Everton travel to Southampton this weekend looking to extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League season, but Carlo Ancelotti will be forced to make changes to the side which drew with Liverpool in last weekend’s Merseyside Derby.
A reckless over-the-top foul on Thiago Alcantara from forward Richarlison saw the Brazilian shown a straight red card by referee Michael Oliver in the closing stages, ruling the 23-year-old out of Everton’s next three fixtures.
Richarlison has been in fine form this season with the Toffees’ joint-second-most assists (two) over five appearances, while contributing one goal and his side’s highest number of successful dribbles (16), second-most shots (16) and fourth-most key balls (four), per WhoScored.
Ancelotti will also be without captain Seamus Coleman after the Republic of Ireland international was forced off during the Merseyside Derby with a hamstring injury, while sensational summer signing James Rodriguez is a doubt after a knock sustained in a tackle with Virgil van Dijk.
With changes on the cards, then, here’s a potential starting line-up Ancelotti could favour against Southampton this Sunday…
Despite Jordan Pickford’s dangerous foul on Van Dijk which Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has insisted deserved a ban, the England international will start between the sticks on the south coast after Ancelotti stated his support.
“I think yes [Pickford should have been sent off],” said Hasenhuttl via quotes by the Daily Mail. “You cannot go like this into a duel. This is an absolutely disastrous tackle to be honest.”
Pickford has started each of Everton’s last 119 Premier League fixtures, having never missed a minute of top-flight action since his £30million move from Sunderland in 2017, and impressed Ancelotti with his focus in training this week.
“I don’t consider taking him out,” the Italian said, via quotes by The Guardian. “I saw him in training this week and he was focused, he put in a good performance in training and he was concentrated. This is what I want to see from a player.”
Everton’s line of defence will feature changes, however, with Coleman’s hamstring injury presenting Ben Godfrey with his first start since joining the Toffees in a £20m deal this summer.
“Yes, he’s going to play right-back [on Sunday],” Ancelotti stated, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo.
Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne will likely all retain their places in the starting line-up, with the England centre-half heading home Everton’s initial equaliser against Liverpool and the trio all helping the Blues to start the season with four wins from five.
Andre Gomes failed to impress during his time on the field against Liverpool last weekend, with the Portuguese only offering one key pass, one successful dribble from three attempts, and two tackles from three duels, per WhoScored.
However, with Ancelotti placing his trust in the midfielder to start against Liverpool immediately upon his return from injury, it can be expected that the Italian will favour an unchanged engine room with summer signings Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure stepping out to commence proceedings at St. Mary’s.
Allan has provided Everton’s most tackles (16) and second-most shots blocked (two) in the Premier League this term, per WhoScored, while Doucoure has provided their second-most interceptions (eight) and the highest number of successful dribbles (three) from the core of Ancelotti’s midfield.
With Richarlison suspended, Ancelotti has hinted that former Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi will step into the Everton starting line-up for his first top-flight kick-off since a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in July.
“Alex is a player who works hard,” Ancelotti told the Blues’ official website. “He is fast and with his quality, he can help the team be better in certain situations.”
Iwobi, described as an “unbelievable talent” by former Toffee Joseph Yobo earlier this year, has shown in his brief outings this term that he can offer Ancelotti a stand-in for Richarlison. He has averaged a higher number of big chances created per 90 minutes in the top-flight (0.86 to 0.23) and for key balls (1.71 to 0.94), per SofaScore.
Ancelotti also has concerns over Rodriguez’s involvement in Sunday’s trip to Southampton, but has stated that the Colombian is “not definitely out” and will undergo a late fitness test to see whether or not the former Real Madrid playmaker can feature, according to the Liverpool Echo’s Phil Kirkbride.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will once again lead the line for Everton upon their travels to the south coast, as the England international strives to score in six successive Premier League games and build on the seven already struck over the opening weeks.
Everton have won just once in their last four visits to St. Mary’s, coming in a 2-1 victory last November thanks to goals from Tom Davies and Richarlison.
AND in other news, Everton appear to have dodged a bullet in a £13.5m man courted by Marco Silva in 2019.
The post No Richarlison or Coleman, Iwobi returns: Predicted Everton XI vs Southampton first appeared on FootballFanCast.com.