UPDATE: Despite being confirmed as a new signing early on New Year’s Day, fullback Vitaliy Mykolenko is not eligible by Premier League rules to play in Matchweek 21 and thus will not be available for the Brighton game on Sunday.
Having had three games postponed due to the pandemic, Everton return to action having barely broken a sweat (apart from, perhaps, those who had COVID) during the normally chaotic Christmas period.
The same can’t be said for Brighton, though, who have had to play twice between Christmas and New Year. In normal circumstances, you’d put that down as a big advantage for the well-rested Everton – but COVID has put a stop to many players from training, so a lack of fitness might be an ironic issue.
So how will the Blues line up here?
I don’t know.
Some of the five players who contracted COVID are supposedly set to return. The trouble is, it wasn’t revealed who actually got “the rona” – although Demarai Gray is said to have tested positive on his way to face Chelsea a fortnight ago.
So the COVID absentees will be something of a mystery.
On the injury front, it looks like Richarlison is definitely out. Andros Townsend is training and could be available, Tom Davies has been seen in training pictures and Yerry Mina is likely still out. There may be question marks over Salomon Rondon, Seamus Coleman, Allan and Fabian Delph, who’ve all had issues in recent weeks, but some of those will likely feature with numbers still low.
This could even be Lucas Digne’s last appearance in an Everton shirt – if that’s even a possibility at this point as he’s been see in training.
Tactics and Formation
So. the line-up is going to be a shot in the dark due to the mystery COVID absentees. It seems more likely we’ll return to a 4-2-3-1 after a 5-4-1 set up against Chelsea.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 9/10
Seamus Coleman – 6/10
Ben Godfrey – 7/10
Michael Keane – 8/10
Jarrad Branthwaite – 7/10
Deserves a start after a colossal performance and goal at Chelsea, although that may come at Mason Holgate’s cost.
Allan - 6/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 8/10
Andre Gomes – 7/10
Anthony Gordon – 7/10
Alex Iwobi – 7/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 8/10