Everton legend Ian Snodin reckons the Blues have been handed a tricky first game of the new Premier League season – though he believes a trip to Leicester City represents a good chance to start the campaign with a victory.
Roberto Martinez's men kick off 2014/15 against the Foxes, who last term romped to the Championship title, finishing nine points clear in top spot.
The Premier League opener arrives just three weeks after the teams meet in a pre-season friendly in Thailand in late July – a game which Snodin says will have little significance when the sides face each other competitively at the King Power Stadium on 16 August.
“It will be quite interesting but a friendly is nothing like the first league game of the season,” Snodin told evertonfc.com. “I’ve no doubt Roberto and their manager, Nigel Pearson, will be chopping and changing out there in Thailand, so you can’t read too much into that. Plus, it will be three to four weeks between games. The friendly will just be a good work-out and when it comes to 16 August it will be more hands-on.
“I’d rather have played Leicester after five or six games or so, not the opening game at their place. The first game will be tough. There will be a full house and their players and crowd will be up for it.
“The teams that have come up from the Championship will be flying at first because all they remember is the winning mentality. But, if they don’t win two or three of those games they will become deflated, so I’d rather play those sides after about half-a-dozen games to be honest.
“It’s a hard game for both teams though, and although Leicester will be looking forward to it, it’s a great chance for us to get off to a good start. It could have been a lot more difficult.”
The season-opener is followed by back-to-back home games against Arsenal and Chelsea.
In the corresponding matches last season, Everton thrashed the Gunners 3-0 at Goodison Park, while Jose Mourinho's side also returned to the capital having suffered a 1-0 reverse.
“There are four really big games early on – you are talking about Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United in the first seven weeks,” added Snodin.
“The first two homes games will both be sell-outs and I’m sure there will be a great atmosphere in Goodison for those matches."
Everton’s run-in during the final three months does not involve games against any of the teams that finished in the Champions League qualification positions last season.
Snodin believes that could work in the Blues' favour, particularly if Martinez's men are still involved in the Europa League and FA Cup and are pressing for another strong Premier League finish.
“It’s a decent run-in on paper,” he said. “We have to play Tottenham and Manchester United, who I expect to be a lot better than last season, but there are games against Swansea, Burnley, Aston Villa, Sunderland and West Ham included, which is not a bad set, especially if we do need to get a few victories.
“But I say on paper because in football things don’t work out as you predict. They are all tough games.”