The first home game of a new Premier League season is always a special occasion and I am particularly looking forward to our match this weekend because we face one of my former clubs, Southampton, at Goodison Park.
Over the summer there has been lots of changes at Everton, including the appointment of Marco Silva as our new manager and the arrival of seven new signings during a busy transfer window so this feels like a fresh start for everyone at the football club.
From day one in pre-season, the players could see exactly what the new manager wants and expects from us and he has spent the last six weeks implanting those ideas within the squad at our USM Finch Farm training base.
One manager I liked working with very much was Mauricio Pochettino during our time together at Southampton and, in many respects, Marco reminds me of him. Possession, pressing, working hard – I like this idea of football and it’s what I relate to most.
Our manager is very ‘hands on’ and attentive to details. He tries to make progress collectively and individually.
He has shown me videos of my games and highlighted areas where I can improve, and I know he has done the same with other members of the squad too.
That’s great for football players as you need to see yourself after the game and understand what the manager wants from you. Personally, I welcome and need to have that regular communication with a manager, then it’s easier to implement his ideas on the pitch.
Of course, it takes time for any manager to put his stamp on a team but I think we showed signs of how he wants us to play in our opening game against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.
It was always going to be a difficult task against a Wolves team that has momentum following promotion from the Championship and that challenge became even harder when we had a man sent off in the 40th minute.
However, we showed great desire and lots of fighting spirit to take a point with 10 men and, with a bit more luck in front of goal, we might have won it so there were plenty of positives on the day.
Perhaps the biggest plus was the performance of Richarlison, one of the new signings to join the club this summer, who scored two goals on his debut.
I remember watching ‘Richy’ last season and in the first five or six months, he really caught my eye because he had some amazing games for Watford.
All of his game is top drawer – his technique, the way he keeps and moves the ball and the hard work he puts in for the team.
Off the pitch, he is quiet around the place because he doesn’t speak much English but when he pulls a shirt on he is a warrior and a great player to have on your side.
If he can do what he did last weekend on a regular basis then I really believe he can score 15-plus goals for us this season and become one of the stand-out players in the Premier League.
There is uncertainty over where City’s scheduled away clash with Spurs on October 28 will take place because the club’s new stadium may not be open and Wembley is booked for an NFL game.
An alternative could be to reverse fixtures with City and play at the Etihad Stadium with Spurs then hosting the champions on April 20 in return.
But as that would leave City playing only once at home in their final five matches, Guardiola is not keen.
Speaking at a press conference, the City boss said: “We want to help the Premier League.
“This can happen because they build an amazing stadium for Tottenham Hotspur, sometimes there are delays.
“We are going to adapt if we can adapt but of course we are going to think of ourselves as well.
“I don’t know. I can only say, when that happens, of the last five games four are away.”
Asked if that was a problem, Guardiola said: “I think so. When you are maybe playing for the Premier League, four games away is a little bit different.
“But I’m a manager for what happens on the pitch and that’s enough. In the end if Tottenham want to suggest something they’ll speak with our CEO and our people. They will decide the best for the Premier League, Tottenham and us.”
City suffered a blow this week with playmaker Kevin De Bruyne suffering a knee injury in training that will rule him out for around three months.
The Belgium international is set to miss City’s first four Champions League games as well as the Spurs clash and another potentially key game against Liverpool on October 7.
It also seems unlikely the 27-year-old will be fit for the first derby of the season against Manchester United on November 11.
Guardiola said: “He will be a big miss. Last season Kevin was outstanding and, of course, for him and his family you never want these long injuries.
“But you accept it. It’s part of the game, part of the amount of games and seasons, games and seasons (they play) and in the end the players fall down.
“Sometimes that is normal. They don’t rest. It was a tough season last season. They come back in a short recovery and we demand in the first moment, ‘come on let’s go’ because we are in the competition. Of course human beings have a limit and sometimes these things happen.”
On the positive side, fellow midfielder David Silva, who did not feature in last weekend’s season-opening win at Arsenal, could return against Huddersfield on Sunday.
Guardiola said: “He trained the last two or three training sessions. Last week he was not fit, he had a little problem in his leg, but he has been training good this week.”
Morata scored eight goals in eight competitive appearances at the start of last season, but his form has dipped alarmingly since.
The 25-year-old has one Premier League goal in 15 appearances in the competition in 2018, plus two in the FA Cup.
“I am not worried about Morata. Morata is a very good player,” said Sarri, speaking ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.
“I think in this moment he needs only to gain confidence. But he’s a great player.
“He needs to gain confidence. But he’s improving. I’m not really worried about him.
“He needs to score. As do all strikers in the world, I think.”
Morata and Eden Hazard could have a potent partnership.
Hazard has two years remaining on his Chelsea contract and has been continually linked with a move to Real Madrid.
The Spanish transfer window is open until August 31 and Sarri repeated his belief, stated prior to the opening-day win at Huddersfield, that Hazard will remain at Chelsea this season.
“I have spoken with him very often in the last 10 days,” Sarri added.
“He has never said to me anything about this. I am sure Eden will be with us for this season.”
Saturday will be Sarri and Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s first London derby.
It was put to Sarri that former Paris Saint-Germain boss Emery’s side struggled against champions Manchester City last Sunday.
“For everybody it’s difficult against Manchester City,” Sarri said.
“I think Emery is a very good coach. He won three times the Europa League, he won in France with PSG.
“I think Arsenal this season will be competitive. I think they will be able to fight for a place in Champions League.”
As for Chelsea, Sarri’s expectations are measured.
“I think in this moment in English football there is a club above the others and this club is Manchester City,” he added.
“We have to try to do our best. We have to try to reach 101 per cent of our potential. Then we have to see.
“I don’t know now what can happen. My feeling is we can be a very good team.
“We started to work all together only 10 days ago. We have to work, we have to improve. In my opinion, in two months we can be a very good team.”
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas is missing against his former club, due to a knee injury. The Spain playmaker could be back at Newcastle next week.
Mateo Kovacic, who is on loan from Real Madrid, could make his debut.
It will be Sarri’s first competitive game at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri said: “I’m looking forward to it because I will be the coach of one of the most important clubs in Europe, in one of the most important stadiums in Europe, for my first London derby.”