As the summer has gone on and preseason games have been played, we have seen Everton put out a number of different lineups against their opponents. Whether it be a friendly vs. FC Twente or a Europa League match against MFK Ruzomberok, Ronald Koeman has presented us with a number of ways he could trot his men out on Saturday at Goodison Park vs. Stoke City. With a host of new players to fit into the squad, the lineup is certainly up in the air for the season opener. There are only a few real certainties in this squad and a bunch of other parts that could be interchangeable from there. With that said, I took a look at some of the different ways that the Toffees could line up as they take on Stoke City:
5-2-1-2 (from back to front)
Pickford; Baines, Williams, Keane, Holgate, Davies; Schneiderlin, Gueye; Klaasen; Rooney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin
The first formation I want to take a look at is certainly the most defensive approach to this game in terms of the match up. Koeman does not go with 5 in the back often, but we have seen him use it to give more freedom to his attack-minded fullbacks. In this situation, I think it would be more likely that we see the young starlet from last season, Tom Davies, playing that right wing back role because he is more dominant going forward than the typical right back options and does not need to worry about tracking back as much. Up front, it is likely we see another youngster pairing up with Rooney in Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Now, we have seen both Sandro and Calvert-Lewin in this position in the preseason, but I think it is safe to say that Calvert-Lewin looked much better there. His big frame allows him to be a target man and Rooney to make those runs off the last defender. But, in a game against a Stoke City side that always seems to have a tough defense to break down, this line-up is the least likely because of its more defensive approach.
Pickford; Baines, Williams, Keane, Kenny; Schneiderlin, Gueye; Mirallas, Klaasen, Sandro; Rooney
This next formation is a little more attack-minded with 5 midfielders going forward. Kenny, who we have seen a couple of times this season, seems to be the fan favorite to start at right back and I would have to agree. He brings much more going forward than Martina or Holgate and is, honestly, the closest of those we have seen to the injured Seamus Coleman at the position. Other than that, I think it is pretty certain that the rest of these players would be the starters in this formation. Sandro looked much better coming up on the right wing than feeding off Rooney in the middle and his crosses were always in a position for someone to get on the end of. While the formation focuses more on offense though, I can’t see Koeman leaving Rooney up there by himself with the outside midfielders playing further back.
Pickford; Baines, Williams, Keane, Kenny; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Klaasen; Mirallas, Rooney, Sandro
The last formation I want to take a look at is the 4-3-3, a formation that Koeman has used once already this preseason when the squad took on Gor Mahia in their very first match of the summer. We did not get many hints from there, though, because both Sandro and Pickford were unavailable and the starters only played a half. Nonetheless, this lineup suits the Toffees the best against Stoke because the plan will be to attack against a more defensive team, and thus the difference in terms of quality between the sides could shine through. The lineup would be the pretty much the same as the 4-2-3-1, but it would put Sandro and Mirallas in more advanced roles on the wings, a place where both of them seemed to thrive during the preseason.
Altogether, these seem like the most likely options for Koeman going into the first game of the season, but whether it is one of these or a different lineup, we will all just be happy to see competitive soccer back on our TVs on a weekly basis. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful game as we dive into another Premier League Season.