Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has given some updates on who is available and who’s certainly injured for tomorrow’s Merseyside derby.
The Everton boss has been speaking about the team and providing updates on which players are now available and who is definitely ruled out of Sunday’s game.
Ancelotti said that both Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph are certainly out and unavailable for selection having failed to recover from their injuries. He also confirmed he will be playing a 4-4-2 formation.
It seems very likely that the Italian manager would have selected both Mina and Delph to start if they had been fit so their absence is a blow to his plans.
Mina’s injury is particularly vexing as he has probably been the Blues best and most consistent defender this season. So given his absence, it’s most likely that Michael Keane will partner Mason Holgate in the centre of the Toffees defence, unless Ancelotti springs a real surprise.
That surprise could include putting Holgate in midfield alongside the fit again Andre Gomes, and playing a youngster like Jarrad Branthwaite in central defence. I would imagine that’s unlikely though, given Branthwaite’s inexperience and the magnitude of the match on Sunday.
Gomes being available is obviously a boost for the Toffees ahead of the game. The big question is who will start alongside him?
This is a really difficult question to answer. I would on balance probably prefer to see Tom Davies play with the Portuguese rather than Gylfi Sigurdsson or Morgan Schneiderlin, who I believe would better suit a three-man midfield.
Davies, despite his limitations, will hopefully offer a bit more bite and energy in the centre than the Icelandic midfielder who has been very frustrating and in such indifferent form this term.
Either side of them, again, Ancelotti has more questions than answers. With Walcott’s likely absence, I would play Djibril Sidibe on the right with Bernard starting on the left hand side.
Again, this isn’t a perfect solution at all. However, Sidibe would offer real pace and creativity on the right flank and Bernard like to tucks in, works hard defensively and would give left-back Lucas Digne the room to overlap while reviving their effective partnership on that side of the field.
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Importantly these two French players can try and expose that weakness in Liverpool’s team I talked about yesterday; the space behind their full-backs.
It would mean Seamus Coleman playing right-back. While the Irishman isn’t the same player he once was, he does have better defensive nous than Sidibe and plenty of experience too.
In addition if Digne is spending a lot of time overlapping, Everton can shift into a makeshift back three with Holgate comfortably able to move over and cover the left side.
This is something Ancelotti’s Blues side has done before quite effectively. It’s important too that the Toffees offer more than just defensive resilience and try to take the game to their opponents whenever they can.
Well anyway we only have another day to wonder who exactly will be pulling on the royal blue shirt to take on the old enemy come 7 pm on Sunday.