Hark! Could it be? Is that...confidence? Cohesion? It’s the Sam Allardyce effect!
Everton have points in four straight games, and will be buoyed by a dogged defensive effort at Anfield. They now face Newcastle United at St. James Park for the first time since Boxing Day, 2015.
Let’s line ‘em up.
Tactics and Formation
Despite two positive results under Sam Allardyce thus far, we’ve yet to get a precise look at what an average team setup for the new manager might look like. He had only one training session to prepare for his first match, then had to park the bus to keep Liverpool out on Sunday.
Combine this uncertainty with the likelihood of squad rotation following the hard-earned draw at Anfield this weekend and you’re left with a squad with a fair bit of question marks. Still, we think given the opposition, Sam will go with a relatively attacking side — one that also rests a few key players.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Jonjoe Kenny - 9/10
Kenny has played a lot of minutes recently, but so has first alternate Mason Holgate, while second alternate Cuco Martina is needed at left-back.
Michael Keane - 8/10
Keane appeared to be fit for the Merseyside Derby this weekend, but couldn’t win a place back from Ashley Williams or Mason Holgate. We find that a bit strange, but think he’ll be back after consecutive starts for Williams and Holgate.
Phil Jagielka - 8/10
What was said for Keane can just as easily be said for the skipper, who we think starts against Newcastle.
Cuco Martina - 9/10
Morgan Schneiderlin - 8/10
The French midfielder put in two solid, if unspectacular shifts in Cyprus on Thursday, then again in the second half at Anfield. It appears as though he’s proven to Sam that he can be trusted, and Idrissa Gueye needs a rest.
Tom Davies - 7/10
Davies only played the first half at Anfield, making him a likely starter in this one.
Wayne Rooney - 9/10
How could Allardyce possibly take out the former United striker in his current form?
Aaron Lennon - 8/10
Lennon was a bit of a surprise omission from the starting lineup on Sunday, given his decent form and defensive prowess. In a more evenly-matched game, we see not reason why he won’t get back into the starting XI.
Ademola Lookman - 6/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson put in a lot of work against Liverpool, and Lookman put in an excellent performance in Cyprus on Thursday. He was also about to enter the match when Wayne Rooney equalized on Sunday — so he’s at least on Sam’s radar.
Oumar Niasse - 6/10
Calvert-Lewin continues to impress up top, but he too could use a rest. Niasse has certainly had his moments this year as well, and this match seems as good a time as any to get him rolling once again.
- Joel Robles
- Mason Holgate
- Ashley Williams
- Idrissa Gueye
- Nikola Vlasic
- Gylfi Sigurdsson
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Yannick Bolasie. Ross Barkley. Seamus Coleman. Leighton Baines. Ramiro Funes Mori. All of these players are still injured, and yet things are looking up. Something might be made of this season yet.