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Premier League 2014-15 preview: Everton

Aug 6, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

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After flirting with a Top 4 finish last season and falling one spot short, Everton have enjoyed an active summer in the transfer market carefully addressing their needs to make Champions League dreams become reality.

Renowned as a club tied to a shoe-string budget, Everton shattered that reputation this summer when manager Roberto Martinez convinced theater producer-come-chairman Bill Kenwright to smash the club’s transfer record and pony up $47 million to acquire Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea. Scoring 16 goals in all competitions, the Belgian striker was a revelation at Goodison Park while on loan last year and the Toffee faithful will hope he can replicate the effort this year as the club once again eyes that elusive Top 4 finish.

[Related: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, $47 million), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros, $3 million), Gareth Barry (Manchester City, $3 million)

Transfers Out: None

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Last Season: Expectations were exceeded during Martinez’ first year at the helm as the Toffees finished 5th and qualified for the UEFA Europa League. Arguably even more important was the stylistic transformation the Blues endured, going from a conservative, Route 1-infused approach under David Moyes to a Barcelona-esque, sweet-passing side under Martinez.

source: Getty ImagesStar Player: Romelu Lukaku

You don’t pay more than double what the club typically spends in any given summer and not call Lukaku the star player. Only 21-years-old, this is the reputation Lukaku deserves and will be forced to live up to at Goodison. An absolute nightmare to mark, the 21-year-old behemoth can beat defenders as easily on the ground as he can off the ball or in the air. Fortunately, the weight on his shoulders shouldn’t prove too heavy as this Everton side is loaded with more stars than perhaps ever before. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are a pair of marauding full-backs, Tim Howard has aged like fine wine and is one of the Top 10 keepers in the world, the powerful Ross Barkley is fast becoming one of the dominant young attackers in the league, Phil Jagielka is a rock at center-back while the pace and clinical finishing of Kevin Mirallas can not be understated.

Coach’s Corner: Roberto Martinez

In just one season on Merseyside, Martinez single-handedly transformed the club into one of most stylish and competitive in England. His brilliant tactics combined with his charming personality have made him a hit with pundits and players alike, with the coup of Lukaku proof-positive of the latter.

PST Predicts: Life in the Premier League will be more difficult this season with the addition of Europa League play but Martinez has done well to strengthen his squad in key areas. Lukaku’s presence up top will be immense but Arouna Kone, healthy after an ACL injury derailed him last year, must establish himself as a viable alternative to provide the Toffees with different albeit dangerous looks. In the midfield, the addition of Muhamed Besic looks a slick move as the Bosnian packs a sharp set of skills to compliment his love for the tackle. He’ll rotate with another key signing, Gareth Barry, alongside James McCarthy in the holding role while the return to health of Darron Gibson adds additional depth at this key position. The back four is another place Besic can fit in but isn’t unlikely to do so as Baines and Coleman are backed by Bryan Oviedo and Tony Hibbert, while John Stones will press Sylvain Distin for his starting spot alongside Jagielka at center-back.

When all is said and done in the 2014-15 Premier League season you can once again expect Everton in and around the Top 4.

  1. blugold94 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    A couple of things….I don’t think the Lukaku signing indicates a change in the ways of Kenwright and we’ll see Everton opening the wallet more often. That signing was a must in a huge need area….without it, no chance of maintaining or improving on last season’s result.

    I hope the writer is right that Everton will be in and around the top 4 this season. I think it will be much tougher to do what they did last season even with the good talent and outstanding manager. Man United and Spurs underachieved last season so Everton will need to be better as those two squads should be better too. Chelsea and Arsenal looks stronger and I think Liverpool will step back. The top 7 is very strong and playing Europa League won’t make it any easier for Everton.

    We’ll find out early how big a threat for Champions League football Everton is….if they hold the home pitch with wins against Chelsea and Arsenal in the first few weeks then it could be a very exciting season for the Blues.

  2. digbysellers - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    No way Howard is a “Top 10″ GK in the world…he’s Top 5 at the very, very least.

    • konmtu - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      For me, it’s
      1. Courtois
      2. Buffon (Although he’s starting to show his age.)
      3. Howard

      • jhnyr45 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        Neuer????

      • konmtu - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Overrated, IMO. It’s easy to be the keeper at Bayern. Put him in Howard’s or Guzan’s place. Then it’s easier to judge how good he is.

  3. tarotsujimoto74 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    How do you write up a preview about Everton and fail to mention Ross Barkley even once? I’d argue he’s their star player over Lukaku.

    • jhnyr45 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      he was in the video though, which is cooler

  4. navyeoddavee9 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Agreed Barkley 1, Lukaku 1a, you write an article about the upcoming season, and don’t mention Barkley?

    • jessedinner - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Barkley is great and has potential but still hasn’t shown he is their superstar. I think he can be one but Lukaku is blatantly the man at this pt.

  5. mikeevergreen - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    From the article:

    “the powerful Ross Barkley is fast becoming one of the dominant young attackers in the league,”

    He was mentioned in the article.

    Just know this: Goodison will be a nightmare for opponents this season.

    • tarotsujimoto74 - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      That must have been added in after the previous comments. I ran a search for his name in the article because I couldn’t believe he wasn’t mentioned.

  6. navyeoddavee9 - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Barkley reference was added after article was posted, no reference in original posting

  7. Comrade23 - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    “while the pace and clinical finishing of Kevin Mirallas can not be understated.”

    I think you meant, “cannot be overstated.” Meaning his skills cannot be too highly praised.

  8. gusto181 - Aug 11, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Seamus Coleman! COYB

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