Everton predicted lineup vs Leeds: £35 million man starts, James, DCL and Richarlison upfront

(Photo by ANDY RAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by ANDY RAIN/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Everton (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) /

Niels Nkounkou is expected to cover for injured Lucas Digne.

Right-Back: Ben Godfrey

Classing Godfrey as a right-back in this new Ancelotti system is quite misleading, in reality, Godfrey is actually part of a back three and he moves over to right-back when Everton’s right-wing back pushes forward. Godfrey played quite well against Fulham in this role and seemed much more composed in the centre than he did while being pushed out to a more natural right-back role.

People may bring up that Godfrey gave away the penalty, but giving away that penalty was the right decision because the young Englishmen would rather give away a penalty, knowing Fulham have a poor penalty record, instead of giving Loftus-Cheek a one on one with Pickford. Now there’s always a chance that Godfrey lunged in as a last resort, but it’s best to trust the newest addition to our defence instead of forcing unnecessary blame onto him.

The former Norwich man showed his athleticism with his ability to drive up the field and play a pass since it’s clear Ben is a very talented passer of the ball, and playing two athletic centre-backs in between Michael Keane is probably the best choice as more mobile defenders are becoming the norm and Everton need to follow that or else they will be punished by the sheer amount of pace that forwards have in modern football.

Centre-Back: Michael Keane

It only just makes sense to talk about the player I just mentioned, but Michael Keane is one of the first names on the team-sheet for Everton due to his fantastic performances this season.

For some strange reason, a lot of Everton fans have been slandering Keane for the number of goals the Blues have conceded this season, but in reality, a lot of those defeats would be so much worse without Big Mick commanding our defence.

Keane clearly tries to lead the defence but the communication issues between him and Mina have caused multiple problems at the back, with most of the problems coming from the Colombian. I’ve mentioned multiple times that I believe Keane is going to be a vital mentor to Ben Godfrey and he’s on track to have a similar season that lead to the Toffees signing the former Manchester United academy graduate from Burnley.

Injury update. Massive Everton blow as Digne faces weeks out. light

Centre-Back: Mason Holgate

As I previously mentioned, Keane needs athletic centre-backs besides him to allow the former Burnley to stick to his position, where he can pick out passes without much pressure while also leading his centre-back partner, and in my opinion Mason Holgate is the perfect partner for Keane.

Holgate is an obvious athlete, he’s a former defensive midfielder and also has experience playing right-back, making him a great choice to play in a back three since he has the ability to cover out wide. He’s got clear potential to be one of the better defenders in the Premier League, with his versatility and ball-playing ability he could be at the top of the league for years as long as he can avoid injury.

Speaking of injury, that’s been Holgate’s big problem recently, the 24-year old hasn’t been able to get into Ancelotti’s side since his return against Manchester United due to his performance in that game, he looked fatigued and it was clear he wasn’t ready to be starting, but now he’s had a few weeks to train and an international break to rest, there’s no way Ancelotti can keep somebody as talented as Holgate on the bench much longer before it starts to cause unrest with the fanbase.

I also think he’s still the safer choice than Mina because I believe Ancelotti will stick with this back three until he can bring in somebody like Isco in January to play that more attacking central midfield role, so Holgate won’t be forced to man-mark by himself, he’ll be helped by Godfrey which will also ease him back into his starting role since he has two other centre-backs to minimise any mistakes he may have due to his lack of playing time since his injury.

Left-Back: Niels Nkounkou

Due to Digne’s unfortunate injury, youngster Nkounkou is going to be given another bite of the cherry in the Everton starting eleven. Niels impressed massively in pre-season and in the Carabao Cup, this lead to him getting the start when Digne was suspended against Newcastle.

The problem is that the 20-year old seemed to struggle against Newcastle, he was able to burst forward, but when he got into those attacking positions we’re so used to seeing Digne in, he would make some extremely erratic decisions but that’s something that can be ironed out of his game with more opportunities.

I believe this is a good matchup for the Frenchman, he’s incredibly quick and is able to get down the line much quicker than Digne can, this can give Everton an extra danger in attack, since Nkounkou will be able to perform that overlap with Richarlison much quicker which could put Leeds in some very dangerous situations.

Due to Niels being deployed more as a left-wing back he also has much more freedom to show this attacking ability, he’ll have 3 centre-backs covering for him which means he’ll be able to bomb forward and contribute to the Everton attack which is when he’s at his best.

Everton have to hope that they can iron out any defence issues because Nkounkou will be the starting left-back for another two months, which means Ancelotti has to get the most out of him, which personally guarantees the continuation of this tactic Ancelotti as developed.

Nkounkou has great recovery speed and clearly plays for the badge, so he will get back and defend, the only problem is will he be fit enough to play like that for 90 minutes?