With the excitement building ahead of the new Premier League season we take a look at all of Everton’s opponents in what promises to be one of the most exciting and open top flight seasons for a number of years.
With last season’s top three all under new management the opportunity for the chasing pack to shake up the established order has never been so great. We have put our neck on the line and predicted where each team will finish from first to twentieth. Use the comments section at the bottom of the article to let us know your thoughts. Have we got it about right or have we totally underestimated the chances of our big rivals?
1st – Chelsea
Jose Mourinho, love him or hate him, you cannot ignore his fantastic record wherever he has managed. In his previous spell in charge of Chelsea he led the Londoners to two Premier League titles and with both Manchester clubs also suffering significant upheaval, Chelsea are our tips for the title. Everton’s recent record against Chelsea is good, although last season the Pensioners did the double over the Toffees. Indeed Chelsea were the only side to beat Everton at Goodison in the league all season.
2nd – Manchester City
New City manager Manuel Pellegrini has previous with Everton having led his Villarreal side past Everton in the 2005 Champions League qualifier. Another former Real Madrid manager, Pellegrini has recruited well, but with a focus on the Champions League, we are expecting City to finish just short of the title, even if they will be the pride of Manchester.
3rd – Manchester United
This season will be a massive learning curve for former Everton boss David Moyes. The pressure of following Sir Alex Ferguson will be huge and Moyes has struggled in the transfer market. He is keen to recruit a marquee signing and may still return to Goodison for Fellaini and Baines. If the United board remain patient with Moyes we believe he will be successful at Old Trafford, but the first 12 months will be tough, especially with City and Chelsea spending significantly in the transfer market.
4th – Arsenal
We were tempted to put Spurs in fourth place, but with uncertainty over Gareth Bale and because Arsenal always seem to time their run for fourth perfectly we have stuck with Wenger’s Gunners. Whether or not he can recruit Suarez, Arsenal have again failed to recruit significantly, despite promises to the contrary earlier in the summer. Criticism of Wenger is growing, but despite his failings, he has always ensured Champions League football for Arsenal throughout his time in charge.
5th – Tottenham Hotspur
Even if they lose Bale, we expect Spurs to push the established top four all the way. They appear to have signed well, with Soldado arriving from Valencia and Paulinho two high quality arrivals. Spurs do look suspect at the back, but in Lloris they have an excellent goalkeeper. Evertonians will remember the injury time victory over Spurs last season and will hope to further extend their excellent home record against the North Londoners.
6th – Everton
We are truly excited about the new campaign and believe Everton will again finish above the Reds from across the park. Martinez has signed well, strengthening the squad and as we type, has managed to fend off interest in a number of his star players. If Nikica Jelavic returns to the form he enjoyed in his opening season for the Blues, then Everton will have the fire power to really threaten fourth place.
7th – Liverpool
The storm over Luis Suarez is bound to have damaged the plans of Brendan Rodgers. The ex-Swansea manager has planned his entire team around the Uruguayan but it looks unlikely that Suarez will feature for the Reds this season and even if he makes an about turn, he is banned for the opening two months of the new campaign. Liverpool have made a number of moves in the transfer market, but with the season kicking off have so far failed to make the marquee signing they desired.
8th – Swansea
Michael Laudrup has recruited well and has smashed the clubs transfer record to sign Wilfried Bony. The Swans will need to manage rising expectations and if they continue to progress in the Europa League they will play a significant number of games throughout the season. Laudrup was heavily linked with the Everton job, but ruled himself out of the running early in the process, although Martinez was always Kenwright’s first choice.
9th – Southampton
Mauricio Pochettino arrived at Southampton in January and did well to ensure they remained in the Premier League. The Saints will have to manage the second season syndrome but have made minor changes to the squad to strengthen in key areas. Wanyama from Celtic will provide a big physical presence in midfield, but the Saints will again rely upon new England striker Ricky Lambart for goals. Evertonian and club captain Adam Lallana will hope to establish himself in the starting line-up after dropping in and out of form last season.
10th – Norwich City
Norwich have been one of the biggest movers in the transfer market and have recruited well, including two Everton targets in Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond. Martinez decided against moves for both but Evertonians will watch their progress with interest. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel comes with a big reputation and Gary Hooper will look to transfer his goals from the SPL to England.
11th – West Ham United
The Hammers have spent heavily to recruit Liverpool failure Andy Carroll. The big Geordie striker fits well with the tactics of Sam Allardyce and West Ham will take a physical approach to the Premier League. West Ham were Everton’s final Goodison opponents last season and looked well short in terms of Premier League quality. Their work in the transfer market has done very little to convince us that they can finish any higher than top of the bottom half.
12th – Sunderland
Paulo Di Canio will always be welcome at Goodison after his tremendous act of sportsmanship, choosing to pick the ball up rather than tap the ball into an empty net with Paul Gerrard, the Everton goalkeeper lying injured outside of his goal. Sunderland have signed a huge number of players, with former Juventus winger Giaccherini the pick of the bunch. Di Canio will have a difficult job to amalgamate such a significant number of new signings into his team and must be wary of what happened at QPR last season.
13th – Newcastle United
Newcastle have again made themselves the laughing-stock of the Premier League, appointing Joe Kinnear above manager Alan Pardew. They have struggled to make signings but have recruited Loic Remy on loan from QPR and are still hoping to add further strikers to their ranks. Former Blue, Dan Gosling remains at St James Park, but has failed to establish himself in the team and is facing a make or break campaign at Newcastle.
14th – West Bromwich Albion
West Brom enjoyed a fabulous season under Steve Clarke last year but have lost Romelu Lakaku after he returned to Chelsea and despite signing an aging Nicolas Anelka it is hard to see where the goals will come from. A number of teams started to work out the Baggies in the second half of last season and they miss a creative edge to their team. David Moyes endured a terrible record against West Brom and Everton will hope a change of manager brings a change of fortune at the Hawthorns.
15th – Aston Villa
Villa were fortunate to survive last season but they were eventually rewarded for the gamble they took in youth. Christian Benteke was the main difference between relegation and survival and they have done very well to retain his services. Everton produced their best display of the season at Villa Park, destroying the Midlanders in a blistering first half performance.
16th – Cardiff
For the first time in the short history of the Premier League, the competition will feature two Welsh sides with Cardiff joining Swansea in the top flight. Everton will get an early look at the Bluebirds, with Martinez taking his Toffees to South Wales for the third game of the new season. Cardiff face a difficult season but we fully expect them to retain their Premier League status.
17th – Stoke City
With former Everton striker Mark Hughes now in charge of Stoke City they will adopt a different approach to their play this season. Tony Pulis may have been unfortunate to lose his job but Stoke have been on a downward curve for 18 months now and we expect that to continue next season with the Potters narrowly avoiding relegation to the Championship.
18th – Fulham
Martin Jol and Fulham are the first of the teams we expect to lose their Premier League status. The Cottagers are under new ownership but up until now have shown very little sign of investing in the playing squad. Berbatov brings an element of class to the team but he goes missing far too often and it is hard to see where the wins will come from to keep the West Londoners afloat.
19th – Hull City Tigers
Yes really, the Hull City Tigers. The owners deserve relegation just for the name change alone. Steve Bruce did a tremendous job to earn promotion but Hull lack the quality to compete in the Premier League and they are destined for an immediate return to the Championship.
20th – Crystal Palace
Ian Holloway will bring his own unique management style to the Premier League but like Hull it is hard to see them remaining in the top flight for long, especially will a lack of any real investment in the playing squad. Palace have enjoyed a number of one-off seasons in the Premier League and this is likely to be another.