Everton’s 2022-23 campaign begins with a home clash against Chelsea and if last season’s edition is anything to go on, it promises to be a big day for the Toffees.
Richarlison got the game’s only goal as a deafening Goodison Park roared their side on to a crucial win for the Toffees’ survival bid back in May.
The striker crisis
The Brazilian has now departed for Tottenham, leaving a huge gap in the Everton frontline which has worsened as a result of an injury suffered by Dominic Calvert-Lewin in training.
The Blues are now incredibly light in centre forwards with Salomon Rondon suspended and Ellis Simms and Lewis Dobbin completing loan deals with Sunderland and Derby County respectively.
The suggested alternative upfront for Saturday is suggested to be Dele, who enjoyed the best spell of his career playing second striker behind Harry Kane at Tottenham.
The 26-year-old showed his first glimpses of promise in an Everton shirt when he came on as a substitute in the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace that confirmed the Blues’ safety back in May, and has impressed in pre-season, scoring twice away at Blackpool on July 24.
Potential new faces
Transfer rumours continue to swarm around the club with Frank Lampard admitting he is still looking for reinforcements.
Speculation persists around a return to Merseyside for Idrissa Gueye with Paris Saint-Germain willing to let him leave and the 32-year-old himself keen on a return to the club he left three years ago in a £30m deal.
Another midfielder plying his trade in France that is linked with the Toffees is Lille’s Amadou Onana. The 20-year-old made 31 appearances with the defending Ligue 1 champions last season and could be the tough-tackling defensive midfielder Lampard has been longing for.
The fee will be an expensive one though if the move is to happen, with Lille reportedly demanding £30m plus add-ons. It is almost impossible that either Gueye or Onana will be Everton players by the time Chelsea come calling.
One to watch – Dwight McNeil
However, one new signing that is already over the line is 22-year-old Dwight McNeil.
The tricky winger arrived from Burnley last week for an initial fee of £15m and has already lit up Goodison with two goals in a friendly match against Dynamo Kyiv last Friday.
In that game, he was employed on the right side of the attack, allowing him to cut on his favoured left foot and it seems likely he will do similar against Chelsea.
He’s already hit the ground running in a non-competitive match and will be keen to do similar in his first Premier League match for his new club.
One to watch – Raheem Sterling
Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel’s side have also been busy in the transfer market and Raheem Sterling is undoubtedly the standout signing of their window so far.
The 27-year-old arrives from Manchester City for £47.5m and is set to be a key goalscoring threat for the West London outfit.
His previous time with deadly rivals Liverpool means he rarely receives the warmest of receptions at Goodison and the England international seems to relish that, with five goals in previous appearances against the Toffees.
The winger will be keen to get his Chelsea career off to a good start and the nature of the opposition will undoubtedly be an extra incentive.
Evertonians will be hoping this season will be very different to the almost disastrous last campaign and this is the first opportunity for Frank Lampard’s side to lay the marker.
The Toffees’ home record is actually very impressive against Chelsea, having won their last four encounters with Thomas Tuchel’s men, not to mention Everton also have a strong history of kicking the season off with a win.
There is cause for some very tentative optimism ahead of Saturday evening.