Everton return to Premier League action this evening as they host Chelsea at Goodison Park, and Frank Lampard will be hoping that his side can move on from their disastrous 2021/22 season by getting off to a good start this term.
The Toffees had their joint-worst Premier League campaign and the worst injury record in the top flight last season, finishing 16th after surviving relegation in their penultimate game. They now have a clean slate to go again in the top flight, but they are not off to a good start in terms of their forward options.
With Richarlison making a swift exit this summer for Tottenham Hotspur, Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured for six weeks and Salomon Rondon suspended, the Toffees attacking threat has been severely compromised going into the first game of the season.
Lampard will need to find another way to set up his frontline with no recognised senior striker available at present, but with Dwight McNeil joining from Burnley, it will be a great opportunity to see what the new signing can offer to the team under the circumstances.
With all things considered, this is how Football Fancast expects Everton to line up against Chelsea this evening…
We predict that all three summer signings will get their opportunity to impress Lampard today, with Ruben Vinagre, McNeil and James Tarkowski all getting the nod in our starting XI.
To cover the centre-forward role, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Everton boss give Dele Alli the opportunity to occupy that role in the team, with the support of McNeil and Anthony Gordon to make up the front three.
The rarely-seen £100k-per-week attacking midfielder, who was dubbed a “machine” by Rio Ferdinand, could be deployed in a makeshift false nine role in the centre-forward position today to make up for Calvert-Lewin’s absence, giving him a golden chance to finally show Lampard that he is worthy of a regular starting place in the team.
The 26-year-old started only one league match for Everton after joining last winter, although he has played as a centre-forward on occasion during his career, so he could be entrusted with that role this evening.
One player who we predict will miss out on the starting XI today is Mason Holgate, with Ben Godfrey, summer signing Tarkowski and Michael Keane comprising the back three.
The 25-year-old, who has been labelled “poor” by Paul Robinson after a costly error in one match last season, could be the player who misses out to make way for Tarkowski, especially if the former Burnley colossus gets off to a good start on Merseyside.
With that being said, it will be interesting to see how Everton cope without a genuine striker in the team against Chelsea this evening, and Lampard will no doubt be hoping that his team can get off to a good start by scoring another home win against his former club, just as they did towards the end of last term.