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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Everton

Barnsley v Everton: Pre-Season Friendly

BARNSLEY, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Ronald Koeman manager of Everton during the pre-season friendly match between Barnsley and Everton at Oakwell Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Barnsley, England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)"n

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The winds of change have blown into Goodison Park and excitement is in the air with a new owner, manager and plenty of changes in the playing staff for the nine-time champions of England.

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British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri has promised to splash the cash to bring top players to Everton and even though they’ve so far failed to spend big this summer, new manager Ronald Koeman will be able to attract top quality players to Goodison Park.

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Finishing in the top four is always the aim for Everton but over the past two seasons they regressed under Roberto Martinez before he was fired last season. They are a stylish attacking unit but Koeman should add more substance in his debut season in charge of the Toffees. Big things are expected but plenty of pressure comes with the lofty ambitions of Everton’s fans.

A fast start to the season sees Everton challenging for the top four: This could really happen. If you look at Everton’s first seven games, the only game you say they shouldn’t win is against Tottenham at home on the opening day. That means Koeman could get off to a flier and we all know how important it is to have a good start, especially when you’re a new manager coming in. With so many other big clubs in transition, perhaps Everton can shock a few people and push hard for at least a top six finish and maybe more?

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Without Stones and Lukaku, Everton in the bottom half and Koeman under pressure: Now, of course this is all hypothetical but with Stones edging towards a move to Man City and Chelsea’s interest in Romelu Lukaku intensifying, who knows how hard that will hit Everton. They have a month to figure this out but if both leave during the transfer window and Koeman is priced out of other options on the market, could Everton be in an even worse position than last season? It’s certainly not inconceivable and the pressure will be on, especially if Moshiri spends plenty of money on new players late on in the window.

Best Possible XI
----- Robles -----

--- Coleman --- Williams (?) --- Funes Mori --- Baines ---

--- Gueye --- McCarthy ---

--- Deulofeu --- Barkley --- Mirallas ---

----- Lukaku -----

Transfers In: Maarten Stekelenburg (Undisclosed, Fulham), Idrissa Gueye ($9.3 million, Aston Villa), Bassala Sambou (Free, Coventry City), Chris Renshaw (Free, Oldham Athletic), Joe Hilton (Free, Manchester City), Nathan Baxter (Free, Vitesse)

Transfers Out: Tim Howard (Free, Colorado Rapids), Aidan Graham, Tony Hibbert, Felipe Mattioni, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Jindrich Stanek, Jordan Thorniley (All released)

Last season: A pretty awful season for Everton. Martinez was fired as manager before the final game of the season as Everton finished in 11th place. That might not sound bad but with so many poor defensive performances at home and two-straight seasons of finishing outside the top 10 (okay, 2014-15 saw them focus more on the Europa League, which is understandable) something had to give. Everton did reach the FA Cup and League Cup semifinals but lost to eventual winners Manchester City and Manchester United in both competitions.

Everton v Arsenal - Premier League

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Ross Barkley of Everton and Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on March 19, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

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Star player: Ross Barkley - It is time for the Everton academy product to take hold of his team and under Koeman he will be given the chance to thrive. Despite some good numbers, Barkley’s career stalled a little last season but let’s not forget that he’s one of the brightest attacking talents in the PL under the age of 23. He has bags of experience under his belt already but now it’s time to turn that into goals and assists for Everton.

Coach’s Corner: Ronald Koeman - There is plenty of expectation on Koeman’s shoulders after the marvelous job he did at Southampton over the past two seasons. Many were surprised when he quit Saints for Everton but given the huge sums of money said to be on offer from new owner Moshiri, Koeman believes he can have the Toffees challenging for a top four finish. He has plenty of work to do but an easy fixture list to start the season with will certainly elongate his honeymoon period. His solid defensive work coupled with a philosophy to keep the ball should please Evertonians.

Koeman Kenwright

Anthony McArdle - 07844 334 834

PST predicts: A season of improvement for Everton but it will be tough to break into the top six with so many powerhouses strengthening and having new, talented managers of their own. Koeman should be happy if he guides Everton to a top 10 finish and goes far in both cup competitions. Steady progress will be key but with Stones and Lukaku’s future uncertain, this prediction could change by the end of August if any money coming in isn’t spent wisely on new players.

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