What Everton Fans Want to See Against Blackburn
Everton travel to Blackburn this weekend for their third clash of preseason, before jetting off to America for a series of friendly matches in the International Champions Cup.
So far this summer, the onus has very much been on fitness, with a gradually increasing focus on style, tempo and approach.
Against Austria Vienna and Accrington Stanley, Roberto Martinez deployed his side in a similar system to David Moyes, although there have been notable changes in style, with far more attention on possession and a short passing game.
Here are a few things fans will be hoping to see during the Toffees' next match with Blackburn.
Baines and Fellaini Involved
Should either leave, it would come as a considerable blow to the Toffees, especially with the new season barely weeks away.
Any absence of Everton's two most coveted players at Blackburn would immediately launch a torrent of rumours in the media, therefore fans will be keen to see both involved at some stage.
Baines temporarily caused panic last week as he was accidentally omitted from the teamsheet against Accrington Stanley, before he eventually emerged from the bench to calm supporters' nerves.
A Glimpse of Kone and Deulofeu
Preseason contests are rarely the most absorbing spectacles, but a small perk for supporters is the chance to see new signings wearing their new club colours.
Evertonians have already witnessed Joel Robles in goal for both friendly matches and saw a short cameo from Antolin Alcaraz against Accrington. Arouna Kone and Gerard Deulofeu are yet to make their debuts in Everton colours, though, so fans will be hoping to see them against Blackburn.
Kone has been back in training for some time and should be involved, but Deulofeu will only join up with his new teammates at the end of the week. Therefore, his participation may be limited.
The Spaniard's lofty reputation has caused much fanfare among supporters who will be desperate to make their own assessments in the flesh.
Insight into Jelavic's Future
Nikica Jelavic endured a tough second season at Everton, hindered by the high expectations his explosive start created.
After 11 goals in his first 16 games for the Toffees, eight goals in the next 43 appearances can only be described as a colossal disappointment. He's now been linked with a move away from the Merseyside club.
Bundesliga outfit Hamburg are rumoured to be interested, and quotes in the Daily Mail (attributed to the German club's sporting director, Oliver Kreuzer) reveal Roberto Martinez may not have the Croatian in his plans.
"I have heard that Everton's new manager wants to sell him," he said.
To shed light on the issue, it will be interesting to see how much—if at all—Jelavic features at Blackburn, in relation to Arouna Kone and Victor Anichebe.
If he's barely involved, he may well be on his way out of the club.
A Chance for Some England Under-20s
Roberto Martinez has handed brief cameos to young prospects such as Francisco Junior, Conor Grant, Tyias Browning and Conor McAleny during Everton's previous two friendlies.
This has been welcomed by fans. However, having missed the first two games, the team's quintet of England Under-20 internationals are now back in training and arguably stand a better chance of breaking into the first team.
Fans will want to see the likes of Ross Barkley, John Stones, Luke Garbutt, John Lundstram and Chris Long given a chance during the next few friendlies and will hope they can impress their new manager and stake a claim for first team consideration.
There has been a lack of youthful influence in many recent Everton lineups, which these five players have the best chance of rectifying.
Continued Transition of Style
Everton have slowly been moving towards a more pass-heavy approach under Martinez, distancing themselves from the slightly direct play the Toffees finished with under David Moyes.
The early signs of this stylistic shift have been positive. For the first half against Accrington, the tempo remained high, movement was bright, and the Toffees carved out a number of openings—before the pace of the game predictably slowed during the second period.
Fans will want to see this transition continue and improve against slightly higher opposition in Blackburn.
If the intensity can be kept for slightly longer and Rovers can be opened up by this evolving approach, it's a sign the overall process is well on track.