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Fixture Focus

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The 2014/15 Premier League fixtures were announced on Wednesday. To whet your appetite for the new season, Joanne Gaskell takes an in-depth look at Everton’s games during the first two months of the campaign...

Roberto Martinez starts his second term as Blues boss with a trip to newly-promoted Leicester City.

It will be the first time in over 10 years that the two teams have met competitively, with Leicester spending the last decade in the Football League – a period that has seen no less than eight different managers attempt to lift the Foxes back into the top flight.

Nigel Pearson succeeded last season, guiding the East Midlands club to the Championship title.

The last time Everton faced Leicester on the opening day of the season was in 1985, when the Toffees travelled to Filbert Street as champions.

However, the title defence started in less-than-ideal fashion as Howard Kendall's men were beaten 3-1, with Derek Mountfield the sole Everton scorer.

There was much more positive news in 2003/04 – the last season in which Everton played Leicester in the Premier League.

The Blues recouped four points from their two encounters with the Foxes, winning the home game 3-2 and drawing 1-1 on their first - and only – trip to the King Power Stadium [formerly the Walkers Stadium]. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring for the Toffees that day, before Marcus Bent equalised for the hosts. The striker then made the switch from Leicester to Everton just two months later.

Wayne Rooney Goal Leicester

Everton will face Arsenal in their first game back at Goodison Park - and it was only back in April that Roberto Martinez’s side produced one of the performances of the 2013/14 season to crush the Gunners 3–0.
 
Steven Naismith, Romelu Lukaku and an own goal from former Blue Mikel Arteta ensured a comfortable victory, which extended Everton’s unbeaten league run against Arsenal – one that now stands at four matches.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea will be the next visitors to Goodison Park, and the Blues will be looking for a repeat of last year’s meeting, when Naismith scored the only goal to give Martinez his first Premier League win as Everton manager.

The Toffees haven’t faced the West London outfit in August since 1995 when it was a stalemate at Stamford Bridge – a week after the Blues had beaten Blackburn Rovers in the Charity Shield at Wembley.

Everton’s first game of September will be a trip to the Midlands to face former Academy Manager Alan Irvine and his West Bromwich Albion side.

Kevin Mirallas was the scorer in a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns last season, while Everton's last win at the stadium came on New Year’s Day 2012, when a late goal from now Baggies player Victor Anichebe grabbed all three points.

Crystal Palace are the third visitors to Goodison in 2014/15, and the Blues will be keen to inflict revenge on the Eagles after they snatched a 3-2 victory on Merseyside in April.

Prior to last season, Palace’s previous stint in the Premier League was back in 2004/05 - and the Blues won convincingly at home on that occasion, on their way to securing Champions League qualification.

Tim Cahill netted a brace, Arteta crashed home a free-kick and a 16-year-old James Vaughan became the Premier League's youngest ever scorer in completing a 4-0 rout.

Attention will then turn to two short but mouthwatering trips to Liverpool and Manchester United.

“It’s a great start to the season,” was the reaction of Toffees legend Graeme Sharp. “You have got to play the teams anyway and, for the supporters, the first two home games will be an early indication of how the season is going to pan out.

“Last season, we got our first victory against Chelsea and then we kicked on. If we can get good results in the first few matches it will fill the fans with optimism once again.”
 
To hear more from Sharpy, watch a video interview here .


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