Everton head to Stamford Bridge tomorrow in good form, but with a bit of a mess on their hands. In addition to their three long-term absentees, a handful of previously healthy first teamers are now injured or suspended. Not great, Bob.
With that in mind, how might they line up against Chelsea? Let’s see if we can make heads or tails of this.
Tactics and Formation
Against Manchester City on Monday, Ronald Koeman utilized a 5-2-2-1 to decent effect. It forced City to work hard to create chances against seven deep-lying players, while giving the Everton striker room to operate in behind City’s wing-backs.
Given that Chelsea generally plays with five at the back as well, and Everton looks to be missing key players through injury and suspension, the 5-2-2-1 with a bunker and counter style will likely be on the cards again.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Mason Holgate - 9/10
Cuco Martina went 90 minutes on Thursday, and Holgate did a decent job as the right-back in a back five last week against Manchester City — blatant mistake on Raheem Sterling’s goal aside.
Phil Jagielka - 9/10
Jagielka has been reborn this season, looking much more like the standout defender he was two years ago than the liability he was for much of last season. He’ll play, even if Koeman elects to go with a back four.
Ashley Williams - 7/10
As long as Koeman does indeed use a back five, Williams will play. If he goes with a back four though, Williams will probably wind up on the bench.
Michael Keane - 10/10
BREAKING: Michael Keane is still very, very good.
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Back-up left-back watch continues...
Muhamed Besic - 8/10
This is where things start to get interesting. Morgan Schneiderlin is out suspended, and Idrissa Gueye may miss out due to injury. We had concerns when Gareth Barry was sold about how the Toffees would handle Schneiderlin’s absence — Besic has a chance here to assuage those concerns.
It’s possible that Koeman could instead elect to put Davies in a deep-lying midfield role, but Besic seems the much more likely choice.
Idrissa Gueye - 5/10
The only uncertainty surrounding Gueye’s inclusion revolves around his health. If fit, the Senegalese midfielder will start and go 90 minutes, especially given Schneiderlin’s absence.
If he’s out, Tom Davies will have to fill in, simply because he’s the only option left at the position.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 8/10
Good luck to Gylfi following up his full debut on Thursday.
In seriousness though, this role is a good fit for Sigurdsson — he’ll have chances to spray the ball from the central channel forward to his fellow attackers, but without having to rely too much on his speed. The Icelander also proved his willingness to help in defense while with Swansea City last season, and he’ll need that Sunday as well.
Wayne Rooney - 8/10
Wayne Rooney has played a lot of minutes already this season — 536 to be exact.
We’re sure that Koeman would prefer to let Rooney rest a bit this week, but in the absence of a new striker signing, and with a system that relies on his contributions, he needs to start again.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 8/10
Calvert-Lewin has put in his fair share of running over the last week too, but he’s the only attacker in the side with both the speed and strength to play as Everton’s outlet in a bunker and counter system. Unless Koeman uses a different system than against City last week, DCL will play.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Cuco Martina
- Kevin Mirallas
- Jonjoe Kenny - The young right-back made the team against Hajduk on Thursday due to the injury issues in the side — something that may happen again Sunday.
- Ademola Lookman
- Aaron Lennon/Sandro Ramirez - If Sandro is healthy, he’ll definitely make the bench ahead of Lennon. It is worth noting, though, that Lennon was selected above Mirallas off the bench on Thursday, so it isn’t impossible that Lennon makes the 18 above Mirallas.
- Tom Davies - If Gueye cannot play, Davies will start.
As you can see, Ronald Koeman is in a bit of a pickle. Would you start Jonjoe Kenny or Kevin Mirallas? Bring in an U23 player from David Unsworth’s side? Let us know in the comments.