We’ve yet to really see what it is Carlo Ancelotti would like to do with the Everton first team because injuries have limited his options — and just as it appeared some key players were nearing a return, two more are out for this weekend.
Both Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson will be unavailable due to injury when Everton takes on West Ham United on Saturday, leaving the Italian perilously short on options. The only good news for Ancelotti is that the Hammers are struggling mightily at the moment, and simply aren’t all that talented either.
Still, he’ll need to be able to develop a system that works in order to defeat David Moyes and his new old team.
Tactics and Formation
In Moyes’ first game in charge of West Ham (this spell), he implemented something of a 3-4-3 — similar to what Everton faced last week against Brighton. As such, I’d suspect Ancelotti will look to imitate his successful tactics from that match as much as possible.
Of course, losing Richarlison and Sigurdsson complicates that. He doesn’t quite have a like-for-like replacement option for either player — no one finishes as well or makes late runs as successfully as Richarlison, and none of the healthy midfield options bring the potential creativity of Sigurdsson (even if you are frustrated with his play, you have to admit he’s a different sort of player than say...Morgan Schneiderlin or Fabian Delph?).
So the Toffees will have to break down a presumably deep block from West Ham without two important attacking players — though I don’t think it changes the overall tactical plan significantly. Ancelotti will look to get Bernard on the ball as a faux No. 10 and use Theo Walcott as a weapon to get in behind defenders from the wide area, same as last week.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne- 10/10
The Frenchman tore the ageing Pablo Zabaleta to shreds last season, and will look to continue doing that again tomorrow.
Michael Keane - 9/10
Yerry Mina is healthy enough to travel with the club to London, but Keane got the start last week anyway, and it seems unlikely Ancelotti will change a backline coming off a clean sheet.
Mason Holgate - 10/10
Djibril Sidibe - 10/10
Fabian Delph - 7/10
With Sigurdsson out of the picture, one of Delph or Morgan Schneiderlin is going to have to step in. Delph was preferred off the bench last week, so my best guess is that he gets the start here — though it wouldn’t be any great surprise to see Schneiderlin either.
Tom Davies - 9/10
Davies brought some much-needed energy to the midfield last week, and with Sigurdsson out, is a near lock to start against West Ham.
Theo Walcott - 10/10
Bernard - 10/10
The absence of both Richarlison and Alex Iwobi basically makes it a lock that Walcott and Bernard will start on the wings. Both had good games against Brighton last week, and their respective skillsets were major factors in Ancelotti’s overall tactical plan. Given that Everton will face a similar setup and type of opponent this week, the pair is set to be vital once again.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10
Moise Kean - 10/10
In any other circumstance, Ancelotti could theoretically respond to Richarlison’s absence by adding another player to the midfield and utilizing only one striker. But with Sigurdsson added to the list of the walking wounded, there just isn’t a viable way to construct a three-man midfield.
That all but assures Moise Kean will get a start on Saturday alongside Calvert-Lewin at the top of the 4-4-2.
There is a chance that Ancelotti utilizes Coleman in defence and pushes Sidibe up to right midfield, but that might be a second half substitution to make especially if the Blues are leading.
Is this finally the game he makes his Premier League debut in?
Ancelotti confirmed that Niasse would be on the bench tomorrow
At the end of the day, even with all the injuries, Everton has the quality to defeat a reeling West Ham. Ancelotti’s league form has the club on the verge of re-entering the Europa League race, and a well-managed match and three points on Saturday could bring the Toffees right into the mix once again.