Everton put down a statement on the opening day of the Premier League campaign, edging out Tottenham Hotspur on the road to start their season in a perfect fashion.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the only goal of the game early in the second half, converting a free-kick from Lucas Digne to pick up from where he left off last term. The 23-year-old enhanced his credentials for an England call-up by producing a bullet header from close range, raiding in behind Eric Dier to notch his first strike of the campaign.
Calvert-Lewin hit the target 13 times in the last Premier League season, and he has the ability to perform to that standard again, and beyond, this time around. The signing of James Rodriguez is a major factor. The Colombian had an extremely impressive debut for the Toffees following his move from Real Madrid in the summer. He adjusted to the pace of the game perfectly and will have no problem adjusting to life in the top flight under Carlo Ancelotti.
The two players along with the outstanding Richarlison give Everton a potent strikeforce that can match the best in the Premier League, having already outduelled Spurs on their own patch. Ancelotti set out his ambition for a huge improvement on last season, and there’s no reason with the current squad why the club cannot at least be aiming to match Leicester’s finish of fifth last season.
James: The Difference Maker?
Everton fans saw a hint of the brilliance of James on the opening day. In his role on the right side of a three-man attack, the 29-year-old played in five key passes over the course of the contest. He created opportunities for Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to thrive, with both forwards combing for nine attempts at goal. The strength of the Spurs’ defence and Jose Mourinho’s conservative strategy perhaps even limited the effect of the Colombian. As James grows into the role and plays against inferior opposition he should be even more impactful on the pitch.
The Toffees certainly have an exceptional player on their hands – giving hope that this time a new signing will not fail to take them to the next level. Players of the ilk of Gylfi Sigurdsson failed to make that decisive impact to justify the significant outlay on their services. Rodriguez at the peak of his powers is a world-class operator as proven by his performances at 2014 and 2018 World Cups. Although, time will tell whether he is able to transfer that standard over the course of an entire campaign.
Can the Toffees Live up to the Billing?
Everton have been backed before to become a top-four side, but since the days of David Moyes in 2004, it has been a dream that has not come to fruition. However, the Toffees appear to have a stronger side this season, with perhaps the only glaring weakness being the two centre-backs Yerry Mina and Michael Keane along with Jordan Pickford between the sticks. They are inconsistent, to say the least, and are capable of making costly errors. However, it’s also the case for several sides chasing the top four in the Premier League – even Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies were on show in their 4-3 win over Leeds United.
Therefore there could be value in betting on Everton to finish in the Champions League places. Their odds among the leading bookmakers range in the 10/1 area – which is a solid price to take with the potential of the club to improve as the season progresses. Using a sign-up offer or a bonus with one of those bookies could eliminate the risk and even enhance the odds of Ancelotti’s men achieving the feat. It will hinge on the performances of James along with Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. Calvert-Lewin scored 13 goals in a side that underperformed last season. If he can take the next step in his development and become that 20-goal forward for the Toffees then it is more than a possibility – as Jamie Vardy showed at Leicester in the past.
The next 10 months should be an exciting time for Everton fans and hopefully the Toffees can finally deliver on their potential to become a Champions League club once again.
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