Everton v Stoke

So, the return of the Premier League is upon us.

A whole year awaits until the start of non-competitive football… Thank god for that.

After what feels like an eternity since Ronald Koeman finished his first campaign at the helm with a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, the Blues are back in town.

The Grand Old Lady awaits the visit of Stoke City this Saturday.

The Potters finished 13th last term in what was a very inconsistent year for Mark Hughes’ men.

The loss of influential figureheads such as Marko Arnautović, Jon Walters, Glenn Whelan and Phil Bardsley over the summer could prove to be a real hindrance.

They are an early tip to be one of this season’s strugglers.

Ones to watch –

Goalkeeper Jack Butland will prove difficult to beat between the sticks. After finally getting over months of injury misery, the young England stopper looks like he can fulfil his massive potential.

Kurt Zouma, a loan signing from champions Chelsea, looks an astute acquisition and will definitely shore up Stoke’s backline.

Xherdan Shaqiri is always a handful and after lighting up L4 two seasons ago, he’s one the defence need to keep close tabs on.

Enough about them though, onto what we’re all here for, the Toffeemen.

No pre-season injuries is a massive success in itself.

It means everyone bar long term absentees Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori and want-away Ross Barkley are available for selection on opening day.

The Dutchman has used a number of different systems in the preparation for the campaigns opener so it’s a mystery as to what formation or style of play will be used.

Blues’ fans will be hoping to see all the available new signings make their Premier League bow.

The Goodison faithful want to see just why Farhad Moshiri has splashed big money on new recruits.

Everton, especially with a tough run of fixtures following, will be desperate for a win – and to end the unwanted run of four opening day draws in a row.

It’s a long old season ahead let’s hope it’s one filled with success for the blue part of Merseyside.

Up the Toffees.

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