Everton is coming off of two big wins last week, but we’re really no closer to understanding exactly what an ideal lineup for this team will look like — or at least one that Ronald Koeman might use.
Victory in the mid-week match came against Sunderland, not exactly a stern test, while the weekend victory came more as a result of some Oumar Niasse magic, rather than a coherent lineup plan.
With that in mind, we’re back to predict Koeman’s starting lineup against Apollon Limassol in the Europa League on Thursday, but with an understanding that anything could happen at this point.
Tactics and Formation
Let’s start with the most important fact — Oumar Niasse cannot play in this match, or any Europa League group stage match.
That limits the amount Koeman might experiment with his lineup or personnel choices, especially with Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane out injured. Combine that with Koeman’s growing stubbornness and you wind up with a pretty familiar lineup.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Maarten Stekelenburg - 8/10
If Koeman was comfortable using the Dutch keeper away from home against Atalanta, he’ll surely go back to him at home against significantly weaker competition.
Jonjoe Kenny 7/10 -
With Mason Holgate, at least temporarily, confined to the center of defense, Kenny and Cuco Martina are left as the only options at right-back. Kenny started against Sunderland last week and came off the bench against Bournemouth, so he’s clearly in Koeman’s considerations going forward.
We suspect that Koeman will hand each player one start this week, and (for whatever reason) Cuco will get the nod against the better team in Burnley. So, Kenny should get the start here.
Ashley Williams - 9/10
With Phil Jagielka and Micheal Keane out due to injury, there aren’t really any choices at center-back...unless Koeman wants to hand a surprise start to Muhamed Besic or Cuco Martina at this position.
Mason Holgate - 9/10
Koeman won’t fancy having to rely on Holgate to start consecutive matches, but with Jagielka and Keane out, he doesn’t really have a choice.
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Last week, we learned that the temporary plan for getting Baines some rest is to play Holgate at left-back in his stead. With Holgate confined to the middle, Baines will play.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 8/10
There’s an obvious temptation to rest some players in this match, but Everton is just so much better when Schneiderlin is in the lineup, and the Toffees simply have to take three points from this match. Expect other midfielders to get a rest, but the Frenchman to play.
Tom Davies - 7/10
Davies helped to turn things around in the second half against Bournemouth, earning a start in this match — particularly given that the Toffees will probably face a bunkering opponent.
Davy Klaassen - 7/10
Klaassen was actually pretty good against Bournemouth over the weekend, but was once again the unfortunate victim in a much-needed tactical switch.
Koeman has yet to get his fellow Dutchman going this season, and should shoulder a fair bit of the blame for that. Look for Klaassen to get moving in the right direction in a familiar competition against a weak opponent.
Wayne Rooney - 7/10
Koeman only removed Rooney from the match on Sunday because of the elbow he took to the head, so there’s no reason to think he’ll take the Englishman out of the lineup — even if by all reasonable accounts he should.
Sandro Ramirez - 8/10
Sandro, like Klaassen, hasn’t gotten going yet this season, in part due to Koeman’s tactical mess. He should get a chance in this one.
Nikola Vlasic - 8/10
The Croatian wonder-boy has quickly won over Koeman and supporters alike, and he’ll likely get a start Thursday.
- Jordan Pickford
- Cuco Martina
- Gylfi Sigurdsson
- Muhamed Besic
- Idrissa Gueye
- Ademola Lookman
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
What do you think? Will Koeman break from his stubborn streak, bench Rooney, and play more pace in the front three? Change the formation altogether? Or the more likely option — stick with what he’s been doing?
Let us know in the comments.