Three questions are always fun for me because I get the insider view on the goings-on at the other Premier League clubs. We checked in with Chris at Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) and his answers were more or less what you’d expect given the Toffees are 2-2-4, sitting 15th in the table, and are just two points above the drop.
Confession: I’ve always kinda liked Everton. I think its because they’re a bit like Arsenal in that they’ve had trouble holding onto their top players. They also give off a bit of a lovable losers vibe, which I like.
Be sure to check out Royal Blue Mersey to see the three questions they wanted answered about Arsenal and to learn more about Everton before Sunday’s match.
1. Everton spent nearly £150M this summer, a club record. How've the new signings done so far? Who has been the best? The worst?
They've done okay. Gylfi Sigurdsson has struggled due to no preseason and being played in the wrong position, but he's coming along. Sandro Ramirez had an early-season knock and it seems like he's yet to fully shake that off, or is adjusting very slowly to life in England.
Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford are who we thought they were. Solid in Keane's case, spectacular in Pickford's case, the two Englishmen should be anchoring Everton's back line for a very long time. Cuco Martina, well, the less we speak of him the better. Not a Premier League player.
Unfortunately, Ronald Koeman's own countryman Davy Klaassen has been the worst of the lot, particularly given his hefty price tag. The Dutch midfielder looks lost. Previously renowned for his movement and goal-scoring instincts from midfield (think Frank Lampard), Klaassen wanders around the pitch like a lost puppy, rarely involved in the play and rarer still involved in a positive attacking move. Some of that is certainly on the manager - Everton should only be playing so many attacking midfielders at once - but Davy is on the fast track to spot Cup duty.
In truth, Everton's best signing so far has been its least heralded - Croatian teenager Nikola Vlasic. Capable of playing in attacking midfield or out wide, Vlasic is clever with the ball at his feet, quicker than you'd think, and generally a pain in the ass for opposing defenders. For someone whose senior experience was in the Croatian league, it's been quite a shock. Vlasic is now one of the first names on Koeman's team sheet, although he may miss out against Arsenal given he's played 90 minutes twice in the last week.
2. What's the biggest problem that Everton needs to fix to turn things around?
It's easy for Evertonians to complain about the lack of a big name striker, or a backup left back, but the biggest problem this season has been the nonsensical way in which Koeman sets up the attack. We've seen three #10s on the field at once with no wingers, we've seen Wayne Rooney the winger, we've seen our promising young striker (Dominic Calvert-Lewin) put in midfield or at wingback, and numerous other head scratching personnel decisions.
As a result, the players are unable to develop any sort of chemistry, and it ends in loads of meaningless possession outside the 18 yard box with no width. Hooray!
3. Will Ronald Koeman lose his job? Should he?
A loss to Arsenal at home on Sunday is likely the end of the road for Koeman (we may be back in touch with The Short Fuse to say thank you).
Frankly, though, he should be gone already. Everton are just outside the relegation places in the league, and effectively eliminated from the Europa League with three games to go, despite the amount of money spent in the offseason. The Blues have won twice in 12 games, and some of the results included getting run off the pitch at Atalanta, a draw to 10 man Apollon Limassol, a loss at home to Burnley, and a toothless draw at Brighton. It's dire.