While Marco Silva might be showing outwardly that he’s not feeling the heat of three consecutive losses and insisting that his side not panic, the fanbase is already simmering merrily, and another defeat tomorrow will get the Blue fume triggering smoke alarms citywide.
So with that said, and with Silva’s track record so far, here’s what we think he’s going to do tomorrow.
Tactics and Formation
What I’d like to write in this section is “at this point, who friggin’ knows?”, but I’d like to think you’ve come to expect a higher quality of analysis from us at this stage, so here goes nothing.
Burnley are going to sit deep and absorb pressure. You know it. I know it. Your kids know it. The pet gerbil you’re watching for your neighbor this week knows it. Your dog — who you’ve had to watch very closely because you’re afraid he might try to eat the gerbil? He knows it too.
So Marco Silva’s challenge this week is to figure out how to actually break that down. To this stage of his Everton career, we’ve seen no real signs that he’s able to do that, so we suspect we’ll see a lineup and tactics that look a lot like what we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Michael Keane - 10/10
Seamus Coleman - 9/10
Andre Gomes - 7/10
The Portuguese midfielder is fit and in contention for this week, and at 100%, you’d suspect he’s an every-week player. But Morgan Schneiderlin has been decent in his absence, and it’s not impossible that Silva plays it safe, using Gomes in a bench role this week. With an international break separating Everton from its next match, it’s at least a possibility.
Fabian Delph - 7/10
If Gomes does start, we suspect Delph is the favorite to play alongside him. That said, Schneiderlin could also realistically partner with the world’s most handsome midfielder, relegating Delph to a role on the bench.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
This is where things start to get interesting. Alex Iwobi could, in theory, play in the No. 10 role and relegate Sigurdsson to the bench. We haven’t seen a prolonged look at it yet, but the more Everton struggles to break down deep-lying opposition, the more possible such an outcome might be.
Richarlison - 10/10
Depending on Silva’s choices elsewhere, we could see the Brazilian on the left or right wing, but he’ll most certainly be starting.
Alex Iwobi - 6/10
Iwobi only came on against City last week because of the injury to Theo Walcott, who got the start on the right wing with Richarlison on the left. Greg O’Keefe of The Athletic reported this week that Silva planned to start Walcott in a striker role before Bernard fell ill, so the Nigerian would have been behind all three of those players on the depth chart in the City match.
We still think he’s clearly shown more than Bernard has, and have some faith (though it’s dwindling) that Silva has seen it as well. But after the weirdness Silva tried to pull against City, it’s tough to make any sort of clear determination about the front three.
Moise Kean - 5/10
That uncertainty extends to striker as well. Could Walcott be back for this match — and if so does Silva try him out up top? Does Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal — hilariously awarded as it was — influence the manager’s thinking at all? Is Marco Silva aware that Cenk Tosun is still alive?
We don’t really know the answer to any of these questions, so our guess of Kean as the starter is just that — a guess. Any four of the mentioned players could get the start up top without garnering too much surprise from us.
So many questions, and even with players out injured so many options, yet Silva continues to persist with the same-old, same-old. He could try change things up and still end up with egg on his face, but seems much more comfortable to try the same thing that hasn’t worked yet in some forlorn hope that this it’ll all click.