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Projected XI: Everton at Wolverhampton Wanderers

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So it begins.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Everton begin their 2018-19 Premier League campaign with something of a challenge as they head to Championship winners Wolves on opening day. Molineux promises to be a cauldron, both thanks to promotion and the hype behind approximately one million new signings.

No matter. We have Marco Silva. The Portuguese’s first lineup seems fairly straightforward, as a consistent pattern emerged in the preseason, and several of the Blues’ new additions are not quite fit. Let’s take a look.

Tactics and Formation

Marco Silva’s been pretty up front about his desire to play a 4-3-3, and if we assume that the players he added Thursday are not in contention for this weekend, that’s really the only option available to him.

Look for the wingers to both actually play...well...as wingers (what a concept, Ronald and Sam!) and Gylfi Sigurdsson to happily take up the No. 10 role.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

The English World Cup star got back into camp in time to be the obvious choice in goal for opening weekend.

Leighton Baines - 6/10

We think Lucas Digne is the more regular starter long term, but Baines had a longer camp with the team, so we give him the slight edge for now.

Phil Jagielka - 9/10

Michael Keane - 9/10

We think it’s possible, or even likely, that neither of these two will be regular starters with Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma on board now. But, neither will be ready to start this one after joining up late in the week, so it’s the English pair for now.

Seamus Coleman - 10/10

Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10

Everton didn’t add another true deep-lying midfielder in this window, so Silva clearly thinks that Schneiderlin can be the guy he was after his move to the club in the 2016-17 season. We think he’s right, but only time will tell.

Idrissa Gueye - 9/10

The addition of Andre Gomes doesn’t really threaten Gana’s spot in the starting XI going forward, unless Gomes is incredible in training or Gana hits a rough patch.

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10

Fitting that the Icelander gets a 10/10 rating in his first season exclusively as a No. 10 for Everton — after changing his number to 10. Silva clearly recognizes Gylfi belongs in the middle, not on the wing, and we couldn’t be more thankful.

Theo Walcott - 10/10

Richarlison - 10/10

Walcott and Richarlison are the obvious starters at wing this weekend — but the addition of Bernard and retention of Ademola Lookman mean that week-to-week, any combination of those four players could start going forward. It’s a great problem for Marco Silva to have.

Cenk Tosun - 10/10

The Turkish striker scored a delightful goal in Everton’s last pre-season match, and is the obvious choice up top heading into the season.

Bench

  • Maarten Stekelenburg
  • Lucas Digne
  • Kurt Zouma - With Mason Holgate injured, one of the new center-backs needs to make the bench for this one. Mina was in Spain as late as Thursday evening, so Zouma is the more logical choice.
  • Tom Davies
  • Kieran Dowell
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin
  • Oumar Niasse - Either Niasse or Calvert-Lewin could be replaced by Ademola Lookman on the bench this week, with things getting even more hectic once Bernard gets into the picture.

Once Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes, Bernard, and hopefully Kurt Zouma are fit and firing, this weekly exercise becomes a much different proposition. For now, though, don’t expect too many surprises tomorrow. Let’s play football.