Everton’s midweek match against Rotherham represents a good opportunity to not only notch the club’s second win of the season, but also to involve some young players and new signings.
Unfortunately, a host of unavailable players - Phil Jagielka, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Morgan Schneiderlin, Andre Gomes, Richarlison - limits Marco Silva’s options somewhat, but let’s talk about what to expect.
Tactics and Formation
With an early-round cup match comes obvious and inevitable rotation — that much we know. We don’t think it’ll bring a change from Silva’s preferred 4-3-3 either, but with the injuries and general uncertainty at play, there’s no way to be 100% sure.
So, we’ll go the Occam’s razor route and suggest the following — with no small amount of uncertainty.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Maarten Stekelenburg - 7/10
Silva could decide that he wants his No. 1 playing in front of what’s bound to be a disjointed, unfamiliar back line. But ultimately, the chances to get Stekelenburg minutes look to be so limited that we don’t think he’ll pass this chance up.
Lucas Digne - 9/10
Mason Holgate - 6/10
This is normally the sort of match we’d like to see Holgate getting a chance in, but Phil Jagielka’s suspension and Michael Keane’s injury have forced him into regular duty so far this season.
He might get the day off with Matthew Pennington taking his place, but Pennington is even less reliable than Holgate, and with the existing issues in the center of midfield, Silva might not risk it.
Kurt Zouma - 9/10
Zouma likely would have started this match regardless, with it serving as a good first chance to get acclimated with the team. With Keane now hurt though, his inclusion has to be almost automatic.
Jonjoe Kenny - 9/10
Tom Davies - 9/10
Tom did not have a good showing against Bournemouth, which was disappointing after a solid appearance against Southampton the week before.
Idrissa Gueye - 7/10
Silva surely wants to give Gana a rest in this match. In Silva’s ideal world, we’re almost positive his midfield pair would be Davies in the Gana role and Beni Baningime in the Morgan Schneiderlin role.
But neither Beni or Morgan are available, nor Andre Gomes or James McCarthy. That really limits Silva’s midfield options. He could put one of the U23s like Harry Charsley or Dennis Adeniran in this spot, but it seems a big gamble in front of a new back four and alongside a shaky midfield partner.
Kieran Dowell - 9/10
Of all the youngsters currently in the Everton picture, Dowell may have the most promise and the least opportunity to actually play. Silva must use this opportunity to rest Gylfi Sigurdsson and let Dowell show what he can do.
Bernard - 9/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10
Both Bernard and DCL could use minutes as well, and are more reliable than some of the alternative options deeper on the bench.
Oumar Niasse - 9/10
What do you think? Should Pennington get a game, or perhaps one of the other youngster’s from David Unsworth’s side that we didn’t mention? Sound off in the comments.