It was another impressive performance from Everton at home last week, as Sean Dyche made it six points from a possible nine.
The only thing lacking, really, was a finishing touch to a swathe of chances created. But perhaps that’s unsurprising given that last week’s starting XI had scored a combined 15 league goals since the start of 2022 (for all clubs played for), with Conor Coady being the top scorer in that period with three goals (including one against Everton).
Anyway, we’re certainly not out of danger yet, but a win over a strong Aston Villa side will give us some breathing space.
So how will the Mighty Blues of Everton line up?
Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains out, so there is still no obvious solution to the goals problem.
But there is good news in that Amadou Onana is fit to play despite hobbling off with a knee problem last week.
James Garner and Nathan Patterson stepped up their recovery last week with some game time for the under-21s. However, Patterson has since suffered a minor setback, so won’t be available. Garner could, though, return to the squad.
Aside from that, just Andros Townsend remains out with Dyche saying: “His knee still needs a bit of care and a bit of time, with the workload on it”. With time starting to tick down on the season, one does wonder whether we’ll see him in a blue shirt again with his contract up in the summer.
EVERTON SQUAD AVAILABLE VS VILLA
Goalkeepers: Pickford, Begovic, Lonergan,
Defenders: Keane, Mina, Godfrey, Tarkowski, Holgate, Coady, Mykolenko, Coleman,
Patterson (INJURED), Vinagre, Welch
Midfielders: Doucoure, Iwobi, Davies, Onana, Gueye, Garner (DOUBT), Price
Townsend (INJURY), McNeil, Mills
Calvert-Lewin (INJURED), Maupay, Simms
Tactics and Formation
It’s hard to foresee any changes for this one after a solid showing last week.
Many fans will be calling for Ellis Simms to get the nod ahead of Maupay, but it doesn’t seem particularly likely with Dyche having praised Maupay’s Premier League know-how compared to Simms’ inexperience. Nevertheless, Simms would at least offer the Blues a significantly increased aerial threat.
Demarai Gray (our top scorer this season – let’s not forget) also deserves more minutes, but McNeil and Iwobi seem nailed on to start out wide at the moment. Their workrate also means Gray is unlikely to get a look-in unless desperately needed.
But I’d wager it will be the same team again.
It would be nice to see an attacking youngster or two (e.g. Stanley Mills and Isaac Price) make the bench, because it seems overkill to have four centre-backs on the bench once again.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Seamus Coleman – 9/10
Vitaliy Mykolenko - 10/10
James Tarkowski – 9/10
Conor Coady – 8/10
Amadou Onana – 8/10
Idrissa Gana Gueye – 9/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10
Alex Iwobi – 8/10
Dwight McNeil – 8/10
Neal Maupay – 8/10