Is Burnley a must win match for Everton and Silva

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Seamus Coleman of Everton shoots wide during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Burnley FC at Goodison Park on May 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Seamus Coleman of Everton shoots wide during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Burnley FC at Goodison Park on May 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /

After three straight league defeats and eight goals conceded, this weekend’s Premier League game at Burnley is a vital one for Everton and perhaps most importantly for manager Marco Silva.

There is plenty of talk at the moment about whether Silva can survive and whether Everton can make anything of this season yet again.

Although I’ve written that I’m unconvinced Silva is the long-term answer, I also can’t see the club sacking him anytime soon. Nor does that make sense, just yet.

But given the wretched run of results the Blues have been on, this Saturday’s trip to Turf Moor seems to be quite critical to the future of the both the team and manager.

It will be increasingly difficult for Silva to face down demands for his job if the Toffees lose, especially if it’s a big defeat.

At the start of the season, looking at the Toffees opening set of fixtures, there seemed a great chance for the team to get off to a good start and generate some real momentum in their campaign.

As we know that hasn’t happened, (did we ever really believe it would!), and after a succession of immensely frustrating defeats, Everton find themselves languishing in the bottom half of the table and struggling.

Defeat at Burnley won’t define the season for sure. However it could possibly leave the Blues in the bottom three and in such a situation that would test the wavering patience of many Evertonians to the limit.

This game is probably the last Everton need at the moment. Burnley are a difficult, physical and awkward side who seem to be finding some form. After a slow start the Clarets are unbeaten in their last three games.

Not perhaps the most attractive or glamorous of clubs, their brand of challenging and direct football will certainly be difficult for the Toffees often fragile defence. A defence that has returned to the kind of erratic set-piece defending that underlines so much of their ability to win games.

In particular Burnley’s front two of Chris Woods and Ashley Barnes, while not the most technical accomplished and subtle of strike partnerships, provide plenty of physicality and a genuine goal scoring threat.

So Everton’s central defence pairing of Michael Keane and Yerry Mina will have to be focussed and diligent for the full 90 minutes.

In addition Jordan Pickford has to produce an error-free game after his recent lapses, particularly in the defeat to Sheffield United.

While the Blues defence seems pretty settled, there are as usual plenty of questions surrounding who will start in midfield and up front.

It seems that Andre Gomes is back and so presumably he will return to partner Fabian Delph.

I think Delph will be very important on Saturday. He can give a steading influence and his defensive qualities and experience will help ensure Everton can get some grip on the game in midfield as well as protect the defence.

It’s probably likely that Silva will go with Gylfi Sigurdsson in the number 10-type position, but I want to see Alex Iwobi playing there.

Iwobi is a very different type of deeper lying forward to the Icelandic international. While Sigurdsson is a more conventional, deliberate player getting on the ball and pinging passes and crosses in, Iwobi offers the pace, power and drive to run with the ball and attack the opposing defence.

For me that’s what I want to see from this position, especially as Iwobi’s driving runs create space and opportunities for the other forwards. He also gets beyond the centre-forward regularly, something Everton’s forwards need to do much more of.

Talking of those forwards it’s crucial that Richarlison and Bernard, (who I think should start on the left), get beyond the striker as much as possible.

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As to who that centre-forward should be, I reckon Dominic Calvert-Lewin has done enough in the last few game to start again having led the line reasonably well and scoring twice in recent games.

In addition Calvert-Lewin’s work off the ball and ability to occupy the opposing defenders will be an important aspect.

Well I’ve pretty much given up making a prediction about Everton’s games, but I’m really hoping that the Blues can produce the right performance and come away with a three points that are badly needed.