That time is upon us again. That feeling we get at this time of year. Not that it’s ‘our year’, we’re not them, but that feeling that we are getting our Everton back. The proper one. Not the pre season one, personally I hate that one, and all that comes with it. The transfer window, which ludicrously goes into the season. The papers selling our better players for us. All that.
But no, this weekend we get Everton back. In a game that matter. In a season that matters. Goodison will be full, whether that’s with last season chorus of boos, or the season before chorus of joy, I’m not to tell at this stage. Some say we are in trouble before a ball is kicked, some say we are in for a treat as we’ve not lost anyone. Odds are it’ll be somewhere in between.
Let’s take a look at our rivals for the season and how they are faring in traditional alphabetical order.
Arsenal – Looking good you have to admit. Everyone knows they were a decent side and have been for years, but with some god awful keepers in recent years a title push was never going to happen. Enter Peter Cech. They’ll be up there and no mistake.
Key Player: Alexis Sanchez
Aston Villa – I am not a fan. Tim Sherwood is horrible. They’ve signed a whole host of randoms to replace Benteke and Cleverley and not one of them is as good those they’ve lost….probably. Would anyone really be sad to see Sherwood fail?
Key Player: Jack Grealish
AFC Bournemouth – Another handily placed South team for me to visit (I’m on the South Coast if unaware), and it’s nice to have them here. Eddie Howe, a boyhood Evertonian, knows how to get his side of decent lower level players kicking it around in good style. They may well be favourites for the drop, but I can see them shocking a few.
Key Player: Harry Arter
Chelsea – They’ve annoyed their fair share of blues this summer with odious bids for our star kid defender, but I can’t help but like Jose. And really, who wouldn’t want John Stones?! We’ve seen and enjoyed his games before, just never been the victim. Obviously they will be title challengers this season, and if Falcao scores about 30 this season we can all laugh at Manchester United.
Key Player: Eden Hazard
Crystal Palace – Hard to have an opinion on Palace. They seem harmless. But always beat us at Goodison. And then there’s that gang of fans in the corner that seem intent on being ‘proper fans’. Either way signing Cabaye is a real coup, which has somewhat been evened out by spending big on Connor Wickham.
Key Player: Yohan Cabaye
Leicester City – The ultimate great escape was impressive last season. From speaking to a Foxes fan this week, they seem happy to accept exactly the same season should it happen again. Ranieri is such a random choice as new manager. Can’t see him lasting.
Key Player: Andrej Kramaric
Liverpool – We’ve all seen it already. It’d they’re year already. Of course it is.
It’s not though.
Key Player: Phillipe Coutinho
Manchester City – Don’t know about you but I’m shocked to see Pellegrini still in charge at the Etihad. He seems a nice bloke, but he’s not Guardiola who they are blatantly pinning their future hopes on. The Sterling saga was amusing and he will score for City, but they don’t seem to have added much else. Easy top 4 though minimum.
Key Player: Sergio Aguero
Manchester United – Lost Di Maria (probably), Van Persie and a few others, but have got in Schweinstieger, Schneiderlen and Depay among others. Is it enough to win the league? Doubt it. If Rooney gets hurt not many goals there for now. Seen some United fans be upset with Van Gaal. Are they ever happy?
Newcastle United – So lucky that there were some awful teams in the Premier League last season. McLaren is a good coach. I’m just not sure he’s a good manager. Mitrovic up front will be interesting, and Wijnaldum seems well thought of. Look lower mid table still.
Key Player: Giorgio Wijnaldum
Norwich City – I have family reasons for disliking this lot, and will have great pleasure in seeing them fail again. I wonder if they will still bend over for Liverpool now Suarez isn’t there? Probably.
Key Player: Nathan Redmond
Southampton – Slightly less pillaging of their better players this summer, but have still lost Clyne and Schneiderlein, the latter being such a key player ever since he joined when they were in League 1. Again Koeman has hired what seems decent replacements but it can’t always work that way. Can it?
Key Player: Dusan Tadic
Stoke City – AKA Barcelona Rejects. I mean Mark Hughes has changed Stoke, and fair play for that. But it’s still Stoke. They still have Phil Bardsley and that’s that. Seen some blues glance jealous eyes towards the Britannia this summer, and I don’t know why.
Key Player: Charlie Adam
Sunderland – Could be another struggle. A couple of incomings look like being midfielders Yann M’Villa and Leroy ‘dodgy knees’ Fer, but that won’t help with the goal scoring that looks like being veteran Jermain Defoe’s job for the year. Still better than Kone.
Key Player: Lee Cattermole
Swansea City – Annoyingly good. Best way I can think to describe them. They are the club that teams like Bournemouth should aspire to be. Very much settled in the top flight now with some decent, if not spectacular, players on their books. Interesting to see how Andre Ayew gets on.
Key Player: Bafetimbi Gomis
Tottenham Hotspur – Seem to have spent all summer clearing out the players they bought in with the Bale money. For a loss on just about every single one. However, Christian Eriksen was not one of them and he is very good at togger. Alderweireld upset Southampton and joined to help a defence that concedes too many to get in the top 4.
Key Player: Harry Kane (will go one way or the other!)
Watford – Our first opponents for the season in the Z-Cars derby. A swanky new foreign manager, and a few foreign signings. They’ve never managed to stay up so will this time be different? Probably not but we wish Elton John the best.
Key Player: Troy Deeney
West Brom – £8m for James Chester. Good god. Anyway, a lot will rest on the shoulders of Saido Berahino this season. He can score, that’s not in question, but can Pullis’ boys get the ball to him enough without conceding more the other end? Not sure.
Key Player: Saido Berahino
West Ham – We don’t like Slaven Bilic OK? That’s just the way it is. Having said that, the man is a little unhinged and that could be funny to see as it could ruin any good work West Ham may have done last season and building toward their big stadium move. Oh and Angelo Ogbonna, no thanks.
Key Player: Dmitri Payet (apparently)
So there we have it. To be honest, writing all that has made me feel a little better about Everton’s chances this season. Yes we are about 3 or 4 players off being any good, but should they arrive there isn’t too much to be afraid of in the rest of the league bar the usual top 3 or 4.
Where will we finish? Impossible to answer. Ask me again when the transfer window has closed, if I haven’t punched my TV in on deadline day.