Stoke manager Mark Hughes encouraged despite opening day defeat

Kristopher Nichols
August 13, 2017

Although it was a performance that lacked cohesion and penetration, particularly when the side was labouring under the 5-3-2 formation, the win gets Everton off to a desired start to the new campaign.

Everton and Stoke clash at Goodison Park on Saturday in the pair's opening match of the 2017/18 Premier League season.

It was the 31-year-old striker's 199th Premier League goal.

"It's always a close game when we play Everton - a draw and they won by a single goal last season".

"To replace Lukaku is really hard", said manager Koeman.

The former Burnley enforcer was signed at sizeable expense over the summer and it was clear to see why Everton were so willing to splash the cash on the England global.

The pair that comes out on top will certainly have a big say in where a potential victory lies, but there will be only so much either duo can do if neither team's forward lines produce the goods where it matters.

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The glow from Rooney's 199th Premier League goal was nearly erased when Fletcher went close to equalising after half-time with a stinging strike.

Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy has been left out of Everton's squad for their Premier League opener against Stoke City as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Stoke City will be nearly at full strength ahead of this game with the exception of Ibrahim Afellay. They have brought in Kurt Zouma on loan and Darren Fletcher but they look weaker heading into this campaign. Rooney was instrumental in starting it, playing in Gueye who fed Sandro and he in turn found Calvert-Lewin wide on the right.

Everton have their sights set on a potential UEFA Champions League berth this season, while Stoke City will be among the teams that will try to avoid relegation and maybe surprise with a Top 10 finish.

By contrast, Everton gaffer Koeman demands fast starts.

Last season, the Blues took four out of a possible six points versus the Potter.

"We kept on pushing and over the course of 90 minutes, Everton didn't really have too many clear cut chances so we restricted a very good side who spent a lot of money and have got a lot of quality".

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