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Everton vs Chelsea: Projected XI | A Big Dunc Special?

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Are the Blues set to revert back to a 4-4-2 with James missing?

Everton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Everton are back (yay?).

But so are some fans!

However, the luckily 2,000 still won’t be able to see James Rodriguez in the flesh, with the Colombian ruled out with a knock.

This could, though, see Everton revert back to a system that brought out their performance of the season last year against Chelsea.

So how might the Blues line up?

Who’s Out?

It’s not good news on the injury front.

As well as Lucas Digne’s longer term injury, James Rodriguez and Fabian Delph have also been ruled out, while Seamus Coleman is not yet ready to return.

There’s no doubt about: Everton’s creative forces have boiled down to pretty much Richarlison.

There is Bernard on the bench, while Alex Iwobi has shown glimmers at right-wing back in recent weeks. But in terms of chance creation, it’s not what you’d hope for when Chelsea come to visit.

Niels Nkounkou and Anthony Gordon are also waiting in the wings, but Carlo Ancelotti seems reluctant to use either – despite impressive showings in the EFL Cup this season.

Tactics and Formation

With James out, Carlo hinted that they may look to a different system this weekend.

My instinct is that this could be a return to 4-4-2, with Richarlison joining DCL up front, while two deeper lying wingers provide some extra cover for whoever the inexperienced full-backs may be.

Below is how I think the Blues will line-up, but – for the record - it’s absolutely not what I want to see (I’d prefer to have Nkounkou at left-back and Gordon on the right wing in order to provide some true width).

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford – 9/10

Alex Iwobi – 8/10

Crossing aside, Iwobi put in a decent shift at RWB/RB last week and unless Ancelotti has had a sudden change of heart regarding Jonjoe Kenny, he should keep his place here.

Ben Godfrey - 8/10

Put in a solid defensively display when forced out of position at left back last week, despite not being able to offer anything going forward. Everton shouldn’t be playing a right-footed centre-back at left back, but Carlo seems reluctant to Digne’s natural replacement in Nkounkou.

However, with Godfrey sitting deeper, this could provide Iwobi more licence to push forward, with Everton shifting into a de facto back three when attacking.

Michael Keane – 9/10

Mason Holgate - 7/10

Has been in and out of the team as he works his way back to fitness, but will almost certainly start here if Ben Godfrey is at left-back.

Tom Davies – 6/10

If Carlo does opt for a 4-4-2, I’m expecting a central midfielder to perform a makeshift role on the right side, with Alex Iwobi overlapping. It could also easily be Sigurdsson or Gomes, though. For me, this should be Anthony Gordon, but that seems unlikely.

Bernard – 8/10

With James out, Bernard surely warrants a start after his impressive outing against United a few weeks back.

Allan – 10/10

Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10

Richarlison– 10/10

Expecting Richarlison to move inside and line-up alongside DCL. This setup would be reminiscent of the Blues satisfying win over Chelsea last week, in what was Big Dunc’s first game in charge.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 10/10

Bench

Robin Olsen

Yerry Mina

Niels Nkounkou – Surely got to make at least the bench at this point.

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Andre Gomes

Anthony Gordon – Again, surely got to make at least the bench with several creative players missing.

Cenk Tosun