séamus Coleman, John Stones, Tyias Browning, , Brendan Galloway, Matthew Pennington, Ramiro Funes Mori, Mason Holgate
Midfielders – Darron Gibson, Aiden McGeady, Bryan Oviedo, Aaron Lennon, James McCarthy, Muhamed Beši?, Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Tom Cleverley, Gerard Deulofeu
Forwards – Arouna Koné, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith, Conor McAleny, Leandro Rodríguez
Roberto Martinez will be keen to continue the development of a number of young players who have impressed in spells for the club. Ross Barkley and John Stones lead the way for Everton’s crop of talented youngsters and they can also expect more game time from Tyias Browning and Conor McAleny.
Looking at the squad as a whole, it’s fair to say Everton have almost a perfect balance between youth and experience. The aforementioned young stars are joined in the dressing room by the likes of Leighton Baines, Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Phil Jagielka. All of these players have amassed more than 200 games for Everton and the identity they provide within the dressing room will be crucial when harnessing the potential of the younger players.
A lot of their hopes will again rest on record signing, Lukaku, who joined from Chelsea for £28 million. Lukaku is the team’s major goal threat and has the burden of being the club’s main striker to go alongside that heavy transfer fee. Although Steven Naismith looked strong last season in support, Everton need their Belgian forward to carry on scoring if they are to fight for European football next season.
Everton Top Goal Scorers 2014/15 (All Comps)
Romelu Lukaku – 20
Kevin Mirallas – 11
Steven Naismith – 8
Phil Jagielka – 6
Séamus Coleman – 5
Lukaku has played two full Premier League seasons to date and has scored a total of 36 goals in these two seasons while at Goodison Park, which makes for promising reading if you’re an Everton fan.