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Everton at Manchester United: Projected XI

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Assessing the Blues’ personnel options ahead of their trip to Old Trafford.

Manchester United v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Everton Football Club head to Old Trafford tomorrow in what can only be termed catastrophically bad form. Part of the reason behind that has been Ronald Koeman’s lineup choices, as the Dutchman has used a narrow 4-2-3-1 for two consecutive 0-3 losses. How can he fix it? Take a look.


Tactics and Formation

Koeman enters this match in a tough spot. Supporters are clamoring for more pace in the first XI, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his players were doing the same internally after the last two matches. But, he faces a United side capable of scoring tons of goals and led by former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.

So he’ll have to strike a balancing act — one that gives his attackers a chance to get into the final third with more regularity, while still respecting the immense attacking power United possess.

The upshot? Likely a 5-3-2 that provides a solid foundation while feeding the Wayne Rooney/Dominic Calvert-Lewin partnership that looked so promising at the start of the season.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Pickford got a well-deserved, if not somewhat surprising rest on Thursday, so he’ll definitely play Sunday.

Mason Holgate - 7/10

Holgate has been preferred to Cuco Martina in back fives so far this season, and has been slightly better than the former Southampton man so far this season.

Phil Jagielka - 9/10

Ashley Williams - 8/10

Both Williams and Jagielka are locks if Koeman indeed plays a back five. If not, Jagielka probably has a slight edge over Williams for the spot alongside Michael Keane.

Michael Keane - 10/10

Leighton Baines - 10/10

Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10

Schneiderlin, perhaps more than any other player, has been impacted by Everton’s lack of attacking speed, as it has severely limited his passing options. Still, he’s the best midfield distributor Everton’s got, even if he has few targets.

Idrissa Gana Gueye - 10/10

The Senegalese midfielder got a well-deserved rest mid-week, and the Toffees need him to play a big role if they want to take a result against United.

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 8/10

Sigurdsson, like Schneiderlin has had his struggles this season, largely because of the lack of options around him. Also like Schneiderlin, he’s easily Everton’s best player at his position and will persist regardless.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 8/10

Calvert-Lewin has been Everton’s best striker so far this season, and must play for the Toffees to have any chance in this one. But, Koeman has made some strange decisions regarding his attackers so far this season, so his inclusion isn’t guaranteed.

Wayne Rooney - 9/10

Deserving or undeserving, it’s hard to see any way Wayne Rooney doesn’t start at Old Trafford.

Atalanta v Everton FC - UEFA Europa League Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

Bench

  • Maarten Stekelenburg
  • Cuco Martina
  • Muhamed Besic
  • Ademola Lookman
  • Davy Klaassen
  • Nikola Vlasic - The Croatian attacker was one of the few decent players on Thursday, and while there are definitely arguments to be made that Koeman has integrated him too soon, the Dutchman clearly rates the youngster.
  • Sandro Ramirez

For Everton’s coaches, it’s a two edged sword. Nobody’s particularly playing well, but that’s due in part to the players not put in their best positions to succeed. Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez really - really - need playing time in order to further integrate themselves, but they’ve been hurt, and the Blues need results now. What would you do?