Thanks to Calvin from the Royal Blue Mersey, our resident Everton contributor for Opposition View. Here are his answers ahead of Saturday’s game.
How’s your season been so far?
To tell you the truth, underwhelming. Considering how soft the schedule to begin the season was, we’ve dropped points against Palace, Bournemouth and Burnley and could have been much better off than we are now.
The schedule only gets tougher from here, and the squad looks even more unsettled than before, now that injuries and suspensions are kicking in. It’s a telling sign that we don’t even know our best formation, and probably won’t any time soon either since January will very likely bring in new faces.
How did you feel about the departure of Roberto Martinez and appointment of Ronald Koeman over the summer?
We’re looking so much smarter right now. Under Martinez it really seemed like we had Plan A, and if that failed we just continued to bang our heads on the wall until the final whistle.
With Koeman in charge, there have been lots of changes to how the players train, what strategies are implemented, player roles during games, in-game tactical changes and the like. And the defence is miles ahead of last season, though it didn’t look it in that spanking by Chelsea.
One of your key summer signings was Ashley Williams from Swansea. How has he performed thus far?
He has been one of the few bright spots for the club this season. He has brought defensive stability to the backline, and his style of quiet leadership is much appreciated by the fans. Williams contributions at defending set pieces has also been crucial, with the Blues not leaking goals at free kicks and corners as much as they were last few seasons. With Phil Jagielka’s legs looking more and more leaden in recent weeks, it’s easy to see Williams as the new leader of the defence for a few years to come.
We’re you happy with the rest of your activity over the summer?
No, not really. Koeman came in very late in the summer, and had little time to work with new Director of Football Steve Walsh to decide what we have, and who we needed.
A lot of players we were supposedly ‘in’ for didn’t materialize, and that lack of depth has shown early this season as the injuries have continued to mount and there has been a severe shortage of competition in the midfield and attack certainly.
What are your expectations for this season?
This hasn’t changed since Koeman’s appointment – a spot in Europe, a Cup run and a squad with depth enough to make a serious charge up the table for next season.
What do you make of Swansea so far this term?
I’d say the Swans are a team in transition that needs to find their identity. You have too much quality to be where you are in the table just past the quarter-mark of the season. Swansea has shown they can score goals, but need to find ways to shore up the midfield and tighten up the defence. Bradley is going to have a lot on his plate to do in a short time as the hectic holiday schedule will kick in very season.
Predict the score and where both teams will finish
Everton are struggling themselves at this time, and the defence has started to look suspect against quicker attacks. I’d say 2-2 for Saturday.
I think the Blues can steal a European spot with a good transfer window in January, so I’d say 6th. I also can’t imagine a Premier League without the Swans, so I’m backing you to pull it out and survive relegation, maybe breaking into the top fifteen.