Everton head to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace looking to banish their lacklustre pre-season form and get off to a winning start in the Premier League.
Marco Silva’s men only scored three goals through seven pre-season games and didn’t get their key reinforcements back from international duty until late on. In a summer of turnover, that was far from ideal, but they’ll soldier on into a tough meeting with the Eagles.
On the flip, Roy Hodgson’s side will be looking to turn over a new leaf and put the late Wilfried Zaha transfer drama behind them.
The Eagles talisman made it clear that he wanted to lead South London by handing in a transfer bid following a bid from Saturday’s opponents. However, he only returned from AFCON action a few days before - which means his participation could be in question.
Last meeting: 0-0 at Selhurst Park
While the opening day of the campaign presents a clean slate for Premier League teams, there is still plenty of history to look back upon.
The two sides last met in the closing stages of last season. With Everton still, mathematically, in the hunt for the Europa League, they were frustrated by the Eagles defensive steel as neither side could find a breakthrough.
A breath-taking save from Vicente Guaita following a clever backheel off Cenk Tosun was the closest either team came to securing the points.
Silva targeting success
The new season also gives Marco Silva the chance to build upon the solid foundations laid down during last term. While the squad has been changed - Idrissa Gana Gueye and Kurt Zouma are no longer around - that hasn’t stopped the Portuguese from wanting a higher standard.
"I know better the club, our players and everything is more clear for us,” he said during his pre-match press conference. “Our target is to do better in the Premier League, and to do something special in the FA Cup and League Cup."
Hodgson makes Zaha admission
Wilfried Zaha’s availability will play a vital role in Palace’s bid for Premier League safety this season, even though his failed move to Merseyside won’t help. His role in Saturday’s game was something Roy Hodgson couldn’t avoid addressing.
The Eagles boss said: “He was as I suspected he would be. He’s a professional, he realises that. He’s committed to the club and to helping us, and to doing what we need to do to stay in the league. His training performance today was just as good as it was on Monday and Tuesday before yesterday’s circumstances.”
Team News and predicted XI’s
Both sides have their problems ahead of Saturday’s meeting. Everton will be without Fabian Delph due to injury while deadline day signing Alex Iwobi was not registered in time.
Moise Kean and Jean Philippe-Gbamin have only had a handful of training sessions with their new teammates and could be involved from the outset.
As for the hosts, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp are all sidelined but Gary Cahill, Victor Camarasa and James McCarthy could make their debuts.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Dann, Kelly, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Meyer, Townsend, Zaha, and Benteke.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digna, Gomes, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Bernard, and Kean.