Everton will look to return to winning ways as they travel away from Goodison Park to take on Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Toffees head into this match off the back of a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out in the league, which was their first loss in five games in all competitions.
Sean Dyche’s side racked up 2.47 xG – to their opponent’s 2.22 – throughout the encounter but were unable to take their chances in front of goal.
They are up against a Forest team – managed by Steve Cooper – with one win in nine top-flight games and only three wins all season so far.
Dyche could look to make some changes to the starting XI that lined up against United in order to get back to winning ways. With this in mind, here is a predicted Everton team, with three possible alterations, to face the Tricky Trees…
Starting off in goal, the England international – Jordan Pickford – could continue his string of starts between the sticks. The former Sunderland man has played every minute of their 13 Premier League appearances and kept two clean sheets so far.
The first change to the XI could come at right-back with Nathan Patterson being unleashed ahead of the veteran summer signing Ashley Young, who could be ditched.
Against his former club, the free transfer from Aston Villa had a mare as he looked sluggish and struggled against the movement and pace of the opposition frontline.
The 38-year-old defender lost three of his five ground duels and two of his three aerial battles, which shows that United players got the better of him more often than not in physical contests.
His lack of sharpness was evident when Young left a dangling leg out for Anthony Martial to duly trip over to win a penalty for the away side – via the help of VAR.
This could, therefore, open the door for Patterson to come in for his sixth Premier League start of the season. The Scotland international has not made an error that has led to an opposition shot or goal, or given away any penalties, in his first five starts.
At the heart of the defence, James Tarkowski could continue at centre-back. The former Burnley colossus has been dominant in the air for the Toffees this season with an aerial duel success rate of 66% across 13 starts.
Alongside Tarkowski, it would not be a surprise to see Jarrad Branthwaite start his 12th top-flight game of the campaign. The left-footed ace has made four tackles and interceptions and 7.5 ball recoveries per match so far this term.
The Ukraine international – Vitaliy Mykolenko – could keep his place on the left side of the back four. He has scored two goals in his last three Premier League games and could provide an attacking thrust from left-back.
On the right side of the midfield, Jack Harrison could be ditched from the XI in order to open the door for Arnaut Danjuma to line up in attack.
The English winger played the full 90 minutes against United and struggled badly. He missed one ‘big chance’, completed one of his three attempted dribbles, and only created 0.08 xA throughout the game.
Danjuma has scored one goal in three starts for Everton so far this season and completed 50% of his attempted dribbles across nine appearances in total.
The versatile Dutchman, who produced 15 goals and seven assists in his last full season in English football for Bournemouth in the Championship, could be given an opportunity to showcase his quality after Harrison’s poor showing last time out.
James Garner could keep his his place in the middle of the park as he has been in fine form so far this season. The 22-year-old maestro has created four ‘big chances’ and produced 1.3 key passes per game across 12 starts throughout the 2023/24 campaign.
The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder could keep his place if Belgium international Amadou Onana does not recover from a calf injury in time to feature against Forest.
Idrissa Gueye has made 3.3 tackles and interceptions per match across ten top-flight appearances as a ball-winning anchor in front of the defence.
On the left of the midfield, Dyche could stick with former England U21 international Dwight McNeil. The 24-year-old talent has created four ‘big chances’ in nine Premier League starts this term, after a return of seven goals and three assists last season.
Just behind the starting centre-forward, Abdoulaye Doucoure should keep his place as the former Watford man is able to offer a significant goal threat. He has scored four goals in 13 Premier League matches this season and, therefore, has the ability to be a match-winner for the Toffees.
The third and final change to the starting XI could be summer signing Youssef Chermiti. He could come in to replace England international Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who started against United.
With one goal in his last seven games in all competitions, and none in his last four, the English marksman’s position in the side is not guaranteed.
He has zero goals, zero assists, zero ‘big chances’ created and one key pass in his last three Premier League appearances for Everton.
Chermiti, on the other hand, came off the bench and created one ‘big chance’ in eight minutes and won all three of his aerial battles against United.
The 19-year-old talent, who was hailed as an “interesting” talent by scout Jacek Kulig, is yet to start a Premier League match for the Toffees and his cameo last time out could push him into contention for his full debut in the division.
It could be a breakthrough moment for the teenage ace if he is able to grasp the opportunity with both hands and prove that he has the ability to lead the line for Dyche’s side moving forward this season.