Everton head to the Etihad on Monday in fairly good form. They’ve yet to concede this season, and have won four competitive games in a row. Manchester City are a different type of challenge, though, and one where both Ronald Koeman and his players will have to be particularly sharp.
Could Gylfi Sigurdsson get into the match? Who else might play?
Tactics and Formation
There’s an outside possibility that Ronald Koeman will return to the 5-3-2 in order to neutralize Manchester City’s lethal attack. However, that formation brings more personnel questions than answers, so in the end we think the Dutchman will remain with the 4-3-3.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Cuco Martina/Mason Holgate - 5/10 each
We are finally forfeiting any hope that Jonjoe Kenny will get a look at right-back with the first team.
That said, Cuco Martina was quite good against Hajduk in the Europa League, so not all is lost at right-back. Mason Holgate will be better-rested though, and is a little more athletically able to keep up with Manchester City’s dangerous attackers. We see it as a toss-up between the two players.
Phil Jagielka - 7/10
Both Jagielka and Ashley Williams have done well so far this season, and we suspect that Koeman will rotate the two elder statesmen of the back line, at least as long as both are playing well.
Jagielka went the full 90 against Stoke last week, Williams featured against Hajduk on Thursday, so it looks like it’s Jagielka’s turn again.
Michael Keane - 10/10
Coming off his first goal as an Everton player, Keane continues to be a force in the center of the Toffee defense. Koeman will ride him for as long as he’s able.
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Back-up left-back watch enters yet another week...
Morgan Schneiderlin - 10/10
Schneiderlin was excellent in the first half of the Hajduk match, and it’s no coincidence that the team took a significant step back in the second half in his absence. He’s relatively well-rested, so there’s no reason he won’t start against Manchester City.
Idrissa Gueye - 9/10
Gana has done a great job of doing what he’s always done well — running a ton, winning the ball, and putting pressure on opposing players in the midfield. But his passing, off-the-ball movement in attack, and general technical ability has looked much improved from last year. If he continues to show that ability, he could be the force that turns Everton’s central midfield from good to one of the league’s best.
At any rate, expect him to play an important role in breaking up City’s long spells of possession.
Davy Klaassen - 8/10
Klaassen hasn’t been perfect as he’s acclimated to Everton, but he’s made small but crucial contributions to two of the club’s last three goals. The Dutch midfielder only played around 60 minutes against Hajduk Thursday, so Koeman will likely start him again.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 6/10
As has been the case most of the season, things up top are less clear than at the back and in the midfield. We expect Calvert-Lewin to get the start out wide, largely because he tracks back willingly and provides a big frame toward which long balls and clearances can be directed.
Wayne Rooney - 8/10
Rooney has continued to be a consistent contributor across the front three for Everton — this week, we expect him to start out wide. The Toffees will look to play on the counter, and Rooney can contribute to that plan better by dropping deep and sending long balls than by being the one to chase those passes down.
Sandro Ramirez - 6/10
The question marks around Sandro’s inclusion as the central striker revolve around his fitness, rather than his usefulness in that role with a bunker-and-counter approach. If he was 100% fit, he’d probably score an 8 or 9 out of 10, as his pace and willingness to run himself into the ground will give the team the best chance to succeed in striking City on the break.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Gylfi Sigurdsson - Koeman claimed Sigurdsson could feature in this match, but it’ll have to be from a bench role. He basically had no preseason and has barely gotten any training in with the team. That said, if the team needs a goal with 20 minutes to play, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get a run out.
- Tom Davies
- Ashley Williams
- Cuco Martina/Mason Holgate
- Ademola Lookman
- Muhamed Besic
Would you make any changes to the RBM Projected XI Conglomerate’s matchday squad? Perhaps Aaron Lennon deserves a look, or the Iceman an unexpected start? Let us know in the comments.