It’s finally here. The first Premier League game of the new season is nearly upon us, and Everton will face Stoke City at Goodison Park. With the arrival of the new campaign comes all the various questions about this new-look Everton side.
How might Ronald Koeman set up his men tomorrow against the Potters? Let’s take a look.
Tactics and Formation
Expect Koeman to continue on in his preferred 4-3-3. Morgan Schneiderlin will sit deep, the full-backs will get very involved in the attack, and the wingers will cut inside whenever possible.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Pickford was ready to play against MFK Ruzomberok, so there’s no reason he won’t start in the Premier League
Cuco Martina/Mason Holgate - 4/10 each
Right-back is still Everton’s biggest question mark going into the season. Martina hasn’t been great in preseason, Holgate is underwhelming at best going forward, and Jonjoe Kenny clearly hasn’t earned his manager’s trust.
With Koeman’s choices in preseason and the Europa League in mind, we call it a toss-up between Martina and Holgate — though Kenny isn’t totally out of the question either.
Ashley Williams - 9/10
Williams has been preferred to Jagielka thus far, with little reason to assume that will change.
Michael Keane - 10/10
Keane’s been one of Everton’s best players throughout the preseason — he’ll get the start here.
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Until Koeman brings in some cover at left-back, you can write Baines’ name on the team sheet with a permanent marker.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 10/10
As we noted in our tactics previews this week, so much of what Everton does runs through Schneiderlin — he’ll definitely play against Stoke.
Idrissa Gueye - 8/10
Davy Klaassen - 8/10
We expect Schneiderlin, Gueye, and Klaassen to be the go-to midfield trio this season, but Tom Davies has been excellent during the preseason. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that Davies could supplant either Gueye or Klaassen on opening day.
Kevin Mirallas - 6/10
Sandro Ramirez - 9/10
Wayne Rooney - 9/10
Everton’s failed to add another new winger or striker, both of which Koeman wants to bring in before the deadline, so things up top are pretty unclear. Expect Rooney and Sandro to play, unless Koeman does something very unexpected. Mirallas’ experience gives him a slight edge over Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the third spot up top.
The individual position of each player is a little more up in the air. We’ve seen Sandro and Rooney both play up top and out wide at various points of the preseason, with no clear indication that one will definitely play one position. If it is indeed Mirallas that partners with that pair, expect the Belgian to line up on the left, with the other two split between the right and center.
If Calvert-Lewin ends up beating out Mirallas for that spot, then individual positions are anybody’s guess. Koeman appears to see DCL, Rooney, and Sandro as capable of playing any of the three attacking positions, so anything could be possible.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Gareth Barry
- Tom Davies — The English midfielder has made a strong case for himself this preseason, but he’ll likely have to wait a bit for his first start of the season.
- Phil Jagielka
- Cuco Martina/Mason Holgate — One of these players will likely start at right-back, with the other making the bench. It isn’t impossible that Kenny supplants one of these guys, but Koeman hasn’t given any indication that he’s leaning that way.
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
- Ademola Lookman — Lookman seems likely to remain preferred to Aaron Lennon for the last spot on the bench and as the only true wide player in the matchday 18.
Who do you think makes the matchday 18 for Everton tomorrow? Are there any surprises we may have missed? Let us know in the comments.