Everton will entertain Wolves at Goodison Park on Saturday, with both teams vying for their first win of the new Premier League season.
The Toffees have suffered defeats at the hands of Fulham and Aston Villa in the opening fixtures. The latter was a 4-0 loss where Sean Dyche’s side were completely outplayed at Villa Park.
On the other hand, Wolves have also failed to register a point in their first two games of the season. They were unfortunate to suffer a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford but were thrashed 4-1 by Brighton at Molineux.
With both teams desperate to kickstart their respective campaigns, here are the key battles that could define the outcome of this fixture.
#Arnaut Danjuma vs Max Kilman
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was forced off with a suspected cheekbone fracture in the first half against Villa, and he must follow FA concussion protocol. It remains to be seen how severe the injury is but it looks likely the English striker will miss the game against Wolves.
It’ll be a big blow if Calvert-Lewin misses out, leaving Sean Dyche with limited resources up front. As Arnaut Danjuma had replaced Calvert-Lewin at Villa Park, there’s every chance of him getting the nod to start through the middle as a No.9 against Wolves.
Danjuma is a tricky forward, with his quick feet and burst of acceleration capable of causing problems for defenders. Given how the Wolves defence crumbled against Brighton, the Dutchman will be looking to expose their weaknesses.
Max Kilman, thus, has to produce a much better performance than he did last time out against Brighton. This game should see Danjuma go toe-to-toe with Kilman, so the English defender will have his hands full at the weekend.
#Mario Lemina vs Amadou Onana
Wolves must do without Matheus Nunes at Goodison Park after he picked up two yellow cards against Brighton. This should weaken the Wolves’ midfield and make them vulnerable to attacks on the break.
Therefore, Mario Lemina has to find a better way of handling Amadou Onana when they meet in midfield. Onana was excellent in Everton’s season opener against Fulham, leading several counter-attackers for the hosts with his passing ability and rampaging runs through the centre of the pitch. While he failed to influence the game against Villa, there is every chance of the Belgian midfield general turning up in front of the Goodison Park faithful on Saturday.
To combat Onana and stop him from leading the charge for the Everton counter-attacks, Lemina has to be at his best—both physically and technically.
#Pedro Neto vs Ashley Young
Pedro Neto has been named in Gary O’Neil’s starting lineup in the first two games, with the Portuguese impressing with his direct running, energy and pressing.
Once again expected to start as the right-sided wide midfielder in a 4-4-1-1 shape, Neto will look to cause problems to the Everton backline. Lining up against him will be Ashley Young, who was extremely poor in the last outing and was culpable for Villa’s fourth goal.
Neto will test Young’s defensive nous and try exploiting his lack of energy, similar to Leon Bailey at Villa Park. So, how the former England international performs against the tricky Wolves winger will be an intriguing watch.