Everton will finish in fourth spot this season, behind both Manchester clubs, and Antonio Conte’s, Chelsea. You heard it here first, so get your betting app out.
Ok, there may be a few raised eyebrows, but hear me out.
Everton have one of the best managers in the league. For all the talk around your Jose Mourinhos, Jurgen Klopps, Antonio Contes, Pep Guardiolas etc, Koeman is the quiet Dutchman who can compete with all these tactical geniuses.
The ex-Southampton man proved this with the Saints, as many tipped the South Coast outfit to go down after their mass exodus of players to Merseyside. The former Ajax gaffer instead subtly went about his business, establishing Southampton as a well-drilled, exciting footballing side, taking the St Mary’s outfit to their highest points tally of 63, and sixth position, last year.
Everton also have a striker in Romelu Lukaku who has everything in his locker and will get 20+ goals this season, starting with the forward’s hat-trick against Sunderland. The Belgian knocked on the 20-door-mark last season, with 18 strikes to his name – in Koeman, the Toffees can get the best out of their forward players in helping Lukaku to become a hot favourite for the ‘Golden Boot’, this year.
When a club have such a player capable of this in their dressing room, it is highly unlikely that the team will finish outside the top four, as only Tottenham have failed to qualify for the fourth spot in the past six seasons with a 20+ goal scorer.
— Martin Kitney (@realkitters) September 13, 2016
The Merseyside team are also now more balanced in defence with the addition of Ashley Williams, making the former Swansea City captain the ideal partner for Phil Jagielka in the heart of the back four. The pair have only conceded two goals this season, joint first (as of 12th September). This will no doubt result in more regular clean sheets, again with Koeman having greater defensive acumen than his predecessor, Roberto Martinez.
Both Yannick Bolasie and Idrissa Gueye look like really good summer signings, which is no surprise given Everton’s approach of appointing super scout, Steve Walsh. The Toffees have created a real spine in the side, and have plenty of options coming off the bench with players such as Gerard Deulofeu being more than capable of changing a game.
If Everton are going to get that final Champions League spot, who are they replacing?
Arsenal are yet to look convincing, especially after their lucky win on the weekend to bag all three points, against a Southampton team which are currently out of sorts. Although the capture of Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi gives reason for encouragement, Perez has yet to fully prove himself at the top level. Ok, the Spanish man got 17 goals in La Liga, but the Spanish top flight and the Premier League are two totally different ‘animals’.
Mustafi offers a more reassuring presence in defence, but there are still question marks across the back-four, whilst Mustafi could get found wanting in his first season of English football. The German centre-back has been booked 21 times over two seasons in La Liga, and this could cost him in a league where 50:50s are crucial in all matches, as well as potentially harming his Arsenal teammates with this poor discipline.
Arsenal will no doubt have games where they turn over teams 4-0, but they all too regularly fail to kill off matches. To grind out a 1-0 win for three weeks on the trot is just not in the Arsene Wenger DNA, and with the league being more competitive than ever, this will ultimately cost the Gunners at the business end of the season.
Harry Kane has had two pretty special seasons, and yes, the Englishman opened his account against Stoke City. But Kane does not have the quality to hit 20+ goals again this season.
Kane has been at sixes and sevens with the introduction of, Vincent Janssen, as the Spurs striker has been playing as a no. 10 and no. 9 to accommodate the new signing. Kane needs to consistently be playing at 9, as he is an old-fashioned centre-forward; good at holding up play, good in the air, and a poacher… and not an ‘effing corner-taker.
Pushing the young lad back into the 10 role, will mean he gets nowhere near the goal tally he achieved in the previous two seasons. And, if he does start as a no. 9, Kane will be replaced on the 70-minute mark, as was the case against Stoke.
The north London club will struggle to be as competitive as they were last season without the goals of Kane to challenge as high at the top of the table, and Janssen doesn’t look like he’ll be covering his teammate’s lack of strikes – although the Dutchman works hard, coming from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is a huge change, as Memphis Depay found last year.
Liverpool, bloody brilliant against the big boys, but the loss against Burnley still proves the inconsistencies in Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Anfield outfit are brilliant going forward, they create bucket loads of chances with the amount of false 9s they have, but defensively they are still very suspect. Although there’s something to admire in Klopp not paying over the odds this summer; they have real problems at left-back and centre-half. Lucas can not play at the heart of the defence all season, and as reliable as James Milner is, teams will really target the retired England international at left-back – not the calibre of players to guarantee a side a top four finish.