For all of the excitement that surrounded the club during pre-season (results aside) thanks to some shrewd operating in the transfer market again from manager Roberto Martinez, as well as knowing that the forthcoming season would see a return of European football to Goodison Park, the 3,500 strong contingent of travelling Everton fans that watched their side throw away the lead twice, at the King Power Stadium, to newly promoted Leicester City in a match reminiscent of last season’s opening fixture against Norwich City, and many were once more left wondering if another slow start to another Premier League season is on the horizon.
It is a valid opinion to have. After all, the Blues have only registered one win out of the last seven opening day matches in the Premier League, and just last season it took four league matches, thanks to a solitary strike from Steven Naismith, against Chelsea to ignite Everton’s season.
Martinez and his charges have the chance, however, to put last weekend’s disappointing result behind them with two upcoming mouth watering home clashes against Arsenal and Chelsea over the next fortnight.
And they will be expected to beat at least one of the two London outfits if a vociferous Goodison crowd has any say on the matter.
As well as roaring their side to victory against Jose Mourinho’s men in September last year, Blues fans were treated to a demolition of Arsene Wenger’s Gunners side just six months ago, thanks to the tactical prowess of Martinez as goals from Naismith, Romelu Lukaku and an own goal from former Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta swung the then Champion’s League qualification pendulum in Everton’s favour.
Of course, a series of below par performances resulted in the Blues missing out on fourth place last season, and with it the coveted final Champion’s League qualification spot, but Martinez and his squad will be able to draw on that confidence from last season’s results against these two Premier League title contenders and, backed by a raucous cauldron of noise after three months without a ball being kicked at Goodison (save for Leon Osman’s testimonial match a few weeks ago), it would not be surprising if everyone associated with Everton was celebrating a victory come 7:15pm on Saturday evening.
Whoever plays on Saturday, and the following week, will have to be wary, of course. Arsenal’s ability to counter attack with pace and precision has been lauded by many for years, whilst Chelsea will be no pushovers themselves judging by both their summer signings and performance last night away to Burnley, but as long as the Blues stick to their game plan and ideals, and feed off the energy from a buoyant crowd inside the Old Lady, then the deflating draw away to Nigel Pearson’s Leicester may not be viewed in such a harsh light.