Lovers of football cliches will tell you there are no easy games in the Premier League, yet eight of the first nine matches Everton play in the new season are either against teams they finished above last term or promoted sides.
Having belatedly got his man in Marco Silva, Toffees chief Farhad Moshiri will be targeting an improvement on that eighth-place finish and, on paper at least, the fixture list is favourable for the new manager at Goodison Park.
Just how easy could the start to the new Premier League season be for Everton? Some bookmakers believe them to hold equal chances of winning the title to Wolverhampton Wanderers, who finished first in the Championship last season, while prices vary on them making a top six finish.
Wolves bring the curtain up for Everton
During their last three-year stint in the top flight, Wolves never defeated the Toffees, drawing four meetings and losing the other two. Their Molineux encounter on the opening weekend of the season could set the tone for the campaign ahead and the travelling Toffees are outsiders in the betting to win.
Facing off against fellow Portuguese boss Nuno Espirito Santo, bwin football betting market are putting Silva’s side at 19/10 to start the new Premier League term with a win. Wolves, who have links to powerful agent Jorge Mendes, are actually narrow match favourites.
Everton’s first home game of the campaign is against Southampton, who narrowly avoided relegation last term under ex-Toffees player Mark Hughes. He has since signed a three-year contract with Saints, but that team haven’t won at Goodison since 1997.
A difficult task on the south coast
Silva then takes his charges to the south coast to play Bournemouth. The Cherries have never lost a league game to Everton at Dean Court, so the plucky spirit of Eddie Howe’s passing side, who have somehow established themselves in the Premier League, could prove a problem.
Huddersfield Town visit Merseyside before the September international break and the Toffees did the double over David Wagner’s Terriers last term, winning 2-0 home and away. It’s an all-important second season for the West Yorkshire club in the top flight and their form during the second half of the season was poor, winning just three league games.
Can the Toffees prevail in London?
West Ham United await on the other side and the Londoners hold similar ambitions to Everton about improving their lot. Hammers boardroom trio David Gold, Karen Brady and David Sullivan are trying to get their transfer business done early, yet new manager Manuel Pellegrini inherits a team that has lost without scoring on their last two trips to Goodison.
An away day at Arsenal, which hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Toffees in recent years, follows, before a home Premier League encounter with Championship play-off winners Fulham. Slavisa Jokanovic has some exciting players preparing themselves for a first real crack at this level.
Jamie Vardy has been a real menace for Everton, scoring four times and setting up three other goals in six league outings for Leicester City. The England striker is a problem the defence will have to try and solve when the Toffees face the Foxes on the road in early October.
Everton are also unbeaten in their last seven against Crystal Palace, who head to Merseyside after the second international break of the season. There look to be enough winnable games among these early fixtures to give Silva the springboard he needs to make the Toffees challenge again.
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