Everton season preview: An already good squad, now with extra goal power

Emily Ward looks at whether new manager Roberto Martinez’s style of football can take Everton towards the top four.

Everton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

Everton would like to hold on to Leighton Baines in the transfer window

Last Season

6th. They slowly climbed up the ladder, going one better than the previous season (7th). Everton started off with a bang and were playing some incredible football but they peaked a bit too soon and a dip followed after Christmas before a late surge to close out the campaign. A fairly decent season for Everton bar their cup runs.

Off-season report

David Moyes’s replacement Roberto Martinez has taken Arouna Kone with him from Wigan to Everton in a clever move. There is a potential saga to come over Leighton Baines with the club already having rejected a £12 million bid from Manchester United, but there are suggestions that the United will return with an improved bid.

Realistically,  it is unlikely he will leave. It is also thought United will go in for Marouane Fellaini if they fail to secure Cesc Fabregas; this would be a blow to Everton. Not too much movement in or out but that suits them.

Season objectives

Everton will be pushing to finish another place higher in the Premier League to get that guaranteed European spot. Last season was the fourth consecutive season Everton have missed out on competing in Europe. However, the battle for 5th place is tight so this may not be the way to achieve the European dream and the focus may be on winning a cup.

Manager

Roberto Martinez, ex-Wigan manager, has taken over from David Moyes and he has big boots to fill but he is certainly up to the challenge. With such a great team to his use, if he can keep them as motivated as Moyes did, then he will succeed. He will be looking at a more possession based game.

Strengths

Everton have a team full of great players that combine well throughout the pitch, from Baines to Steven Pienaar to Leon Osman. This is an experienced, solid and stable team. Fellaini was the real surprise last season as he netted 12 goals, not bad for a midfielder.

Weaknesses

For such a high finishing team, it is surprising that their main problem is a lack of goals, in comparison to the teams around them, which lead to too many draws costing them vital points.

If you take away the 12 goals from Fellaini, then Everton would have finished on just +3 goal difference. They cannot rely on him so much this season. It is also questionable whether Everton have a big enough squad to focus on both success in the Premier League and winning a cup.

Key Player

Leighton Baines is quite simply world class. Everton cannot sell Baines as he is invaluable to them and this is something Martinez is fully aware of as he declared the importance of Baines to what he wants to achieve at Everton. That left foot of his is magical and he is now in a position to really challenge Ashley Cole for his place in the England team.

It’s a big season for

Aroune Kone. A player who has a lot to prove coming from relegated side Wigan. There is no doubting that he can score goals, netting 13 in the league last season. However, can he hold his form at Everton and bring the goals, and points, they will need from a striker to challenge for a higher spot?

Emerging star

19-year-old Gerard Deulofeu is fresh out of the Barcelona academy and is tipped to be one of Europe’s hottest players. A versatile player, who can play as a forward or a winger, this is a fantastic move from Martinez, made even more fantastic from the deal that if the star plays in at least 50% of Everton’s games, then they do not have to pay the loan fee. Guaranteed playing time for this boy, he will be a real treat for the rest of the league.

Prediction

Top Eight. It is hard to tell how well Martinez will adapt to managing Everton but he may give them the further motivation and drive to make that 5th spot finish. Even if this is not the case, Everton are a strong enough team with their players alone to remain in the Top Eight.

It was a disappointing run for Everton last season in both cups, but no doubt Martinez would like to start his time as manager off with a cup. And the right man he is for this job after his astounding FA Cup win with Wigan.

Overall, no massive squad changes so more of the same, plus a few more goals, should be expected from this consistent side.

You can read more from Emily at her blog A Female Perspective or follow her on Twitter @emilyward1990

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