Wolves vs Everton
TV: BT Sport
Referee: Craig Pawson
The start of the Premier League season sees Everton and Wolves face off at Molineux, with both sides having points to prove in the 2018/19 campaign.
Everton’s new manager Marco Silva will look to begin his spell in charge with a win against last seasons Championship winners, as the Midlands side look to prove that they can compete with the Premier League’s top teams.
A victory over Everton would show Wolves fans that the squad have no nerves surrounding the step up in competition, whilst Everton fans will be looking to see what style of football Silva has been implementing in pre-season that saw the Toffees win just one game; a 22-0 thrashing of Austrian minnows ATV Irdning.
Silva’s usual style of possession based football relies on his wide players to be instrumental in linking the play, with the signing of two Brazilian wide men, Richarlison and Bernard a statement of the type of side Silva wants to build. The club opted to sign no new strikers, and have stuck with Cenk Tosun who has proven that he is a capable finisher during his time on Merseyside.
With the signing of creative players, a new look Everton side could be on display, playing attractive and expansive football. The Toffees have also completed the signing of long term target Yerry Mina, who signed from Barcelona for £28m.
This may see Mina play along side Michael Keane, Seamus Coleman and either Leighton Baines or new signing Lucas Digne in a significantly changed defence. Andre Gomes has also signed from Barcelona on a season long loan for Everton and could also feature for the Blues in Saturdays fixture. Silva’s signings look to have been an answer to defensive issues and a lack of creativity from last season that his three midfield acquisitions will look to solve.
However, Everton may be without Theo Walcott for the season opener as he has a thigh injury. This may gift Bernard a Premier League debut just two days after signing for the club. Both Wolves and Everton have been some of the busiest Premier League teams in this transfer window, and Saturday’s content is likely to see a number of debuts for both sides.
The Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio is likely to make his debut, whilst Joao Moutinho will fit into the midfield. Nuno Espírito Santo will hope that his signings will help Wolves compete at the next level, with the £18m signing of 22 year-old Adams Traore from Middlesborough, where the Premier League newcomers broke their club record fee, indicating their ambition and ability to attract top-class talent.
Wolves were also active with their transfer business on deadline day, signing Belgium international Leander Dendocker from Anderlecht on loan, with the permanent signing of the defensive midfielder to be made at the end of the season.
Santo will have a full choice of players on Saturday evening as none of his squad are injured for the start of the campaign. Wolves will look to impress in their opening fixture in front of their home fans, and they will be hoping to replicate the style of football that saw them win the Championship last year.
They will have to be aggressive off the ball whilst holding possession, and they will aim to frustrate a much-changed Everton side. However, the Toffees will attempt to control the game through possession football. They will need to provide Tosun with opportunities against a side that will look to be defensively strong, which may see the roles of players such as Richarlison and Sigurdsson become focal to their chances of taking three points in this opening fixture.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Wolves: Patricio; Saiss, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Costa, Jimenez, Jota.
Everton: Stekelenburg; Coleman, Keane, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Schneiderlin; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Tosun.
Prediction: Wolves 1 Everton 2