Carlo Ancelotti faces several crucial decisions over his Everton line-up to face Chelsea after confirming star midfielder James Rodriguez will miss Saturday night’s encounter through injury.
The Colombian sustained a blow during last week’s 1-1 draw at Burnley that prevented him from training throughout the week, and will sit out the visit of Ancelotti’s former employer as the Italian is loath to risk the 29-year-old.
Rodriguez now joins Seamus Coleman, Lucas Digne and Fabian Delph in being sidelined through injuries, leaving Ancelotti with several gaps to plug as he bids to stop the rot that has seen Everton win just once in their last seven top-flight fixtures.
So, with that in mind, here’s a potential line-up Everton could favour when they host title-chasing Chelsea at Goodison Park on Saturday…
Jordan Pickford has come under criticism at times this season following blunders against Brighton and Liverpool, but the goalkeeper impressed at Burnley to prove to his doubters that he can be relied upon to keep Everton in games with a string of pivotal saves.
Ben Godfrey also stood up to the test at Turf Moor after slotting in at left-back to replace Delph when the former Manchester City midfielder limped off with a hamstring strain early into the first-half, and will be expected to be fielded in the role at home to Chelsea.
The central defender’s move to full-back will likely see Iwobi continue at right-back after an impressive showing against Burnley, featuring three successful tackles, an interception, two key balls, 10 attempted crosses and a whopping 102 touches, per SofaScore.
News of Rodriguez’s absence has forced Ancelotti into changing Everton’s system for the visit of Chelsea to Goodison Park, with the former Blues boss left searching for solutions with his side now without their two-most creative options in the Colombian and Digne who boast 25 and 16 key balls respectively.
“James is a fantastic player for us, he did really well at the beginning and had some problems after the game against Liverpool. But we have to be, and we will be, able to adapt. We have a good squad, we are going to play a little bit different,” said Ancelotti, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo’s Adam Jones.
Ancelotti’s search for answers will likely see the Italian turn back to a 4-3-3 formation with Gylfi Sigurdsson, whom he lauds as a “great professional”, joining Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure in the engine room.
Andre Gomes entered the action at Burnley to replace Delph as Ancelotti shifted his line-up away from its initial 3-4-3 shape, yet struggled to leave a positive impression on proceedings while Sigurdsson later came off the bench and instantly offered a more evident attacking presence.
Rodriguez’s absence will likely see Ancelotti move Richarlison to the right-wing against Chelsea with Bernard returning to the starting line-up for only the second time this season in the Premier League, having been favoured on the left at home to Manchester United.
Ancelotti is not blessed with an array of forward options and may feel the challenge of facing a title-chasing Chelsea is too big of a task for academy graduate Anthony Gordon, who has played just 32-minutes of top-flight action thus far this term.