By Neil Wood
With only a few days until Premier League opening day, Ronald Koeman will have his work cut out preparing and planning for the visit of Stoke City in Everton’s first home match of a campaign that the fans hope is the start of a new era for the club.
From the defensive unit missing key men such as Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori, right through to the main striker, the Toffees boss has decisions to make before sending out a side in what will be considered a very winnable opening fixture.
Starting in goal, new signing Jordan Pickford is a sure-fire starter and has already impressed fans and pundits alike with his recent showings for the club.
in defence, with the recent acquisition of Michael Keane, it is thought the centre-half will be one of the first names on the teamsheet but who will he accompany?
Phil Jagielka is still a key part of Everton’s squad, recently signing a one-year contract extension, and Koeman could look to pairing them both in this opening encounter.
If he decides on three at the back, the option remains to use Ashley Williams and two wing-backs, likely to be the evergreen Leighton Baines and Mason Holgate, another youngster given a good amount of minutes last season.
With multiple options in midfield and up top, this will give the Everton boss a tricky yet welcome selection headache.
A midfield of Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye employed as the holding pair surely will be out to prove they are one of the best pairings in the Premier League.
Young Tom Davies, something of a revelation last season and sure to get many more opportunities, will probably miss out, with Davy Klaassen starting just in front of the aforementioned holding pair with Sandro Ramirez and Ademola Lookman as the wide-men.
Up top, Wayne Rooney will be looking to impress in his first Premier League encounter for Everton since his departure to Manchester United.
With a larger squad, probability of further additions and competition for places stronger than seen previously, Everton will be looking to start well in this campaign to give them the impetus to push for Champions League qualification.
Possible Everton team vs Stoke City (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Holgate, Jagielka, Keane, Baines; Schneiderlin, Gueye; Lookman, Klaassen, Ramirez; Rooney