Thankfully, the insane run of games over the late Christmas period are over.
While they’re somewhat enjoyable, the incredible drop-off in the quality of football is noticeable, and only strengthens the argument for a winter break. I still believe the ideal solution is to essentially copy the NFL, and give teams ‘bye weeks’ where, say, four teams out of the 20 in the League will not play, and that alternates over five weeks in order both to keep a tradition of British Christmas football going, but also to give players the rest time to keep the quality of football up.
But anyhow, that decision can be made by people on more money than I am. I’m here to talk about Everton, and all the joy that entails.
There still isn’t any doubt we’re in a horrid run of form, and a lucky win against Lincoln City will do nothing to aid that, as they were the better team for large portions of that game.
We need a big win against a good side, and that’s where Bournemouth come in.
A loss here and the pressure on Mr Silva from those who already aren’t too happy will become even greater.
GK - Jordan Pickford
Without a real second option in goal, Jordan is going to need to play himself out of his poor run.
RB - Jonjoe Kenny
Jonjoe still remains the best option we have at the right-back spot, and a good perfomance last time out against Lincoln will do nothing to harm his chances.
CB - Kurt Zouma
Bournemouth’s front 4 is very dangerous, and with Zouma looking as shaky as he did against Lincoln, he will need to shake that performance off.
In other news, if we really are interested in Michy Batshuayi, then making Zouma’s deal permanent and acquiring the striker on loan may not be the worst thing.
CB - Michael Keane
Michael Keane is re-introduced after a week’s breather, and needs to solidify a defense that has looked good at times, but poor more often
LB - Lucas Digne
Lucas Digne gets the nod over Leighton Baines at left back, which wouldn’t have been as outlandish a few weeks ago, but with Leighton Baines’ exceptional performance at the weekend, he may yet have some competition.
CM - Leighton Baines
With just how good Leighton Baines is, there is no way he can stay out of the side. Marco Silva is willing to experiment, we all want to see it, so why not try Leighton Baines in the middle of the park. We get his defensive ability without the poor positional play, and he is one of the best players on the ball at the club.
If he can perform here, then we have no need for Gana and his limitations.
If Leighton Baines can play out his twilight years controlling the game from the middle of the park, like the dream we always had for him, I can’t imagine a more fitting end to a career for a true Everton icon.
CM - André Gomes
André Gomes hasn’t taken over as many games as he did towards the start of his Everton career, but he is still the best pure passer of the ball that we can put out, and he is a real calming influence against a team that loves to hurry and press.
RW - Ademola Lookman
Ademola is climbing his way up the ranks out wide, both because he is impressing, but also because his compatriots are not. Theo Walcott is suffering as the team is suffering, Bernard, while truly gifted, has been inconsistent, Nikola Vlasic is absent and loud, and Richarlison is still in striker-winger limbo.
Ademola starts, and needs a run in the side.
AM - Gylfi Sigurdsson
Gylfi Sigurdsson needs to up his game. He is great when everything is going well and he has the luxury of time on the ball, but he needs to impose his will on the games where everything isn’t rosy, which is often the case at the moment.
LW - Bernard
Bernard’s first Everton goal may give him some confidence going forward, so he plays out wide on Sunday.
ST - Richarlison
DCL disappointed against Lincoln, a game that he could’ve really made his own. He started brightly, but very quickly fell off as Lincoln grew into the game.
We need players who can change the game when it isn’t going our way, and Richarlison is one of them. Bournemouth are not the most physical team, so he will be able to enjoy a bit more freedom than against Brighton, for example.