Europa League Preview
Sylvain Distin is the likely replacement for the injured Antolin Alcaraz
Sitting atop Group H, having collected a vital home win over Wolfsburg and ground out draws in Russia and France, Everton can virtually assure their passage to the next phase of the Europa League with victory when Lille become the first French club to play the Blues at Goodison Park in a competitive fixture.
The reverse fixture two weeks ago was a fairly dull, goalless affair on which the Blues will need to improve but there were enough signs from that game to suggest that Lille would be there for the taking by an Everton side firing on all cylinders.
Therein lies the issue for Roberto Martinez's men, of course; the handsome 3-1 win at Burnley 10 days ago was sandwiched between two uninspiring 0-0 draws and it's unsettling that the Blues have won just four times all season so far.
If the dropped points at the start of the campaign could be ascribed to a disjointed pre-season, some complacency and a general lack of fitness, it's the lack of continuity from the frequent chopping and changing of the line-up from match to match due to injury and squad rotation that many cite as a big reason why the team has been unable to string a run of results together.
They are unbeaten in four now, though, and a win this week over Lille would certainly add some momentum heading into the visit to Sunderland in the Premier League on Sunday.
The cause has, of course, been aided by the return from injury over the past few weeks of some key players, like Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy. A double-blow in central defence, though, means that Martinez is down to his last two fit senior players in that position following Antolin Alcaraz's shoulder joint dislocation on Saturday.
He joins John Stones on the sidelines but his absence offers another opportunity for Sylvain Distin to reclaim his spot alongside Phil Jagielka. The 36-year-old started in Lille and will almost certainly do so again this week, with the likes of Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway waiting in the wings as potential cover. Gareth Barry could, of course, deputise at centre half as he did against Swansea after Alcaraz went off but it's unlikely.
In midfield, Steven Pienaar and Muhamed Besic could be the beneficiaries of Martinez's rotation policy, seeing as both have been on the bench recently, most likely replacing Aiden McGeady and one of Barry or McCarthy, while Darron Gibson is also in the frame after being passed fit again.
Romelu Lukaku is also apparently fully fit after playing 20 minutes on Saturday — he could be deployed up front alongside Samuel Eto'o but the Cameroonian is vying with Steven Naismith and Barkley in the forward areas, evidence of the selection dilemma that the manager faces with all four available.
Though their early results in Group H mean that Everton have been playing with little pressure in the Europa League, another home win that would put them five points clear of Lille and, potentially, six clear of Krasnodar if the Russians lose in Wolfsburg, would really take some additional weight off the shoulders over the last couple of months of 2014.
Kick off: 8.05pm
Quotes sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports
Reader Comments (63)
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1 Posted 05/11/2014 at 22:24:13
Seems obvious that Distin will play (I had expected him to be picked for this anyway) but what will be interesting is whether he can handle 2 games in 3 days and if not who would be CB for Sunderland game.
2 Posted 05/11/2014 at 23:41:22
A game for Besic and Osman.
I will take a big quilted coat and pillow just to make sure I'm cosy during cat naps...
We should win with a shanky goal.
3 Posted 06/11/2014 at 00:18:51
4 Posted 06/11/2014 at 00:39:14
They won't give us much space so guile rather than pace is called for. With that in mind, I'd go for:
Coleman Jagielka Distin Baines
Osman Eto'o Pienaar
5 Posted 06/11/2014 at 01:16:43
Lille win few games and, despite having Origi up front, can't score goals. They are scared of Coleman and may try to counter-attack him with No 23 Souare who gave us a hard time in France. Reports say he turned down a possible move to Everton last week but I don't believe it.
The RS may swop Origi for Balotelli in January.
6 Posted 06/11/2014 at 07:39:45
7 Posted 06/11/2014 at 08:45:29
No excuse about tiredness, please; tiredness at this stage is a mere mental factor. Winning football matches should put paid to any mental fatigue Â– what player wouldn't want to get back out on that pitch at Sunderland on Sunday afternoon if we win tonight?
We need to really go after this Europa League, it may be our last taste of European football for a few years, we need to make it last and enjoy every minute of it.
8 Posted 06/11/2014 at 08:39:31
LetÂs hope that Barkley can start supplying the balls for Lukaku to run onto and then out-muscle the French defence and smack the ball into the bottom corner. Simple... no back-passing... no holding the ball up... no passing the ball around our 18-yard line for half the match.
Just simple, pass it to Lukaku to run at the defence... ItÂs not rocket science Roberto..
9 Posted 06/11/2014 at 08:47:31
Coleman Jagielka Distin Baines
3 points today would render the remaining 2 fixtures as inconsequential which gives Martinez the luxury to experiment as much as he wants without getting hurt. Experimenting in the league is proving increasingly expensive.
10 Posted 06/11/2014 at 09:19:55
It's rumoured (how I hate rumours) that RM is thinking of lots of changes for tonight. As far as I know, the only changes Toffees fans would like is for him to play his best players together (where possible).
11 Posted 06/11/2014 at 09:18:28
Howard Coleman Distin Jagielka Baines McCarthy Besic Atsu EtoÂo Pienaar Lukaku
That side should win us the game with plenty of options from the bench.
12 Posted 06/11/2014 at 08:59:17
"To become a big club with a big mentality, you need to be able to make lots of changes repeatedly."
13 Posted 06/11/2014 at 09:48:13
14 Posted 06/11/2014 at 09:43:39
I know he has to big up the squad players' confidence but surely can't he see that, by changing the starting team every week, that your not getting settled performances?
Big sides change players because invariably they have world class talent in every position; sadly we don't.
It's like Saturday against Swansea, we end the match with Eto'o, a guy who has made his living as a goal-poacher, out on the wing... then he takes off McGeady, who had been putting a few crosses in, and introduced Lukaku, a guy who would have appreciated those crosses.
Strange stuff at times.
15 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:09:25
I would like to think our manager is not so far up his own arse that he will want to make 'clever' changes for tonight. He isn't, is he?
16 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:22:47
I donÂt see why we canÂt do the same to Lille tonight if everyone turns up.
17 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:28:10
Also clever enough to make sure we have a proportion of players biting at the bit for the tricky away at Sunderland.
18 Posted 06/11/2014 at 09:58:36
In reality, we do not have that strong a backup in all departments, so therefore, being the Devil's Advocate for tonight's match, I think we must field the strongest team available against Lille.
My reasons are simple: we are out of the Capital One Cup, have little chance on present (or even projected) form of getting back into Champions League qualification (ie, top four). Have not even started the FA Cup run (even though either Cup would only get us back where we are now in the Europa League)... so this is a good position to take seriously, and absolutely go for it!
Maybe I am being pessimistic about our Premier League form, but we don't seem to be as consistent as last year. I hope I am wrong, but still feel we should be taking this seriously (Europa) and if we qualify as well through getting into the top four, well that's a welcome bonus.
19 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:41:56
20 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:58:27
He is definitely one player that I hope is on Martinez's radar as he has had some complimentary things to say about Everton and, at 25, he could be what we are looking for to replace Distin / Alcaraz.
21 Posted 06/11/2014 at 11:02:48
22 Posted 06/11/2014 at 11:56:09
Get our strikers playing in a striker's role, have Seamus and Leighton bombing wide, midfield pushing on hard in support and they will fall apart like a cheap suit.
They will shit themselves if we go for the throat.
23 Posted 06/11/2014 at 12:07:57
Only about three players have played in all the games so don't give me that tired crap. We have had our pile up of away fixtures so no need to rest players now.
Get our best side out, get the points and look forward to the next game. He has tried to be a smart arse two seasons on the bounce against Crystal Palace and recorded two defeats by the same score.
Don't let us down Bobby and stop talking shite about Distin not being a substitute at his age. Nose, face Â– meet spite.
24 Posted 06/11/2014 at 12:43:56
25 Posted 06/11/2014 at 13:05:58
26 Posted 06/11/2014 at 13:05:44
To win this game, we need to get people in the box with the ball at their feet Â– otherwise, it will be another Swansea affair with lots of possession and very few chances. Deulofeu would have been ideal for us in Europe; unfortunately, he is not here... so it is up to McGeady and possibly Atsu to make the breakthrough.
27 Posted 06/11/2014 at 13:40:31
28 Posted 06/11/2014 at 14:03:04
"Get our strikers playing in a strikers role, have Seamus and Leighton bombing wide, midfield pushing on hard in support and they will fall apart like a cheap suit. They will shit themselves if we go for the throat."
Really? They have one of the best defenses in Europe. You don't get that by crumbling under a bit of pressure.
I think if anything we will have to try and draw them out in order to create space. Kjaer will deal with crosses into the box all day long.
29 Posted 06/11/2014 at 13:23:40
Looks a decent defender though so we would have to overlook his dark side to employ him.
30 Posted 06/11/2014 at 14:22:43
I expect (and hope) to see a similar team to the PL games. Play the strongest side and worry about the league game tomorrow morning.
Not fussed about the performance, need 3 points although a point would not be the end of the world.
Whatever happens don't lose!
31 Posted 06/11/2014 at 14:27:16
We need to play at a higher tempo than of late and let's get the ball forward a bit quicker, and let's try and make sure that our attacking players have more touches than our defenders... now that would be a change!
32 Posted 06/11/2014 at 14:45:34
33 Posted 06/11/2014 at 14:51:47
Important to get points here as Wolfsburg are high up the Bundesliga (2nd last time I looked) so we don't want to have to get a result there to progress.
Getting my layers ready for tonight as it's bloody cold.
34 Posted 06/11/2014 at 14:56:58
Unbeaten in Europe so far, they will try for a clean sheet but are not in a good moment of form. The injury to Man City loanee Lopes has left them short of creativity in midfield and they can't buy a goal. Most of their recent efforts have come from outside the box.
35 Posted 06/11/2014 at 15:36:56
36 Posted 06/11/2014 at 15:42:22
37 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:05:26
38 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:04:24
39 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:09:43
40 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:13:04
41 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:16:05
Lille don't concede many, and you can bet your arse that bloody Origi will get one tonight. Shit like that is written.
I still back us to win though, but then I always do so y'know...
42 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:17:11
There was me thinking it was Panathonikos.
43 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:33:44
44 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:33:22
45 Posted 06/11/2014 at 16:50:11
Coleman Jagielka Distin Baines
McCarthy Gibson Besic
Barkley Lukaku Pienaar
Subs: Robles, Hibbert, Browning, Barry, Osman, McGeady, Eto'o.
46 Posted 06/11/2014 at 17:05:43
47 Posted 06/11/2014 at 17:07:24
48 Posted 06/11/2014 at 17:11:31
I wouldn't be too upset with that line-up.
49 Posted 06/11/2014 at 17:02:35
50 Posted 06/11/2014 at 17:44:15
Certainly we can have criticism of our manager and team but to say he is clueless about substitutions when we won more games last season from Roberto's changes than any other team in the league is just a moronic statement. Yes we will have our different ideas in team formation and sometimes his subs will disappoint like Saturday but Roberto knows what he is doing and I have more faith in him than any manager we have had in 3 decades.
In Roberto we trust. COYB.
51 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:12:53
52 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:19:32
I think McGreedy will start tonight and in fairness I am expecting him to have a good game!
Get behind them !!!
53 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:23:38
He hasn't even made the full amount in games that needed changing, and which were during busy periods where the squad needed to be utilised.
I'm all for having a go at the whingers, some of the childish knee-jerk negativity I read on ToffeeWeb is embarrassing, but the credibility of those of us who tend to stay positive is harmed by an argument that basically says you're not allowed to criticise Martinez even when he's wrong.
55 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:31:26
Whatever happens in Europe we will win the league if we keep our best players in a few seasons.
I think I will be in a minority but I am pleased Osman has another year and Disitin is also getting another year. Transition time people.
To be honest I would prefer 3 points on Sunday than today
56 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:37:56
57 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:32:49
Considering the fixtures we have had, the injuries, the WC hangover and having to deal with Europe, his management of the team has been very good. Moyes had us 6th and 7th every year and his subs were so predictable and his tactics negative yet Roberto gets slated because a few games don't go our way. I read on here how bad the performances are yet I see it so differently and other fans tell me we have been the best team they have played this season.
58 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:55:42
59 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:57:45
60 Posted 06/11/2014 at 19:01:11
61 Posted 06/11/2014 at 18:58:27
Roberto’s use of subs last year was fantastic. I didn’t realise the stat you posted about being best in the league, but it certainly seems feasible.
A win tonight and we’re big faves to top the group. I reckon we’ll do Te backend on sunday as well.
62 Posted 06/11/2014 at 19:05:04
63 Posted 06/11/2014 at 19:10:05
64 Posted 06/11/2014 at 19:22:05
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