After a summer of turmoil, Everton started the season in fitting fashion. Michael Keane dithered on the ball, Mason Holgate failed to save him and Southampton’s new striker Adam Armstrong pounced. Some boos rang out around Goodison Park at half-time and Everton had that all-too-familiar feel of frustration.
But then Everton came out and did something they have done in over five years… they won a game that they were losing at half-time. It meant that Rafa Benitez was able to do something in one game that the likes of Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti failed to do in their entire reigns.
Now the mighty Blues of Everton head to what will surely be a raucous Elland Road, whose fans will witness a sell-out Premier League fixture at home for the first time since 2004.
So, will Rafa stick to a winning side or make some adjustments for this tricky tie?
Just like last weekend, Rafa kept his cards very close to his chest in terms of player availability. So of last weekend’s absentees (James Rodriguez, Moise Kean, Ben Godfrey, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Andre Gomes) only Kean is expected to return to the squad even though Gbamin was spotted in training too.
Nathan Broadhead also joined Sunderland on loan this week, so Kean will probably take his place on the bench. Therefore, it seems likely that we’ll setup in the same way as last week.
Tactics and Formation
The Blues started in a 4-2-3-1 last week, with Richarlison on the left, Demarai Gray through the middle and Andros Townsend on the right, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin up top. At half-time, Rafa tweaked this, pushing Gray to the left so that Richie could get closer to DCL.
The question is, which will he opt to start with this week? Based on last week’s half-time transformation, you’d expect to see Gray move to the left and see Richie more central. This Tactical Preview pretty much seems to indicate the same thing, with Gray more like to stretch Luke Ayling.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Seamus Coleman – 9/10
Lucas Digne – 9/10
Michael Keane – 7/10
Had a horrible first half last week and wouldn’t be a big surprise to see Yerry Mina take his place.
Mason Holgate – 8/10
Allan – 9/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10
Andros Townsend – 8/10
Demarai Gray – 8/10
Richarlison – 9/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 9/10