Five points on Everton - with Phil McNulty, BBC Sport
08 September 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Phil McNulty has years of experience working at the very highest level of football in his role as BBC Sport's Chief Football Writer - and being born in Liverpool, he knows those two famous clubs either side of Stanley Park inside-out. Here are his thoughts on Saturday's Premier League clash at Goodison Park for our 'Five Points' feature...
Phil McNulty, Chief Football Writer, BBC Sport
One season in, how do you view Everton under Ronald Koeman?
Phil: "Everton are in much better shape than when Ronald Koeman arrived in summer 2016 - although much of this can also be attributed to the greater level of investment the club has been able to enjoy since the arrival of Farhad Moshiri as major shareholder. Koeman’s Everton is more organised and more disciplined than under his predecessor Roberto Martinez. The team appeared to have gone off the rails completely in Martinez's final season but Koeman has restored order and added quality, losing only twice at home in the Premier League last season, to Liverpool and Chelsea. The manager himself has also proved a real pull to players. So many of the new arrivals talk about how the presence of Koeman, a legend as a player for Barcelona and the Netherlands, is a major attraction. It has given Everton a greater profile. There is no doubt there is now a feeling of great optimism and that the club is a bigger attraction for players under Koeman than it has been for many years."
Below: Jordan Pickford
Who would be your player to watch from this summer's arrivals at Goodison?
Phil: "Everton have made some very good acquisitions this summer and all will have their impact in various ways - but the one who I think could really catch the eyes is goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Plenty of eyebrows were raised, including mine, when Everton agreed to pay Sunderland £30m for the 23-year-old and were so keen to get the deal over the the line that they sent a delegation to England’s under-21 European championship camp in Poland to complete the formalities. Pickford’s start to the season has shown exactly why. He has been absolutely outstanding. He saved Everton two points with a magnificent injury-time save from Xherdan Shaqiri against Stoke City and made crucial contributions in both legs of the Europa League qualifier against Hajduk Split, including a penalty save in the second game in Croatia. Pickford is athletic, decisive and commands his area in a manner Everton have not enjoyed for some time. And he also possesses the best distribution of any keeper in the Premier League. His left-foot 'sidewinder' clearance is already a big favourite at Goodison Park and a 70-yard left-foot clearance straight to the feet of Kevin Mirallas in the first leg against Hajduk Split brought the stadium to its feet. He is a real live contender for England’s goalkeeping spot if and when they reach next summer’s World Cup - and £30m now looks like a sound investment for years to come."
Below: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Tell us about the youngsters making an impact - the likes of Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin...
Phil: "Tom Davies made his big impression last season, especially with a spectacular run and goal from the halfway line in the 4-0 win against Manchester City and he has continued his progress. He is almost a throwback player, languid, elegant, long hair, smile on his face and his socks halfway down his shins - he’s got a bright future. Lookman arrived for £11m from Charlton Athletic last January and is a work in progress. He gives Everton real pace and width, something they actually lack, but he is still a little inconsistent at times when it comes to end product. Everton and Koeman have a lot of faith in him, however, and big things are expected. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the one whose game has moved on to another level this season and has been the pick of the younger players. Koeman is a huge fan. He showed a lot of faith in him last season, often picking him when he wasn’t expected to figure - and it is fair to say a few Everton fans, while not criticising Calvert-Lewin in the least, wondered what it was that Koeman saw. Now they know. He seems to have grown both in stature and confidence, no doubt helped by scoring the winner in England’s under-20 World Cup Final win against Venezuela. Calvert-Lewin now looks the real deal. He is strong, has pace and excellent movement. He has created two goals from wide positions for Wayne Rooney already this season and if he can step up his own goals ratio, then Everton will have a highly-prized asset on their hands."
Below: Gylfi Sigurdsson
How would you expect Everton to set up tactically for this game at Goodison?
Phil: "It's tough to say as Ronald Koeman is still trying to work out his best formation - and of course he now has another asset after paying a club record £45m for Gylfi Sigurdsson, who Spurs know well. He could use Sandro Ramirez or Dominic Calvert-Lewin as his main striker and can choose from Rooney, Sigurdsson and another expensive summer signing, former Ajax captain Davy Klaassen, just behind the striker. Koeman has also used three central defenders on occasion this season, utilising Phil Jagielka, Michael Keane and Ashley Williams - so he has a variety of options."
Below: Ronald Koeman
Finally, last season Everton were seventh in the Premier League, what do you think is the target this time around?
Phil: "Ronald Koeman is very ambitious and would like to be fighting for a place in the top four - but realistically I think Everton will do well to get into the top six and he will be happy with that. Major shareholder Moshiri has already suggested that is the aim. Everton’s big problem is that for all the fine work they did in the transfer market this summer they ended up not solving the biggest issue of all, namely finding a high-class replacement for Romelu Lukaku and his goals. For that reason, I would say sights are now adjusted and a top six finish (plus a good up run and preferably a trophy at the end of it) will be regarded as success."