The visitors surprised United by forcing an FA Cup replay in 2006, and the Red Devils repaid them with a 5-0 lashing. Burton was in the Conference then, and have risen dramatically in the last few seasons and surprised by surviving a Championship campaign in 2016-17. This one won’t be close, but it’ll be better than 5-0 for Nigel Clough’s Brewers.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City
Tony Pulis has been able to stymy a lot of teams, but Man City isn’t one of them. West Brom boasts 11-straight wins over the Baggies, the last of which have been by multiple goals. West Brom’s last draw vs. City was Boxing Day 2011. Its last win? Sept. 22, 2010 in the League Cup. Can the Hawthorns be the venue for a surprise?
In his second season in charge, Ronald Koeman has spent big to rebuild the Toffees after Romelu Lukaku‘s departure to Manchester United. This Everton side now has plenty of depth and attacking talent to push for a top four finish. With rivals Liverpool also pushing hard to return to past glories another golden age could be upon us on Merseyside, especially with Everton boasting a whole host of top young talent.
Despite not winning a trophy since the FA Cup in 1995, historically they are one of England’s most successful teams with 15 major trophies to their name including nine league titles. The last of those league triumphs came back in 1987 and although the Goodison Park faithful aren’t getting ahead of themselves just yet, excitement is building under Koeman with Wayne Rooney now back at his boyhood club, the core of England’s U-20 World Cup winning side with the Toffees and new stadium plans kicking on.
Best, worst case scenario: If they finish in the top four, win a domestic cup and make a deep run in the Europa League Koeman will delight every single Evertonian. However, another seventh-place finish and no serious push for a silverware may have some wondering what all the fuss is about.
Best possible XI is…
—– Pickford —–
—- Coleman —- Keane —- Williams —- Baines —-
—- Schneiderlin —- Gueye —-
—- Klaassen —- Davies —- Rooney —-
—– Ramirez —–
Transfers in: Jordan Pickford ($33 million, Sunderland), Michael Keane ($33 million, Burnley), Davy Klaassen ($31.2 million, Ajax), Sandro Ramirez ($6.8 million, Malaga), Wayne Rooney (Free, Manchester United), Cuco Martina (Free, Southampton), Henry Onyekuru ($8.9 million, Eupen), Josh Bowler ($1.98 million, QPR), Lewis Gibson ($1.2 million, Newcastle United), Nathangelo Markelo (Undisclosed, Volendam), Boris Mathis (Free, Metz)
Transfers out: Romelu Lukaku ($99.1 million, Manchester United), Gerard Deulofeu ($14 million, Barcelona), Tom Cleverley ($10.5 million, Watford), Aiden McGeady ($330,000, Sunderland), Arouna Kone (Free, Sivasspor)
Star player: Davy Klaassen – The former Ajax captain will take some time to adjust to the Premier League but all of the early signs are good. His ability to ghost into space in midfield and attack mean he will slot perfectly into the fluid system Koeman is creating and his link-up play with Rooney and others is already developing well. He may not score 15 goals or grab 15 assists, but the Dutch international has the ability to make Everton tick.
Coaches’ Corner: Koeman has made this Everton squad his team with a summer of heavy spending before Lukaku’s big-money departure was confirmed. That was the correct way to go about this and the Toffees have big hopes for the Europa League plus trying to sustain a push for the top four. Koeman may well play a 3-4-3 system at times this season and he has a big enough squad, littered with talented youngsters hungry for game time, to cope with the Thursday-Sunday demands, but replacing 25-goal man Lukaku is his biggest task. He’s gone for the scatter-gun approach by adding Rooney, Klaassen, Sandro and possibly Gylfi Sigurdsson to all chip in. He loves to build solid defensive units who are also free-flowing in attack and at times last season Everton were one-dimensional with Lukaku and wantaway Ross Barkley in attack. That will no longer be the case.
PST predicts: The top six are ridiculously strong after another summer of heavy spending and keeping their best players, so it will be tough for Everton to push past seventh spot, especially with the rigors of the Europa League. That said, anything less than seventh will be a big disappointment and I think Koeman’s boys will finish in the top six as one of the top clubs will slip up. Expect a deep run in the Europa League too.
The 31-year-old Irishman scored eight goals on loan for new Sunderland boss Simon Grayson while at Preston North End last season. He has 90 caps and five goals for the Republic of Ireland.
The other attacker is a bit more of an unknown despite having seven Premier League goals to his name, the last coming in 2011 at Everton.. James Vaughan had a career season after dropping down to League One last season, where he scored 24 times in 37 matches.
The Black Cats have now added four players, all with connections to Everton (Earlier this window Sunderland added Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway on loan from the Merseyside set). That’s a bit ironic given that longtime Toffees boss David Moyes left Sunderland this offseason.