Everton have a quick turnaround from the derby loss on Saturday when they host Newcastle United tomorrow at Goodison Park. In many ways, being able to move on from the Liverpool heartbreak so quickly will be a good thing, but there may be some tired legs. How can Marco Silva mitigate that?
Tactics and Formation
The primary factor in Everton’s approach to this match will likely be Silva’s approach to squad rotation with a typically hectic December descending on the club. Newcastle United doesn’t present anything substantially different than Brighton and Hove Albion or Crystal Palace did, so we don’t suspect Silva makes any opponent-specific adjustments.
So, we suspect the major changes will take place in the front four, where form, fatigue and past tactical success and failures could well combine to cause Silva to make a few changes at the top of the formation.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
The French left-back will get a break in one or more matches this month, given the hectic nature of the schedule. But, he’s continued to be one of Everton’s best players, so we don’t think we’ll see Leighton Baines just yet.
Kurt Zouma - 7/10
Save the three matches he missed with a skull fracture, Michael Keane has played every minute of every match in all competitions — that’s 10 straight matches since his return to the lineup on September 23.
Kurt Zouma, meanwhile, has been a hard-luck exclusion since sitting out against his parent club, Chelsea. We think this match will be as good a chance as any to rest Keane and play Zouma, though we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see the Englishman get his 11th straight start either.
Yerry Mina - 10/10
The Colombian was once again very solid this weekend — against a dangerous Liverpool attack no less. He got an injury-forced rest to start the season, so there’s a real chance Silva will use him heavily during the December fixture crunch.
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
Like Digne, Coleman will rest at least once or twice during the month of December. Also like Digne, he’s clearly better than the next best option on the bench — Jonjoe Kenny — so Silva won’t rotate as heavily at this position as at others.
Idrissa Gueye - 9/10
Speaking of players who don’t rotate out often, we expect Gana to start in this one as well. He started every match until Boxing Day last season, and he’s no less important to Everton now than he was then.
Andre Gomes - 10/10
We didn’t really understand Everton’s move for Andre Gomes when it was made on at the transfer deadline. We were very very wrong about him and would like to extend our apologies to the most handsome footballer from Portugal (don’t @ me).
With Gomes in the lineup, Everton drew at Stamford Bridge, went blow-for-blow with Manchester United and Liverpool, and picked up three crucial victories against lower-table opposition. That’s no coincidence.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Everyone’s favorite Icelander will probably need a break at some point during this period as well, so it’s a good thing Everton has...
Kieran Dowell. Right.
In seriousness, the most likely outcome is that maybe Dowell gets a match, but Silva instead opts to play two strikers when resting Sigurdsson. Either way, Gylfi is a workhorse and will play in this one.
Ademola Lookman - 8/10
Marco Silva’s comments about Lookman ahead of this match definitely point to the youngster getting a start against Newcastle. He’s more than earned his chance, and maybe would have gotten a start even earlier had he not picked up a knock on youth international duty.
Richarlison - 10/10
The Brazilian will start again — we think at left wing. But even if we’re wrong about his position and the below, he’ll certainly start in some capacity.
Cenk Tosun - 8/10
The Turkish striker has been patient, looked good off the bench, and earned another chance to start after stumbling through some finishing problems in the opening part of the season. We’re pretty much over the Richarlison as striker experiment (at least in most situations), so we’re desperately hoping Tosun can put in a good performance here.
Recently, the Blues have been winning the matches that they’re supposed to win. Tomorrow is another one of those. Three points, please.