After four defeats from five and a pretty terrifying fixture list on the horizon, picking up three points at Burnley on Saturday is of extreme importance if Everton want to stay in the top six mix.
However, despite the defeat to Leeds last week, Ancelotti was relatively happy with the performance of the team. So how will the Blues line up?
There’s no fresh injury news for the Blues. Coleman and Digne both remain out, while Jean-Philippe Gbamin is work his way back to fitness.
There are two real big questions, therefore, about how Everton will line-up:
1) Will it be another back three?
2) Who will be used a wing-back?
Ancelotti admitted that using three centre-backs is an “emergency option” rather than a preference, given Digne and Coleman’s absence. But, as the pair remain out, it sounds like the Italian will be sticking with three central defenders for now.
Also, when asked about Niels Nkounkou’s absence from the squad last week, Ancelotti said the full-back is “still young, needs experience and needs to work hard”. Whether this was a dig at the 20-year-old’s work rate in training is unclear, but the manager did say he will be used in the upcoming busy Christmas schedule.
Tactics and Formation
The Blues will almost certainly line-up in a the 3-4-3/5-2-2-1 hybrid set up again, although we may seen a change in personnel in defence, particular if Ancelotti wants to utilise Yerry Mina in order to combat the directness of Burnley’s play.
At wing-back, things are a bit of a mystery. Iwobi excelled at right wing back against Fulham, but had little effect on the opposite side against Leeds. With both Niels Nkounkou and Jonjoe Kenny completely missing out on a squad place last week, it seems unlikely that either will get a start this week.
If neither are recalled, the options are limited. Iwobi will surely start on one side or the other, while Tom Davies could again start on the right, although Fabian Delph could be utilised on the left instead.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 9/10
Yerry Mina – 7/10
Expecting Yerry Mina to return to the side in place of Ben Godfrey, in order to provide a great aerial presence to combat the directness of Burnley.
Michael Keane – 10/10
Mason Holgate - 9/10
Alex Iwobi – 9/10
Excelled at right wing-back a couple of weeks ago, but was less effective on the left last week. I’m predicting that Delph will come in at left wing-back with Iwobi switching back to the right.
Fabian Delph – 6/10
Definitely not a guaranteed starter – could also be Tom Davies on the right again – but with neither natural full-backs (Nkounkou and Kenny) seemingly fancied, it seems like Ancelotti will utilise his plentiful central midfield options in other roles again.
Allan – 10/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10
James Rodriguez – 10/10
Thankfully returns from a testing testicle injury.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 10/10
Andre Gomes – Don’t want to see three central midfielders on the bench yet again, but it seems to be the preference of Ancelotti for some unbeknownst reason.