New Everton boss Dyche could hardly face tougher first test

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Vitaliy Mykolenko #19 of Everton and Hector Bellerin #2 of Arsenal battle for the ball during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Vitaliy Mykolenko #19 of Everton and Hector Bellerin #2 of Arsenal battle for the ball during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Well, here we go again as the Premier League returns this weekend with Everton hosting Arsenal in Sean Dyche’s first match as manager.

Dyche could hardly face a sterner test in his first game as Everton boss as his Toffees’ team hosts Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime.

And of course, he faces the top team without a single reinforcement added to his squad after the Blues’ disasterous transfer window of ineptitude and failure.

Everton can’t even attract a free agent player who has just been plying his trade in the Middle East leagues, hardly the most demanding in World football.

I’m not saying Andre Ayew was a player we should certainly have signed, but it’s still a situation that underlines the dire state of affairs.

It’s a truly terrible and desperately embarassing situation and one that fills me with an almost overwhelming sense of depression and doom about the future of this club.

The people will all know who are in charge are running the club into the ground and until they are gone I can’t see any hope for positive change.

Sean Dyche of course can’t influence that now and all he can do is try and find a way to get more out of this current group of players for the remainder of the season.

And now he is preparing for a clash with the league leaders at Goodison Park without the bounce of any new players to augment his meagre attacking resources.

The Blues’ owner and board have left Dyche depending on a hugely injury-prone centre-forward in Dominic Calvert-Lewin who has spent much of the last two seasons on the sidelines.

His only other main central striker is a young and relatively inexperienced player in Ellis Simms and Neal Maupay who has proved to be a real misfit since his summer signing.

Of course the Toffees’ also let another of their attacking players go when Anthony Gordon moved to Newcastle United just before the window shut.

All this means that the new manager has even fewer attacking options than his predecessor Frank Lampard.

So, who will he pick and how might they line up tomorrow lunchtime?

Despite the fact that there is a sense that we know Dyche and his tactical approach but as many have been reminding us, he’s actually a more subtle coach than might at first appear.

In fact when you look at how his first Everton team might line up there are a lot of questions about all his potential player picks.

For example, will he stick with Conor Coady and James Tarkowski at centre-back or possibly bring Yerry Mina in? And, if Michael Keane was fully fit he might have re-united him with his former Burnley partner Tarkowski, we will see whether that happens later on I suppose.

There’s also a chance Dyche might try something one of his predecessor’s Carlo Ancelotti did, play Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey at full-back.

Dyche also generally in the past has used two defensive-orientated central midfielders to cover and protect his back four. The obvious choice would be Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye.

But, Gueye has been in dreadful form recently with some seriously wayward performances and so is there a case for giving Abdoulaye Doucoure a role alongside Onana?

True, their very similar tall and atheltic box-to-box players, and Doucoure hasn’t exactly been tearing up trees himself this season when he has played.

But, apparently he recently fell out of favour with Lampard, so he might be really raring to go and impress his new manager with a disciplined effort in the centre of the park.

Then when it comes to who might play in the wide positions, again there are a number of uncertainties.

For example is Dwight McNeil going to get another sustained chance now that his former Burnley boss is the new Blues’ manager?

McNeil has appeared to criticise Dyche in the past, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the player.

On the other flank will Dyche go with Alex Iwobi who has operated on the wings in the past or Demarai Gray, talented but hugely inconsistent.

Getting the best out of him and regular goal too, may well be a key to whether Dyche can keep this team up.

If Gray plays wide then could Ellis Simms start up front alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin (if he’s fit enough to play) or will Neal Maupay get a second chance?

That’s a lot of questions and uncertainties to answer! Of course we will begin to find out tomorrow.

Can Everton get a new manager bounce and somehow find a very unlikely win against Arsenal? I seriously doubt it, but a point perhaps might not be impossible.

If Dyche gets the team right, the players really perform and do their jobs properly and the crowd (whose response to all this recent madness is an unknown factor) is raucous and vocal and Arsenal are poor, a victory is maybe just possible. I’m sure stranger things have happened..?