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Watford at Everton: Projected XI

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And we go again.

Everton v Watford - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Everton have to win this football match. “Competitive losses” and “moral victories” are no longer acceptable. The R word is nearing the point of being a legitimate discussion. David Unsworth has to pick a winning side. Here’s how he might do it.

Tactics and Formation

There isn’t much new to expect from Unsworth. He has players he clearly favors (rightly or wrongly), will come out in a 4-3-3 with actual wingers (or something close to it at least), but his center striker and central midfield an absolute mess.

Based on what we’ve seen from him so far, our best guess is this.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Mason Holgate - 7/10

Jonjoe Kenny is clearly Unsworth’s preferred right-back, but he’s played 270 minutes since the start of the Chelsea match last Wednesday. With Cuco Martina suffering a frightening injury on Thursday, Holgate’s the only real option left at right-back — but it isn’t impossible Unsy forces Kenny out there again.

Michael Keane - 9/10

After another shambolic defensive performance, Everton needs Michael Keane. If he’s healthy, he’ll play.

Phil Jagielka - 10/10

There’s no way Unsworth left Jagielka home against Lyon to not then play him Sunday, right? Right? RIGHT?

Leighton Baines - 10/10

See above.

Beni Baningime - 8/10

Morgan Schneiderlin is available to play, as his red card suspension from Thursday only applies to matches in European competition. But, the Frenchman’s frustration at Everton’s ludicrous situation has clearly boiled over, and it’s hard to see Unsworth trusting him again so soon.

Tom Davies - 8/10

Idrissa Gueye should be playing as the box-to-box midfielder in this setup, but Davies is one of Unsworth’s favorites, so it’s hard to see him being out of the starting XI again.

Wayne Rooney - 9/10

Gylfi Sigurdsson should be playing as the No. 10 in this setup, but Rooney is one of Unsworth’s favorites, so it’s hard to see him being out of the starting XI again.

Sound familiar?

Nikola Vlasic - 7/10

The Croatian has been a bit of a lost man (boy?) since Unsworth took over. Part of that is due to injury, and part due to Unsworth’s reliance on Aaron Lennon (properly-placed reliance, at least if you ask Adam).

But Lennon’s played a ton of minutes recently, and Vlasic is due a chance to show what he can do again. We expect he’ll start at right wing, and we are perfectly fine with that.

Kevin Mirallas - 7/10

Mirallas has gotten a new lease on life at Everton under Unsworth too, and we expect he’ll start this one on the left.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 8/10

DCL is yet to score a Premier League goal, but he’s clearly Everton’s best option at striker right now. Of course, we recognize that Unsworth could start Rooney up top anyway (because that’s the sort of person Unsworth seems to be), but we think it’s more likely the former Manchester United striker plays at the No. 10, ahead of Sigurdsson, who is yet to earn the interim manager’s trust at his natural position.

So, that leaves Calvert-Lewin up top.

Everton v Watford - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Bench

  • Joel Robles
  • Jonjoe Kenny
  • Ashley Williams - Somehow, this guy will continuing keeping his place in the 18.
  • Idrissa Gueye
  • Aaron Lennon - Lennon has been pretty good since re-entering the lineup, but he needs a rest.
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson - We genuinely don’t know what it’s going to take for the Icelander to get an extended run at his natural position. We are quite positive, though, that for as long as he isn’t allowed to play as a 10, he’ll continue to underwhelm.
  • Oumar Niasse

This is the season from hell. The fans need reason to cheer again. The players need reason to be confident again. It starts with the manager putting out a sensible side. Come on, Rhino, and come on you Blues.