Just when you think you’ve seen it all, out of seemingly nowhere, Mason Holgate plays midfield. That’s the sort of season it’s been for Everton.
And yet, playing Duncan Ferguson’s ‘ol 4-4-2, the Toffees got a point at Old Trafford against Manchester United in a match they really had no right taking anything from.
Big Dunc basically just played the 11 healthy first-team players he had available, after illness claimed Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the hours before kickoff, and Lucas Digne had to come out due to injury in the first half. Hopefully at least the former two can return.
Tactics and Formation
I might not be sure who will play, but I can almost guarantee it’l be in Big Dunc’s preferred 4-4-2 setup. If the prospect of playing Mason Holgate as a central midfielder wasn’t enough to dissuade Ferguson from playing such a setup, surely nothing that can happen now will either.
Similarly, I expect it’ll be more bunkering and countering out of respect for Leicester’s danger on the attack, as well as in response to the reality of the situation in the center of Everton’s midfield right now.
My best guess is that Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson will return from illness, but none of the injured players will be back in contention, leaving us with a lineup similar to that which beat Chelsea.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Ferguson confirmed that Lucas Digne’s groin injury will keep him out of contention this week, so it’ll be Baines to start at left-back.
Yerry Mina - 9/10
The Colombian was a rock in the center of defense once again against Manchester United, and showed his health and form are definitely back at 100%. He should start this one.
Mason Holgate - 8/10
I’ve previously staked much of my blogging brand on Mason Holgate being bad, but his performance this weekend was another stepping stone on what has truly been a breakout season for the former Barnsley defender. Michael Keane was fine against United, but Holgate’s performance in midfield was more than strong enough to warrant his return to the starting lineup in his natural position (provided Everton have a sufficient number of midfielders).
Djibril Sidibe - 7/10
The only question here is in regards to the Frenchman’s health. If Sidibe has recovered from the illness that sidelined him against Manchester United, he’ll start. If not, it’ll be Seamus Coleman once again.
Tom Davies - 10/10
Everton have almost no midfielders. Tom Davies is a midfielder. Ergo, Tom Davies will play.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 7/10
Like Sidibe, Sigurdsson will play as long as he’s healthy enough to do so. If he’s not, it’ll likely be a return to the midfield for Mason Holgate.
Alex Iwobi - 10/10
Bernard - 10/10
Richarlison - 10/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10
Big Dunc has made his preferred strike duo clear, and with Walcott sidelined, that leaves only one real winger pairing on the table.
Fatigue has to be setting in for these players, who largely haven’t been able to rotate over the past few weeks simply because Everton’s numbers are currently so limited through injury. Can this group pull out one more big result before the bottom presumably falls out?