Everton have caught the attention of many during the summer after their transfer activity has bought in a whole raft of new faces with the return of Wayne Rooney undoubtedly being the one that has grabbed the most headlines in the off season.
They may have had two Europa League run outs prior today in which admittedly Everton did not look all that sharp but today will be the real acid test as to how well these new arrivals perform as they play host to Stoke in this Premier League curtain raiser.
In addition to Wayne Rooney, Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez, Michael Keane and Davy Klassen are the other high profile names which have also made the move to Goodison Park during the transfer window while it is believed that Gylfi Sigurdsson is not all that far away from completing his move as well.
Of course no matter who Ronald Koeman has bought in, there is one obvious absence from today’s starting line up and that is Romelu Lukau. Life obviously goes on after a departure of that nature but it will be interesting to see just how Everton cope without the Belgian international leading the line.
Today’s opponents Stoke are notoriously slow starters and that proves to be the case this time around then the pressure will be on Mark Hughes especially as he currently the bookmakers favourite to lose the managerial sack race this season.
Stoke have lost a key player of their own over the course of the summer, that being the loss of Marko Arnautovic to West Ham. Stoke fans may feel that is something of a sideways move but it does perhaps highlight the difference in ambition between the two clubs.
For Mark Hughes he can ill afford to see his slide further down the table after finishing 13th place last time around. That in isolation does not look all that bad but when you consider there were a hat-trick of 9th places before then he has to make sure the rot has not set in at The Bet365 Stadium.
In addition to losing Arnautovic, the ever reliable Jonathan Walters has swapped Stoke for Burnley as one of the old guard moves on to pastures new. That may however be a good thing as it stops Hughes from always reverting to type when he should be trying to move the club forward.
The capture of Kurt Zouma looks like an inspired one and it will be interesting to see how he can perform with Ryan Shawcross next to him, more importantly for him though it will be good for the French defender to get a full season of football under his belt.
Everton will go into this match as favourites and rightly so, the only thing that may go against them is trying to gel together all these new signings and where exactly is the best place to play them. That said I still think they will have enough to come out on top this afternoon. Home win for me.
Here is what social media thinks will happen at Goodison Park this afternoon
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) August 11, 2017