A Second Round League Cup game against a League Two side in the midst of a hectic schedule, and a massive squad without much of a pre-season behind them…
There have been easier line-ups to predict.
My guess is that Carlo Ancelotti will ring the changes as much as possible for this tie.
On the injury front, little seems to have changed. Mason Holgate is going to be out for a long time, as will long-term absentee Jean-Philippe Gbamin, while Cenk Tosun is still working his way back to action. But, essentially, Everton have a near fully-fit squad of around 30 senior players to choose from.
One would hope to see more from young prospects like Anthony Gordon, Jarrad Branthwaite, Lewis Gibson and Niels Nkounkou, rather than players that are moving to the exit door like Muhamed Besic and Yannick Bolasie, but only time will tell.
The other consideration for Ancelotti to make is whether he feels Everton’s new trio need more minutes in their legs having not played in pre-season, or whether they’d better off being rested ahead of Saturday’s early game against West Bromwich Albion.
Tactics and Formation
After a great success with a new 4-3-3 setup against Spurs and one would expect this shape to continue as Ancelotti looks to give Everton an identity.
However, with a vast shift in personnel likely, plus a lower league side visiting Goodison Park, it’s also possible that he could revert back to last season’s 4-4-2 and put the visitors on the backfoot.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 7/10
It was worth noting that Jonas Lössl didn’t make the bench against Tottenham Hotspur, so it seems possible that he may be heading for a Goodison exit. That leaves João Virginia as Pickford’s understudy for now, but after a shaky loan spell at Reading last season, it remains to be seen whether Ancelotti has enough faith in the 20-year-old shot stopper.
Jonjoe Kenny – 9/10
Seamus Coleman was favoured against Spurs, so Kenny will almost certainly make his competitive return for the Blues here. Needs to make a big impression.
Michael Keane – 8/10
With Mason Holgate still out injured, the Blues only have Keane, Yerry Mina, Branthwaite and Gibson to choose from. Given Mina’s recent return from injury, you’d expect Keane to lead either Branthwaite or Gibson in the other centre-back role, rather than relying on two very young defenders together.
Jarrad Branthwaite - 7/10
Basically a coin toss between Branthwaite and Gibson for who lines up alongside Keane. One or both of these prospects should be heading out on loan this season, so this could be the last chance to impress Ancelotti before they go. Edging Branthwaite to start given that he has a bit more first-team experience after making some cameos at the end of last season.
Niels Nkounkou – 8/10
Made a very positive impression in pre-season after joining from Olympique Marseille, so the 19-year-old left-back should make his competitive debut for the Blues here in order to keep Lucas Digne fresh for Saturday.
Tom Davies – 9/10
Will surely start after getting a few minutes on Sunday. If the Blues set up in the 4-3-3, Davies may take up Allan’s holding role, unless Fabian Delph is deemed fit enough to play.
Alex Iwobi – 6/10
Could be Iwobi, could be Delph. Neither made the squad on Sunday and both of their futures at the club seem somewhat up in the air.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – 9/10
Anthony Gordon – 7/10
Another toss-up in terms of options on the left. Bernard was awarded a place on the bench on Sunday ahead of Gordon, but surely you’d rather hand the young Anthony Gordon some minutes here.
Theo Walcott – 9/10
Moise Kean – 9/10