Everton traipse down to the Etihad on Saturday for the first time since early last season, a match in which Gylfi Sigurdsson made his league debut for the club. Point being, it’s been awhile, and a lot has changed since August 21, 2017, but one thing remains the same: Manchester City are a lot better than Everton, and that’s okay.
With that being the case, the question Marco Silva must ask himself is what can he do with his lineup that gives Everton the best chance at a result?
Tactics and Formation
There are two competing factors at play in Marco Silva’s lineup decisions this week. His team is coming off its worst performance since the opening month of the season — a 2-2 draw at home against Watford. You’d suspect that the middling-at-best display might put thoughts of one or more changes in his head.
Conversely though, he has a first-choice XI that has already picked up a point in its travels to Chelsea — and barring that goal, would have done the same at Anfield against Liverpool. Would Silva seriously consider breaking up that group in a match away to the league’s most talented team?
We don’t think so. The coming weeks bring a ton of matches, including several against lower-table teams in which Silva might do some tinkering — but you don’t try out something new away to a team that’s 8-0-0 at home in league play with a goal differential of +25.
That said, we’ll choose to display this week’s setup in the 4-4-1-1 that often develops during long spells of Everton defending, rather than Silva’s typical 4-3-3.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Michael Keane - 10/10
Yerry Mina - 8/10
The Colombian’s aggressive tendencies and occasional poor judgment and positioning have been on display in his last two appearances, and it’s possible that it could open the door for Kurt Zouma to start here. That said, Silva seems to generally prefer Mina, so while a change is possible, we wouldn’t call it likely.
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
Idrissa Gueye - 10/10
Andre Gomes - 10/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Theo Walcott - 8/10
The winger’s mediocre form continues to persist, but Walcott started both the Chelsea draw and the Liverpool should-have-been draw, so it seems unlikely Silva would change course here — especially since it would probably bring young Ademola Lookman into the lineup.
Bernard - 9/10
The same can be said for Bernard, whose form has been better than Walcott’s, but far from outstanding. The only way we see Bernard coming out of the lineup is if Richarlison is forced back to the left wing and a true striker comes in up top — not likely.
Richarlison - 10/10
Ademola Lookman - If Everton can stay in this match, Lookman could present real problems for Manchester City if things open up in the midfield. He’s small, quick, and capable of real danger in 1-v-1 situations — the only real way to get at the City center-backs.
Everton are probably not going to win this game. They might even get beat very badly. Please don’t get upset. This is not defeatism, it’s realism. There is no negative scoreline from this match that would concern me with regards to the quality of Marco Silva or his players, or the club’s overall trajectory. It’s gonna be fine, y’all.