Everton see in the New Year at home to West Ham United on Friday night with a chance to move second in the Premier League standings with a 10th win of the season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees go into the game well-rested after seeing Monday night’s clash with Manchester City postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Sky Blues camp, having otherwise been forced to play twice in 48 hours with a threadbare squad.
West Ham were held to a goalless draw at Southampton on Tuesday night, and will now travel to Merseyside to face an Everton side which is due to welcome a clutch of key players back into the fold following injuries.
So, with changes on the cards from the Blues XI which beat Sheffield United on Boxing Day, here’s a potential line-up Ancelotti may name at home to David Moyes’ Hammers…
Jordan Pickford recorded his third clean sheet of the Premier League season at Bramall Lane last time out, and will be pushing to earn a 14th appearance of the campaign at home to West Ham.
Ancelotti is likely to favour retaining the core of the Everton line-up which edged a nervy win over Chris Wilder’s relegation-threatened Blades, yet may axe Mason Holgate to award Seamus Coleman a first top-flight start since early November after recovering from his persistent hamstring injuries.
Coleman returned to action during last month’s 2-1 win over Arsenal before featuring for the final 24 minutes at Sheffield United, and may have started alongside Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey at home to Manchester City had the game gone ahead.
Tom Davies, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alex Iwobi will expect to start on Friday night in West Ham’s visit to Goodison Park with Ancelotti confirming that Allan and James Rodriguez are once again ruled out through injury.
Richarlison, who reportedly earns £90,000-a-week, missed Boxing Day’s win at Sheffield United through the Premier League’s concussion protocols following his Carabao Cup quarter-final collision with Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, but has now served the required period in order to replace Anthony Gordon on the left-wing.
The Brazilian’s recall will come as a welcome relief for Ancelotti, who saw Gordon struggle at Bramall Lane, with Richarlison a player the Italian sees no like-for-like replacement for.
“It is impossible to replace Richarlison,” Ancelotti said earlier this season, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo.
“There is no player in the world like Richarlison, so we have to replace him with another player with different quality. We have to change a little bit our style of play without Richarlison.”
Ancelotti will hope the unexpected break between fixtures will afford Dominic Calvert-Lewin a chance to reset, with Everton’s top-scorer now without a Premier League goal since penning his 11th of the campaign five games ago.