With both teams enduring a tough season so far, it was the Midlands outfit who acted upon their lowly league position by relieving Bruno Lage of his duties and replacing him with Julen Lopetegui, with this match marking the latter’s first top-flight fixture at the helm of the Old Gold.
Having first been dumped out of the Carabao Cup, they lost by the same margin again in the league four days later as they were thrashed 4-1 and 3-0 respectively. As such, Frank Lampard’s men sit just one point above the relegation zone.
Although the 29-year-old has already established himself as one of the Toffees’ best and most influential players – with DaveOCKOP dubbing him a “good leader” – it may come as a surprise that the £55k-per-week colossus is not already a permanent addition. That leaves Lampard with a defensive dilemma as he ponders who to play beside James Tarkowski this afternoon.
With Michael Keane and Mason Holgate having shown their frailties against the Cherries last month, as seen in their lowly Sofascore ratings, they are likely to have fallen even further down the pecking order. Yerry Mina is an option, but his unreliable fitness will surely worry Lampard.
Luckily for the 44-year-old, he could throw the returning Ben Godfrey straight back into competitive action today.
Having since had an extra month-and-a-half of rehabilitation, the 24-year-old should now be fit to recapture his form from his debut season at Everton.
Featuring 31 times in the 2020/21 campaign, he recorded a 7.03 rating from Sofascore whilst establishing himself as a physical marvel. As such, journalist James Whaling saw fit to label him a “monster”.
Enjoying a tough tackle and often using his blistering speed to cut out attacks ahead of time, he made 1.1 interceptions, 1.8 tackles and 3.5 clearances per game that season, all whilst having to deputise at left-back (via Sofascore).
Whilst the absence of Coady will likely be felt heavily given his aforementioned leadership traits, Godfrey can ease that burden whilst adding further pace and youthfulness to their back line.
Therefore, Lampard must unleash him from the off today for his first Premier League appearance since the opening day defeat to Chelsea.