This isn’t necessarily a “must-win” fixture, but Everton simply cannot afford to lose to Burnley on Wednesday night.
The Blues are currently three points clear of Watford in 18th (who have played two games more) and are four points clear of Burnley (who’ve play the same amount of games). Obviously, we desperately want to win this game, but a defeat would be catastrophic, and would move Burnley with just a point of the Blues with a marginally better goal difference.
So how will Frank Lampard line-up his desperate Toffees?
Michael Keane is now suspended alongside Allan, although both will be available to face Manchester United at the weekend.
Donny van de Beek is also out after suffering a minor thigh injury in Sunday’s warm-up and will also be unavailable against United anyway. Yerry Mina isn’t ready to return yet, so the Blues are also short in defence.
Fortunately, Fabian Delph is making his quarterly return in timely fashion. The Blues are threadbare in midfield so he’ll could be prematurely thrust into the line-up – unless Andre Gomes can be trusted to operate in a two alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure. Let’s not forget that if Delph can stay fit, he is a useful player – as evidenced when he completed his latest “return” in a 2-1 defeat to Wolves in November and was probably our MOTM in the second half. Unfortunately, he’s been available for just 39% of league games since he joined the club.
There’s also bad news regarding Nathan Patterson who’s been ruled out for the rest of the season and requires surgery on an ankle injury that he picked up the day before he was set to make his Premier League debut.
Seamus Coleman is fit again.
EVERTON SQUAD AVAILABLE VS BURNLEY
Goalkeepers: Pickford, Begovic, Lonergan
Keane (SUSPENSION), Mina (INJURY), Godfrey, Holgate, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Coleman, Kenny, Patterson (INJURY)
Allan (SUSPENSION), Doucoure, Delph (INJURY), Gomes (INJURY), Alli, van de Beek (INJURY), Davies (INJURY)
Wingers: Gray, Gordon,
Townsend (INJURY), Iwobi, El Ghazi
Attackers: Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Rondon, Tosun, Dobbin
Tactics and Formation
Hands are tied somewhat for this one, with only two experienced centre backs available and a real shortage in midfield – which makes it more likely that Frank will stick with a back four, unless he plays Coleman at right centre-back with Kenny at wing-back.
In midfield, Fabian Delph would ideally start – but it’s undoubtedly a massive risk given his fitness issues, but Everton’s desperation is such that he will likely get the nod next to Abdoulaye Doucoure.
I’d hoped to see Dele start in attacking midfield last weekend, but that wasn’t to be once again. He may have been saving him for this one, although Alex Iwobi was impressive in that role apart from one costly mistake. If he doesn’t start here, maybe he never will.
Anthony Gordon should return to the line-up here.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Seamus Coleman – 7/10
Mason Holgate – 9/10
Ben Godfrey – 10/10
Vitaliy Mykolenko – 6/10
Could also be Jonjoe Kenny at left-back if it’s a back four.
Fabian Delph - 8/10
It’s either Delph or youngster Isaac Price makes his debut.
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 10/10
Anthony Gordon – 8/10
Dele Alli – 5/10
If not now, when?
Richarlison – 10/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 9/10