To say that it’s important for Marco Silva to get it right on Saturday might be an understatement.
His Toffees sit in 18th place in the Premier League after eight matches, with one of their only two wins coming against an absolutely abject Watford side. After another summer of spending, surely Farhad Moshiri’s patience is growing thin.
With the international break behind us, Everton’s match Saturday against West Ham United serves as an opportunity for the Portuguese manager to show he’s learned from the mistakes of the first eight weeks (and much of last year), and that he is indeed the man to lead Everton forward.
With matches away against a somewhat resurgent Brighton and Hove Albion and home to talented-but-struggling Tottenham Hotspur ahead, points in this match are absolutely vital.
Tactics and Formation
Silva should feel a little bit of relief that Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham are not necessarily the sort of mid-table bunker-and-counter side that he usually struggles against. The Hammers are firmly mid-table in possession, pass accuracy, and pass length — denoting a side that’s neither exclusively possession nor counter-oriented.
Silva’s tactics will largely depend on how Pellegrini instructs his team to play. If the former Manchester City boss looks for his team to play out of the back and keep the ball, Silva will be happy to unleash the high press and hope that it creates chances. If West Ham plays more conservatively, then we could see another Everton performance in which a static attack emerges.
The somewhat neutral tactical nature of this match means we don’t expect any major changes to the normal lineup, though injury and suspension will alter things for Silva to an extent.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Michael Keane - 10/10
Djibril Sidibe - 10/10
With Seamus Coleman set to serve a one-match suspension following his red card at Turf Moor against Burnley, Sidibe is the obvious replacement. He’s a player with a quality pedigree who hasn’t gotten a ton of chances this season — so this may be a vital opportunity for him.
Andre Gomes - 10/10
Gomes came in off the bench against Burnley before the international break, and with an additional week off between that match and this one, he’s surely fit enough to start here. He’s been first-choice for Silva essentially since the moment he became available last season, and we see no reason why that would change now.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 5/10
Of course, it’s even easier to be certain Gomes will play given that Fabian Delph is an injury doubt heading into this match. For this reason, we’ll give the slight edge to Morgan Schneiderlin in the role alongside Gomes. That said, Delph could wind up fit enough to start this one, and there’s always a chance that Tom Davies gets an opportunity as well — Silva just hasn’t tended to risk partially fit players or actually use Tom Davies in any capacity this season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
Against Burnley, we noted that it’s possible that Silva uses Iwobi at the No. 10 and Bernard on the left, leaving Sigurdsson out of the starting XI. That remains a possibility, but still only a slight one.
Richarlison - 10/10
Alex Iwobi - 8/10
Moise Kean - 7/10
Cenk Tosun is out with a groin injury, so that at least takes one potential striker out of the equation, leaving us to ponder Kean v. Dominic-Calvert Lewin. Everton has struggled to score goals, and Kean has only gotten 269 minutes of Premier League action — so at this point we expect Silva to go back to the Italian if for no other reason than he’s in need of some sort of change.
Is there a breakout in the cards for a struggling Everton side? Or does another middling match from Silva turn the temperature of his seat from hot to boiling?