Date:Friday August 17 2012
Monday, August 20
At last! We have football on the weekends again, I just can't imagine life without it really. Unfortunately if you are an Everton fan, the start of the season normally means endless amounts of frustration and just sheer confusion at how poor we are. Yet another season has gone by with Everton fans asking what if? Another sluggish start and a blistering finish has led to relative high expectations for Everton for the upcoming season, however, to achieve those expectations, they will need to get off to a good start, something that has alluded them for 5 seasons, and this season looks even trickier with Everton hosting Manchester United at Goodison Park on Monday night. Although, it may only be the opening fixture for both clubs, it looms as a vital 3pts for either club, for Everton, they need a win, or at least a positive performance, a loss against United will have the doom sayers saying 'Here we go again.' For United redemption and revenge is on the line, after the heartbreak of last season, they need to show they have recovered from that and are ready for a title push once again, and not to mention, Fergie will make sure they are fired up for this game as Everton dealt United's title aspirations a severe blow last season as Everton came back from 2 goals down to force a 4-4 draw. Although, it may only be August, this match feels like it has so much on the line and fingers crossed it is as entertaining as the last time these two met.
Former United man Darron Gibson spoke of his excitement ahead of his first full season with Everton saying
"Pre-season has gone really well, In terms of results it has not been exciting but the squad as a whole, everyone is fit, and we are all looking forward to the first game. I had a thigh strain but it is okay now so I am just going to prepare for the next few days and everyone is ready to go now. It is the first pre-season where I have come back really excited because I know I have a good chance of playing in nearly every game so I really hope it goes well. I just want to play as many games as possible, stay fit, score more goals - everything really. I am just looking forward to the first proper season of my career."
As for United, the big news in the past 24hrs has been the signing of former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, and Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that RvP will face Everton saying
We hope that goes according to plan. His agent is in discussions with (United chief executive) David Gill right about now. He is on his way up from London for a medical later this afternoon, We hope all the things will be tied up, although sometimes medicals do take a bit longer. I am sure he will be available for Monday's game.''
For Everton, there have been a few concerns about fitness heading into the start of the season over a couple of key players. Marouane Fellaini pulled out of the Belgian squad midweek with a groin complaint however, he should be fit to face United on Monday. Former United man Darron Gibson has also struggled with a thigh strain which saw him pull out of the Irish squad midweek, but he has said he will be fit to face his old side. New man Steven Naismith will most likely make his Everton debut off the bench as it appears he is still not 100% fit following his recovery from a serious knee injury that saw him sidelined for 9 months at Rangers. Steven Pienaar should make his 4th Everton debut following his 4.5mil move from Spurs to Everton over the summer.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Heitinga, Distin, Hibbert, Gibson, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic
The former Rangers was purchased in January for a mere 5mil and has adjusted to life in the Premier League effortlessly. Since his starting debut against Tottenham in Febrary, he has went on to score 11 goals in 13 games, including a brace against United at Old Trafford. A lot of hopes and expectations are now pinned on Jelavic following his first 6months at the club, and Everton fans will be hoping he can continue his form into the new season and try and help catapult Everton into the European places
As mentioned earlier, the big news for United is the signing of Robin Van Persie who will be in line for his United debut against Everton. Also in line for his debut will be Japanese star Shinji Kagawa who was signed from Borussia Dortmund earlier in the summer. In other news for United, their club captain Nemanja Vidic is set to make his Premier League return after overcoming a serious knee injury that saw him miss the majority of last season
Possible Starting XI: De Gea, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Rafael, Scholes, Carrick, Valencia, Kagawa, Van Persie, Rooney
More or less a toss of the coin between Rooney and Van Persie. I mean the stats from last season speak for themselves, combined they bagged over 50 goals in the league and are shaping up as a terrifying sight for any Premier League defender. The reason behind the Rooney choice is simple, he is an Evertonian. Rooney still describes himself as an Evertonian at heart, and his return to Goodison Park will always create headlines. He has tended to struggle at Goodison Park in the past and for Everton's sake lets hope it continues on Monday.
1. Combined, RvP and Rooney scored 57 goals last season. Together, they outscored 15 out of the 20 Premier League teams last season.
2. In the last two seasons, United have held 3-1 and 4-2 leads with less than 10mins to go, and on both occasions Everton have managed to score twice to force a draw.
3. Everton are known for their slow starts, and after last seasons 1-0 opening day defeat to QPR, that extended Everton's record to 7 losses in the last 9 opening fixtures, with their last opening day victory coming 5 seasons ago over Wigan
4. Everton are unbeaten in 9 dating back to last season, and have won 7 of their last 8 matches at Goodison
5. Wayne Rooney has netted 10 goals in his last 9 games in August.
6. Former United man, Darron Gibson is yet to taste defeat for the Toffees in the league, since arriving in January, he has played for Everton in the league 11 times and has yet to taste defeat. Add that to the 16 game unbeaten streak he had at United, he hasn't tasted defeat in his last 27 Premier League games.
As everyone in this league now knows, Everton don't do August, my hope is that this is the season where Everton finally realise that the season starts in August, however, United at home is no easy task especially when you are trying to break a hoodoo of some sorts. The summer, although it hasn't been as bad as last summer, it hasn't been great, of course, that could and really should change in the next few weeks when we spend the Rodwell money, however, I think this game may just come too fast before we get a chance to sign some players, thus leaving us shorthanded. On the other hand, United seem to have done their work early, they may see a new face or two, but the two big additions have been Kagawa and Van Persie, and I don't think anyone could doubt the quality of those two. My hope is that they suffer a slow start after the heartbreaking way they lost the title, but I just think Fergie is going to have them fired up. I am begrudgingly going to say a 2-1 United win with Rooney and Van Persie on the scoresheet for United and Jelavic bagging a late consolation. I hope I am wrong. COME ON EVERTON, THE SEASON STARTS NOW FFS, NOT JANUARY!!!!!
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Date:Friday August 17 2012
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