Last Season: 5th plus an FA Cup final.
Say hello to your new teammates: Jo (we meet again), Shkodran Mustafi, Anton Peterlin.
Close the door on your way out: Andy van der Meyde, Lars Jacobson, Nuno Valente.
Predicted star: Three midfielders who are all different in nature, but all equally important. Arteta, Fellaini and Cahill form the hub of the Everton team so it’s a concern the former two might not be ready for the start of the season. It’s hard to look beyond those three really though Pienaar and Rodwell are becoming more and more important. Jagielka is obviously a big player once he returns.
Needs a big year: If Yakubu can stay fit, he’s good for 12-15 goals. It would be handy after Everton’s striking issues last season. The same would apply to Louis Saha.
One to watch: Jack Rodwell impressed last season and is comfortable in both midfield and (to a lesser extent) defence. He should make further strides this season.
What they want to happen: Everyone to stay fit, Europa League qualification, some outside investment to come.
Nightmare scenario: Injuries cripple their season, the Kirkby stadium project gets rejected.
Plan A: An organised back four plays behind a midfield five who support one lone striker. Arteta and Pienaar provide creativity from the wings while Fellaini and Cahill make late runs to support whichever striker happens to be fit at the time.
Plan B, just in case: Play Fellaini or Cahill up front on their own and hope they snatch a goal.
Predicted finish: 6th
Why? David Moyes has slowly but surely built Everton into one of the toughest teams to beat in the Premier League while leading them to 6th, 5th and 5th in the last three years as well as an FA Cup final. All this on a miniscule budget. Not much has changed this off-season. The overtures of Man City towards Joleon Lescott appear to have been rebuffed and no other major players have left. New signings have been thin on the ground though Jo has come in for another loan spell. The result should mean it’s as you were for Everton with the great midfield of Cahill, Arteta and Fellaini ensuring another top six finish.
The injury to Phil Jagielka is a big blow but the Toffees are well organised enough to cover for his absence. Another defender would be useful though as more injuries in that department would be costly. Oh and the sooner a right back is signed to replace the useless Hibbert the better. For now Everton’s relatively gentle start to the season and the returning injured players should ensure another good campaign for Moyes’ men.