Everton finally welcome star forward Richarlison back to the fold for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Fulham following the Brazilian’s three-match suspension, but while Carlo Ancelotti welcomes one in, he loses another.
Toffees captain Seamus Coleman was forced to return to Finch Farm during the November international break after sustaining an injury while training with the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of his nation’s friendly with England.
The right-back underwent further scans to assess the situation but has since been ruled out of this weekend’s fixture at Craven Cottage with an aggravation of the hamstring issue that prevented his involvement in October’s loss to Southampton.
Ancelotti was met with further injury scares as Everton’s players returned to Merseyside from the international break, leaving the Italian to ponder a raft of changes. So, with that in mind, here’s a predicted line-up the former Chelsea coach could favour against Fulham…
Sunday’s trip to Craven Cottage will be an important clash for Ancelotti to orchestrate, having seen Everton slip from an unbeaten Premier League side after five games to be winless in their last three.
The Blues are without a top-flight clean sheet since the opening day of the campaign, either, yet will be expected to name Jordan Pickford between the posts after the England international kept Iceland from scoring the UEFA Nations League earlier this week.
Michael Keane was on the bench for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions but should start for Everton alongside compatriot Mason Holgate, after the duo combined well in defeat at home to Manchester United despite the 3-1 scoreline.
Lucas Digne’s creativity ought to ensure the Frenchman likewise retains his place, having provided the highest number of accurate crosses (14) and more key balls (11) than all Everton players bar James Rodriguez (17) in the league this season, per WhoScored.
Kenny should be in line to make only his second start of the top-flight campaign in place of the injured Coleman after featuring in place of the Toffees captain at Newcastle, where he won each of his ground duels, made two tackles, one clearance, attempted six crosses and took 61 touches, per SofaScore.
Ancelotti faced an anxious wait over the international break after star summer signing Allan sustained a muscle injury in training with Brazil, but the midfield enforcer has been declared fit to feature at Fulham.
Abdoulaye Doucoure will expect to join Keane and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin in being the only Everton players to boast a 100% starting record in the Premier League this term, having demanded a commanding presence since his £20million arrival with 19 tackles, 11 interceptions, seven successful dribbles, eight shots and 10 aerial duels contended.
The third midfield slot in Ancelotti’s plans will be up for grabs this weekend after Gylfi Sigurdsson failed to secure the role after displacing Andre Gomes against Manchester United, and perhaps will fall behind Bernard after the Brazilian impressed standing in for Richarlison.
Bernard offered great link-up play with the overlapping Digne at home to Manchester United, while breaking the deadlock in the 19th-minute for his first goal of the season and recording WhoScored’s highest match rating for an Everton player at 7.7/10 thanks to 62 touches, two key balls, 34 accurate passes, two successful dribbles, two tackles, two clearances and one interception.
As for Sigurdsson, the £16.2m-rated Iceland midfielder could only offer one key ball from 25 accurate passes, no successful dribbles, tackles or shots taken before being replaced in the 67th-minute.
If Ancelotti does not favour a central role for Bernard after his excellence on the wing, Gomes ought to be next in line for another chance with Tom Davies and Fabian Delph so far restricted to just 92 and 154 minutes of Premier League football this season.
Richarlison’s return to the wing to partner Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez in attack will come as a welcome relief for Ancelotti and Everton, with the Brazilian ranking third among all Premier League forwards for ground duels won (43) and sixth for successful dribbles (16), per SofaScore, despite missing the last three fixtures.
Calvert-Lewin will be hoping the winger’s return will also see him net once more, having struck seven in five games with the former Watford attacker but only once in three since.