Somehow, the injury situation at Everton might still be getting worse.
Bernard and Fabian Delph are both questionable going into the FA Cup Merseyside Derby this weekend, with the Liverpool buzzsaw awaiting Everton at Anfield. Bernard was a late scratch against Manchester City on New Years Day, while Delph’s injury was reported later this week.
So, that’s the reality facing Carlo Ancelotti heading into what could be Everton’s biggest match of the season. All Evertonians will be familiar with the house of horrors that Anfield has been for the Toffees over the last two decades, and now the Italian manager is faced with a trip to the old enemy’s fortress equipped with...Morgan Schneiderlin?
Tactics and Formation
Thus far, we’ve seen Ancelotti primarily use a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2, though I remain unconvinced that’s actually what he wants to be doing in the long term. He’s simply not got enough fit central midfielders to play any other way, and this week looks like it could be no different with Schneiderlin back but Delph a doubt.
The 4-4-2 was marginally more effective against Manchester City, and I think Ancelotti will go back to it, rather than the 3-5-2. The main advantage of the back three has been Seamus Coleman’s ability to get involved in the attack from his right-sided center-back position, but flooding numbers forward against Liverpool like that is a recipe for disaster.
Instead, I expect two pretty basic blocks of four with two strikers up top, an occasional high press, and lots of deep defending once Liverpool moves the ball past the midfield stripe.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne- 10/10
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Mason Holgate - 9/10
Djibril Sidibe - 9/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
Ancelotti has committed pretty heavily to Sigurdsson in the center of the pitch, even in this 4-4-2 setup. I see no reason why that would change now.
Morgan Schneiderlin - 6/10
Ancelotti, I imagine, will prefer Fabian Delph to the Frenchman, but Delph is an injury doubt once again. If he can’t go, Schneiderlin will be preferred to Tom Davies in the central defensive midfield role.
Bernard - 9/10
Theo Walcott - 9/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10
Richarlison - 9/10
Moise Kean - 6/10
If Bernard is not ready to go and Ancelotti is feeling particularly aggressive, he might throw Kean up top with DCL and rely on Richarlison out wide on the left with his defensive work ethic.
Ancelotti hasn’t worried too much about squad rotation to this point, and I don’t suspect that he’ll start in the club’s biggest match of the year. Given the personnel available to him, I think this is probably his best XI, and that’ll be his choice given the magnitude of the match.