With Ashley Williams departing for Stoke City and Phil Jagielka moving towards the peripheries of the squad more and more with age, Director of Football Marcel Brands sought to rejuvenate the heart of Everton’s defence during the summer with swoops for centre-backs Kurt Zouma (on loan) and former Barcelona man Yerry Mina.
Injuries have limited the Colombian’s opportunities to impress thus far but Zouma’s ineligibility to face parent club Chelsea last weekend saw Mina get his chance, leaving Marco Silva with a big decision to make going forward. He’s now got three talented centre-halves to choose from for any given game, but when it comes to defensive personnel consistency is always key.
So, who now makes Everton’s best defensive partnership? Football FanCast lay out four potential solutions to Silva’s biggest selection conundrum…
They say opposites attract and this potential partnership represents what Everton have closet to a ying and yang defensive setup.
That ying being Zouma’s brutish, old-fashioned approach to defending that inevitably lacks delicacy at times, and that yang being Mina’s considerably superior calmness and quality in possession. But the Colombian is a real man-mountain as well, so despite their differences in style most strikers won’t fancy their chances of out-jumping or out-muscling this centre-back pairing.
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With one clean sheet from one outing together, the future already looks bright for Mina and Keane alongside each other. They soaked up pressure and held the line really well at Stamford Bridge in the scoreless draw last weekend, and against less intimidating opposition they have the quality in possession to make an impact going forward as well.
Of course, one game isn’t enough to go on but this does feel like Everton’s most balanced and adaptable partnership, involving two centre-backs who can influence both sides of the game.
It’s the setup Marco Silva has preferred on the most-part this season and certainly hasn’t given too much cause for concern. In fact, especially considering left-back Lucas Digne represents another fresh face thrown into the mix, Zouma has acclimatised to life in the Everton defence with incredible ease.
Nonetheless, while Keane is comfortable on the ball, Zouma’s not quite so elegant. Having an out-and-out defender as an insurance policy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are question marks over how much the Frenchman fits Silva’s style of play.
Everton have only fielded a flat back four in the Premier League so far this season but Silva used three-man defences to great effect during his spells with Hull City in 2017 and Watford last season, particularly the former club where that system saw England star Harry Maguire thrive, and it seems he now has the ideal personnel for it at Goodison Park as well.
Zouma, Keane and Mina all offer something a little different and any formation that gives Seamus Coleman and Digne more licence to push forward certainly can’t be a bad thing.
So, Everton fans, who should be at the heart of Everton’s defence? Let us know by voting below…