The two teams who will lock horns at Goodison Park on Saturday, Everton and Leeds United share quite a few similarities. They both had fairly decent campaigns last season and finished in the top half of the table, but things have gone down horribly wrong this season, as from battling for a top ten spot, they are now fighting to avoid relegation.
The arrival of a former Liverpool manager in Rafael Benitez did not go down well with the Everton supporters, whose dissatisfaction only aggravated with time as Benitez’s team failed to produce decent performances.
The Rafa era is now a thing of the past and the Toffees are looking for new dawn under the stewardship of Frank Lampard. The job, however, is far from easy, as Lampard is taking over a team that is struggling at the sixteenth place in the competition with only 19 points from 21 matches.
Placed one position above their opposition, Leeds United have struggled to replicate their last season’s magic. Marcelo Bielsa’s team has accumulated 23 points from 22 matches and is six points clear from the drop zone.
Let us have a look at the in-depth analysis of what to expect from this fixture:
EVERTON IN PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Everton had a fantastic start to their 2021/22 Premier League campaign under the tutelage of former manager Rafael Benitez, as they lost only one of their first seven matches, winning four of them.
However, it remained the one and only highlight of the Benitez stint, which soon took a grim turn. The blue half of Merseyside lost six of their next seven matches, and while many would have thought that a 2-1 victory against Arsenal will get their campaign back on track, it was not the case.
Instead, the Toffees lost four of their next five matches, forcing an otherwise stubborn board to search for a saviour in Frank Lampard. The former Chelsea manager would not have wished for a better start as his team won 4-1 against Brentford in the FA Cup, but the joy was cut short soon by Newcastle United, who handed them a 3-1 defeat in their last Premier League tie.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST LEEDS UNITED
Frank Lampard will have his arms tied to his back whilst selecting a starting XI for this match, as many important members of the Everton squad are out with injuries. As many as four players in Tom Davies, Fabian Delph, Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina are nursing thigh issues.
Besides them, Abdoulaye Doucoure is still around three weeks away from regaining match sharpness, while Demarai Gray sustained a hip injury in the last match against Newcastle United. New signing Vitalii Mykolenko is recovering from illness and this match might come too soon for him.
Lampard is expected to set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Mason Holgate and Jonjoe Kenny expected to form the four-man backline. Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes could be used in a double pivot alongside the Brazilian workhorse, Allan.
If Demarai Gray does not get fit in time, former Tottenham Hotspur player Dele Alli could feature in an attacking trio alongside Anthony Gordon and Richarlison, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is expected to be the focal point of the Toffees’ attacks.
Probable Playing XI (4-2-3-1): Jordan Pickford; Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Mason Holgate, Jonjoe Kenny; Andre Gomes, Allan; Anthony Gordon, Dele Alli, Richarlison; Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
LEEDS UNITED IN PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Contrary to Everton, Leeds United have been poor from the start and it took them seven matches – nearly two months, to register their first Premier League victory of the season. Since then, the Whites have blown hot and cold.
Bielsa’s men lost only two of their next eight matches, but it was followed by a string of seven successive defeats, which included a shambolic 7-0 humiliation against Manchester City.
After bouncing back with successive wins against Burnley and West Ham United, Leeds once again took a step back with a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United. That being said, they will be fairly confident coming into this match as in their last game, they overcame a two-goal deficit to rescue a point against Aston Villa.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST EVERTON
Like Lampard, Marcelo Bielsa will also be dealing with a long list of absentees as six Leeds United players will be unavailable for this match. The Argentine tactician has revealed that Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips, both of whom are nursing thigh injuries, are in the final stages of their recovery. However, this match is expected to come too soon for them.
Junior Firpo is also out with a knee problem and he will be available in a week or two. Bielsa has further stated that English striker Patrick Bamford’s injury scenario is a strange one, as his ankle pain has not subsided even after treatment which is preventing him from returning to the grass. Besides these players, youngsters Sam Greenwood and Charlie Cresswell are also injured, but they were unlikely to make it to the starting XI in any case.
Bielsa is expected to stick to his 4-1-4-1 formation, where Robin Koch will act as the lone defensive midfielder, operating just ahead of the four-man backline of Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk and Stuart Dallas.
Wales attacker Daniel James is likely to retain his place as the Whites’ frontman, with the quartet of Raphinha, Rodrigo Moreno, Adam Forshaw and Jack Harrison deployed behind him.Probable Playing XI (4-1-4-1): Illan Meslier; Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk, Stuart Dallas; Robin Koch; Raphinha, Rodrigo Moreno, Adam Forshaw, Jack Harrison; Daniel James.
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