Carlo Ancelotti must unleash Mason Holgate against Chelsea on Saturday after Michael Ball suggested Everton are “afraid” of the Stamford Bridge natives’ offensive strength.
The Toffees welcome Frank Lampard’s title-chasing Blues to Goodison Park this weekend looking to end a torrid run of fixtures that features only one win in their last seven Premier League games.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are pushing Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool for the top spot in the division with just two points separating the three sides after the opening 11 games, with Lampard’s men unbeaten since matchday two.
Ball believes Lampard has got Chelsea playing in a way that can cause Everton a world of pain on Saturday night, as the south west London outfit’s pace in attack and midfield runners are two traits Ancelotti is yet to find a way to beat.
“With Chelsea, they’ve got pace and midfielders with runners. I think they’re the two things we’re afraid of,” former Toffees academy graduate noted in his column for the Liverpool Echo.
“Chelsea’s new signings have come in and hit form now, so we’ll probably be a bit more cautious and not leave space in behind. Michael Keane and Yerry Mina aren’t the quickest.
“A back four, generally, should suit us more – but I understand why we switched to a three. Ben Godfrey came here and obviously didn’t want to sit on the bench, he’s forced his way into the starting line-up, and he needs game time to try and build his partnerships up.”
But with an ankle injury forcing Lucas Digne to undergo surgery and face a potential three months out of action, plus Fabian Delph limping off with a hamstring injury at Burnley on Saturday, Godfrey is now expected to move to left-back when Everton host Chelsea.
Ancelotti doing so could see Everton move back to a four-man defence like Ball believes is best, having favoured that at Turf Moor following Delph’s exit. Yet the Italian tactician should rather unleash Holgate to inject pace into the line alongside Keane and Mina.
Holgate has appeared to lose some of Ancelotti’s backing, despite the former Chelsea head coach lauding the “fighter” as a “complete defender” capable of becoming one of the best in his position earlier in the year, as the 24-year-old has only featured twice since recovering from a pre-season toe injury.
He was also benched for the trips to Fulham and Burnley after featuring against Manchester United and Leeds, as Ancelotti continued to step back and forth on who his favoured centre-half options are.
However Holgate is Everton’s only centre-half option capable of adding pace in front of Jordan Pickford’s goal if Godfrey is moved to left-back, otherwise Ancelotti risks seeing Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and co. run Keane and Mina ragged at the weekend.