Everton vs Burnley

Saturday, 30 September, 2017 0comments  |  Jump to last
Match Preview

Oumar Niasse is eligible again but will he be handed a start following his recent goalscoring exploits?

Everton play their fourth home game in succession and their last before the next international break as Burnley make the short journey to Goodison Park.

Set back following the victories over Sunderland and Bournemouth by the disappointing 2-2 draw against Apollon Limassol on Thursday, the Blues are once again searching for a boost in morale as their halting start to 2017-18 continues.

Ronald Koeman was in confident enough mood when he met with the print media at Finch Farm yesterday, though, insisting that there was no point in him living in fear of the sack and that, in any case, he retains full confidence in his ability as that of his players to turn their fortunes around.

That confidence isn't shared by all, of course, least of all, no doubt, a good percentage of those fans who let their frustrations known at the end of Limassol game. And then there is the fear that Koeman himself admitted was dragging his team down and preventing them from playing football.

The problem with fear is that it can get compounded further by poor results, snow-balling until a state of paralysis takes hold and that is the danger that the manager must mitigate quickly, starting with this weekend's clash with the Clarets.

"I am not worried. Why should I need to be worried?” he said. “Because the fans are unhappy? No. If the club makes another decision it is up to the club. If I am worried about my situation, how can you live? Enjoy life. I was shit after [Limassol], but now I am different.

“If I am not good enough, they will take another one. That is how I see this situation. 

“I do my best. I live 24-hours for football and to make Everton a better team and to win more games. I cannot do more. If it is not good enough, it is not good enough but that is my experience. It happens to everybody; Ancelotti, Van Gaal, Mourinho.

“I will fight every second of the day to make the team better and to make the right choices and of course everyone can have their opinion. If you don't win, you have problems.”

Koeman will, of course, face further problems and pressure if he isn't able to deliver three points against Burnley who come to L4 two points and five places better off than the Toffees having beaten Crystal Palace and then drawn twice in their last three games.

While their away form was infamously poor last season, Sean Dyche's men have already claimed the scalp of Chelsea this season and held Tottenham to a draw at Wembley so they are unlikely to be fazed by a visit to a disquieted Goodison.

Koeman's task is clear — either plug away with the same system he has employed so far with mostly poor results of find a new one that would sacrifice at least one of his expensive summer recruits who prefer the No.10 role. The evidence gleaned from the Limassol game would suggest Wayne Rooney should make way and Gylfi Sigurdsson should be given free reign in his best position but the manager has been resolutely faithful to his biggest names so far. A change from that would be welcome but surprising.

With Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka both doubtful — it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of them start — the back line might, with the possible exception of right back where Jonjoe Kenny would be unfortunate to be demoted again, pick itself again which means all eyes will be on midfield and attack.

Koeman's persistence with two holding midfielders has come in for strong criticism in the wake of Thursday's draw so it will be interesting to see if Idrissa Gueye — it would surely be him rather than Morgan Schneiderlin — is sacrificed for Tom Davies or Nikola Vlasic in the interests of adding more dynamism in the centre.

Up front, both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse have made strong cases for inclusion but it's highly unlikely both will start. More probable is the youngster starting and Niasse being handed the role of super-sub once more if he is needed in that capacity.

As with all games in the Premier League these days, this one won't be easy. Burnley are disciplined and don't lie down easily for anyone; as such they will pose a significant threat to an Everton side that will need to draw on what creativity and determination it can muster.

A victory wouldn't erase the concerns about the Blues going forward but it would once again ease the pressure on all concerned and provide another platform on which to build in the coming weeks. Anything less… well, you know.

Kick-off: 2.15pm, Sunday 1st October, 2017
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Last Time: Everton 3 - 1 Burnley

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Williams, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Vlasic, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin


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