Some day, Everton is going to get all or most of its missing first-team players back, and writing this weekly post is going to be difficult because of the variety of options available to Carlo Ancelotti.
Today is not that day.
The Toffees expect no players to return from injury tomorrow when Everton takes on Newcastle United at Goodison Park, and that will severely limit the Italian’s options. By simple necessity, in all likelihood Tuesday’s lineup will look a lot like Saturday’s did.
Tactics and Formation
No one plays with less of the ball than Newcastle United, which generally lines up in a 5-3-2 and allows its opponent to possess for large stretches. It’ll be Ancelotti’s challenge to figure out how to break through that sort of defense without Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alex Iwobi, and Andre Gomes.
And frankly, I’m not sure he’s got anything at his disposal beyond what he already utilized against West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion.
He could elect to go with a 4-3-3 that includes a midfield of Tom Davies, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Fabian Delph, but that trio just isn’t really cohesive as a unit, and would likely have trouble regularly connecting with its front three.
Instead, I expect a return to the 4-4-2 with Bernard as the faux No. 10 pinching in from the left wing — he’ll be vital if Everton want to break down a deep-lying Newcastle.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne- 10/10
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Michael Keane looks to be out with injury once again, so Mina is a foregone conclusion at center-back.
Mason Holgate - 10/10
Djibril Sidibe - 10/10
It was interesting that Sidibe got a partial rest against West Ham. Seamus Coleman played a decent match, but it was plain to see that the Toffees were missing Sidibe’s additional creativity with the Frenchman on the bench. I’d be stunned if he doesn’t start this one.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 7/10
This is more about squad rotation than anything else. Neither Schneiderlin nor Fabian Delph have been overly impressive over the last month, but Delph started over the weekend and Everton actually has depth here, so I expect Ancelotti will use it.
Tom Davies - 10/10
Theo Walcott - 8/10
Theo has done just about everything but score a goal, and it’s reaching the point where you have to wonder if the poor guy is ever going to score again. He could theoretically see the bench this week with Anthony Gordon having at least partially earned his manager’s trust, but it seems more likely Walcott will start and Gordon will see some time off the bench later in the match.
Bernard - 10/10
The substitution of Bernard at halftime against West Ham was weird. He wasn’t playing tremendously, but he certainly wasn’t poor either — and he brings creativity that no other healthy player does. Either way, I’d be stunned if he doesn’t start again Tuesday.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10
Moise Kean - 9/10
I made fun of Walcott above for his inability to score this season, but you have to admit that the English winger is at least playing with confidence and getting into the right positions. The Walcottian lack of confidence seems to have made its way over to Moise Kean, who contributed next to nothing against the Hammers on Saturday.
With how uninspiring Digne has been lately, will Baines get a look-in tomorrow?
Anthony Gordon — The young winger is almost assured to see time tomorrow, given that both Walcott and Bernard don’t ever go 90 minutes.
Ancelotti and Everton would surely prefer to be playing again this coming weekend in the FA Cup, but the week off ahead comes at a good time, even if for a bad reason. The squad has to be running short of energy given the injury situation, and Ancelotti will need to get one more solid performance out of the players before some much-needed rest.