Despite playing over half of the match down a man, Everton looked pretty good at Molineux against Wolves last Saturday. It was an intimidating situation to go into, and the Blues acquitted themselves well on the whole.
Marco Silva’s men are set to play at Goodison Park for the first time this Premier League season, and while Phil Jagielka is suspended, a host of new lineup options may be in play. Lets take a look.
Tactics and Formation
As expected, Marco Silva rolled out a 4-3-3 last week, with two true wingers operating as two true wingers. After the last two seasons at Everton, it was a huge relief to see.
Obviously, Phil Jagielka’s first-half red card took some of the sting out of the attack, but even in the 50 minutes after he was sent off, you could tell that the Toffees will have a much more incisive attack this year.
Because things went relatively well against Wolves, we don’t anticipate significant changes against Southampton — just the one alteration forced upon Silva by suspension.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Leighton Baines - 8/10
The English left-back looked confident and capable in the opener against Wolves. He’s not quick, and Lucas Digne is a better true defender, but what he brings to the attack is simply unmatched.
We expect that Baines will get the nod against less talented teams, with Digne starting against the better ones. With a mediocre Southampton side on the horizon, Baines seems the obvious choice.
Kurt Zouma - 6/10
We know that Phil Jagielka is out of the equation, and Yerry Mina arrived to Everton training later than Zouma, so he seems the most likely choice.
Silva could opt to give Zouma one more week to prepare and instead use Mason Holgate — it’s close to a toss-up, but we give Zouma the slight edge.
Michael Keane - 9/10
With Jagielka out and Mina not a feasible option, there seems little choice but to play Keane. He had a decent match against Wolves, and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do with a more physically gifted defense partner.
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
Morgan Schneiderlin - 10/10
Idrissa Gueye - 10/10
The Gana-Schneiderlin partnership got off to a pretty good start against Wolves, both at 11-v-11 and 10-v-11. We think Silva will ride this pairing for as long as it’s effective.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Tough break for the Icelander to come out before halftime against Wolves, but he’s still clearly a first XI player.
Theo Walcott - 10/10
Ademola Lookman might still be in the doghouse, Bernard cannot possibly be match fit, and unfortunately Sandro Ramirez is still Sandro Ramirez. Walcott is deserving of a starting spot based solely on his own merit, of course, but the temporary lack of current alternatives makes the decision even more obvious.
Richarlison - 9/10
The only way the Brazilian doesn’t play is if he’s still hampered by injury, which there seems no real reason to believe will happen.
Cenk Tosun - 9/10
Everton’s top striker didn’t set the world on fire last week, but he was given a tough job. His assist on Richarlison’s second goal was a delight, and reinforced the huge advantage in technical skill that he has over Oumar Niasse and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Lucas Digne - The French left-back’s time will come — just not quite yet.
Mason Holgate - Holgate was decent against Wolves as well. He’s likely got a long way to go to earn Marco Silva’s trust ahead of Zouma, Mina, and Keane, but it was certainly an encouraging start.
Sandro Ramirez - Maybe Ademola Lookman has adjusted his attitude enough to take this spot away from Sandro. Lookman is the superior player by an immeasurable amount, but until Silva is convinced that he won’t replicate his “effort” from the Valencia match, Sandro will get this spot on the bench.
Southampton does have some talent, although they are a shell of their former selves. Mark Hughes is, simply put, not a good manager, and this weekend represents a good chance for Everton to get their league campaign off and running. 4 points from 2 games looks quite doable.