We don’t often get two derbies in such quick succession, much less two away ones, and yet here we are. Just a few weeks ago Sam Allardyce’s Everton frustrated the piss out of Jurgen Klopp’s men, but Everton are in a spot of bad form, and Klopp will be ready to make adjustments.
How might our beloved Toffees line up?
Tactics and Formation
When Everton last traveled to Anfield, Big Sam opted for a 4-4-2, keeping two low blocks of four and hoping Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse could combine up top given limited counterattacking opportunities. The defensive stability was reasonable, but the Toffees created nothing going forward, so we don’t think Allardyce will try that setup again.
Instead, we think he’ll try something a little more familiar — a 4-3-3 featuring his two most creative players, a defensively-responsible right wing, and stability in the center of midfield.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Jonjoe Kenny - 10/10
Kenny got a very well-deserved rest against Manchester United on Monday, but Mason Holgate’s struggles at right-back made very clear why Kenny has gotten all the action at the position.
Mason Holgate - 7/10
Ashley Williams - 7/10
We genuinely have no idea what’s happening at center-back. To our eyes, Phil Jagielka has been Everton’s most consistent center-back this season, yet he’s been largely frozen out by Big Sam. Michael Keane hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been better than Williams and Holgate both. Problem is, he’s out after having had stitches on his foot.
So, we expect Allardyce will go back to his preferred pairing - Holgate and Williams
Cuco Martina - 10/10
The Curacao international has been respectable as a fill-in left-back, which is good news for Everton, because no other options at the position exist.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10
In a match likely to feature lots of Everton defending and long balls, the Toffees will need the midfielder best at both. That’s Schneiderlin, who looks certain to continue his run of starts.
Idrissa Gueye - 8/10
The issue with Gana will be his fitness, not his form. If the Senegalese midfielder is available, he’ll play.
Wayne Rooney - 10/10
Rooney’s illness during the holiday period may have been the best thing that could have happened for him. He was forced to take a few matches off, rather than run himself into the ground, so he should now be fresh for this big match (and hopefully the rest of the season).
Aaron Lennon - 8/10
Yannick Bolasie is back in the picture, but Lennon makes more sense as a starter in this match. We think Sam will let the English winger run himself into the ground for 60 minutes, help Jonjoe Kenny defend down the right, then make way for Bolasie if in search of a late goal.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
The Icelander didn’t feature in the Manchester United match, so he’s a lock to play on Friday. Here’s a positive stat for Evertonians to hold onto heading into this match, given that both Gylfi and Rooney appear to be available:
- Since Big Sam took over, Everton has played 4.5 matches with both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney on the pitch at the same time. In those matches, Everton has scored 8 goals and conceded 3.
- Since Big Sam took over, Everton has played 2.5 matches with one or both of Gylfi Sigurdsson not on the pitch. In those matches, Everton has scored 0 goals and conceded 3.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10
Oumar Niasse continues to be a better option off the bench, and the idea that Cenk Tosun will be at Everton in time to play in this match is utterly ridiculous. It’ll be DCL up top.
- Joel Robles
- Phil Jagielka
- Tom Davies
- James McCarthy
- Yannick Bolasie
- Nikola Vlasic
- Oumar Niasse
It seems plausible that Bolasie could play for Lennon if Allardyce is feeling adventurous, or perhaps McCarthy draws in for an unfit Gueye after a promising cameo against United. Either way, Everton will need to be clever and full of running at Anfield. Can the streak be broken?