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Everton vs Arsenal: Projected XI

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Assessing the Blues’ personnel options ahead of their increasingly crucial match at Goodison Park

Arsenal v Everton - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Somewhat unfortunately, Everton have to play another game this week. After losing to Lyon in the Europa League, the Blues host Arsenal at Goodison Park what seems like mere hours later. Ronald Koeman has dropped several hints regarding who may feature for the struggling club, so let’s check out the likely lineup.

Tactics and Formation

Ronald Koeman’s comments since the end of the Lyon match have given us pretty obvious insight into what to expect when Everton faces Arsenal on Sunday

First, he’s stated multiple times that he was relatively pleased with the performance — so we don’t expect a major change in system. Second, he noted that Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, and Wayne Rooney will all be involved against Arsenal.

That likely means starts for each of those players — leading to this projection:

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Cuco Martina - 6/10

The right-back situation is still as messy as ever. Mason Holgate was horrendous there on Thursday, Cuco Martina is yet to impress, and Jonjoe Kenny has yet to feature when both Martina and Holgate are available.

Given Holgate’s bad day against Lyon, and that he’s played 180 minutes in the past week, Martina seems the most likely choice — but this position has been full of surprises all season.

Phil Jagielka - 10/10

Ashley Williams had quite an eventful day on Thursday — scoring a goal, but also nearly getting sent off to conceding some questionable chances. Koeman has said Jagielka will feature against Arsenal, and the Englishman has been clearly superior to his Welsh counterpart.

Michael Keane - 9/10

There is the slightest of slight chances that Koeman elects to give Keane a rest on Sunday and comes out with Jagielka and Williams as his center-backs. He shouldn’t do that — it would be an unmitigated disaster. But, he might.

Leighton Baines - 10/10

The long-time Everton left-back was curiously rested in a must-win match on Thursday, meaning he’ll definitely play here.

Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10

Koeman has stated that the French midfielder will be available on Sunday, and we don’t see the Dutchman keeping Schneiderlin out of the lineup.

Idrissa Gueye - 10/10

Another curious player to rest in a must-win match, Gana will be tasked with winning the ball from an Arsenal team that is generally comfortable in possession.

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10

After starting on the bench Thursday, Sigurdsson will certainly start Sunday. There is a little question about where exactly he’ll play, though. We expect Rooney will start as well — so will Sigurdsson keep his place in the center of the pitch while the Englishman gets pushed to the outside?

We think so, but you can never be sure with Koeman.

Wayne Rooney - 10/10

Koeman wouldn’t have rested Rooney against Lyon if he didn’t intend to start him here. We think he’ll line up on the right of a front three, though he could also end up as the central striker or the most aggressive of the midfield three.

Kevin Mirallas - 8/10

Koeman finally started a true wide player — and surprise, surprise, he was pretty good. Mirallas was arguably Everton’s best player on Thursday, and we think his contributions were so clear that even Koeman can’t ignore them. Expect the Belgian to get another start on the left.

Oumar Niasse - 7/10

Niasse starting has less to do with the Senegalese striker himself and more to do with the situation surrounding Everton’s other attacking players. Dominic-Calvert Lewin and Nikola Vlasic have both played a ton in the last week, so Koeman will probably look to rest them.

Neither Aaron Lennon nor Ademola Lookman appear to have Koeman’s trust to start on the right with Vlasic resting, so we anticipate that Rooney will slide out to that position — leaving Niasse as the obvious choice to play as the main striker.

Everton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Bench

  • Maarten Stekelenburg
  • Ashley Williams
  • Mason Holgate
  • Tom Davies
  • James McCarthy - With McCarthy supposedly healthy, Davy Klaassen continuing to look lost, and Morgan Schneiderlin coming off injury, it makes sense to have the Irish midfielder on the bench.
  • Nikola Vlasic - We would prefer to see Ademola Lookman get this spot on the bench after a lively appearance off the bench on Thursday — but we’re also realistic about what Koeman thinks of both Vlasic and Lookman.
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin

What do you think? Would you throw James McCarthy right back into the fray, or let Tom Davies start again? Perhaps Calvert-Lewin in a pairing up top with Oumar Niasse? Let us know in the comments below.