Insofar as there can be any truly important games remaining in this Everton season, you’d have to say that tomorrow’s match against Wolves is one of them. A 7th placed league finish is still likely to yield European qualification, and the Blues sit in 8th...two points behind Wolves, but three scores ahead in the goal differential column.
It’s a matchup of two similarly talented teams, but teams who get their work done in very different fashions. Everton like to open it up and play with the pedal to the metal, but Wolves are immensely difficult to break down and disciplined in their defensive tactics. How can Marco Silva line up the Blues to take advantage?
Tactics and Formation
Marco Silva made a rare tactical tweak against Huddersfield on Tuesday, and it’ll be interesting to see if it continues going forward.
Historically, Silva has deployed Idrissa Gueye alongside Andre Gomes, behind Gylfi Sigurdsson, who sits at the head of the midfield triangle. With Tom Davies in for the Senegalese midfielder Tuesday, Silva inverted the triangle — playing Davies alongside Sigurdsson, ahead of Gomes.
That doubles the distributive load Gomes has to carry, but gives him more forward passing options — it’ll be interesting to see if that was a one-off experiment given the (lack of) quality Huddersfield has, or if he tries it out again against Wolves this weekend. We think he will.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Jonjoe Kenny - 7/10
Lucas Digne is suspended, and Leighton Baines faces a late fitness test. If there’s any physical way for Baines to play, he’ll start. But Marco Silva’s description of his status didn’t exactly inspire confidence, so it may have to be a repeat of Kenny at left-back.
Kurt Zouma - 10/10
Michael Keane - 10/10
With Yerry Mina and Phil Jagielka both injured, the center-back spots are a lock.
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
Andre Gomes - 10/10
The Portuguese midfielder has looked somewhat revived after a troubling few matches where it looked as though he could barely move his feet. Given Silva’s apparent banishment of Morgan Schneiderlin (who still, for reasons remains at the club despite clearly not having the manager’s trust), Gomes is sure to start again.
Tom Davies - 9/10
Everyone’s favorite Everton fashionista is coming off likely his best game of the season against Huddersfield on Tuesday. He set up the only goal of the match, did reasonably well in possession, and was rarely a defensive liability.
Tom has been known to have matches like that one from time to time, but consistency has too often been absent from his game. With Gana still likely out with his “injury,” it’s a great chance for Davies to show he’s added that important C-word to his play.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Richarlison - 10/10
The Brazilian attacker did on Tuesday what he does best — pop up in a dangerous area and put the ball in the back of the net. We’ve still got a lot of lingering questions about SIlva’s usage of him, which Adam discussed on Wednesday, but there’s no doubt he must be in the lineup.
Ademola Lookman - 6/10
We think Lookman’s exclusion at the expense of Bernard on Tuesday was more about rest than anything else. We sure hope so, because Lookman has been a revelation since returning to the lineup after his holiday period injury.
Cenk Tosun - 8/10
Cenk was the man of the match for both Adam and Chris on Tuesday. We know his finishing has occasionally been wayward, but his hold-up play is just miles better than Richarlison’s or Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s. If that hold-up play gets Richarlison, Lookman, and Sigurdsson more chances on goal, then we’re not particularly worried if he’s scoring himself or not — because those guys will.
Brendan Galloway - He is a person who still exists. He wasn’t good enough for Sunderland. He’s one injury away from playing in this match. Whatever deity you offer prayers to, send he/she/it a special request that no more injuries befall the Everton defense.
Morgan Feeney - Feeney is a more interesting case that Galloway. The center-back turns 20 next week, but still hasn’t made a meaningful start for the senior team, with his only two appearances coming in dead-rubber Europa League matches last season. If the Toffees cannot secure Kurt Zouma’s services past this season, there’s a reasonable chance he’ll be in contention for meaningful minutes next season — making this potential opportunity an interesting one.
Potential absences: Yerry Mina (out), Phil Jagielka (out), Lucas Digne (suspended), Morgan Schneiderlin (doubtful), Leighton Baines (questionable), Idrissa Gueye (questionable)
Injuries and other absences could make this team selection rather hairy for Marco Silva, but as we saw on Tuesday, Everton can grind out a result of they need to. This might be one of those times.