Positive fitness news can add fuel to Everton's gathering momentum

Sunday, 14 October, 2018 36comments  |  Jump to last

Marco Silva is seeing further progress on getting his formerly injured players closer to first-team action with the news that four of them came through a practice match at Finch Farm this past week, seemingly unscathed.

The international breaks can come as unwanted interruptions to the Premier League season but, as Everton's boss is finding, they can have their benefits in allowing extra time for members of the squad to build up their fitness. That is why Silva arranged a 60-minute, behind-closed-doors game with exactly that in mind.

Yerry Mina (foot), Andre Gomes (hamstring), James McCarthy (broken leg), Seamus Coleman (foot) and Beni Baningime (ankle) all reportedly took part in the match, furthering the possibility that all five could be passed medically fit for the visit of Crystal Palace next weekend.

It's unlikely that any of them would be drafted straight into the starting XI but there is a strong case for all four of the senior players being genuine contenders once they are deemed fully match fit.

It's a big boost at a time when the revolution under Silva and Director of Football, Marcel Brands, appears to be starting to take shape following the 2-1 victory at Leicester last Saturday. The Blues are priced at around 11/2 in the “betting without the big six” market and with indications that, at the least, reclaiming the mantle of “best of the rest” could be possible, there might be plenty of punters willing to use this bet365 bonus code to back them if they can maintain their upward trajectory over the coming weeks.

The win at the King Power Stadium was Everton's fourth away game of the season and there was an argument to be made to varying degrees in each case that Silva's side deserved to win based on their overall performance.

Phil Jagielka's red card at Wolves and the free-kick goal that came as a direct result decisively altered the direction of that game, making it that much more difficult for the Blues to defend the lead they would reclaim in the second half.

They tossed away a two-goal advantage at Bournemouth and were good value for a lead at Arsenal that never came, denied as they were by some indecisive finishing and a man-of-the-match display from Petr Cech.

The Leicester win, albeit secured with a world-class strike by Gyfli Sigurdsson after the Foxes had gone down to 10 men, felt like a significant milestone in Silva's nascent tenure, however, and it's conceivable that three positions in the team could be strengthened further by the return to fitness of the afore-mentioned players.

Two of them, Mina and Gomes, have yet to kick a ball in anger for their new club after signing for Everton in August and they are untested in England but their respective pedigrees offer the potential of being hugely valuable members of the side. Mina will bring aerial prowess at set-pieces and, it is hoped, a generally commanding presence in the back four while Gomes promises to add some guile and creativity in central midfield to compliment Idrissa Gueye's tenacity.

McCarthy and Coleman, meanwhile, are veterans of the Goodison scene, with the latter an automatic choice at right-back when fit and the former offering a bit more power and defensive-midfield resilience than can Tom Davies and Morgan Schneiderlin when required.

Assuming none of them suffer relapses, their availability will come at an important time given the announcement of further kick-off changes due to Sky Sports broadcasting that mean Everton will play their four Festive fixtures in the most compressed timeframe of all 20 Premier League clubs.

It means that, in addition to upcoming tests against Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and the first Merseyside derby of the campaign between now and mid-December, a Christmas schedule that is already historically hectic will be especially demanding and will require Silva to draw on the depth of his squad to steer the Blues into the New Year.


Reader Comments (36)

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Colin Glassar
1 Posted 14/10/2018 at 07:43:34
I've said it before and I will say it again, we won't see how good this team can be until November-December. I'm quite excited about our prospects this season.
Richard Duff
2 Posted 14/10/2018 at 08:23:03
I agree with Colin but think it may be a little longer, perhaps February onwards. Our new guys are new to the league, the weather and the fixture congestion.
Sam Hoare
3 Posted 14/10/2018 at 08:39:18
Is Coleman still an automatic starter at right back? Should anyone be an automatic starter?

I love Seamus as much as the next toffee but his form since returning from injury has been underwhelming (understandably) and Jonjoe Kenny seems to be doing a lot of good things. Think Seamus is my pick but I'd see it as a battle.

John G Davies
4 Posted 14/10/2018 at 09:00:04
Colin @1,

The signs of improvement are obvious. Silva, in a very short period, has us playing quicker, fast one- and two-touch passing football. When the signings bed in and the injury list clears, it can only get better.

While not writing this season off, next season is the big one for me. Players out and players in will see us challenge top six in my opinion.

Neil Copeland
5 Posted 14/10/2018 at 09:17:39
Sam, agreed – Seamus had a great game against Leicester at home last season in his first back from injury but has been disappointing by his standards since. If he regains his form, he is undoubtedly No 1 choice and, although I think Jonjoe is improving, there is still plenty for him to do. Hopefully the competition for places will help both move up a gear or three.
Jon Withey
6 Posted 14/10/2018 at 09:26:18
I wouldn't be breaking up the Keane and Zouma partnership just yet – but it seems we are close to having a decent enough squad available. Perhaps short of a traditional striker.

It will be good to have Seamus back, but it is Gomes that intrigues me most: Can he upgrade our midfield? As an option ahead of Schneiderlin and Davies?

McCarthy is worth having around to give Gueye a break.

I'm not sure if this team can find the consistency to challenge the top six this season, but I'm enjoying the football.

Jerome Shields
7 Posted 14/10/2018 at 10:10:25
I agree that Everton achieve much at Finch Farm regarding progress in consistency and a break in matches results in any improvement on Everton performance. I also disagree that Coleman is now an automatic choice for his position.
Vijay Nair
8 Posted 14/10/2018 at 10:34:04
The Echo reporting that Gana went off injured playing for Senegal against Sudan. Hopefully nothing major...
Robert Leigh
9 Posted 14/10/2018 at 10:37:36
Very exciting news – and I agree with others that it will be interesting to see Gomes in action and what he brings to the team.

If everyone is fit, we have a strong squad;

Coleman - Keane - Zouma - Digne
Gomes - Gana
Walcott - Sigurdsson - Bernard

Subs: Stekelenburg, Mina, Baines, McCarthy, Lookman, Tosun, Calvert-Lewin
Back-uo: Jagielka, Holgate, Kenny, Davies, Schneiderlin, Dowell, Niasse

Really good squad, and in a good place for the future if we can keep Zouma and Gomes (if he performs).

Derek Taylor
10 Posted 14/10/2018 at 10:41:42
Had he not relinquished our place in the League Cup so readily, Silva could have seen all these injury plagued 'stars' in first-team action quite soon. Surely nobody sees last week's much vaunted victorious team as the first choice, do they?
Gordon White
11 Posted 14/10/2018 at 11:23:50
I agree with Richard and Colin. Subject to injuries, I think the new year is when we'll see the true potential of this squad.

Fitness, as ever, is critical. Especially with key players like Richie, Bernie and Siggy.

I think Kenny has performed admirably, save for when he was left exposed against Leicester. Silva said he wanted competition and he's certainly got this in a number of positions including right-back.

I think everyone knows what to expect from Mina. I think he will be an improvement on Zouma, particularly in the opposition box. Although fair play to him. He's put in some great performances and steadied the ship. But let's not forget – it's his stated intention to return to Chelsea.

I think the player that intrigues me the most is Gomes. Another Arteta? Undoubtedly gifted and able to create many chances. I wonder about his defensive qualities?

I'm sure we will find out soon enough. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the games and looking forward to each match. And the future looks bright.

Niall McIlhone
12 Posted 14/10/2018 at 11:32:17
We need a good win against Palace and then a result against United – both achievable on current form. That will give great momentum for the tough Christmas fixtures. We will know by December what Silva's best first XI is. Exciting times.
Tony Everan
13 Posted 14/10/2018 at 12:49:58
Depth of the squad is crucial along with quality and competition. Brands and Silva have made the squad stronger and deeper with more quality and less players.

All teams get injuries and suspensions, this season we will cope with it. When other teams are weaker and under pressure with European fixtures, we can take advantage. Starting now and through November, December and January, we can make gains and a statement of intent.

I'm convinced with our quality and squad we can compete far better than recent seasons with any of the top 6. Bring it on!

Peter Lee
14 Posted 14/10/2018 at 12:56:42
Two points:

Jonjoe Kenny has developed really well and, in particular, his positioning when making aerial challenges. Given his height, I always thought that to be a problem. Well done to him and the staff for improving. The quality of his passing and crossing remains patchy, however, and, as a consequence, Coleman gets my nod. When fit, Coleman has greater pace and balance on the attack.

Very early days but assuming Richarlison can play as a central striker is precipitate. Admittedly, Morgan's repeated assaults on him arguably won us the match, and he showed great mobility across their back four but playing him with his back to goal is asking him to run before he can walk. He deserves a full season getting the ball with all the play to his right, able to go at pace as he chooses.

At the minute, I think the best option is to persist with Tosun. With Bernard in a position to see and encourage his runs in the box, he'll score goals.

Fran Mitchell
15 Posted 14/10/2018 at 13:23:41
Kenny is doing well and improving. Coleman was way below par before his injury, and should not be a certain starter. He gave the ball away, and his final ball was woeful. Hopefully he can get back to his best, his pace and drive really can cause trouble to teams, but Kenny deserves credit for how he has performed in a back-4 that has been chopped and changed so much, and without a true leader next to him.

The chance to bring in Gomes, maybe for Davies, would give our midfield another dimension. With a dynamic front 3 of Bernard, Richarlison, Walcott/Lookman, somebody creative in the middle could really lift us.

Mina for Keane would give us a centre-half partnership that no striker will look forward to, Zouma and Mina should win everything in the air, and also provide a threat from set-pieces, especially with Sigurdsson providing the crosses.

McCarthy also could provide energy to defensive midfield, especially in games against the top-5/6, where the game is often decided in midfield. A fully-fit (if possible) McCarthy alongside Gueye would certainly be full energy.

Baningime looked a good player also when given a chance, and hope he gets some minutes on the pitch.

We have a full squad, and options all over the pitch for the first time in my memory. Come February, if they have the desired impact, we could well be set for an exciting end of the season.

Derek Knox
16 Posted 14/10/2018 at 13:56:34
Certainly encouraging news for the forthcoming games. I can't abide International Breaks, but, as Lyndon so correctly pointed out, they do have their advantage of giving extra recovery time for injured players; but that's about all.

Like many have mentioned, I can't wait to see Gomes as our midfield does need to be more mobile and link play up better. Let's just hope and pray that he gives us that much-needed boost.

Rob Halligan
17 Posted 14/10/2018 at 14:25:40
Derek, like you I too am looking forward to seeing Gomes play. No doubt he will come in, do a brilliant job in our midfield, and, before we know it, he will be back to Barcelona.

I can't recall any options to buy when we got him on loan; does anyone know if this is the case?

In the two years he played for Barcelona, he played a total of 78 games, so clearly they must rate him quite highly. He cost Barcelona €35M, so hopefully a figure well within our reach should Barca decide to let him go. Only 25 years old as well, so still plenty of years ahead of him.

Sam Hoare
18 Posted 14/10/2018 at 14:50:23
Neither Zouma nor Gomes has an option to buy in their deals. More's the pity, particularly with Zouma, who I think has been mostly very solid and offers a similar physical presence to Mina but with more acceleration and Premier League experience; I expect the towering Colombian to be caught out on occasion for pace and positioning in his debut season.

Gomes remains an enigma, a hot and cold type (mainly cold in Barcelona) and I think Tom Davies has been better than some give him credit for.

For me, the team that beat Leicester on their patch is the first team till one of them underperforms or another shows something that demands their inclusion.

Andrew Ellams
19 Posted 14/10/2018 at 15:41:28
I can't see Gomes walking into the starting eleven now Davies has been given the armband.
Michael Kenrick
20 Posted 14/10/2018 at 16:04:39
Nice and upbeat from all and sundry, and sorry to piss on yer chips but I'm still not convinced about our ability to score goals.

I love to see Richarlison smash 'em in but was hugely disappointed to see his numerous shots all fielded a little too easily by Petr Cech when more invention and guile should have given us the edge in that game at The Emirates.

And I'm concerned that he is going to be heavily targeted — although that worked to our advantage in the end at Leicester. But all it needs is for Mourinho to come out ahead of the match at Old Trafford and say:

"They have this young Brazilian boy and I have seen how he falls over a little much. The referees they are buying this too much, and for me, yes, it is a concern."

It'll be Wenger and Johnson all over again!

Walcott will score a few but miss a whole lot more... Tosun has been getting the service but delivering only a 2-yard doozy... and Calvert-Lewin? Well... no. He can't hit the ball with any authority and, as a striker, that really is a useless non-skill.

Hopefully the brilliant trickery of Bernard, coupled with some more creativity from midfield, and a few (exceedingly rare) thunderbolts from Sigurdsson will create the momentum we need in attack, but 13 goals in 8 games is well below the kind of return we need.

Michael Kenrick
21 Posted 14/10/2018 at 16:17:49
After writing that, I just read a fluff piece in the Echo saying how brilliant our goalscoring record is because we have scored 10 out of 13 from open play.

Er... doesn't that rather show up our poor record from set-pieces?

Perhaps that will get better with Mina on the field but Sigurdsson's deliveries range for poor to okay... I think they need to be brilliant to beat current Premier League defences.

Lots of room for improvement!

Derek Knox
22 Posted 14/10/2018 at 16:25:28
Rob @17, yes I believe there is no option to buy at the end of the loan as it stands, but because of his injury and being unable to play as yet, Barca may review that situation come the end of his stint with us.

Of course this is all so dependent on how he performs, I think many of us have pinned hopes on him being our saviour in that department, which apart from the striker situation, is definitely in need of improvement and consistency.

It's always a double-edged sword having said that; if he plays really well, Barca will either want him back, or demand top dollar for him.

Jon Withey
23 Posted 14/10/2018 at 16:36:11
Not getting carried away – but nice to feel a little hope after seasons of dross now.
Mike Gaynes
24 Posted 14/10/2018 at 16:46:43
Everybody here sure does seem excited about Gomes.

Well, there may not be an "option to buy" in the loan deal per se, but Barca won't want him back. He's been tried, discarded and replaced (Arthur and Vidal) and I'm pretty sure we can buy him if we want him without spending top dollar.

I've said this before... he will not be effective in the holding midfield role. His passing and dribbling are sublime, but he's a hack job defensively. At both Barca and Valencia, he collected more yellow cards than goals and assists combined.

He may wind up being cover for Sigurdsson (which we need) rather than a starter ahead of Davies, Gana or Schneiderlin. We'll see.

Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 14/10/2018 at 17:08:45
BTW, Tosun starting for Turkey against Russia right now in the Nations League game. On ESPNnews for those of us in the US.
Sam Hoare
26 Posted 14/10/2018 at 18:40:06
Yes, Mike, I've always thought Gomes would prove to be the least effective of our Summer signings. Though we are short of effective central midfielders and, if he can recapture the Valencia days, he may yet prove useful as a more creative presence in the middle or Gylfi alternative.
Mike Gaynes
27 Posted 14/10/2018 at 18:52:39
Tosun invisible for 90 minutes in a dismal Turkish performance.
Clive Rogers
28 Posted 14/10/2018 at 18:57:06
The main thing Kenny needs to improve on is his tackling, or rather his mistiming of tackles. He has been left on the floor a few times recently, could not cope with Chilwell, and was at fault for Leicester's goal. He commits to a tackle when he can't win the ball, and gets left on his backside. Otherwise, his game has improved weekly.
Derek Knox
29 Posted 14/10/2018 at 19:44:51
Mike G, so Tosun has carried his Club form on to the National Stage?

You cannot deny that he is consistent! :-)

Andy Crooks
30 Posted 14/10/2018 at 20:54:55
Mike Gaynes, I appreciate your views on Gomes. I reckon if he stays unfit he could well be our player of the year. McCarthy might just pip him to it, though.
Simon Smith
31 Posted 14/10/2018 at 21:57:13
Great news.
Bill Gienapp
32 Posted 14/10/2018 at 22:52:32
As Mike says, a deal is almost certainly there to be made for Gomes if we're interested – Barcelona have little interest in welcoming him back to the fold.

The interesting one is Zouma. He clearly wants to make it at Chelsea – he came out and said as much at the start of the season. But he's been loaned out two straight seasons now, and if he isn't in Sarri's plans, he may find himself at a career crossroads.

Gerry Ring
33 Posted 15/10/2018 at 07:40:33
Things are definitely looking a lot more positive with quality players returning from injury.

In relation to James McCarthy, it's possible that the long lay off will have allowed him to recover from all of the other niggling injuries and get back to his best form. We definitely need his steely presence in midfield.

Regarding Kenny v Coleman, Jonjoe hasn't shown enough for me,to keep Seamus out. His tendency to jump into the tackle and take the dummy has seen him being left on his behind, while his opponent heads for goal. This is a part of his game that he needs to work on.

Tony Everan
34 Posted 15/10/2018 at 09:36:26
Some interesting debates all over:

Jonjoe vs Seamus

Mina vs Keane or Zouma

Richarlison vs Calvert-Lewin or Tosun

Gomes vs Davies

I firmly believe If a side is winning, don't change it. It works!

Injuries, dips in form will happen; then it's time to make alterations.

Ajay Gopal
35 Posted 15/10/2018 at 09:54:51
We have options all over the pitch. If Gomes fits in and Baningime continues with some eye-catching cameos that he showed last season and Davies continues to develop, then I don't see a role for Schneiderlin, to be honest. Hopefully, McCarthy will return to his best, and he and Gana can really dominate the midfield against the Top 6. Really looking forward to seeing Mina, Gomes, Baningime and McCarthy play for us again.

I really like to do my Everton British-Irish XI vs Rest of the World XI:

Coleman Keane Holgate Baines
Davies McCarthy
Lookman Calvert-Lewin Walcott

Mina Zouma Digne
Gueye Gomes Baningime
Bernard Tosun Richarlison

3-1 for the foreigners, I would say! With Pickford with a couple of worldies to keep the scoreline down.

Steve Ferns
36 Posted 16/10/2018 at 03:08:50
I think your RotW team is too imbalanced with that back 3 and no width. Move the Irish lads to RotW and play Baningime for the British side, as he is eligible, and yes, the RotW would now thrash them.

British XI:
Kenny Keane Holgate Baines
Davies Baningime
Walcott Calvert-Lewin Lookman

RotW XI:
Coleman Mina Zouma Digne
Gueye Gomes
Bernard Tosun Richarlison

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