Tottenham v Everton
Sunday 13 September, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports
Mellowed Mourinho has to deliver
One of the striking things about the "All Or Nothing" documentary featuring Tottenham has been the way Jose Mourinho has managed to come across as a far more sanguine and caring manager than his previous record suggests. The snarling malcontent that was eventually pushed out of Manchester United has seemingly given way to a far more agreeable, honest motivator. Of course, the documentary will have been carefully edited, and the public barbs that have been sent the way of errant midfielder Tanguy Ndombele may have sent a shiver down the spine of Mourinho's former charge Luke Shaw.
Tottenham qualified for the Europa League last term, edging Wolves out of the top six on the final day of the campaign, and another top-six finish is the bare minimum expected. Mourinho was ostensibly brought in to win silverware, and to try to win the race for Champions League qualification, despite a crowded and high-quality field. Tottenham's price of 4.216/5 for a Top 4 Finish feels about right, given the improvements Chelsea and Manchester United have made.
The injury crisis that derailed Tottenham's last campaign is over. Midfielder Giovanni Lo Celso is the only doubt for this weekend, and there could be debuts for new signings Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. There's plenty of firepower, with a potential front four of Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura.
Ancelotti has shown his pulling power
When Colombia's James Rodriguez took the ball on his chest and fired a 25-yard volley into the net past flailing Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera, scoring the 2014 World Cup's best goal, even the most ardent and optimistic Everton fan would surely have scoffed at the idea that he would join the Toffees just six years later.
The man who has made such a fantasy signing possible is Carlo Ancelotti. Of course, owner Farhad Moshiri's cash is crucial, but it is Ancelotti's reputation, glittering CV and avuncular style that is allowing Everton to make such eyebrow-raising captures. James has worked with the Italian at both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, while fellow new recruit Allan was with the coach at Napoli.
Signings like James and Allan should add a mix of grit and grace to Everton's midfield, but Ancelotti knows he has to turn the potential of his squad into something tangible.
The Toffees finished a lowly 12th in the Premier League last season, ending the campaign with a poor run of three top-flight wins in 12 attempts. They were 17 points adrift of the Champions League spots, and ten off the top six. Their away form must improve to make the next step - EFC lost four of their last six away games in the league, including a 4-0 humbling at Ancelotti's old club Chelsea. They must also be more clinical, as they scored just 44 PL goals last term from a total of 341 chances.
James, Allan and ex-Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure could all make their debuts, while Jonjoe Kenny will challenge Seamus Coleman at right-back after an excellent season on loan at Schalke, where he stood out in a poor side.
Spurs are rightful favourites
Tottenham finished the campaign with four straight league wins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and since Jose Mourinho arrived, they have collected 28 points from an available 39 at home. Given the Opta stats that show Everton have collected just four points from their last 11 visits to Tottenham, you can understand why the hosts are trading at 1.9420/21 to make a winning start.
Don't expect a tepid affair
Although this fixture was a pretty drab 1-0 win for Spurs last term, I suspect this will be a livelier encounter. In 26 league games under Mourinho, Spurs have kept just seven clean sheets, and both teams have found the net on 16 occasions. Tottenham have scored in all but two of their PL home matches under Mourinho.
Both teams have scored in 12 of Ancelotti's 20 top-flight games at Everton, and their 10 away games have featured a total of 28 goals. With James' creativity, and the quality of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in attack, Everton should create chances.
I'll back Yes in the Both Teams To Score market at 1.875/6.
Kane to make early mark
Opta tell us that Spurs and England superstar Harry Kane has banged in nine goals in his last nine Premier League meetings with Everton. It's always eye-catching to see him trading at odds-against in the To Score market, and his price of 2.166/5 seems too good to pass up. Kane finished the last campaign by scoring five goals in his final three games, and if you want to consider him in the PL Top Goalscorer market, he is trading at 8.07/1.