What is our best starting team?

by   |   02/09/2018  26 Comments  [Jump to last]

We have an unbelievably long injury list at the moment - but hopefully after the international break, we’ll get most of the injured players back.

That posses the question - assuming a fully fit squad - what is our strongest starting XI and bench?

To make it easier - I’ll put a list of our players below:

Goalkeeper: Pickford / Stekelenburg / Virginia

Right Back: Coleman / Kenny

Right Centre Back: Zouma / Holgate / Jagielka

Left Centre Back: Mina / Keane

Left Back: Digne / Baines

Right Centre Mid: Gueye / Davies / McCarthy

Left Centre Mid: Schneiderlin / Gomes / Baningime

Centre Attacking Mid: Sigurdsson / Dowell

Right Wing: Walcott / Bernard

Left Wing: Richarlison / Lookman

Striker: Tosun / Calvert-Lewin / Niasse

Personally - I’d go with the following:



Coleman(c) Mina Zouma Digne

Gueye Schneiderlin

Walcott Sigurdsson Richarlison


Subs: Stekelenburg, Keane, Baines, Gomes, Bernard, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin

Let me discuss the more difficult selections.

Centre-Back Pair:

I think Zouma has been fantastic in his brief time at Everton. He has the physicality, height, ability on the ball and most importantly the pace. Keane has been very good too, but he just lacks that pace. Mina has to go into the starting line up - although I see him being eased in, rotating with Keane and Holgate. Holgate has been solid, but he’ll have to settle for 2nd choice back up for now.


I think Digne just offers more than Baines - only just. His defense is very good, which I like a lot. He has the pace and ability going forward, and has already got two assists from crosses. Baines to be used in rotation, very solid back up and will offer experience off the bench and when called upon.

Centre-Mid Pairing:

Gueye is an ever-present for me - he offers so much energy, both up and down the pitch. Schneiderlin has started decently and is good on the ball, the most solid Centre Mid pairing for me, enough energy, physicality and creativity, with Siggy helping out too. Gomes off the bench is perfect - he’ll add that extra creativity and ability going forward. I wonder how good his defensive ability is - time will tell, whether he can replace Schneiderlin in the starting line up. Davies has struggled, and must work hard to get back into the team. Baningime, who I rate very very highly, could easily slot in for either of the central midfielders. Hopefully he’s back from injury soon.


I think it’s pretty clear who our first choice wingers are - they have been very good going forward, and their defensive work rate has been very impressive too. Lookman is very close, if any of them start struggling for form, he should come in. Bernard off the bench, either on the wing or at Centre Attacking Mid (potentially alongside Sigurdsson) offers something different, tricky and threat. Calvert-Lewin can do a job, but I’d prefer him up-top, either in a 2 with Niasse (pace up top), or by himself.


I’d go with Tosun as first choice - his hold-up play, pressing and finishing ability are very good. He brings the wings into the game and draws defenders. I don’t doubt his finishing ability at all, we just need to make more chances for him. Calvert-Lewin is breathing down his neck, with his recent performances - he offers a lot more pace, agility, and his heading ability is fantastic. I would have no problem in rotating Tosun and Calvert-Lewin up top. Or if we want to go 2 up top - then Calvert-Lewin and Niasse, for that extra pace and willingness to run. Tosun lacks the pace to be very effective at making runs.


That leaves the likes of Jagielka, Holgate, Kenny, Davies, Baningime, McCarthy (when back), Dowell and Niasse pushing for a spot in the team. The majority of which are youngsters and can play in the u23’s if not needed. Jags is a great squad player and is very important in the dressing room. Niasse is a nuisance and will always trouble defenses with his work rate and attitude. McCarthy could be a very good addition when he’s fit. Kenny is very unlucky to miss out, but with definitely play his part. Holgate too, still learning, but very good to have in the squad. Baningime is very solid, and will no doubt be in and around the team when fit. Davies really needs to refocus and develop his game a bit, he’s struggled for a while now - but I have faith he’ll get back to top form and push for a spot and fill in when needed.

What are your thoughts?

What would your best starting line up be?

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Reader Comments (26)

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Gary Edwards
1 Posted 06/09/2018 at 06:42:00
Yes, Gareth, I generally agree with what you say with one exception: Jagielka being a good influence in the dressing room.

My observations have been that this is not the case, quite the opposite, and when I recently read (belatedly) about his confrontations with Roy Hodgson in the England set-up, this only served to confirm the conclusion I had come to.

I'm also currently concerned by Coleman's form – he's not started the season well and I hope that Silva has the kahunas to bench non-performing senior players and give others their chance.

Robert Leigh
2 Posted 06/09/2018 at 10:12:08
Coleman - Mina - Zouma - Digne
Gana - Schneiderlin - Sigurdsson
Walcott - Tosun - Richarlison

Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Baines, McCarthy, Bernard, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin.

Nice article to read, Gareth, reminds me of how much I dislike the international break!

I think we are finally in a position that we have options: Lookman for Richarlison or Walcott; Bernard for Richarlison, Walcott or Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin for Tosun... exciting times!

I agree with some with regards concerns over Coleman's form; Kenny is now breathing down his neck but it's also a case of Jonjoe's improvement.

I'm still not sure over Tosun, though his work rate is admirable. When we play Man City or Liverpool, I wouldn't be adverse to a front three of Walcott - Richarlison - Bernard.

Tony Abrahams
3 Posted 06/09/2018 at 10:55:29
Kenny. Mina. Holgate. Zouma. Digne.
Gueye. Sigurdsson.

Walcott. Richarlison.

It's got to be either 3 centre-backs or two holding midfielders for me, simply because of how high Silva likes to push his fullbacks right up the pitch. I prefer to have cover already in place, so this is why I would line up this way... haha!

It's very rare to get your best eleven on the pitch and because it's a squad game nowadays, then this is the most important thing: to develop a good squad.

Steve Ferns
4 Posted 06/09/2018 at 10:57:31
It's all well and good dreaming about this, but you've no idea until players play for us.

Bernard – where will he play?

He's not a winger. He's a Number 10. Can he play Number 10 in the premier league? He struggled there in the Champions League so Fonseca (remember him?) played him on the left of a narrow attacking midfield three with licence to roam.

I've no idea how Silva will play him. He didn't do well at all against Bournemouth, looking well off the pace and suddenly he's “injured”. The big clubs had doubts about him because he's so small and slight. This is a major worry. More so now than it was when we first signed him. Sure he'd be great for Man City, in their setup, but we ain't Man City and we don't have Man City players.

Mina – where does he fit in? He's big and strong, but he's quick and he's slow. He's fast over 50 yards, he's slow over 10. He's very slow to turn. Can he play a high line and be turned or is it better to sit deeper? The high line in pre-season has been replaced with one slightly deeper and those issues in pre-season have gone. Until Mina plays, we don't know how he will do and if he is the best.

André Gomes – no one has a clue about him. He's a very Portuguese player. Portuguese sides nearly all play 4-3-3. There's no Number 10. They have one 6 and two 8's. We play 4-2-3-1, so that's two 6's and one 10. Will Gomes be a 10? Can he play as a 6?

At first I thought get him into a 6 position. If he can be disciplined then he can replace Schneiderlin and his passing is superb, really superb. But my mates who support Benfica say no. He can't play so deep he's terrible at defending and he goes missing too much. Also, he's brilliant in and around the box. That puts him at Number 10.

So suddenly we are back to last season. For Rooney, Klaassen and Sigurdsson, read Bernard, Gomes and Sigurdsson. How does it fit together? The main point for optimism though is Gomes is really an 8, Bernard likes to drift wide and Sigurdsson works hard.

If I had to bet my life on it, I would go with a change of tactics and the move to a Portuguese 4-3-3 with Schneiderlin deep as the 6, and Gomes and Sigurdsson as the 8s.

The thing is Silva wants options and variety and to play different ways against different teams. He's still working on a base formation for now. Expect surprises in a month or so as he nails this formation down and then changes it to beat better opposition.

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 06/09/2018 at 10:59:58
Tony (#3), have you made the subs redundant!!!
Victor Yu
6 Posted 06/09/2018 at 15:18:57
Tosun is not bad but not good enough as the #1 striker.

I understand that the service hasn't been good to him and he has been trying his best this season. But I would expect more from someone who has been given the #1 striker role.

We don't have enough options up front. Tosun is basically the only striker who is Premier League standard.

Merle Urquart
7 Posted 06/09/2018 at 15:26:05
Gana - Schneiderlin - Sigurdsson

Zero drive from this midfield, I'm afraid, means we will not win enough games against lower sides and none against teams above us.

Priorities in January need to be a proper box-to-box midfielder, oh for a modern day Peter Reid, and a top-notch striker, this means abandoning the £20-£30M bracket, which we've recently shopped in and moving into the £50M plus market.

There's a lad at Torino, Andrea Belloti who would suit the Premier League, strong lad good in the air and puts himself about a bit and scores goals.

Victor Yu
8 Posted 06/09/2018 at 15:29:44
"Priorities in January need to be a proper box-to-box midfielder, oh for a modern-day Peter Reid, and a top-notch striker, this means abandoning the £20-£30M bracket, which we've recently shopped in, and moving into the £50M plus market..."

That's very good ambition. I like it.

Definitely better than those who always believe 'good players who will not come to join us anyways'.

Clive Rogers
9 Posted 06/09/2018 at 21:35:23
Sigurdsson had a stinker last Saturday and was correctly taken off. He only completed 10 passes in his 76 mins while Baines completed 15 in the 14 minutes he was on.

In fact, Sigurdsson's pass completion rate has dropped alarmingly this season. He has averaged only 12.5 completed passes per game compared to 18.5 last season. When you consider that he has been in the No 10 role this season whilst mainly wide left last season, these stats portray an alarming drop in form.

Similar to Coleman he may be experiencing a post-injury dip. I cannot see him retaining his place for long with such stats.

Mark Pringle
10 Posted 06/09/2018 at 22:37:50
Granted we have still to see some of the new guys play in our colours but, in terms of ability, my first choice would be:

PickfordColeman Mina Zouma Digne
Gomes Sigurdsson
Walcott Richarlison Bernard

Sam Hoare
11 Posted 07/09/2018 at 13:27:29
Sad to consider but how many of our players would get into top 5 starting XIs? One or two max I reckon, Pickford and possibly Richarlison if he continues his form.

As Steve F says the likes of Bernard, Gomes and Mina are yet to feature and their merit can only be speculated on. The first two especially may take time to adjust to the physical nature of the Premier League.

I actually think Zouma may prove to be one of our best players this season and he can't even get onto the Chelsea bench though he wants to return to London to give it another shot.

I guess what I'm saying is that the re-shaping of this team/squad has only just started.

I hope once all have bedded in that this may be our best XI towards the end of the season.

Kenny Mina Zouma Digne
Gomes Gana
Lookman Bernard Walcott

Assuming (hoping) that the likes of Kenny, Lookman and Calvert-Lewin get stuck in and make strides forward this season. Otherwise, you'd sub in Coleman, Sigurdsson and Tosun.

Fran Mitchell
13 Posted 07/09/2018 at 14:16:17
On current form, Sigurdsson and Coleman don't get in the team, imo.

I look at Leicester and see how Maddison is performing and wonder, could Dowell not have such an impact? I'd like to see a midfield of Gomes, Schneiderlin and Dowell.

I'd also like to see Calvert-Lewin given a chance as the central striker, he has more to his game than Tosun.

Also, Walcott can be brilliant, he can also be awful. So here both Lookman and Bernard can hopefully push him for a starting role.

But I don't think there will ever be a 'best 11'. So much will depend on the opposition, and on form.

Tony Marsh
14 Posted 07/09/2018 at 15:15:26
Coleman is done as a top Premier League player. No player ever fully recovered from the horrific type of injury suffered by Seamus. Takes me back to the likes of Adrian Heath and Gazza. They never came back from it.
Brian Williams
15 Posted 07/09/2018 at 15:17:57
I watched Maddison last night in the U21s game. Seemed to play an awful lot for himself IMO and went alone when he should have passed on several occasions.
Derek Thomas
16 Posted 07/09/2018 at 23:20:57
Until all players are;

a) available

b) have actually played some games and shown some form

The answer is - Nobody knows...add in the fact that 3 or 4 of the previous managers didn't have a clue either, even after my conditions a & b had been met, you might as well draw the names out of a bag or let TW pick it.

Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 08/09/2018 at 00:45:28
Seems like kind of a silly question until we actually see some of these guys play. Zouma's had one game and he's "fantastic"... and Bernard, Mina and Gomes are completely unknown quantities. I'll wait.

Tony #14, bollocks. Ramsey, Shaw, Barkley and Oviedo are back to what they were before. It just took patience. Two years are required for a full recovery. Larsson, Alan Smith, Cisse... people come back from this. Coleman will be Coleman again by next spring. And Gazza never broke his leg, he tore his knee ligaments. Completely different injury.

Drew O'Neall
18 Posted 08/09/2018 at 01:42:36
Steve 4

While Gana is obviously a destroyer, positionally he’s more like an 8 than a 6 by virtue of the fact he goes ball hunting, certainly off the ball, so I’d say we play a 6, 8 and a 10.

Jim Bennings
19 Posted 09/09/2018 at 10:14:38
I can’t help but feel too many might be pinning their hopes on the new boys to soon we don’t actually know how the lads are gonna fare until we’ve seen them all play quite a few games.

There has to be concerns over Yerry Mina’s lack of fitness, what kind of injury are we up against , will it be recurring?

It’s obviously going to take some time before he’s up and running anyway we may not even see the best of him until after Christmas.

With Bernard it’s anyone’s guess how he’s gonna get on. Obviously he has the quality as we’ve seen but whether he will have the physique for the English league is another matter. It’s too early to rule him out as being too small etc after not really shining against Bournemouth.

Again though I will say I thought he should have featured against Rotherham or Huddersfield and if he is still not fully fit by the end of September then you to delet I thought he should have featured against Rotherham or Huddersfield and if he is still not fully fit by the end of September/October then you start to ask why and what are the issues and if we are dealing with another Cristian Atsu type signing, lots of promise but nothing remotely fulfilled, only time will tell us.

Gomes could be anything from another Schneiderlin to a really great loan signing, it’s too early we just don’t know.

Our midfield lacks pace and arguably since Barkley left the club we haven’t had anyone that can carry the ball or run with the ball even though he was frustrating.

Walcott can do this but from wider areas not really influencing the game from the centre areas likewise Richarlison.

It’s hard to really pick at this stage the best team, hopefully by Christmas time the team will pick itself regardless of names or transfer fees the players will hopefully be playing well enough to pick themselves and hopefully we can have 11 that are playing well enough by that stage.

Brian Harrison
20 Posted 09/09/2018 at 11:40:58
I suppose after all the years watching Everton I should be used to the scepticism displayed by some of our fans. Brands and Silva have only been able so far to start Richarlison,Digne and Zouma, of their summer signings.

These 3 are infinitely better than the players they have replaced, but that doesnt seem to be enough to convince the sceptics about Silva and Brands. They would rather speculate that the 3 that havent started a game Mina, Gomes and Bernard are either long term crocks or not up to Premiership quality. I am quite happy for all the sceptics to come back on here after all these lads have played 20 games then lets here your opinions, at least then they will be based on what you have actually seen rather than the perceptions you have about players you haven't seen play for Everton.

Kevin Prytherch
21 Posted 09/09/2018 at 12:51:14
Schneiderlin, Gueye, Sigurdsson???

Offers nothing.

Schneiderlin is not good enough for a battling defensive midfielder, or a ball playing one.

Sigurdsson is not good enough in open play to break down stubborn defences. Most of his assists and creativity comes from dead ball situations.

I for one hope that Bernard and Gomes have something about them because that midfield is an £80m mistake.

Matt Woods
22 Posted 10/09/2018 at 00:25:26
Sam, you haven't found a place for Richarlison???
Sam Hoare
23 Posted 10/09/2018 at 08:09:45
Matt, good spot! Meant to be on left wing. Was thinking how it was harsh of me to drop Walcott and typed his name by Freudian slip.

So my end of season XI (assuming new players settling well and young players pushing on – definitely will not happen for all) is:

Kenny Mina Zouma Digne
Gomes Schneiderlin
Lookman Bernard Richarlison

David Ellis
24 Posted 10/09/2018 at 10:56:53
Some are saying that Bernard didn't really shine against Bournemouth??? Seriously – he was only on for 15 minutes and for part of that time the game went dead after Keane's awful injury. He was skinned once in defence but he looked like he had something on the ball – but who cares, it was only 15 minutes. He needs half a season before we start to make a negative judgement.

Arteta was woeful in his first 15 minutes in the Premier League.

I must say that the 3 players signed by Silva and Brands who have started so far certainly look like first-team players... so every reason for optimism.

Brian Harrison
25 Posted 11/09/2018 at 19:44:27
Not sure how serious but Dominic Calvert-Lewin came off injured today playing for England Under-21s — he only came on in the 80th minute and went off on the 89th minute.
Gareth Clark
26 Posted 11/09/2018 at 20:26:45
Brian #25

I saw that - looks like Lookman will start? And also unsure if Walcott is fit again... Hopefully this injury list is cleared soon.

Kenny Holgate Zouma Baines(c)
Davies Schneiderlin
Dowell Sigurdsson Lookman

Subs: Stekelenburg, Browning, Mina, Digne, Bernard, Walcott, Niasse

Assuming Calvert-Lewin, Coleman & Gueye are out... and Mina, Bernard & Walcott are fit enough to play 30 minutes.

Sukhdev Sohal
27 Posted 16/09/2018 at 10:42:45
Bernard could come good. I think he's best suited to replacing Ademola if we are cruising in the 60th minute, which we should be.

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