A half-decent, unbeaten pre-season, our key striker returning to fitness and an exciting young target man just signed up. Everton had turned a corner. We should beat Fulham.
And then the team news came: Neal Maupay up top, no Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the squad. The player was reportedly still not fully fit, and his partner gave birth to their first child overnight.
Pre-match optimism turned to pessimism. The worry? Where will a goal come from?
The reality? Exactly that.
Everton put in, for the most part, a good performance and created a host of chances. They – surprisingly to no Evertonian – scored none of the them. Despite not being deemed fit enough to claim a place on the bench for even a late cameo, DCL then completed 90 minutes in a friendly just three days later.
I’m fully behind protecting him and building up his fitness, but to not have him on the bench in that situation so that we could throw him on for the final 10 minutes is perplexing. Just as is the decision to have Tom Cannon on the bench and not get a single minute as we desperately needed a goal and showed no sign of getting one late on.
Anyway… a new week and a new disappointment inevitably awaits us.
The only certain absentees are Dwight McNeil, Seamus Coleman and Dele, while Andre Gomes is unlikely to feature with a slight niggle in his calf.
Arnaut Danjuma and Vitalii Mykolenko are still building up their fitness so will probably start on the bench.
Demarai Gray looks like he’s off having not featured whatsoever since returning from international duty, while Mason Holgate seems to be in a similar spot.
Dyche says DCL “comes straight back into the thinking” after completing 90 minutes on Tuesday. Surely, he’ll be in the squad. Surely.
New signing Youssef Chermiti also completed 45 minutes in the friendly, although Dyche has cautioned that he’ll need time to adapt to the English game. It would be great to see him on the bench and get a few minutes, but Dyche is very conservative in such matters so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not involved at all. Just look at what happened to El Bilal Toure at Atalanta.
We should have a few options up top at least… but let’s not rule out Maupay starting up top on his own again.
EVERTON SQUAD AVAILABLE VS VILLA
Goalkeepers: Pickford, Begovic, Lonergan,
Defenders: Keane, Godfrey, Branthwaite, Tarkowski,
Holgate (LIMBO), Mykolenko, Coleman (INJURED), Patterson, Young
Midfielders: Doucoure, Iwobi, Onana, Gueye, Garner, Onyango, Gomes (DOUBT)
Gray (LIMBO), McNeil, Danjuma, Dobbin
Attackers: Calvert-Lewin, Maupay, Chermiti (DOUBT), Cannon
Tactics and Formation
As I say, Everton created plenty of chances last week and the performance was generally good – although heads definitely dropped after Fulham scored and we never really looked like coming back.
That said, there’s no need for the setup to change much – just a change of bodies in the final third of the pitch.
The big question is whether DCL will start or come off from the bench. Tough call but I think he might start. It will be difficult to bring him off after 60 minutes if we’re in need of a goal though.
Would be great to see Jarrad Branthwaite get a start, but we’ll probably have to be patient on that front too.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Nathan Patterson – 9/10
Ashley Young - 9/10
James Tarkowski – 10/10
Michael Keane – 7/10
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 9/10
Idrissa Gana Gueye – 8/10
Amadou Onana - 8/10
James Garner – 8/10
Alex Iwobi – 8/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 6/10