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Everton at Southampton: Projected XI

Do we have to?

Everton v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Everton are back tomorrow, making a trip to St. Mary’s to face Southampton. The Saints are struggling this season, too, and a Toffees win will see them pass the south coast club in the table. Let’s line ‘em up, shall we?

Tactics and Formation

Last weekend, Unsworth used Everton’s likely top 11 players, but forced Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ademola Lookman out of position, putting out a team that was far too conservative. Thursday’s beatdown against Atalanta largely confirmed that Unsworth has a good grasp of who his best players are. But can he use them the right way this time?

We think he might — and by that we mean, we have no idea what stupid, inane way he’s going to screw things up this time, so our best bet can only be the obvious one.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Jonjoe Kenny - 9/10

Mason Holgate’s lingering injury meant that JJK had to play on Thursday unfortunately, as he’s picked up a ton of minutes since Unsworth took over. He’s still clearly preferred at right-back though, so it’s hard to see how he wouldn’t play.

Michael Keane - 10/10

Keane had a rough go of it on Thursday (perhaps even more than most of his teammates), but Ashley Williams continues to transform into a traffic cone in front of our very eyes, so he’ll start once again.

Phil Jagielka - 10/10

Somehow, Jags is probably the team’s best center-back right now — which would have seemed impossible just nine months ago. For better or worse, that’s where we are now, and he’ll play Sunday (as long as he’s healthy).

Leighton Baines - 10/10

Morgan Schneiderlin - 7/10

I don’t know what I can say about the Frenchman anymore. He was the best Everton player in the second half of last season, but injury, attitude, and poor form continue to derail his 2017-18. We think he still gets the start if healthy, but Beni Baningime remains an option — despite the fact that the youngster failed to make the matchday 18 last weekend.

Idrissa Gueye - 10/10

Tom Davies and Davy Klaassen failed to grasp an opportunity to challenge Gueye for a starting spot in their appearances on Thursday, so there’s no reason the Senegalese midfielder shouldn’t start.

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10

The question surrounding the Icelander is not whether or not he’ll play, but if he’ll actually be allowed the freedom to play his preferred role. Under Unsworth and Koeman, he’s played as a left winger, out-and-out striker, holding midfielder, and last week, a box-to-box midfielder

It isn’t complicated — he’s best in an advanced central midfield role. Will this be the week Unsworth finally puts him, and leaves him there?

Ademola Lookman - 7/10

We think Unsworth will use Sigurdsson in the center (somewhere), meaning the Toffees will need an actual wide player on the left side. We think it’ll be Lookman — largely because Kevin Mirallas played on Thursday instead of the young Englishman.

Aaron Lennon - 9/10

Lennon has been preferred by Unsworth on the right since the Rhino took over — and he’s been pretty solid. With most of the team struggling, there’s no reason to take out the former Tottenham winger.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10

Oumar Niasse, fairly or unfairly, will be suspended for this one, and Unsworth elected to start Wayne Rooney in a meaningless match on Thursday. That seems a pretty obvious sign that DCL will be the starting central striker on Sunday.

Everton v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Bench

  • Joel Robles - It was revealed yesterday that Maarten Stekelenburg has missed and will miss more time to do a groin injury which was recently operated on, which finally explains the recent presence of Joel Robles.
  • Cuco Martina
  • Ashley Williams
  • Beni Baningime
  • Nikola Vlasic - Tom Davies is suspended for this one due to an accumulation of yellow cards, and we suspect the versatile Croat will be preferred to Davy Klaassen.
  • Wayne Rooney
  • Sandro Ramirez - If there’s one player whose stock is currently on the rise, it’s Sandro. Kevin Mirallas still seems to be on thin ice with David Unsworth, Oumar Niasse is suspended, and the Spanish striker just got his first Everton goal on Thursday. He’s going to get chances in the next few weeks — can he capitalize on them?

These are the games that Everton must win. Southampton are a decent enough squad, but before the season the Toffees would have (rightly) been expected to win against teams such as these. Now, it’s anyone’s guess.

At this point, it’s unlikely that David Unsworth is managing for his job - it seems like he’ll be returned to the U23s sooner rather than later. Let’s hope Rhino at least douses some water on this towering blaze of trash before he departs.