Carlo Ancelotti should ruthlessly axe Yerry Mina from the Everton starting line-up as the Colombian centre-half may actually hold his side back against Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Toffees travel to the Amex Stadium on Monday night striving to regain ground in the race for European football, after a run of three defeats and a draw left the Merseysiders eight points down on fourth-placed West Ham.
Ancelotti’s men hold at least two games in hand over each side above them in the Premier League standings ahead of their south coast trip, which can see the Blues move to within a point of fifth-placed Chelsea.
Mina opened Everton’s last top-flight fixture in the heart of a three-man centre-back core alongside Mason Holgate and Michael Keane, but was unable to prevent Michy Batshuayi from scoring an 86th-minute equaliser for Crystal Palace.
The Goodison Park natives had appeared in control for much of the game and were set to win only their sixth league game on home soil this term after a 56th-minute strike from James Rodriguez, as the Colombian returned from a calf injury.
But the Eagles rallied in the closing stages and made their surge of late pressure count when Batshuayi combined with Jeffrey Schlupp before firing past Robin Olsen, to see that Everton were punished for poor performances from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Ancelotti cannot afford to see his side be punished in the same manner at Brighton if Everton are to qualify for a UEFA competition this season, so must alter his line-up to be aggressive and attacking in hopes of snapping the Toffees’ torrid run of form.
Mina is likely to be the victim of Ancelotti’s need for offensive changes, having been the least involved of the Italian’s centre-backs against Crystal Palace irrespective of his vocal presence and an important block to deny Wilfried Zaha in the early stages.
While Holgate attempted four tackles, winning three, and Michael Keane took possession with each of his two challenges, Mina only attempted to and won the ball once, per WhoScored.
He also offered no interceptions while Keane snuffed out two Palace moves, while Holgate split the Eagles’ defence with a precise lofted through ball to Calvert-Lewin that deserved a better finish.
Calvert-Lewin has now scored just once in his last six Premier League appearances and Richarlison has failed to find the back of the net since a run of four in four games came to an end in early March.
Ancelotti cannot afford to see neither of his strikers flourish at Brighton, where Leicester City had to leave it late to seal a 2-1 win last month after heading to the Amex without a number of players including key forwards Harvey Barnes and James Maddison.
It meant the Foxes had to live off scraps as they struggled for creativity, a prospect Everton could face if Ancelotti decides to be defensive in his team selection by starting Mina again.
The defender may feel hard done by to fall out of the line-up having not put a foot wrong against Crystal Palace, but the Toffees’ desperation for a positive result must come first for Ancelotti.