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Everton vs Arsenal: Projected XI

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Is this what progress feels like?

Arsenal v Everton - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Everton host Arsenal on Saturday in a match that the Goodison Park faithful will feel better about than any match in recent memory. The Toffees return home after an away dismantling of West Ham United, and although the Gunners bring significantly more talent than the Hammers, Marco Silva’s side — likely unchanged from last week — has a real chance to take all three points if last week’s performance can be replicated.

Tactics and Formation

Arsenal obviously presents a much more difficult challenge than West Ham United did last week, but there are actually some similarities between the sides that give cause for optimism.

Unai Emery has stuck pretty religiously to either a 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1 for the second half of the season — a setup similar to that used by Manuel Pellegrini in the first half for West Ham. Look for the Everton midfielders to apply pretty consistent pressure in the central third, trying to force mistakes there and then send the ball into the wide areas vacated by the Arsenal wing-backs.

If Marco Silva’s side can can achieve that, it’ll have a real opportunity to create chances against a suspect back three that will likelyconsist of three of Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Lucas Digne - 10/10

Kurt Zouma - 10/10

The French center-back has two goals and an assist since 2019 began, adding an attacking aerial threat to what has been a solid and consistent defense performance this season.

It seems unlikely that Zouma will return to Everton next season for a number of reasons — Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz aren’t getting any younger, the Chelsea transfer ban (if upheld) will prevent the club from adding other defensive reinforcements, and Maurizio Sarri could well get sacked, making way for a manager who actually knows what a good defender looks like.

But, if there’s any way Marcel Brands can overcome those obstacles, he’d surely take Zouma back next season given the chance.

Michael Keane - 10/10

Seamus Coleman - 10/10

Andre Gomes - 10/10

We still don’t really understand the timing of Morgan Schneiderlin’s reinsertion into the lineup in Gomes’ place last month. We like Schneiderlin, but the rest granted Gomes came two months after it most obviously looked to be needed.

At any rate, Gomes remains the better option, as he reminded us clearly last week against West Ham.

Idrissa Gueye - 10/10

If Gana went to PSG in January, the Parisians would be in the Champions League quarterfinals and Everton would be double-digit points away from seventh place in the Premier League. He’s that good.

He’s utterly unplayable against non-elite midfields, and he ripped West Ham to shreds last weekend. If the Toffees win this weekend, it’ll be because he gave Aaron Ramsey and whoever else Unai Emery throws in the midfield the same treatment.

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10

Richarlison - 10/10

Bernard - 10/10

We’ve spent a fair bit of this season grumbling about Bernard’s place ahead of Ademola Lookman in the pecking order, but the Brazilian has justified Marco Silva’s faith in him in recent weeks. Hopefully, his goal last week was the first of many more at Everton.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10

Bench

Maarten Stekelenburg

Leighton Baines

Morgan Schneiderlin

Ademola Lookman

Cenk Tosun

Theo Walcott

Tom Davies


Surely Marco Silva’s best option is sticking with what worked against West Ham and Chelsea, right? Let us know in the comments.