Moise Kean is back in the squad but is unlikely to start if Rafael Benitez's comments during his pre-match press conference are any indication
Everton travel to Elland Road today hoping to build on the stirring comeback win over Southampton they achieved in Rafael Benitez's first match in charge.
The Blues recovered from the concession of a first-half goal against the Saints to win 3-1, thanks in large part to an impressive performance from Richarlison, and they will make the trip to Yorkshire in good heart even if they will be short of a full complement of players.
Everton will again be without James Rodriguez, who is still isolating as a precaution in line with Covid-19 protocols, but look set to have Moise Kean available, that despite continuing speculation over the Italian striker's future. Jean-Philippe Gbamin has trained with the squad this week but was rated as doubtful by his manager in Benitez's pre-match press conference.
Benitez stressed that both Kean (who has restored the Everton-related photos he recently removed from Instagram) and James will be part of his plans until 31st August at least and that the former could be called upon if needed before then. It wasn't a definitive statement on the likelihood that either player will still be at the club beyond the deadline and it's unlikely Kean will start even if he is included in the travelling party.
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Indeed, it's difficult to see the new boss making many changes to the side that lined up against Southampton, although the uncertain first-half performance from Mason Holgate and Michael Keane — it was the latter's error that gifted the Saints the lead — may prompt him to start Yerry Mina in one of their stead given that the Colombian has had the benefit of another week's training following his return from Copa America duty. Ben Godfrey is believed to still be self-isolating.
Fitness permitting, the rest of the team should be the same and Benitez can draw on Everton's performance at Leeds under his predecessor for inspiration. Back in February, Carlo Ancelotti took his charges to Elland Road and came away with a handsome 2-1 win that went a long way to atoning for what was a poor display in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park the previous November.
Goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin put the Toffees into a 2-0 lead in the second game, enough to earn one of those eleven away victories under the Italian despite Raphinha's goal early in the second half. It was a performance of rare hunger and energy from the 2020-21 edition of Everton, one closer in character to last week's opening-day victory and the best moments from the team's two friendlies in Orlando last month. That bodes well.
Leeds, who finished last season strongly and eventually placed above Everton on goal difference, come into this fixture nursing some wounds from a 5-1 drubbing at Old Trafford in their season-opener. Manchester United ruthlessly exposed some of the defensive frailties that Marcelo Bielsa's side exhibited last term and there was precious little attacking penetration of the kind that saw the Lilywhites announce their return to the top flight with a 5-4 defeat at Anfield in the first match of 2020-21.
Bielsa will be without Diego Llorente but is expected to have Kalvin Phillips available now that he is fully integrated back into Leeds's squad following his post-Euro 2020 break.
Benitez will expect a response from Bielsa's men but will look to exploit all of Leeds's weaknesses at the back while impressing on his own defence to be stronger than was the case last week. A win would provide another injection of belief and momentum into the team as it heads into the final 10 days of the transfer window and the upcoming challenges posed by Huddersfield in the EFL Cup and Brighton at the Amex Stadium beyond that.
No live coverage of the game on TV in the UK but the match will be screened live in various markets around the world, including on Peacock in the USA (7 am PDT / 10 am EDT).
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 21 August 2021
Referee: Darren England
VAR: Kevin Friend
Last Time: Leeds United 1 - 2 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Townsend, Gray, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
Reader Comments (49)
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1 Posted 21/08/2021 at 05:11:55
I thought you'd forgotten to do the preview!
I hope you're right on Mina over Holgate. Rafa's approach may be exactly what we need. It would be nice to plunge Leeds into crisis with two defeats from two. Be interesting to see if Kean is on the bench instead of Broadhead and more so gets a run-out. I've no specific animosity to Leeds but they aren't us.
2 Posted 21/08/2021 at 05:25:21
Sorry, gotta be calm.
Definitely Mina for Holgate, and maybe the 4-2-3-1 from last week's second half instead of the 4-4-2 we started with. And Coleman, Digne and Allan had better be at the top of their game given Leeds's varied attacking abilities.
3 Posted 21/08/2021 at 05:49:11
The second thing we'll have to deal with will be the Bielsa factor. A total fanatic who will demand and get the full 100% from his players. Everyone who plays Leeds has to deal with the Bielsa factor. There has not been much structure to his Leeds teams, but his players show up all over the place and, if you don't match their efforts, they will run all over you.
As Lyndon has just reminded me, we went for them at Elland Road last time, it was one of our rare performances on the front foot and we proved to be too good for them, despite their lung bursting effort.
We have better players than Leeds. We have better players than everyone who finished outside the top eight last season. Rafa's task is to get out players, not just to believe it, but to know it.
The odds makers believe we have a 2/1 chance of beating Leeds today. I think I'll avail myself of some of that before I turn in this morning.
I'll be on the Live Forum after a few hours kip, I don't mind if the moaners, the negative, or the abusive turn up. I Just hope the Hillman Minxes stay the fuck away.
4 Posted 21/08/2021 at 05:59:15
5 Posted 21/08/2021 at 06:35:37
I watched the manager's press conference back last night. Have to say, he is very good at handling the journalists, who inevitably asked dumb questions.
Without reacting and stating "we are Everton & I am Rafa Benitez" his response when asked about him facing Bielsa's Leeds for the first time as if it was a big thing was excellent. Smiled and very calmly reminded them he'd dealt with him often when at Valencia and they were in Italy at the same time, so he knows all about him!
6 Posted 21/08/2021 at 07:07:39
7 Posted 21/08/2021 at 07:14:21
We showed last week that we have it in our locker, but I anticipate an initial "batten down the hatches" approach today.
Put your seatbelts on blues, and if you bite your nails, wear gloves until half time!!
8 Posted 21/08/2021 at 07:21:19
"I'll be on the Live Forum after a few hours kip, I don't mind if the moaners, the negative, or the abusive turn up. I Just hope the Hillman Minxes stay the fuck away." What about the Hillman Imps?
Joking apart, I get where you are coming from. I used to love the Live Forum during the match, but it does seem different these days, and has lost some of its 'atmosphere' now, whether that is down to the Hillman Minxes / Imps or Avengers is a matter for conjecture.
As for the game today, all the so-called experts and pundits have us down for a mauling today, but play the way we did second half against the Sinbads, and we can get something there and keep the Rafa bandwagon rolling. Any win breeds confidence, so let's hope it hasn't evaporated so soon after a week.
Agree too with calls for Mina over Holgate, who I just don't rate at all, and I think the usually dependable but unspectacular Keane made errors last week by playing alongside him, and having little or no connection. Although his dithering that led to their goal was unforgivable and an individual error, but in defence of Keane, no-one in midfield was 'showing for the ball' but he still could have hoofed it somewhere!
9 Posted 21/08/2021 at 07:31:46
It is absolutely crucial not to concede an early goal. I would sacrifice a winger (Gray to come on late and hit them on a counter) for more solidity in the midfield in the form of Davies providing protection to Coleman.
Coleman Mina Keane Digne
Davies Allan Doucouré Townsend
Subs: Begovic, Holgate, Kenny, Nkounkou, Gray, Gbamin (/Delph), Iwobi, Kean
10 Posted 21/08/2021 at 07:39:46
A couple of lessons from last week that must be learned; Richarlison central playing off Calvert-Lewin and Gray on the left, not the other way round.
I would also like to see Mina as the left-sided centre-back with Holgate on the right and Keane on the bench.
Full support, Blues! Onward Evertonians 💙
11 Posted 21/08/2021 at 07:57:51
Took a few cheese cube treats, but that's what they eventually told me.
12 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:06:30
But defensively they are certainly frail. The game itself could be an absolute cracker.
13 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:15:53
14 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:25:39
15 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:26:36
I watched the highlights of Utd v Leeds. Utd ran at and through them, they can't defend high balls, and their keeper doesn't like daisy cutters.
I like Lyndon's team.
Up the blues!!
16 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:40:14
17 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:48:34
18 Posted 21/08/2021 at 08:57:21
I think I may be more of a Morris Marina but I'll be there, today.
Horrible club, horrible ground and horrible fans! I think I've only seen us win there twice in 50 odd years and one of those was a cup match.
19 Posted 21/08/2021 at 09:01:45
20 Posted 21/08/2021 at 09:40:57
21 Posted 21/08/2021 at 09:48:03
Its time we start playing our centre backs based on the opposition and not just how well they play in previous games.
22 Posted 21/08/2021 at 09:58:43
23 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:13:28
24 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:19:40
The optimist in me says a narrow win.
25 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:23:43
I liken him to Linford Christie, quick off the mark or out of the blocks, but shite at football. (especially defending) Should be on the bench the park bench ! :-)
26 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:34:33
It's strange / interesting that over the past two years, prior to Godfrey joining, they all took turns to be the strongest (preferred) centreback ahead of each other.
Holgate's pace will come in handy, as we don't have a pacy enough backline. If you are looking at leadership, I think Mina will definitely add to strength to that.
Though, when you look at last season, Keane is more likely to either make his way up the pitch, for headers or to carry the ball forward.
So, it's really a toss up.
I think the front four is as solid as it gets; if anything, I think Rafa should ask them to interchange their positions (Gray/Townsend/Richarlison). All three of them can play across the line, and their mobility can create gaps. It'll keep the opposition guessing. Iwobi to come on in the 2nd half, if any of these three are not playing well.
27 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:34:57
28 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:36:17
29 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:42:32
30 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:44:33
We know they play a very high tempo game so I think the first 20 minutes could be crucial, keep them out then try and impose ourselves. We can't afford to play an open game as that will suit them down to the ground.
31 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:47:34
32 Posted 21/08/2021 at 10:52:13
33 Posted 21/08/2021 at 11:00:10
34 Posted 21/08/2021 at 11:02:28
Aside from the clanger, Keane and Holgate did ok last week. I can only recall Southampton having 2 shots. Theres not too much to choose between any of our centre halves currently. Godfrey is obviously the future. The other 3 are competing to partner him in my book.
Id be happy with the same team as last week, but I suspect Rafa may tinker to strengthen the midfield.
35 Posted 21/08/2021 at 11:39:43
36 Posted 21/08/2021 at 11:45:53
I believe it's streaming on Peacock, but only available in the US of A.
37 Posted 21/08/2021 at 11:51:55
38 Posted 21/08/2021 at 11:54:04
They're my two tried and trusted places for streams. Watch out for the pop-ups and make sure you have good Internet security!
39 Posted 21/08/2021 at 12:07:25
40 Posted 21/08/2021 at 12:11:36
41 Posted 21/08/2021 at 12:15:16
If we get second half Everton from last week against Leeds from last season, this could be a proper end-to-end humdinger. Not one for the fainthearted Evertonian or Moyes induced generation!
Here's hoping for a performance. If we get a performance, a result usually follows. Focus on the performance not the result.
And then if we don't get a result, at least we watch our team perform.
42 Posted 21/08/2021 at 12:25:28
If we were at home we would be favs, the obvious result is a draw I suppose and I would probably take that, with a win as a bonus.
Its really too close to call.
43 Posted 21/08/2021 at 12:41:14
Heading into London for the afternoon to find somewhere to watch the results come in. I'm all for Camden, but the other half is thinking more London Bridge area. She always did have a bit more class than me!!
44 Posted 21/08/2021 at 13:36:13
45 Posted 21/08/2021 at 13:45:31
46 Posted 21/08/2021 at 13:45:57
Not just Everton players that are self- isolating. The Newcastle keeper apparently lost two stone in a week while in hospital - no second jab.
47 Posted 21/08/2021 at 13:53:51
48 Posted 21/08/2021 at 14:04:19
The various managers quoted, whilst advocating vaccination, emphasise "it's a personal choice". Why not "it's a moral obligation to other people and to the employer who you expect to pay you when you're isolating after contact with an infected individual"? It's bad enough missing players through injury, without having to deal with these self inflicted and avoidable absences.
As well as avoiding signing injury prone players, I'd also avoid non-vaccinated ones who effectively knowingly put themselves in same position vis-a-vis potential unavailability. That, or insist on a clause stipulating no pay during self inflicted and avoidable absences.
49 Posted 21/08/2021 at 14:05:15
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