Tottenham Hotspur-Everton Preview
Two teams at very different stages of their development meet at Goodison Park on the opening day of the new Premier League season.
Hosts Everton have undergone a managerial and ownership overhaul since they last played Saturday's visitors Tottenham Hotspur. And the Toffees are still in the process of rebuilding their own squad with John Stones recently departed in a £47.5 million move to Manchester City.
In contrast, Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have enjoyed a summer of stability, not losing any first-team players and strengthening the squad with the additions of defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama and Dutch international striker Vincent Janssen. Pochettino's side flirted with a Premier League title challenge last season before falling away and finishing third, but the coach is expecting his young group of players to learn from the experience and improve over the coming campaign.
"It is true that at the end of the season we felt very disappointed in the way that we finished the Premier League, but if we are clever we need to improve from our mistakes and we need to show that we are clever," Pochettino said. "We have a big challenge ahead because now we have to repeat our performance, try to improve and play Champions league, which for a lot of players is a new competition.
"It is a good opportunity. We keep the same team, the same players, I don't think there are a lot of changes around the changing room and in the squad and I think that can help us."
Spurs may be stable and have an existing style of play, but Everton are far from settled.
Ronald Koeman is attempting to rebuild the Toffees' squad after taking over from Roberto Martinez, but has not made as many changes as he would have liked heading into the opening weekend. Only centre-back Ashley Williams and Idrissa Gueye are notable additions.
"The squad will be 100 percent in two or three weeks, but if I compare the physical state of the players in numbers here it is 70 percent and at (Koeman's previous club Southampton) it was 100 percent. It's a big project. That project won't be complete after two months, we need more time. "We are not at the level we need to be in terms of the players and their physical state," he added. "I'd say we are 70 percent of where we need to be from a physical point of view. We will improve."
Everton go into the game with doubts over the fitness of key players Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman and are without midfielder Muhamed Besic after the midfielder picked up a knee injury in preseason.
Spurs only injury doubt is over central defender Jan Vertonghen, although English trio Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier are all a few weeks from full match fitness after being given extended time off following their European Championship exertions.
Everton have not beaten Spurs in the last seven Premier League meetings, but no top-flight club has ever lost as many opening weekend matches (nine) as the north London club.