Having reignited his emotional bond with Everton last summer during a six month loan spell, Steven Pienaar's return to Goodison Park this summer was written in the stars, and he bolsters a Toffees midfield, along with Steven Naismith, which has been seen both Jack Rodwell and Tim Cahill depart. The sales represent good business for David Moyes, with the pair contributing little last season. Jospeh Yobo and James McFadden have both been deposed from the wage bill too. Belgian forward Kevin Mirallas is expected to join before the closing of the transfer window.
Amid Everton's six pre-season fixtures, the club have played three testimonials, beating Morecambe and AEK Athens, while defeats have followed against Blackpool and Malaga. New signing Naismith took little time to make an impression, scoring a 30-minute hat-trick against the Greek side, but overall Moyes' side have found goals hard to come by.
Reasons why they'll be successful
Nikica Jelavic proved last season with his eleven goals following his switch from Rangers that he can be the man to lead the line for Everton unlike so many gone before. With Pienaar having returned permanently, interest in Marouane Fellaini been warned off and with Tim Howard in the form of his career, Moyes has reason to believe his side can again finish above rivals Liverpool.
Reasons why not
Bar Jelavic, no Everton player scored more than six goals last season. A lack of creativity in midfield is also a worry, where apart from Pienaar, Moyes is blessed with workers rather than imaginative middle-men. The onus on Leighton Baines, who has been continually linked with Manchester United, is increasing still having scored five goals and made two assists last term while his defensive responsibilities, amid a lack of goals at the other end, are becoming rapidly important.
Having finished above Liverpool last season after staying unbeaten in their last nine league games, Everton fans will be excused for demanding a repeat. The reality is as they continue to struggle to compete in the transfer market; their rivals get all the more stronger.
A lack of goals will hinder any European dreams, but a top half finish is assured. 8th