Oumar Niasse is eligible again after serving a two-game ban
Sam Allardyce takes charge of his first match since agreeing to become Everton manager as Huddersfield Town come to Goodison Park for the first time in the league for 45 years.
The 63-year-old's appointment as Ronald Koeman's full-time successor was confirmed yesterday and he now begins the task of building on Wednesday's 4-0 win over West Ham, with the focus now on closing the nine-point gap that has opened up between the Blues and the seventh place they occupied at the end of last season.
Allardyce had his first press conference as Everton boss at Finch Farm this morning and he outlined his first jobs as galvanising the current squad and getting some of the nine injured players back on the field before looking ahead to what would be required in the January transfer window.
Though he spoke to the team briefly before Wednesday's game and stressed the need for a clean sheet and scoring the first goal — the Blues achieved both in David Unsworth's last game in charge — tomorrow's match and the training sessions in between will be his first real chance to assess what he has inherited from Ronald Koeman.
“The first and foremost thing is to get back to winning ways, bring some stability to the club and get them playing as well as they did the other night consistently,” Allardyce said.
“Hopefully that will happen tomorrow. It will tell me an awful lot if we can hit that level of performance again which tells me we're moving in the [right] direction.
“If there's a falter in the performance and the result doesn't go our way will tell me an awful lot about and the players we have at this moment in time. But certainly, I was so impressed the other night — to come back from the two previous results and win like they did showed they have an outstanding character.”
In addition to Oumar Niasse who missed the last two games through suspension, Allardyce will have Michael Keane back in contention following his recovery from a head injury. Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines are both ruled out, however.
Given the result against the Hammers, Allardyce might be tempted to keep the starting XI more or less the same and, as he suggested in his presser, regard substitutions as a key component of the match.
Niasse's goalscoring record compared with that of Dominic Calvert-Lewin could sway the new manager to selecting him over the young striker while Keane would be an obvious replacement for Mason Holgate if experience were the only consideration but that would be hard on the former Barnsley man who acquitted himself superbly in his more natural central positiom.
In midfield, Wayne Rooney is set to continue in the deeper-lying role in which he thrived against West Ham, scoring a hat-trick that included that brilliant strike from 58 yards out. Allardyce joked to the media that “it's not rocket science” where the veteran player fits into Everton's formation after that performance in midweek.
Huddersfield, who had initially made a good start to life in the first season in the Premier League under David Wagner, will be looking to bounce back from a 5-0 hammering by Arsenal on Wednesday evening and a 4-0 reverse at Bournemouth in their previous away game before that. Indeed, since beating Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on the opening day, the Terriers have picked up just one point on their travels without scoring a single goal.
So, while Huddersfield have been dropping down the table having occupied third place heading into September, Everton can continue moving in the right direction if they can capitalise on their opponents' poor away form. Depending on results elsewhere, the Blues could jump to as high as ninth this weekend and set themselves up for the Merseyside derby at Anfield eight days later.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday, 2 December, 2017
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Last Time: Everton 2 - 2 Huddersfield Town (December 1971)
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina, Gueye, Davies, Rooney, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Niasse