Across the site, we’ve talked about this match as the start of the most difficult run of the season. Everton travels to Leicester City on Sunday to take on a club still legitimately in the title race at this stage of the season, and based on the Toffees’ current form, it was always going to be tough to see Everton getting a result here.
And that was before Marco Silva’s pre-match media availability.
Eight first-team players look to be unavailable for this match, primarily wingers and central midfielders — and it’s tough to see exactly how Silva can salvage this based on the players currently at his disposal.
Tactics and Formation
I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I’m not happy with a lot of the tactical and personnel decisions Silva has made this season, but the reality is that there aren’t a lot of options available to the manager this weekend.
We could look at what Brendan Rodgers has done with Leicester City, because these aren’t the Foxes of Claudio Ranieri — but in reality, it just doesn’t matter. Silva will use whatever XI he can cobble together with his healthy players. That most likely means moving to five at the back.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Mason Holgate - 8/10
Holgate had his first real setback since earning a starting spot, with Everton conceding twice against Norwich City last week. In a vacuum, I’d probably predict Michael Keane to take over for Holgate in the middle of a back four — but this week certainly isn’t a vacuum,
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Michael Keane - 8/10
It was a tough break for Keane to be removed from the lineup for has long as he has been — he didn’t play particularly poorly, but the Mina/Holgate pairing got hot, and that’s been the preferred setup over the last month. But the cavalcade of injuries certainly could thrust him back into the lineup in a new formation.
Djibril Sidibe - 10/10
Marco Silva’s insertion of Seamus Coleman for Sidibe in the second half of last week’s match was maybe the most confusing decision he’s made since becoming Everton manager, but it displays nicely how he’s clearly not settled on which of his two right-backs he prefers.
But, Coleman looks to be injured for this one, so it’ll be Sidibe once more.
Tom Davies - 10/10
Say what you will about Tom Davies, but he’s definitely a central midfielder. This week, with just about every other true central midfielder hurt, that’s enough to guarantee a start.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Per Transfermarkt, the Icelander has played 18 times as a true central midfielder in his lengthy career in English football. In the current scenario, that’s good enough to almost guarantee that he starts alongside Davies at the position.
Alex Iwobi - 10/10
Iwobi’s exclusion has been the source of significant consternation among Everton supporters. There shouldn’t be too much concern about that this week though!
With Sigurdsson likely pressed into service as a true center midfielder, Iwobi becomes the obvious choice at the 10.
Cenk Tosun - 7/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 7/10
Everton has no injuries at striker, thankfully, and as such, a two-striker system makes the most sense in this one. My best guess is that Tosun will partner DCL, as the pair seems to be atop Silva’s depth chart at the moment. But any two of these guys and Moise Kean could feasibly start on Sunday with minimal surprise.
As I led with, I don’t think Marco Silva genuinely wants to use this system or this lineup any more than you or I do, but a quick look at the bench makes clear pretty quickly why this is probably his best option.
It’s going to take an effort of epic proportions, and probably no little stroke of luck for Everton to take a point or more from this match.