Yannick Bolasie is in the squad and likely to make his Everton debut at The Hawthorns.
Everton's staggered readiness for 2016-17 gets its second examination this weekend with the team's first away game and a trip to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion.
Another week fitter under the gruelling training regimen implemented by Jan Kluitenburg under the instruction of Ronald Koeman, the Blues could also be two players stronger depending on whether the manager elects to hand both Ashley Williams and Yannick Bolasie their debuts.
Both are likely to be included in the squad but with Williams perhaps borderline in terms of full fitness following his belated return from the European Championships, he might have to be content with the bench.
Bolasie, though, having had the benefit of a full pre-season at Crystal Palace, could face the Baggies for the second week running after coming on as a second-half substitute against West Brom for what would be his last appearance for the Eagles.
Fitness is only part of the equation for Koeman, however. Just as Roberto Martinez's first few weeks at Finch Farm involved ingraining his new charges with a new way of playing, so his successor is instilling a different style to the one that eventually proved counter-productive under the Catalan.
“It's difficult,” Koeman said in his pre-match press conference on Thursday. “It's not only about the physical state of the players, it's also about our philosophy and how we like to play… with more pressing from the front and sometimes playing direct football.
“Of course we like to keep the ball but sometimes the easiest way to create is [through] direct play and if you can change that in the game that's an extra quality for the team but we need time and that's normal.”
After drawing 1-1 on his first visit as Everton boss, Martinez oversaw victories at The Hawthorns in the next two seasons but thanks to his side's infamous defensive vulnerabilities playing out from the back and from set-pieces, they had to come back from 2-0 down for the first time in the Premier League era since that game against Wimbledon 21 years previously.
Koeman acknowledged the Baggies' renowned strengths under Tony Pulis as being reasons why it won't be an easy ride on Saturday. It could be a physical game with the potential for referee Neil Swarbrick to have a busy afternoon and if you fancy having a flutter on just how exercised his notebook and pencil will be, take a look at cardtips.co.uk
“I know from my experiences that it's a very tough opponent,” he admitted. “Maybe one the strongest in terms of direct football, physical strength, very strong defensive organisation and maybe the one of the best teams at set-plays and that's a really nice challenge for us.”
Whether that need for defensive solidity will tip him towards starting Williams — with Seamus Coleman expected to be out for another fortnight, it would almost certainly be at the expense of Mason Holgate — remains to be seen but the manager will be hoping that it's his team's strengths at the other end that win him the game. Romelu Lukaku is expected to play a part after returning to training yesterday for the first time after sustaining a gash to his heel.
It was the Belgian's heroics in combination with Gerard Deulofeu that won all three points in this fixture last season and, having missed out last weekend against Tottenham, he will hopefully be raring to go. Should both he and Bolasie start, however, it will have interesting ramifications for the rest of the line-up from an attacking standpoint — another formation with a back three would mean both Deulofeu and Kevin Mirallas making way, assuming Ross Barkley keeps his place.
The rest of the side is likely to remain unchanged, with James McCarthy expected to continue in the right-wingback role with which he was tasked against Spurs.
Despite getting the new campaign off to a win last weekend, Pulis has been candid in assessment of his team's prospects this season, saying that West Brom need to sign almost half a team before the transfer deadline. Saido Berahino's future continues to rumble on but in Salomon Rondon he has a dangerous striker that Everton will need to keep shackled.
They lack quality in midfield, however, and, as such, will likely rely on their aerial prowess from crosses and dead-ball situations, an Achilles heel for the Blues over the last couple of seasons but one hopefully shored up by the new regime.
With Koeman's own squad-building efforts still not complete and the players still not where he wants them to be physically, Everton are still a work in progress heading into the second game of 2016-17. However, having obtained a decent result last weekend against a side tipped for the top four again this season, if the boss can steer them to a victory this weekend despite not being at full strength, it will bode very well for when they are firing on all cylinders.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Last time: West Brom 2 - 3 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka, Funes Mori, McCarthy, Barry, Gueye, Baines, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (63)
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1 Posted 19/08/2016 at 07:20:40
I'm still surprised we haven't at least brought in one striker as I think we need two. Without Lukaku we are struggling up top and it clearly appears that Niasse and Kone are on their way out.
2 Posted 19/08/2016 at 07:32:57
3 Posted 19/08/2016 at 07:45:36
McCarthy did a solid job against Spurs, but I'd prefer to see Davies in that RWB position against WBA.
Holgate Jags Funes Mori
Davies Gueye Barry Baines
4 Posted 19/08/2016 at 07:46:24
I would be tempted to drop Barkley. I would try Bolaise instead of Barkley as he may be able to offer more right now through the middle in terms of fitness. We can always bring Ross on and then shift Bolaise out wide. We can also bring Lennon on as he will run at West Brom and will help to keep them stretched over the course of the full game.
5 Posted 19/08/2016 at 08:31:07
6 Posted 19/08/2016 at 09:05:54
7 Posted 19/08/2016 at 09:33:26
I am looking forward to seeing his team selection and how he sets them up.
8 Posted 19/08/2016 at 10:26:55
We know that Seamus is out, Ashley Williams isn't quite there yet but will be conidered, Romelu Lukaku is in a similar position.
Bolasie on the other hand has had a full pre-season and therefore fully fit.
Do you start with Rom and replace him after 60 min or bring him on in the latter stages?
Knowing this I'd start with Rom.
I'd also start Williams in a 3-4-1-2
Jags Williams Mori
McCarthy Gueye Barry Baines
10 Posted 19/08/2016 at 11:27:20
11 Posted 19/08/2016 at 12:03:25
Teams like that we need to go 4-4-2.
Bolasie and Del wide, with Rom and Miralas up top.
Guyeye and Barkley cm.
Possibly even Lennon at right back.
We really need to start fast and trying to blow these teams away, that's how you kick on in the prem.
12 Posted 19/08/2016 at 12:31:42
I understand where you're coming from but WBA are no mugs.
Berahino will be running into channels taking a CB with him. Funes Mori on his own to deal with Rondon .!
Three at the back will nullify their attack.
13 Posted 19/08/2016 at 12:38:38
I hate playing WBA since they broke my heart in 1968 in the FA Cup Final. My perception is they are a bogey team - stats may prove otherwise - just hope we can get 3 points tomorrow. A win will boost confidence in the squad and confidence is the essential ingredient for a good season.
14 Posted 19/08/2016 at 12:43:11
Didn't Davies get some time at RB in pre-season? Or even Mirallas who seems eager to impress the new boss and will certainly break forward as often as possible.
Obviously we gotta find room for the two new boys whom I'm really looking forward to seeing.
If Rom isn't started, then Delboy up front with Barkley slotting in.
15 Posted 19/08/2016 at 12:56:41
I really think we are going to need Ashley Williams though, for his physicality,experience and organisational skills at set pieces and corners, that's their strength and our weakness .
16 Posted 19/08/2016 at 13:18:34
17 Posted 19/08/2016 at 13:31:16
18 Posted 19/08/2016 at 14:01:12
19 Posted 19/08/2016 at 14:10:23
20 Posted 19/08/2016 at 14:46:09
21 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:04:06
22 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:16:15
Expect him in blue soon.
23 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:20:53
25 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:27:11
Our boys must not lack focus and I wish them victory from Lagos, Nigeria here.
I will be watching the game through the satellite with my young boy, 9 years old.
26 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:36:58
Yet I do wonder where is Kenny? Or Connelly? Young right backs. Surely now is the chance to see if they are up to it or if we need to buy someone in.
27 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:50:47
Always a tough game against a Pulis side. Hopefully Ronald has a plan. COYB
28 Posted 19/08/2016 at 15:58:28
29 Posted 19/08/2016 at 16:08:35
30 Posted 19/08/2016 at 16:12:10
Feels strange being the bad boys like City and Chelsea but we want the title. I'll learn to deal with it.
31 Posted 19/08/2016 at 16:21:08
32 Posted 19/08/2016 at 17:47:19
Nothing wrong with mixing things up a bit.
33 Posted 19/08/2016 at 18:23:23
34 Posted 19/08/2016 at 18:41:02
35 Posted 19/08/2016 at 18:55:48
Holgate, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
Del Boy, Barkley, Gueye, Bolasie
Keep mixing the two wingers and Mirallas up so WBA can't get settled. Also tell the fullbacks to concentrate on defending so Barkley isn't asked to defend too much. Having Holgate in the back 4 adds an extra big fella for set pieces.
37 Posted 19/08/2016 at 19:13:14
Probably another draw for me, I cant see Lukaku starting the game after only one tentative training session!
If we are going to challenge for anything this season we need a playmaker/ 1 or maybe 2 class front men quick.
I think Kone will be recruited, and maybe another goalkeeper.
38 Posted 19/08/2016 at 19:19:29
If we played a basic 4 4 2 we will play into their hands. They'll soak up pressure and look to score from a set piece.
It will be interesting to see if Williams is fit. If so, I think we'll play with all 3 senior CB's at the back. Away from home, we can't take any premier league team lightly. A 3-5-2 for me.
39 Posted 19/08/2016 at 19:43:24
I'd keep switching our front line to have them so worried about us that they can't really attempt much going forward themselves. Their major threats are set pieces and catching us on the break. Having an extra 6 footer should help with set pieces, and I've assumed Williams won't be thrown in straight away.
Hopefully having the fullbacks concentrate on defending should nullify the threat of being caught on the break.
40 Posted 19/08/2016 at 19:52:09
Big and strong, mobile, aerially threatening - typical Everton 9.
41 Posted 19/08/2016 at 19:56:08
42 Posted 19/08/2016 at 20:37:10
43 Posted 19/08/2016 at 22:33:37
Chris Gould, I agree with you... I think we will play a combative, experienced side with Bolasie, Barkley and Mirallas playing on the counter, can see McCarthy playing right wing back/mid. Geri/Lukaku come on last 30.
Jagielka, Williams, Funes Mori
McCarthy, Barry, Gana, Baines
44 Posted 19/08/2016 at 22:33:40
Subs:- Holgate, Deulofeu, Robles, Galloway, Cleverley, Barkley, Oviedo.
45 Posted 19/08/2016 at 22:39:06
Another thing: he's a diver And didn't we used to deride opposing players for doing that. Now we've got two of the worst in him and Mirallas... Oh, sorry... meant 'Super Kev'.
46 Posted 19/08/2016 at 22:43:40
47 Posted 19/08/2016 at 22:58:40
No game for Williams this week give him some more time to rest.
48 Posted 19/08/2016 at 23:02:41
I still think we may sneak it.
50 Posted 20/08/2016 at 07:35:06
He's a cracking little player and was only taken out of the team last season because he was performing really well and Martinez was worried about Barca poaching him back! And at 22 he's still learning his craft...lay off the lad - we'll all be moaning if he ends up back at Barca for a relatively nominal fee.
Yes he doesn't last the full 90, but who did last year? With Koeman's methods in full flow, we'll see a fitter, hungrier Deulofeu who will tear defences apart!
51 Posted 20/08/2016 at 09:51:50
He had several chances to put Tottenham to the sword but his finishing let him down - but they were chances only a player like him would get.
Him and Bolasie will be our x-factors this season if Koeman can get it right.
The big misses in the Tottenham game were Coleman and Lukaku - I hope Lukaku will get at least 30 mins.
52 Posted 20/08/2016 at 11:57:33
53 Posted 20/08/2016 at 12:08:05
The season has only just started ffs.
55 Posted 20/08/2016 at 12:34:24
57 Posted 20/08/2016 at 12:47:16
He absolutely terrified people and played the right way will be our most potent weapon.
59 Posted 20/08/2016 at 13:42:13
60 Posted 20/08/2016 at 13:42:52
61 Posted 20/08/2016 at 13:51:15
Bein HD13 Are apparently showing the game. Otherwise try firstrow sports, they usually have a link.
62 Posted 20/08/2016 at 13:54:08
63 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:01:47
Holgate, Williams, Funes, Baines
Barkley, Gueye, Barry, Mirallas
Subs:- Deulofeu, Robles, Oviedo, Lennon, Jagielka, McCarthy, Davies
64 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:04:00
66 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:08:52
67 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:11:07
68 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:15:03
69 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:17:24
70 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:19:24
But no youngsters (apart from Holgate) and McCarthey at right wing back again.
Personally, i'd prefer to see Dowell and Davies on the bench more than Lennon or Cleverly.
71 Posted 20/08/2016 at 14:21:24
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