Everton head into Saturday’s showdown with Tottenham Hotspur possessing a bit more cohesiveness now that the transfer window has closed. Ronald Koeman knows what he has to work with - until January - and you should start to see a more concrete 18 man squad from the Blues in the weeks to come.
There are still fitness questions to be dealt with (Klaassen? Pickford? McCarthy?), but the incomings and outgoings have halted. Let’s roll.
Tactics and Formation
Ronald Koeman could elect to go back to the 5-2-2-1 that was so successful for long spells against Manchester City, but there’s an important tactical difference between Spurs and City.
Tottenham will line up with a back four and traditional full-backs, limiting the space in behind the defense in wide areas. That space was what Koeman looked to exploit against City (and Chelsea) — without it, he’ll have to use a more conventional setup to enable his side to create genuine scoring chances.
Factor in that the past two matches were away from home, compared to this week’s match against Goodison Park, and we figure it’ll be the standard Koeman 4-3-3.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Ronald Koeman confirmed in his pre-match media availability
Cuco Martina - 9/10
Martina has been preferred to Mason Holgate in four-back systems, so expect the Curacao international to start, especially with Holgate nursing an injury.
Phil Jagielka - 7/10
Jagielka’s form has improved pretty drastically from last season, and it appears he’s slightly ahead of Ashley Williams on the depth chart as things stand now.
Michael Keane - 10/10
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Back-up left-back watch is, for now, over — so expect to see Baines’ name 100% of the time in these posts.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 10/10
Everton’s miserable record without Schneiderlin continued in August’s 2-0 loss against Chelsea. The Frenchman will definitely play against Spurs.
Idrissa Gueye - 10/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Sigurdsson will definitely start against Spurs, though it could potentially be wide left, as opposed to in the central creative role. A healthy Davy Klaassen could theoretically push the Icelander into the wide role.
Wayne Rooney - 7/10
Rooney’s play has been pretty solid thus far, but his legal troubles and the return to health of Sandro Ramirez do shed at least a little doubt on his starting place.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 8/10
Calvert-Lewin has been one of Everton’s best players so far this season, and he’ll likely once again be asked to play as a relatively isolated central striker.
Sandro Ramirez - 8/10
The Spanish forward was set up to fail against Chelsea before the international break, so we don’t anticipate Koeman holding that poor performance against him. Given that the club failed to add another striker before the window closed, the Toffees will need Sandro to reach his highest potential, and fast. The best way for Koeman to work him toward that level is through playing him regularly.
- Maarten Stekelenburg
- Ashley Williams
- Mason Holgate
- Muhamed Besic - The Bosnian midfielder isn’t the most talented player available to play in the center of midfield, but he’s the best bench option who can provide defensive steel. He’s likely guaranteed a spot on the bench.
- Ademola Lookman/Aaron Lennon - In all likelihood, Lookman will get the nod over Lennon, but the English winger appears to have worked his way into Koeman’s plans, so it isn’t impossible that we see Lennon either.
- Nikola Vlasic - Koeman indicated in his pre-match press availability that the Croatian attacker will find a place in the 18 this week.
- Tom Davies/Davy Klaassen - If Klaassen is healthy, he likely gets the nod over Davies for the last spot on the bench. But, given Davies and Sigurdsson’s presence, there’s no reason to rush the Dutch midfielder back into action.
With Ramirez fit and Schneiderlin back from suspension, Koeman’s starters nearly pick themselves. The bench is where things get spotty, particularly at wing and central midfield. Would you make any changes to our projected XI?