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Everton vs Chelsea: Projected XI

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The first big test of the Allardyce era awaits

Chelsea v Everton - Carabao Cup Fourth Round Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Sam Allardyce has done well since taking the helm of Everton Football Club, but he’d be the first to admit he’s not exactly faced the sternest opposition. That changes this weekend, when the Toffees face third-placed Chelsea at Goodison Park.

Let’s take a look at what we believe Allardyce will do to try to steal points against a top-tier side.

Tactics and Formation

Big Sam used the same lineup twice last week, an indication that he’s probably not going to change something that’s working unless he absolutely has to. Saturday’s match begins a spell of four matches in 10 days, so the squad rotation will come sooner or later — but the Chelsea match is easily the toughest of the group, so we think Sam will stick to what’s worked for this one, then rotate some players in/out next week.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Jonjoe Kenny - 10/10

Mason Holgate - 8/10

Holgate has been improved under Big Sam — that is to say, Holgate hasn’t been a complete dumpster fire every time he’s near the ball in recent weeks. We’re still not entirely sure what he’s doing in the starting lineup with Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane available on the bench, but Allardyce seems to have made his choice, at least for now.

Ashley Williams - 8/10

Williams, on the other hand, has genuinely been decent in recent weeks, looking more like the player he was last season, rather than a traffic cone with a funny haircut. We still might prefer a Jagielka/Keane pairing at the back, but the Welshman doesn’t make us cringe anywhere near as frequently as Holgate does.

Cuco Martina - 10/10

Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10

With the issues he had at the start of the season, the Frenchman shouldn’t have issues with fatigue at this point of the season, and he’s rounding into form at an opportune time.

Idrissa Gueye - 9/10

We have no idea how Gana has any legs left at this point, but he put in another excellent performance against Swansea City on Monday, and appears completely impervious to the effects of fatigue.

Wayne Rooney - 9/10

Rooney, on the other hand, looked tired at times against Swansea, but we can’t argue with the form he’s in. He’ll have almost a full week to rest before the Chelsea match, where the Toffees will need him at his best.

Aaron Lennon - 9/10

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10

Chelsea v Everton - Carabao Cup Fourth Round Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Bench

  • Joel Robles
  • Phil Jagielka
  • Michael Keane
  • Tom Davies
  • Nikola Vlasic
  • Yannick Bolasie - Yala didn’t make the bench against Swansea, but we expect he’ll be fit enough to give it a go on Saturday.
  • Ademola Lookman - The last spot on the bench is a bit complicated. On paper, it should be the backup striker’s spot, either belonging to Sandro Ramirez or Oumar Niasse. Yet, neither seems to have impressed Sam thus far, and in DCL, Rooney, and Bolasie, Allardyce already has three players capable of playing up top. So, we think he’ll prefer Ade on the bench over the more natural striker options.

Big Sam has found success using basically the same lineup and tactics in each of his games in charge, Liverpool match notwithstanding. It looks as though he’ll give it another try on Saturday — though its success is anyone’s guess.