Everton and Tottenham Hotspur face off against each other today in what will be one of the most interesting matches to look forward to. A couple of seasons back both these teams were considered to be on an even keel, both of them fighting to be in and around the Top 6. But a regressive season under Roberto Martinez and a revolutionary season under Mauricio Pochettino has transformed the fortunes of these two teams drastically. Spurs will be looking to carry on from their 3rd place finish last season and will want to give a good account of themselves in the Champions League while Ronal Koeman will have to pick up the under-performing Everton side and make them a force to reckon with, again.
Ronald Koeman will be without the services of the talismanic Wales National Team captain Ashley Williams who is still not match-fit. Right-back Seamus Coleman is also a doubt as is their star striker Romelu Lukaku. Both will be hoping to prove their fitness in time for the match. Skipper Phil Jagielka is in line to start after being passed fit. Two new signings Idrissa Gueye and Marten Stekelenburg are expected to make their debuts. But Koeman has stressed that overall, the team is at 70% fitness of what he expects them to be.
Jan Vertonghen is back in training and will look to be match fit for the opening game of their season. Son is unavailable as he is representing South Korea in the Olympics. Dembele is banned as he is serving his remaining four matches of suspension carried over from last season. Wanyama is in line to make his debut in the Belgian’s absence.
Stekelenburg; Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines; Idrissa Gueye, Gareth Barry; Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas; Romelu Lukaku
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1)
Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Wanyama; Eriksen, Dele Alli, Lamela; Kane
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ROSS BARKLEY- To put it bluntly, the mercurial England international has failed to live up to his billing till now. Touted as a world-class midfield powerhouse a few seasons back, inconsistency has plagued Barkley like a disease. But the fans would be hoping that under the tutelage of Ronald Koeman he is able to finally have a consistent season. We are no strangers to his potential and if the new manager-player combo clicks, Everton will be a real force this season.
HARRY KANE- The usual suspect, Kane will be tasked with getting Spurs off to a flier. The English contingent in the team will be eager to put their Euro nightmare behind them and what better way than banging in a few goals against a rebuilding Everton team. Kane is a pre-season contender for the Golden Boot this year also and will like to steal a march on his prospective rivals.
Though Tottenham will be favourites going into the match, an opening day at the Goodison is never easy. Koeman would not want to lose his first match after a controversial switch from Southampton and will like to put his first points on board. Ashley William’s absence will be a blow and Koeman will back his old warhorse Jagielka to steady the defence.