Could Ramiro Funes Mori make his comeback from injury this weekend?
Updated Everton get another chance to improve on their horrendous away record when they travel to Burnley this weekend.
The Blues are away from Goodison Park for the second successive game following last week's pitiful performance and defeat at Watford but will make the short trip to Turf Moor with their sights set on moving level with the Clarets on points in seventh place.
The prospect of finishing in the same place as last season, albeit with many points less, still seems improbable given how terrible Everton have been in 2017-18 but it remains achievable if Sam Allardyce can coax some form out of his charges.
Just two wins in 10 Premier League games since the 3-1 home win over Swansea City — not to mention one just win away from home all season — has heightened the frustration with the manager, his methods and his players and despite Burnley's own struggles since starting the campaign so positively, this weekend will not be an easy ride for Allardyce.
Sean Dyche's men haven't registered a home win since back-to-back victories over Watford and Stoke in December and they succumbed to Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool at Turf Moor in the interim but they remain tough to beat, particularly for clubs outside the top six. They also managed to frustrate Manchester City a month ago, holding the Champions-elect to a 1-1 draw.
Everton, meanwhile, haven't beaten Burnley on their patch since Samuel Eto'o was intermittently plying his trade in a No.5 jersey for the Toffees. The Cameroon legend came close to notching a hat-trick in this fixture three-and-a-half years ago but, somehow, you can't see the Blues' latest striking representative from the African continent being as deadly.
Fresh from the latest declaration by his manager that he was the most likely source of goals for Everton, Oumar Niasse had a particularly off day at Vicarage Road last Saturday and was replaced before an hour had elapsed by Cenk Tosun.
Though he wasn't able to make much of an impact himself, the new signing from Turkey was deemed by Allardyce to have played “reasonably” but whether that will be enough to earn him a start this weekend remains to be seen. More likely, if he is to make any changes, the manager will opt for the more physical and robust Dominic Calvert-Lewin in what he might expect to be a more “agricultural” contest than most.
Elsewhere in the side, if he stays true to his word regarding playing a settled line-up, the only changes could be determined by the injury situation at the back — specifically the availability of Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines and Ramiro Funes Mori. All three would have been in with a shout of starting if they were passed fit, although they would pose risks being thrown straight in versus coming on as substitutes to build their fitness.
It appears as though Coleman and Baines are fit to play but Funes Mori still needs another U23s outing (one he didn't get earlier this week). Coleman would, obviously, replace Jonjoe Kenny, Baines would come in for Cuco Martina. Michael Keane, meanwhile, looks set to get the opportunity to play on his old stomping ground for the first time since he signed for Everton last summer.
Dyche, meanwhile, looks likely to have James Tarkowski and Chris Wood available while this weekend could come too soon for goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
Burnley, too, will have an opposition old boy in their ranks, with Aaron Lennon a possibility to either start or come off the bench. The winger hasn't scored in his four appearances so far… so expect him to bang one in at some stage!
Allardyce was very open last week in his keep-it-tight-and-nick-one approach, one that was undone by Troy Deeney's winner for Watford 11 minutes from time. It would be surprising if the criticism levelled at him since forces a change in his team's posture; more likely, he will send his troops out there with similar instructions, hoping to secure the points that would effectively guarantee survival in the next home game against Brighton.
Another defeat, however, would only ratchet up the discord among Blues supporters ahead of the return to Goodison next Saturday.
Kick-off: 12:30pm, Saturday 3 March, 2018
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Last Time: Burnley 2 -1 Everton
Originally predicted line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Funes Mori, Martina, Gueye, Rooney, Davies, Schneiderlin, Walcott, Niasse
Revised predicted line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Williams Mori, Baines, Gueye, Rooney, Davies, Schneiderlin, Walcott, Niasse