Everton travel to Crystal Palace for the first game of their Premier League season with a number of new faces and a different look about them.
Tactics and Formation
Idrissa Gueye was Everton’s most important player last season, and he’s now at PSG — so any thinking in terms of Everton’s tactics is at least a little bit conjecture.
That said, Crystal Palace almost certainly will bring a very deep-lying defensive line and a counter-attacking strategy, one that would have rendered Silva’s high-pressing style from last season moot anyway. So, I’d anticipate a more measured, possession-based approach from Silva and the Toffees.
Will it work? In the long-term once Moise Kean, Alex Iwobi, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin are ready to play, we’re optimistic. In the short-term, forced to basically use a lineup composed of last season’s players though, we’re a touch concerned that the necessary creativity just won’t be there.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Mina’s first season at Everton was injury-scarred, not to mention the Colombian was simply out-shined by on-loan Kurt Zouma. Well, Zouma’s gone and the Toffees didn’t add another center-back, so Mina is immediately and for the foreseeable future thrust into the limelight.
If he can stay healthy and provide the levels of open-play defense Zouma did last season, the heights hit in the final third of last season could remain in reach. If he gets injured or struggles, there isn’t a whole lot of quality to replace him with.
Michael Keane - 10/10
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
The Irishman and usual captain will certainly keep his spot in the opening week of the season, but he’s going to have maintain pretty high levels of quality to ensure his place in the team week-by-week with Djibril Sidibe now in the team. There could be a legitimate battle for a starting place at right-back by mid-season.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 8/10
Fabian Delph is hurt and Jean-Philippe Gbamin is not yet ready for his debut (or is he?), so that leaves Schneiderlin — a once forgotten man — in line for his second straight start in a season opener. Once those two players return, he may not see a ton of action, so this is a big chance for him to prove that he deserves to remain in the picture when the midfield is at full health.
Andre Gomes - 10/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson -10/10
Richarlison - 10/10
Bernard - 9/10
Long-term, Bernard probably gets replaced in the starting XI by Alex Iwobi. The former Arsenal winger had a more complete preseason than many of his fellow new additions, and as such is probably a lot closer to contributing to the first team. But Saturday still probably comes to early for him, which means the capable Brazilian gets the start.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10
Dom most certainly won’t be the preferred option up top in the long-term with Moise Kean in, but Kean will need time to get up to speed after not featuring in Juventus’ preseason, so like Schneiderlin, DCL has this chance to prove he will still deserve consideration after Marco Silva’s shiny new toy gets up to speed.
Tom Davies — It’s a sign of just how far perceptions of Davies have fallen that we didn’t really even consider the possibility that he’d start above Schneiderlin in Delph’s place. He makes the bench this week because the team is down two central midfielders, but once everyone is healthy, it’s tough to see a way for Tom to get anything approaching regular playing time given the current situation at the position.
Cenk Tosun — The Turkish striker is among the players who you’d suspect are candidates to be shipped out elsewhere in Europe while the window in the majority of the continent stays open for another few weeks. There simply haven’t been many reports linking him with leaving though, so he may have to prove himself quickly in the next few weeks if he wants to avoid spending four months on the bench or out of the 18 entirely.
Moise Kean — The Italian says he’s ready to play on Saturday — we doubt Silva will start him, but he’s a good option off the bench for 15 or 20 minutes if the Toffees are chasing a goal.