Match Preview: Everton v Tottenham

There are reasons for both clubs to be optimistic ahead of the new season, and yet there are reasons both can feel down about the missed opportunity last season.

Tottenham’s exciting young team fought unexpectedly for the title last season, but progress this year won’t simply be going that extra mile to win it. The big money boys have strengthened so much that you’d expect Tottenham to be feeding for the fourth place scraps like they have done for the past few years.

Everton, meanwhile, have plenty of reason to be excited with the arrival of Ronald Koeman, but the possibility of losing some really key players so close to – or indeed after – the start of the season is dispiriting, as is the fact that the club haven’t been able to splash the cash that is surely there after the arrival of TV money and Farhad Moshiri.

If you’re going to pinpoint big games involving close rivals, this is is a huge one. And so early in the season that it could go either way…

Injury News

LukakuCenter

Both teams have some worrying injury news coming into this fixture. For Everton, it’s perhaps the one player they didn’t want injured before the season’s opening fixture: Romelu Lukaku had to have three stitches in his ankle after injuring himself against Espanyol in a friendly, Ronald Koeman confirmed. Though the boss does remain optimistic that Lukaku will be fit enough to play some part.

Everton definitely will be without Muhamed Besic, however, who will miss the next few months with a knee injury.

Tottenham don’t get off lightly on the injury front, though their main casualty is one they’ve known about for some time – Jan Vertonghen tore ankle ligaments training with Belgium just before their Euro 2016 quarter final with Wales and will miss the start of the season.

Lineups

Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur - International Champions Cup

The great thing about the start of the season is that we don’t really know how clubs are going to start, especially when it’s a new manager’s first game in charge.

For Everton, it will be interesting to see if John Stones and Romelu Lukaku play, given the interest from other clubs.

For Spurs, new signing Victor Wanyama impressed in the friendlies, but it remains to be seen if he was brought in for the first XI or with squad depth in mind.

Key battle

Lukaku v Spurs

Ronald Koeman is in a similar position to the one in which Mauricio Pochettino found himself this time last year.

Last season, Everton conceded 55 goals in the Premier League – the only teams to concede more than the Toffees finished from 16th place downwards. The previous season, Tottenham conceded 53 goals, more than Hull City who were relegated that season – only four teams conceded more.

Yet Pochettino turned it around: no one conceded fewer goals than Tottenham last season. If Koeman can inspire a similar turnaround then Everton will be a force, but it’s a baptism of fire against a Spurs team who were second only to Manchester City in the goalscoring stakes last season.