Another week, another must win game for Everton if they ever intend to get the 2017-18 season back on track. Problem is, Olympique Lyonnais are very talented and pose a serious threat.
Despite sitting 6th in Ligue 1, the French side boast attackers like Nabil Fekir, Bertrand Traore, and Memphis Depay. Ronald Koeman will need to field a defensively solid team, while hoping for some coherency on offense. How might it look?
Tactics and Formation
The RBM Projected XI Consortium (copyright pending) spent a fair bit of time this week talking about Ronald Koeman’s thinking after the Brighton and Hove Albion match.
He said he was happy with the result. He said he was mostly happy with the performance. He said Wayne Rooney is continuing to do well.
The question for us, in response to those comments, was pretty straightforward — “Has Ronald truly lost his mind, and actually believes those things are true? Or is he just saying them because he feels they are the right thing to say?”
After some deliberation, we settled on the former — Koeman is losing his mind and really thinks his team did well on Sunday — meaning we’ll see a similar lineup on Thursday, where anything short of a victory probably means the end of Everton’s Europa League run.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Koeman has used Maarten Stekelenburg in a few past Europa League matches, but with the campaign on the line, he’ll use his top-choice goalkeeper
Cuco Martina - 7/10
The wheel of right-backs continues to spin. Koeman seems to still be undecided regarding his preference between Martina and Mason Holgate -- so the best guess here is that the Curacao international will start given that Holgate played on Sunday.
Phil Jagielka - 8/10
Jagielka played on Sunday, but he’s obviously superior to Ashley Williams at this point. The Toffees can ill-afford a mistake in this match, so expect to see Jags.
Michael Keane - 10/10
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10
Idrissa Gueye - 9/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
Operating on the assumption that Koeman was accepting of what he saw against Brighton, the midfield three will likely stay the same.
We believe that this is the best midfield three Everton has to offer, so you’ll hear no complaints from us — that is, until you get to its relationship with the attackers.
Kevin Mirallas - 7/10
Mirallas looked lively in his appearance off the bench against Brighton, and could well replace the ineffective Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the left side.
It is worth noting, though, that it is also possible that Koeman forces Gylfi into the wide left position again, relegating Mirallas to the bench and bringing one of Davy Klaassen or Tom Davies into the midfield.
Wayne Rooney - 8/10
Rooney as a striker and Sigurdsson as the No. 10 simply don’t mix. Adam wrote about it at length in his analysis of the BHA match — but we just don’t see Koeman recognizing the problem and making an adjustment.
Instead, expect Koeman to go back to his trusted English attacker with his job potentially on the line.
Nikola Vlasic - 8/10
Vlasic was good once again this weekend, and should find himself in the starting lineup once more on Thursday.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Ashley Williams
- Mason Holgate
- Tom Davies
- Davy Klaassen
- Sandro Ramirez - No Oumar Niasse in Everton’s Europa League roster, so the exiled Spanish striker looks likely to draw back in, at least on the bench.
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
The Blues are missing their usual suspects for this one: Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, and Ramiro Funes Mori. James McCarthy looks set for a return on Sunday against Arsenal, while Jonjoe Kenny suffered a knock while away with England.
As has been the case all year, Ronald Koeman knows who he has to work with, and he better get this right.