Following back-to-back defeats Everton were thrown back into the relegation zone, despite having played a game more than the four teams around them.
The Blues might even start this game bottom-of-the-table if both AFC Bournemouth and Southampton can pick up results on Saturday.
Despite a significant improvement in performances from Lampard’s era, Everton remain in real peril. And the problem is clear as day: there is no player that offers a goalscoring threat.
So, how will Dyche line up his Blues with a vital three points up for grabs?
It seems like Everton’s survival hopes rest on the brittle frame of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The relatively good news is that Dyche said he is “recovering and getting strong” and said “we’ll see” whether he’ll be ready for Sunday.
DCL is wisely being eased back in slowly, so if he is considered fit enough, it will surely see him start from the bench anyway.
James Garner played 84 minutes for the under-21s in midweek and might return to the squad, while Nathan Patterson completed 64 minutes, but isn’t being considered ready yet. Seamus Coleman was wisely withdrawn at Arsenal to give him some rest for this more important battle.
Andros Townsend the only other absentee.
EVERTON SQUAD AVAILABLE VS FOREST
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 (INJURED), McNeil, Mills
Attackers: Calvert-Lewin (DOUBT), Maupay, Simms
Tactics and Formation
Everton have played very well in every game under Dyche… until the opposition scores. At which point, the Toffees offer up their all too familiar white flag.
That leaves us with a bit of a dilemma: do we continue with this system that sees us put in excellent performances, but goal threat being a clear weakness. Admittedly that’s a personnel issue rather than a tactical one, but at some point we need to consider how we can muster a goal – even if that means a reshuffle.
It’s been a 4-1-4-1 throughout Dyche’s time so far, but a simpleton like myself does wonder whether a 4-4-2 headed by Simms and Maupay could increase our threat in front of goal.
And after being hooked at half-time following a dreadful error, Idrissa Gueye is likely to be left out of this one anyway. But will it see the shape change or Mason Holgate or Tom Davies come in for him?
In defence, the big question is who will partner James Tarkowski? Michael Keane got a rare start in midweek but hardly excelled. Conor Coady’s lack of pace has been exposed too much recently too, so Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey or Mason Holgate might also get a shot.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana will start in midfield, but the question is whether they’ll have a midfield anchor (Holgate, Davies or Gueye), or be required to sit a little deeper in favour of an extra body in front of them.
Demarai Gray is a player who deserves more minutes – especially considering he is the Everton top scorer this season (admittedly, that’s just five goals). He does offer a far greater goal threat than Alex Iwobi, at least.
Up top, Maupay and/or Simms. If Simms starts, he’ll likely lead the line with Maupay dropping a little deeper into a number 10 role in what might be more akin to a 4-4-1-1.
It all comes down to this - does Dyche gamble against an opponent who is more Everton’s level, or will he stick to his conservative principles and forego a goalscoring threat?
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Seamus Coleman – 9/10
Vitaliy Mykolenko - 10/10
James Tarkowski – 9/10
Ben Godfrey – 7/10
Amadou Onana – 9/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10
Demarai Gray – 6/10
Dwight McNeil – 9/10
Neal Maupay – 7/10
Ellis Simms – 6/10
Idrissa Gana Gueye