In two separate interviews yesterday, Sam Allardyce appears to have shown his hand regarding his Everton starting lineups, especially at the striker position.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, the manager indicated that the days of him chopping and changing the matchday teams are over now that the holiday fixture congestion is behind us.
“I don’t think you can have a regular starting XI over Christmas and New Year because there is that massive five games in 14 days.
“We tried to leave it as long as we could. Only injury or suspension was changing the team when I first got here but as we got into Christmas and New Year it was physically impossible for the lads to continue so we had to rotate the team and with that rotation our results started to go the other way. We didn’t handle that rotation but we had to do it because you can’t keep flogging a dead horse, as they say.
“That’s what we would’ve been doing if we had kept playing the same team.”
In a different conversation with evertonfc.com, Big Sam said that Oumar Niasse has shown to be deserving of the starting role, and that January purchase Cenk Tosun and youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin might need to bide their time.
“The one thing he did, that he should have done against Leicester, was score. It was a very good header at an important time.
“His hold-up play and his work-rate were good. He has got competition – obviously Cenk’s very disappointed that he is not playing – but when somebody up front is doing the job as well as he can and making an impression on the team, then Dominic and Cenk have to be a little bit more patient.
”Oumar’s goals-per-game ratio is good and he appears, at the moment, to be the best player to score goals for us.
”His contribution on Saturday helped us and, as a team, we now have to keep up that home form. The one thing we need to get better is the away results.”
Niasse picked up a goal and an assist (his first ever in a Premier League game) to bring his goal involvement up to 11 (8 goals, 3 assists) for the season, only behind Wayne Rooney (11 goals, 3 assists) and Calvert-Lewin (8 goals, 6 assists). Gylfi Sigurdsson has 11 as well, from 6 goals and 5 assists).
If the Senegalese forward can keep up his recent good performances then he might even be the best choice to start now, and not just as a second half substitute.