At the start of the day Everton go into this game second and unless Hull or Arsenal win by a flurry of goals they will stay there regardless of their result against Middlesbrough. That said there is still the small chance they could end the day top of the league so Ronald Koeman will no doubt be looking to continue this impressive start to the season.
It’s been quite the transformation at Everton since last season and what makes it more impressive is that there hasn’t been a massive overhaul in personnel either. The new additions of Ashley Williams, Yannick Bolasie and Idrissa Gueye have certainly given a fresh impetus to the side but Koeman has worked wonders with a squad that is brimming with talent but woefully underperformed during the last days of Roberto Martinez.
What is even more impressive is that Koeman is wiling to adapt his tactics mid game when necessary. This was no more apparent in their 3-0 win over Sunderland on Monday. Ross Barkley was hauled off and Koeman readjusted the team’s shape to great effect and they went to cruise to victory at The Stadium of Light.
That win saw Romelu Lukaku open his account for the season, his hat-trick ended his own personal goal drought and everyone connected with the club will be delighted that the dry spell ended. He will now look to add to that tally this evening as Aitor Karanka’s side come to Merseyside.
Middlesbrough’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end last Saturday as Crystal Palace ran out 2-1 winners. Defensive lapses were Boro’s undoing last week as Palace raced into a 2-0 lead. You could put it down to naivety at this level but they certainly can’t afford to make those same mistakes at Goodison Park.
5 points from their opening 4 matches isn’t a bad tally for a side that has been promoted but they could do with picking up a win as they haven’t won since beating Sunderland on Week 2. That said with this in form Everton side it’s going to be a difficult place to get all three points.
Alvaro Negredo and Cristhian Stuani have looked like a promising partnership in attack but neither player has found the net since that aforementioned Sunderland game. That afternoon Stuani’s brace was the difference while Negredo hasn’t found the net since the opening day fixture at home to Stoke.
Everton are certainly in the ascendancy and will go into this game as heavy favourites and rightly so, with Chelsea losing last night they could open up a bit of a daylight on the chasing pack if not for only 24 hours. Another win here and the optimism will have fully returned to Goodison and Koeman can think about securing European football for a third season in a row. It’s an Everton win for me.