Everton vs. Wolves
Venue: Goodison Park
Kick off: 2PM
Two contenders to break into the top six of the Premier League this season go head to head this afternoon as Everton host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Goodison Park.
The hosts fell to a surprise defeat at newly-promoted Aston Villa in their last league outing, whereas Wolves remain unbeaten across all competitions following their Europa League progress on Thursday night.
With the gap between top six and the chasing pack expected to be closer this season than last, matches like today’s could be crucial in determining which of the contenders could possibly upset the big boys.
Wolves were the closest last season courtesy of their seventh-placed finish, which was enough for them to enter the Europa League qualifiers and subsequently book their place in the competition proper with an impressive 5-3 aggregate victory over Torino in the playoff.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have since been rewarded with a group including Besiktas, Braga and Slovan Bratislava, but for now focus must turn to claiming their first Premier League win of the campaign.
Three consecutive draws – against Leicester City, Manchester United and Burnley – have left them 15th in the embryonic Premier League table and only one point clear of the relegation zone, and another stalemate this weekend would see them begin a campaign with four successive draws for only the second time, alongside 1938-39.
Despite the obvious desire to get that first win on the board, Nuno may feel that a point away to Everton is not a bad result, having secured the same against another top-six hopeful in Leicester on the opening day.
Wolves have only won one league away game since their last visit here in February, though, picking up just six points from their last eight such outings and failing to score in half of those.
Not since 1960 have Everton lost back-to-back home league games against Wolves and, considering their recent defensive record at Goodison Park, they will be confident of forcing another blank for Nuno’s side on their travels.
The Toffees have kept clean sheets in each of their last six top-flight home outings – their longest run since seven in a row in September 2013 – while their league matches this season have seen a division-low three goals.
Everton boast the best defence after three games of the campaign, although both of the goals they conceded came in their most recent league outing as they succumbed to Aston Villa’s first triumph since winning promotion.
Marco Silva’s side are also the joint-lowest scorers with just one goal to their name so far, and while time must be allowed for new signings to settle in, fans will also want to see big-money summer arrivals like Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi begin to make more of an impact soon.
In fairness, that was the case in midweek as Everton hit four past Lincoln City to book their place in the third round of the EFL Cup, with Iwobi among the scorers and Kean hitting the woodwork.
It was by no means as comfortable a win as the scoreline suggests, though, with Everton needing two goals in the final 10 minutes to finally dispatch of their League One opponents.
Wolves will undoubtedly provide a sterner test, but the Toffees are on a five-match winning run at home in the league, including victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, so will be confident of another three points this weekend.
Everton possible XI: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Schneiderlin, Gomes, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Kean.
Wolves possible XI: Patricio, Vallejo, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Jimenez, Jota.