Carlo Ancelotti must ruthlessly axe Bernard from the Everton starting line-up for Monday’s Premier League clash with top four rivals Chelsea.
The Toffees visit Stamford Bridge with a chance to move above Thomas Tuchel’s Blues in the race for Champions League qualification, having lost ground after the west Londoners’ 1-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday night.
Everton momentarily sat fourth after beating West Bromwich Albion thanks to a sole strike from Richarlison, after the Brazilian headed home his 12th goal of the season in all competitions by connecting with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s delivery.
Bernard had opened the midweek affair at The Hawthorns for only his third start of the Premier League campaign, as Ancelotti sought to afford Sigurdsson a rest after the Iceland playmaker featured in Monday night’s 1-0 win at home to Southampton.
Ancelotti was without summer signing James Rodriguez against Sam Allardyce’s relegation-threatened Baggies due to injury, and the Colombian remains a concern for Monday’s trip to the capital to face Tuchel’s high-flying Chelsea.
The Blues are unbeaten in their 10 games played under the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund head coach to date, winning seven and drawing three of all fixtures across all competitions since his appointment in January.
If the Toffees are to now deal Chelsea their first defeat under Tuchel, Ancelotti will have to axe Bernard, having seen the Brazilian maestro fail to offer anywhere near enough during his time on the field against West Brom.
While the intent was often there from Bernard on Thursday, his influence on proceedings was far too infrequent, and not much of what the £13.5m-rated midfielder attempted came off.
A January target for United Arab Emirates outfit Al Nasr, the Brazilian’s best moment of the match came late in the first half when he was involved in a nice piece of interplay with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin which would only result in Richarlison’s effort being deflected out for a corner.
Bernard can argue that he was not match-sharp, having only played 22 minutes of Premier League football since starting on New Year’s Day before featuring at The Hawthorns, but his display only served to prove why Ancelotti is seemingly reluctant to field the 28-year-old. He failed to pick out a team-mate from any of his crosses and gave the ball away 16 times, a figure exceeded by just one Everton player (via SofaScore).
Sigurdsson, in contrast, made his impact tell from the off after replacing Doucoure in the 64th minute, with the former Swansea City playmaker providing the delivery for Richarlison’s goal and earning Ancelotti’s praise post-game.
“I think when he came in, we changed the system on the pitch, we played with a diamond,” the Italian said, via quotes from the Liverpool Echo’s Adam Jones. “When Sigurdsson came in, he played his game, he played 30 minutes with confidence.”
Ancelotti will need that confidence from all of his players at Stamford Bridge if Everton are to beat Chelsea, and Bernard will not be expected to offer it.