If this is indeed to be Duncan Ferguson’s last match in charge, what a strange, exhilarating run it’s been.
Mason Holgate in the midfield. A 1980s era 4-4-2. Leighton Baines turning back the clock.
Of course, all of that came about because Everton has been absolutely decimated by injuries over the last month in the midst of a nightmare schedule, and Big Dunc got dropped right into the middle of the fallout zone. When you consider the players he’s been missing, it’s incredible that the club has four points and took Leicester City to a penalty shootout in the Carabao Cup.
Ferguson will hope to have a few more players available when the Toffees take on Arsenal on Saturday, but things remain uncertain.
Tactics and Formation
Though Dunc swapped into a 4-2-3-1 at the end of the Leicester match to good effect, I don’t think he’ll veer from his preferred 4-4-2 from the start of the Arsenal match unless multiple players have a surprise late return to fitness.
And the deep-lying 4-4-2 should be a perfectly acceptable strategy against Arsenal, which has some incredibly dangerous attackers, but little in terms of effective midfield penetration or cover against the counter at the back. The pace of Dominic Calvert-Lewin up top in particular could trouble an Arsenal team that’s tended to struggle dealing with long balls over the top.
As for the specifics the personnel, most decisions still depend primarily on who you think will and won’t be healthy for this match. I foresee one player returning to the starting XI, but that’s about it.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Leighton Baines - 10/10
Yerry Mina - 9/10
Mason Holgate - 10/10
Holgate was at fault for the first Leicester goal in the midweek match, but it’s hard to be overly critical of the lad for getting caught out of position while playing a position that most definitely is not his position. Hopefully this week one or more midfielders will return to the lineup and allow him to replace Michael Keane at center-back.
If not, he’ll definitely start in midfield once more.
Seamus Coleman - 6/10
Coleman has been decent since his return to the lineup, and I just don’t think that Dunc will rush Djibril Sidibe back into the lineup given the quality of cover he has at the position. In the midfield though...
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 7/10
The ill Icelander sounds like he’s the closest to a return to the lineup, and he’s needed desperately given the state of the central midfield position. Even if he’s not quite back to 100 percent, I think he’ll play.
Tom Davies - 10/10
As I said last week, Everton have almost no midfielders. Tom Davies is a midfielder. Ergo, Tom Davies will play.
Alex Iwobi - 10/10
Bernard - 10/10
Richarlison - 10/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10
No changes in this area of the field from last week as well. Big Dunc has made his preferred strike duo clear, and with Walcott sidelined, that leaves only one real winger pairing on the table.
It would have been interesting to see how Duncan Ferguson fared with an actual Premier League roster, rather than one that requires him to start Mason Holgate at midfield and put four strikers and Cuco Martina on the bench. Alas, it looks like we won’t have that wish fulfilled, but Dunc will have one last chance to make his managerial mark with his lineup selection against Arsenal.