You’ve had a summer to unwind and unEverton.
But the Blues are back. And now it’s time to see what Frank Lampard is all about as he tries to mould this Everton side into his desired image.
So how will the Mighty Blues of Everton line up against Chelsea?
Unfortunately it’s a fair old list of absentees to start the season.
The Blues have no recognised striker on the books with Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee injury) and Salomon Rondon (suspended) both unavailable, while Ellis Simms and Lewis Dobbin have already been shipped out on loan. The only option would be for Thomas Cannon to get a call-up from the under-21s – but it will be at most for a spot on the bench.
Tom Davies and Andre Gomes are also both out with knocks, while Andros Townsend is still a fair way from being available.
But there a few surprising returning players, although they may not be ready to start…
Seamus Coleman is “fit” again, but will play for the under-21s on Friday night to get up to speed on match fitness, so he definitely won’t start on Saturday, but it’s possible the club captain may be included on the bench.
Yerry Mina is fit to play, while Allan is available but isn’t considered fully match fit so will likely settle for a place on the bench.
Asmir Begovic is also “just about fit”, so we’ll see if he’s on the bench.
EVERTON SQUAD AVAILABLE VS CHELSEA
Goalkeepers: Pickford, Begovic, Lonergan, Crellin
Defenders: Keane, Mina, Godfrey, Tarkowski, Holgate, Mykolenko, Coleman, Patterson, Vinagre, Nkounkou, Mills
Midfielders: Allan, Doucoure, Iwobi,
Gomes (INJURY), Dele, Davies (INJURY), Gbamin, Warrington
Wingers: Gray, Gordon,
Townsend (INJURY), McNeil
Calvert-Lewin (INJURY), Rondon (SUSPENDED)
Tactics and Formation
The pessimists will call it a 5-4-1, the optimists will call it a 3-4-3. They’re both kind of right.
But whatever you want to call it, Everton will be playing with three centre-backs, with James Tarkowski on the right and Ben Godfrey on the left of Yerry Mina or Michael Keane (depending on whether Lampard will opt to protect the perennially injured Mina).
Nathan Patterson will finally get his chance at right wing-back and needs a big performance to cement his position for when Coleman is fit to return, and Vitalii Mykolenko will be at left wing-back. In midfield, I’m expecting a duo of Doucoure and Iwobi, based on the Kyiv friendly, with Allan not quite fit to start.
Up top, the most likely option will be Dele as a false nine (again, based on the Kyiv game), with Anthony Gordon and Dwight McNeil to start either side of him. That is unless Lampard decides to utilise the latter duo or Demarai Gray as a makeshift striker.
One real issue that the Blues will face is that with five subs now available, the Blues won’t even be able to cobble together five senior outfield players on the bench out of the nine allowed. The same certainly won’t be the case for Chelsea, who couldn’t even be bothered to give shirt numbers to Ampadu, Kenedy, Gilmour, Batshuayi and a certain Ross Barkley.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Nathan Patterson – 9/10
James Tarkowski – 10/10
Michael Keane – 7/10
Could be Mina if he’s deemed fit enough.
Ben Godfrey – 9/10
Vitaliy Mykolenko – 10/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10
Alex Iwobi – 9/10
Anthony Gordon – 9/10
On the left.
Dele – 8/10
Dwight McNeil – 7/10
Surely has to start on the right after his eye-catching debut in a Blue shirt last week.