The Blues begin the post-Koeman era in a tight spot. Everton reside in the relegation places in the league, and essentially are out of Europe.
Besides that, the club have an interim manager at the helm. David Unsworth has proved his worth time and again at the youth level, but is the ex-Everton player ready for the step up? The domestic cups now represent what are likely Everton’s best chances to get something out of the 2017-18 season.
Tactics and Formation
This will be our toughest, but most exciting, projected XI to date — because we’ve no idea what David Unsworth will bring to the first team. That makes him tough to predict, but also brings hope that some of what we’ve been calling for this season could actually come true!
Unsworth obviously can only pull from the same group of players Koeman could, but we suspect he’ll be a little more traditional in his approach, rather than trying to fit square pegs into round holes unnecessarily. With the Europa League campaign all but over and the Premier League season a bust thus far, domestic cups represent Everton’s best chance to get something out of this season.
So, we think Unsworth will play a pretty full first-team side, especially given that Chelsea will likely use a second-string team.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Jonjoe Kenny - 6/10
Unsworth will be quite familiar with Kenny from his work with the U23s, and the right-back seems to be one of the players most in line for improved fortunes with Koeman gone. Mason Holgate has been utterly terrible, and Cuco Martina only slightly better, so Unsworth may well give the youngster a chance.
Phil Jagielka - 7/10
Jagielka continues to be a substantially better choice than Ashley Williams, and with the importance this match holds, we think he’ll get the nod.
Michael Keane - 10/10
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10
Unsworth declared Schneiderlin fit, so he’ll play, especially given that Idrissa Gueye is suspended.
Tom Davies - 8/10
Davies is another player who Unsworth will be familiar with, and Gana’s suspension means a different box-to-box midfielder will be needed on Wednesday.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
Perhaps no one will be more relieved about Koeman’s dismissal than the Icelander, who will perhaps finally be given an extended run as a central attacking midfielder with limited defensive responsibility. Expect that run to start Wednesday.
Ademola Lookman - 7/10
The biggest mistake of Koeman’s 2017 was his refusal to use actual wide attacking players. We think Unsworth will change that tendency, and give young Ademola Lookman a real chance on Wednesday.
Kevin Mirallas - 9/10
Mirallas is even more likely to play, especially after his solid performance against Lyon gave way to no action against Arsenal on Sunday. His pace and craftiness will be a big weapon against a likely young Chelsea backline.
Oumar Niasse - 7/10
Perhaps no one in the entire Everton organization is more familiar with Niasse than Unsworth, who managed the Senegalese striker to seven goals with the Everton U23s last season. Calvert-Lewin has played a ton recently, and Unsworth is less likely to have a perverse fascination with Rooney, so we think Niasse will get a look.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Ashley Williams
- Cuco Martina
- Davy Klaassen
- James McCarthy - the Irishman trained on Tuesday and was passed fully fit by David Unsworth. It’s unlikely he’s ready to start, but McCarthy will significantly add to Everton’s depth and is probably an improvement on Muhamed Besic.
- Wayne Rooney
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
David Unsworth will be looking to make a big impression on the Everton brass, as well he should. The best way to do that is by fielding a coherent tactical setup that features round pegs in round holes. By returning to a traditional 4-3-3 with actual width, the Blues stand a good chance of defeating what will be a patchwork Chelsea side.