Everton may well have finally landed Gyfli Sigurdsson earlier in the week after chasing him almost all summer but the Icelandic international who was signed for £45m from Swansea will not be making his debut as the club host Hadjuk Split in Europa League action.
This stage of the competition means that Ronald Koeman‘s men are just two matches away from making the Europa League group stages and it is fair to say that they could have been paired with slightly easier opposition then the Croatian outfit that they will face later this evening.
They did not make particular easy week of Ruzomberok in the previous round with 1-0 wins both home and away eventually proving to be the difference but those performances did have the caveat of a side which is still gelling after an influx of summer signings.
The same could be said for their 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Saturday, if you were writing the script for that particular afternoon’s game then of course you would have Wayne Rooney scoring on his Premier League return for the club.
So it was a case of life imitating art as the England and Manchester United goalscorer broke the deadlock in first half injury time to put Everton ahead, a position they would hold on to as Mark Hughes’ Stoke side rarely threatened new signings Jordan Pickford in goal and Michael Keane as part of a back three.
With any club that has signed so many new faces in the summer there is always going to be something of a bedding in process and Everton are a club that is certainly going through that process, if anything these Europa League games are an ideal tool to facilitate that new found cohesion.
The fact that they have already played in Europe arguably set them in good stead for their win over Stoke and this encounter with Hadjuk Split will no doubt help the side before their trip to The Etihad on Monday when they face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Ronald Koeman has today stated that even with the arrival of Gylfi Sigurdsson this is not the end of the transfer business and you would magine that the former Dutch international will look to add more firepower to complete his summer expenditure.
That is something on the wishlist though and tonight the likely scenario is that Sandro Ramirez will start up top with Wayne Rooney sitting in a deeper role. Dominic Calvert-Lewin who scored in Everton’s previous European outing will look to once again be included from the start.
Everton go into this game as favourites but they will not be able to overlook Hadjuk Split tonight, that said though I imagine that with all the quality they have at their disposal they will be able to go to Croatia next week with a first leg advantage.
They will however need to find a bit more urgency then they did against Ruzomberok when the two faced of at Goodison Park as that had the air of a pre-season friendly at times, that said a couple more weeks into the season and they will be much sharper. It should be a routine home win tonight.