After their absolute thrashing at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend, Ronald Koeman surely doesn’t have a plan B apart from encouraging his players stating that it was a one-off thing. They face tough fixtures on the trot now where the manager can hardly experiment with his squad with stakes very high.
Their next opponent is Serie A side Atalanta, and although their squad aren’t as star-studded as Spurs, it will surely be a tricky trip for the Toffees, given the Merseyside’s previous three visits to Italy. Atalanta are in Europe after 26 years but they are unbeaten in their five European home games.
Atalanta have never played Everton, which makes it all the more difficult for manager Koeman. The Dutch gaffer knows the importance of starting the campaign on a good note and in all probability, will go for a win away from home. A big hindrance will be playing Manchester United next weekend that is surely giving him selection problems.
Predicted 3-4-2-1 Everton Line-up vs Atalanta
The position under the bar is expected to be taken by Jordan Pickford once again. Following a miserable evening at the Wembley Stadium, where absolutely nothing went his way, the new signing would want to leave it behind in this game. The 23-year-old, has otherwise, been marvellous in previous games. His ball distribution and reflexes have been commendable and Koeman hasn’t benched him once.
We expect Everton to start with a three-man defence on Thursday as they would want to heap pressure over the opponents with an early goal with a more attacking approach. Koeman has used the setup before and we expect to see Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams starting. Jagielka‘s experience was sorely missed by Everton against Spurs and Koeman isn’t likely to bench him this time.
The two-man midfield is expected to be Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye. The duo has, until last week, provided the perfect balance of aerial dominance and tireless work rate. Koeman will look at the loopholes from the last game and try to get them right in this game.
The wing backs are expected to be Leighton Baines and Mason Holgate. Holgate was rested over the weekend and should start over Cuco Martina this time. Baines isn’t expected to play beyond 60 minutes as Ademola Lookman should take his place according to the condition of the tie.
Davy Klaassen had started as the number 10 last week and it didn’t make any impact whatsoever. We expect Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson to play in that position with Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the centre forward role.