Everton are back at Goodison Park tomorrow, returning with their tail tucked well between their legs after a 5-1 hiding at the hands of Arsenal. The Gunners certainly played well, but in large part were enabled to do so by a nonsensical team selection from Sam Allardyce.
Has the big man learned his lesson?
Tactics and Formation
The 5-2-3 Sam Allardyce trotted out against Arsenal last weekend was an utter disaster, and we hope he doesn’t go back to it again this season. With Crystal Palace on the fixture list this week, we’re confident at least that it’ll be a back four for now, with the return of a few important players to the lineup.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
Coleman was excellent against Leicester City last week, and didn’t play against Arsenal simply because he’s still working his way back to full fitness. With more than a week to recover since his last match, he’ll start this one.
Mason Holgate - 6/10
Ashley Williams - 6/10
We honestly have no idea what combination of center-backs Big Sam will use. There are five in contention for two spots right now, with a sixth potentially nearing a return in Ramiro Funes Mori. Our best guess is that Allardyce goes back to what initially worked for him in the Holgate / Williams combination, but no combination of the five available center-backs would surprise us.
Cuco Martina - 9/10
The Premier League squad list released this week revealed that Allardyce did indeed add Luke Garbutt to Everton’s squad. He has proceeded to start Martina anyway, with Garbutt yet to even make a matchday 18. It’s utterly nonsensical, but we see no signs that Big Sam will change his mind now.
Tom Davies - 8/10
Perhaps the only positive from the Arsenal debacle, Davies put forward his best performance in months at the Emirates. With Morgan Schneiderlin’s form still middling, James McCarthy still injured, and Beni Baningime still on Allardyce Outcast Island, the young Englishman looks likely to start.
Idrissa Gueye - 9/10
Wayne Rooney - 9/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
Rooney and Sigurdsson were both benched, puzzlingly, against Arsenal, and the offense looked rudderless as a result. We’re still not convinced Rooney in the midfield and Sigurdsson at left wing is a long-term solution, but it’s been moderately successful under Allardyce — when Rooney is adequately protected by the midfielders behind him. We think Big Sam goes back to it Saturday.
Theo Walcott - 10/10
He’s been Everton’s most consistent bright spot since arriving at Goodison Park, and he’ll start again this weekend.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 7/10
Oumar Niasse has not been good as a starter, and Cenk Tosun looks to be still in a strange limbo at his new club. Calvert-Lewin, having gotten a decent rest in recent weeks, seems the most likely to start this weekend, then.
- Joel Robles
- Eliaquim Mangala - Mangala was shambolic against Arsenal over the weekend, and we’re still not entirely sure what he’s doing at Everton in the first place. But Sam brought him in, so we think he’ll at least get a place on the bench.
- Michael Keane - Poor Michael. He played an outstanding game against Leicester alongside Phil Jagielka, and then got saddled with Williams and Mangala in an unfamiliar back three against Arsenal. We think he is the center-back of the future, but Sam’s constant shuffling is making life tough on him.
- Morgan Schneiderlin
- Oumar Niasse
- Yannick Bolasie - Bolasie’s return to the lineup has been stop-start, largely through no fault of his own. The addition of Theo Walcott and Allardyce’s seemingly random lineup changes have kept Yala from getting into a rhythm — but the Toffees could do much worse in terms of a late-game wide threat.
- Cenk Tosun
Leighton Baines is not quite ready to return from his injury, while Luke Garbutt remains...somewhere. James McCarthy, of course, is out long-term, while Ramiro Funes Mori could be back at any moment.
Everton are in good form at home, and desperately need a win, if not for their professional pride, at least for the fans.