When Chris and I (Adam) started doing these lineup preview pieces at the start of the season, we thought they would be a fun way to preview matches from a different angle, giving our readers a sense of what might be to come in the next Everton match.
Instead, Ronald Koeman has managed to turn them into some manner of medieval torture device, as each week (sometimes twice a week!) we rack our brains to try to figure out how the Dutchman will sabotage his team with some asinine personnel and tactical decisions.
It was the same story against Apollon Limassol on Thursday that it has been for much of the season — a poor starting lineup gave way to an improved second half after sensible substitutions, but it wasn’t enough to secure all three points.
So here we are, once again, trying to figure out what Koeman will do this Sunday in a home Premier League match against Burnley.
Tactics and Formation
Ronald Koeman said this week that he might look for his team to take a more direct approach against Burnley, but frankly, his past stubbornness speaks much louder than any mid-week comments. We expect that his lineup on Sunday will look similar to what it has most of this season.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Cuco Martina - 7/10
Jonjoe Kenny went the full 90 on Thursday, and Holgate will likely be called upon again to play in the middle, so Cuco seems the obvious choice.
Ashley Williams - 8/10
Williams has not been good this year. But, injuries at center-back are persisting, and they’ve left Koeman with little choice but to hope the Welshman finds his form again soon.
Mason Holgate - 8/10
The same can be said for Holgate, who will likely be forced into action again as well.
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10
Idrissa Gueye - 9/10
Gana only played 45 minutes mid-week, so he’ll definitely be good to go against Burnley.
Davy Klaassen - 7/10
Klaassen only played 23 minutes against Apollon and 55 minutes against Bournemouth, so he should be fresh enough to start. For whatever reason, Koeman continues to insist upon starting Gylfi Sigurdsson out wide, so Klaassen seems the natural choice here.
Wayne Rooney - 9/10
Koeman keeps starting Rooney, so there’s (quite unfortunately) no reason to think he’ll stop now.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10
DCL only played 23 minutes against Apollon, and with Sandro Ramirez continuing to struggle, the young Englishman should get the start up top.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 8/10
Sigurdsson is coming off his best 45 minutes in Everton colors after being slid into the No. 10 role in the second half on Thursday. So, naturally, Koeman will start him out wide again Sunday.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Jonjoe Kenny
- Oumar Niasse - Niasse could start in place of Calvert-Lewin, but that would seem a big swing in sentiment from Koeman, even given the Senegalese striker’s good form.
- Tom Davies
- Nikola Vlasic
- Muhamed Besic - The Bosnian provides cover for Schneiderlin, Gueye, and the center-backs, so he’ll likely make the bench. It’s a shame that there likely is no space for Ademola Lookman, but Koeman has made his feelings on the youngster pretty clear. It also isn’t impossible that U23 center-back Morgan Feeney makes the bench, as he’s been training with the senior team.
- Sandro Ramirez
We hope to be wrong about the Burnley lineup. We hope players like Niasse, Vlasic, and Lookman get a chance to be difference makers in this match, especially given that Burnley will likely look to sit deep from the opening whistle.
But we just can’t see that happening — meaning likely a half of frustration before late subs are forced to try to change the Toffees’ fortunes.