PREVIEW by Amir Mir
Ronald Koeman could shoehorn winger Gerard Deulofeu into the spearhead role for Everton’s Premier League opener against Tottenham on Saturday.
Koeman is likely to use some makeshift options against Spurs even if he uses the 4-2-3-1 formation he favoured at Southampton, where he finished in the top eight in two successive seasons.
The Merseyside club have had an active summer with the sale of England defender John Stones to Manchester City for £47.5 million, landing a new director of football in Steve Walsh and making the first of what could be many major signings in the coming weeks
Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gueye signed for 7.1 million, as centre-back Ashley Williams moved from Swansea for £9 million.
After the departure of veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard last season, new recruit Maarten Stekelenburg is expected to start in goal after his summer move from Championship side Fulham.
The Toffees will have a number of players missing for their opening fixture with senior duo Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman expected to miss the game through injury, while midfielder Mo Besic is expected to be sidelined for at least six months.
It means winger Deulofeu will most likely start up front, a position he played during pre-season where he found the net on three occasions.
However, the game comes too soon for new signing Williams as Koeman confirmed he needs ten days of training, which means Phil Jagielka is expected to partner Funes Mori at the heart of the club’s defence.
It also means with Coleman missing at right-back, academy product Tom Davies could start his second successive game for the club, after featuring on the last day of last season.
Midfielder Idrissa Gueye will have the task of stopping the goals, as he hopes to form a solid partnership with Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy in the middle of the park after 55 goals were conceded last season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will provide a stern test for Koeman on his Everton debut, with the visitors finishing in a Champions League place last season while Everton finished in the bottom half.
There have been 18 draw in the last 48 Premier League encounters between these two teams, including a draw at Goodison last season.