The fixtures don’t get any easier for Frank Lampard’s Everton after their 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Manchester United, as they now have to travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Last season’s iteration of this fixture saw the Toffees hammered 5-0; the most embarrassing result of a most embarrassing season. This time around, Frank Lampard has what feels like a brand-new squad with undoubtedly higher morale and better ability. Let’s take a look at how he could set Everton up for Saturday’s match, and afterward, what I believe his best course of action is to try and avoid a repeat result.
Due to yellow card accumulation, Anthony Gordon has been suspended for this match, so Lampard’s first order of business will be his replacement in the starting XI. The most like-for-like replacement would be Dwight McNeil, of course, who you could argue was undeservedly dropped for the United game after his thunderous half-volley won all three points at St. Mary’s the week before.
As I mentioned in my Opposition Analysis piece leading up to Sunday’s game, Lampard would likely look to use the added pace of Gordon to exploit United’s weakness from counter-attacks, and that’s exactly what he chose to do at McNeil’s expense. In a game like this, however, where one would expect Everton to have lots of defending to do, the former Burnley player’s work rate and defensive capabilities are likely more suited to this match regardless of Gordon’s availability.
Another option would be to move Alex Iwobi to either wing and play James Garner, who made his Everton debut off the bench against his former club on Sunday. The 21-year-old Englishman looked composed during his cameo and created one of Everton’s better chances of the second half with a cross-shot that forced a good save out of David De Gea. Iwobi moving back to the wing for a whole match, however, seems unlikely considering his sustained success at center mid under Lampard, especially since he delivered yet another Man of the Match performance from that position against the Red Devils.
Alternatively, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin back fit and ready to go, Frank Lampard could opt to switch to a 4-4-2 in which the aforementioned striker starts next to current incumbent Neal Maupay instead of replacing him, much like the Blues ended that defeat on Sunday.
I believe DCL’s aerial abilities and hold-up play could complement the Frenchman’s on-ball skill and link-up play to great effect in a partnership up top. McNeil or Iwobi could play on the wing opposite of Demarai Gray unless Lampard chooses to keep Iwobi in the center despite the switch to two instead of three in midfield. Which one of Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye would drop to the bench in that situation is an interesting conversation considering the latter’s poor performance on Sunday night. That’s definitely one to think about.
So with all that said, here’s how I would line Everton up if I were Frank Lampard on Saturday:
I’ve opted to stick with the 4-3-3 for the sake of continuity and the midfield battle. Obviously, my inclusion of Calvert-Lewin is under the assumption that the medical team determines he is fit to start, which is a real possibility considering the extra rest he had due to the postponed fixtures and the international break. Although I’m an advocate for not rushing him back (because we all saw how that went last season), it seems to me as if that has already been avoided. He has been given more than enough time to fully recover, including his exclusion from the Southampton game, and his energetic performance against United convinced me that he is ready and raring to go. That might not be the case, but if it is, I believe he has to start.
Maupay got bullied by Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez on Sunday night, and I don’t believe he’d get the better of Christian Romero or Eric Dier either. Everton will need to have an out-ball against Spurs, and Maupay simply cannot compete with Calvert-Lewin in that sense. Another reason for his inclusion is the fact that I’ve thrown McNeil straight back into the team, and his delectable crosses will have DCL licking his lips. Since McNeil’s arrival, I’ve said many times that we won’t see the best of him until he is able to play with Calvert-Lewin, and I think this game would be the perfect time to unleash that combination.
Elsewhere, I’ve decided to leave the midfield and defense unchanged. Although I am worried about Gueye’s recent sloppiness on the ball, I don’t think this is the time for Garner to make his full debut. The lad has never started a Premier League game full-stop, so throwing him in on the road against a dangerous Spurs team that currently sits 3rd in the table seems foolish.
Regarding the back-line, I’ve seen Evertonians on Twitter calling out for Mason Holgate to start at right-back this week. I don’t see a good reason for it. Lampard has been very vocal about his love for Seamus Coleman. The Everton boss even wrote a few paragraphs praising Coleman in Sunday’s matchday program. He said, “I was never in any doubt that Seamus would come in and perform when needed. He deserves a huge amount of credit for his unwavering commitment and level of performance.”
I find it hard to believe that Lampard would replace him before Patterson’s return, especially considering Holgate hasn’t really consistently played right-back since his West Brom days. It’s not like Coleman was particularly awful against United anyways.
And so, that is my team for the trip to Spurs. Would you make any changes? Let me know either in the comments below or on my Twitter @ParrettGost. I will be in the away end on Saturday and I’m very interested to see what Lampard elects to do. Hopefully, we will pick up a result regardless of whether my view on the situation aligns with his. Thanks for reading and Up the Toffees!