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Everton at Atalanta: Projected XI

Assessing the Blues’ personnel options ahead of their first Europa League group stage game.

Atalanta BC v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

With four points in four league games, Everton are now set to begin the rest of their season - the cup competitions, beginning with the Europa League tomorrow in Italy against Atalanta.

While the Blues are getting healthier (barring the well known long term absences), there’s still rotation to think of with a big match against Manchester United coming on Sunday. How could they line up, then? Lets take a look:


Tactics and Formation

It’s no secret that Everton has looked slow in many of its early matches this season — both in terms of the pace of its players and the speed with which its players have moved the ball.

Everton’s opponent on Thursday, Atalanta, prefers to play with a three-man backline and a crowded midfield, so the Toffees are more likely to opt for outright pace to change their fortunes, rather than intricate play through the midfield. Koeman has also been more willing to play his direct, attacking wide players in Europe thus far this season.

For these reasons, we expect to see a 4-3-3 from Koeman, but with true wide players for a change.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Cuco Martina - 6/10

Martina has been a popular scapegoat this season, particularly after Saturday’s thrashing at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. But the Curacao international got zero help that match, so many of his struggles were not of his own making.

More pertinently, we expect Koeman to use a back five against Manchester United on Sunday, and Mason Holgate has been his preferred right-back in that system. So, the natural conclusion is another start for Cuco.

Phil Jagielka - 8/10

Jagielka has been better than Ashley Williams so far this season, and Williams went the distance against Spurs on Saturday. In all likelihood, that makes Thursday Jagielka’s turn.

Michael Keane - 10/10

Leighton Baines - 10/10

Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10

Schneiderlin had more than three weeks off with his suspension against Chelsea then the international break. Expect him to play on Thursday, then again on Sunday,

Muhamed Besic - 6/10

Idrissa Gana Gueye, on the other hand, played 180 minutes over the international break, in addition to 90 minutes against Chelsea before it and 90 minutes against Spurs after it. The Senegalese midfielder needs a break, and the Toffees will definitely need him against United.

Enter Muhamed Besic, who has acquitted himself pretty well so far this season, and is no stranger to hostile away environments.

Davy Klaassen - 8/10

Koeman is still trying to work Klaassen into the lineup, looking to get him up to speed after his move from Ajax. The familiar Europa League, which Klaassen made it to the final of last season, is the best possible environment for him to continue his acclimation into Everton.

Kevin Mirallas - 6/10

Mirallas’ attitude nearly bought him a ticket away from Everton in the transfer window, but he made the bench ahead of Aaron Lennon and Ademola Lookman against Spurs, so Koeman is clearly willing to use him. Mirallas’ experience will be useful in this match, as will his pace.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10

DCL has been Everton’s best out-and-out striker, and with a need for pace up front, he’s the obvious choice in the center of the attack.

Ademola Lookman - 7/10

Players don’t come more direct or pacey than Ademola Lookman, who will look to exploit the wide spaces outside the range of Atalanta’s back three.

Everton FC v Hajduk Split - UEFA Europa League Qualifying Play-Offs Round: First Leg Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Bench

  • Maarten Stekelenburg
  • Ashley Williams
  • Mason Holgate
  • Idrissa Gana Gueye
  • Aaron Lennon
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson
  • Wayne Rooney

Would you make any changes to our proposed eleven? Should Rooney, Sigurdsson, or Gueye keep their spots? Let us know in the comments.