Last week’s Everton result came as no surprise. But a defeat to newly-promoted Brentford could see the pressure ratcheted up on Rafa Benitez, with the Blues having picked up just one point in five games now.
Of course, Rafa’s not been helped by a swathe of injuries to key players and things have gotten even worse this week, with several more key players considered major doubts.
But with clashes against Liverpool and Arsenal next up, Everton – and Rafa especially – need a result when they visit the Brentford Community Stadium for the first time.
Okay, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies remain sidelined.
Demarai Gray hobbled off with an apparent groin injury against City. Fortunately, it’s not as bad as first feared, but remains a major doubt for this game. Certainly not the type of injury he should be rushed back from.
Even worse, Allan is also a major doubt for this one after also picking up a muscle problem on Thursday.
Oh, and for good measure, Richarlison is suspended for this one after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Manchester City. Mason Holgate is also serving the second of a three-game suspension.
There is one small solace of hope, though, as Abdoulaye Doucoure has been back training this week and has a chance of a squad place. It will be rushing him back, but maybe the Blues don’t have much choice. Calvert-Lewin and Gomes were also spotted in training.
So, of Everton’s 21 senior outfield players, just 13 are definitely available – and that fit list includes Jonjoe Kenny, Cenk Tosun and Rondon.
Tactics and Formation
4-2-3-1 looks to be the setup these days, so Rafa will likely use this shape to piece together the puzzle. It’s not going to be a pretty line-up though.
The goalkeeper and back four remains intact, so we shouldn’t see any changes there. Fabian Delph will anchor the midfield, but his partner will be the big question: will he rush back Doucoure or give Gbamin another shot? It seems Tyler Onyango will not be thrust into the line-up having played the full 90 minutes for Everton under-23s 4-0 defeat to Spurs on Friday night.
Indeed, there were some notable absentees for the under-23s on Friday, with Lewis Dobbin and Charlie Whitaker not named in the squad – so they’ll likely be part of Sunday’s squad.
Alex Iwobi will likely replace Gray out wide, with Rondon inevitably leading the line. Urgh.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Seamus Coleman – 10/10
Lucas Digne – 10/10
Ben Godfrey – 10/10
Michael Keane – 10/10
Jean-Philippe Gbamin – 6/10
The only fully fit central midfield option to partner Delph currently, but don’t be surprised if Doucoure is rushed back or Onyango is thrust into the action.
Fabian Delph – 9/10
Probably Everton’s most important player right now – who’d have thought it? Always an injury risk though.
Andros Townsend – 10/10
Alex Iwobi – 7/10
Anthony Gordon – 9/10
Salomon Rondon – 8/10
Will likely return to the side, with Cenk Tosun and Ellis Simms playing back-up. Hopefully the latter gets a chance at some point.