LEON OSMAN believes the visit of Manchester United could inspire Everton to a flying start – as Kevin Mirallas edged nearer a move to Goodison.
David Moyes’s side must wait until Monday evening to begin their Premier League campaign with the visit of their North West rivals.
Everton have become notoriously for their sluggish starts to the season, and have lost seven out of 10 opening games under Moyes’s tenure.
But Osman is convinced the combination of the Goodison floodlights and quality opposition can ensure a productive beginning.
“I think it’s good we have United first,” said the midfielder. “We’ve not necessarily started the last couple of seasons well and there aren’t many better tests than paying United at your own place.
“Certainly, we will have to be up for the game and hopefully that will inspire us to come out of the blocks really fast and get a good result to start with. It’s disappointing we aren’t starting the season when the majority are on Saturday afternoon but night games at Goodison can be special, and when you play the likes of United under the floodlights at Goodison they can be extra special evenings.”
Everton completed their pre-season programme last weekend with a 1-0 defeat at Champions League qualifiers Malaga.
And Osman added: “You are always striving to rust out of yourself and get yourself ready for the new season. Myself and the rest of the team feel we are getting really close.
“As a squad we’ve always had confidence, the players believe in each other and ourselves and that’s a positive.”
With summer signing Steven Naismith hopeful of making his competitive bow on Monday, there could be another new face on show.
Everton have held talks with Olympiakos as they ramp up efforts of securing a £5.3million deal for Belgium international striker Mirallas.
The 24-year-old, also being tracked by Arsenal, is expected at Finch Farm this week with Goodison officials hopeful of completing the transfer before Friday evening’s registration deadline, allowing Mirallas to be available for Monday’s opening match.
Mirallas, who can play both up front and out wide, scored 20 goals in 25 appearances as he helped Olympiakos win the Greek league last season.
Moyes has money to spend having been given at least half of the £12m Everton received up front from Manchester City last weekend following the sale of Jack Rodwell.
Meanwhile, Everton have been drawn at home to npower League One side Leyton Orient in the second round of the League Cup, which has been rebranded as the Capital One Cup.
Remarkably, it is the 10th successive time Everton have been drawn at home in domestic cup competition, with the game due to take place on August 28/29.
The last time the teams met in the competition was in the second round in 1989-90, when Everton won the first leg away 2-0 before a 2-2 draw in the return.
Tickets are still available for Monday’s Premier League opener against Manchester United at Goodison. Prices start from £35 for adults, £24.25 for over 65s, and £17.50 for juniors. Supporters wanting to buy a ticket are asked to call 0871 663 1878, visit evertonfc.com/eticketing or visit the Box Office at Goodison.