Everton head to St. James’ Park tomorrow with an opportunity to earn points for the third league game in a row, something they haven’t done since November. In order to do that, though, they’ll need to deal with a somewhat rejuvenated Newcastle side.
Rafa Benitez’s squad has points in five of their last seven matches, and newcomer Miguel Almiron has been a spark in attack. How will Marco Silva counter the Magpies?
Tactics and Formation
The transition from playing Liverpool last weekend to Newcastle United this weekend could give even the most experienced manager proverbial whiplash. After facing down Jurgen Klopp’s frenetic, high-paced style full of dangerous attackers, the Toffees take on a pragmatic, deep-lying, but still dangerous Newcastle side.
In particular, Salomon Rondon should scare Marco Silva — primarily because the big striker has burned Everton on set pieces in the past, even when the team’s set piece defense didn’t resemble Swiss cheese.
The key to success against Newcastle will be keeping their wide players — both the wingers in Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez, as well as the wing-backs in Matt Ritchie and DeAndre Yedlin — deep in defense and unable to create danger or counter-attacking chances.
We don’t suspect Silva will make any crazy changes to his setup to address this threat, but it could be something to watch for in his substitutions.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Kurt Zouma - 9/10
Michael Keane - 10/10
After a middling and injury-stricken first season at Everton, Keane has spent much of this season showing why Everton were so happy to bring him to the club. He was rightfully praised following his performance against Liverpool last week, and looks to clearly be part of the long-term answer at center-back.
Seamus Coleman - 9/10
Morgan Schneiderlin - 9/10
We have absolutely no idea what caused Marco Silva to re-integrate Morgan Schneiderlin into the side, especially after the manager buried him deep on the bench during the holiday period. But he had another solid showing against Liverpool, providing cover ahead of the back four and facilitating possession in the center of midfield.
But against a weaker Newcastle side, it will be incumbent upon the Frenchman to help progress the ball rather than just possess it — if he can do that, he could stay in the lineup the rest of the season.
Idrissa Gueye - 10/10
We don’t usually say a lot about Gana in this weekly post, simply because it’s so obvious he’s going to be in the lineup every week. There’s no new information or analysis surrounding what he does, but it feels worth mentioning that he’s incredible at what he does and he’s not allowed the January transfer situation to impact his play.
For a player who is so crucial to what Everton does, that’s a huge deal.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Richarlison - 8/10
Richarlison has been an automatic 10/10 basically all season, but after his surprise benching against Liverpool, we can’t be completely sure Silva won’t keep him there. The Brazilian was an absolute mess in the match against Cardiff City, so maybe we shouldn’t have been as surprised as we were when he didn’t start in the derby.
Newcastle obviously presents a very different challenge than Liverpool though, so we suspect he’ll be back in the lineup.
Bernard - 7/10
We have no idea why Bernard keeps getting starts ahead of Ademola Lookman — and frankly, we’re pretty furious about it. But Silva has made his preferences clear, and there’s little reason to think the diminutive Brazilian won’t start this weekend.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 7/10
The striker situation remains as unclear as it has all season. DCL seems like Silva’s latest preference, but it could honestly switch back to Cenk Tosun or Richarlison at any time and we wouldn’t be surprised.
What do you think? Should Yerry Mina or Andre Gomes get a place in the starting lineup? Should Ademola Lookman be brought back from purgatory?