Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has questioned the balance of Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, after the Toffees produced an “embarrassing” display at Liverpool in the FA Cup.
Ancelotti named, what Nicholas feels to be, an attacking line-up at Anfield, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin joined up-front by Theo Walcott and Richarlison, whilst Gylfi Sigurdsson partnered Morgan Schneiderlin in the midfield of a 3-4-2-1.
The former Arsenal and Celtic striker feels that going with three attackers, an attack-minded midfielder and two overlapping wing-backs in Djibril Sidibe and Lucas Digne did not give the side what we needed to overcome a Liverpool XI he is adamant we out to have challenged.
Instead, Nicholas feels more attention needed to be given to those tasked with defending Jordan Pickford’s net, and it will especially be the case against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon as the Seagulls will want to get on the ball and dictate the flow of proceedings.
“Everton should have been three-up [against Liverpool] and they fell apart in the second half,” Nicholas wrote in his column for Sky Sports. “This was due to a lack of desire and spirit at Anfield. They caved in, and Duncan Ferguson would have hounded them if he was still in charge.
“It was quite embarrassing to be beaten by the side that Liverpool put out. Carlo Ancelotti would have had stern words, but when you look at what Everton have got, the balance is not right. They play an attacking midfield – Theo Walcott has been playing better, Richarlison is a threat and scores goals, so I get that side of it.
“Is the balance at the back right? I don’t think it is. Brighton like to get on the ball, and again, as well as they have played, they are the same as Burnley, just four points above the drop. They are one point behind Everton, but Ancelotti needs a reaction and that is the only reason I am going for them to win [2-1].”
What will the result be vs Brighton?
Brighton have been among the Premier League’s best sides for retaining possession this season, with Graham Potter’s Seagulls’ average share of 53.9% only bettered by Manchester City (60.5%), Liverpool (58.2%), Chelsea (57.2%) and Leicester (54.8%), per WhoScored data.
The Amex Stadium natives also rank seventh for possession during their away games, having averaged 53% in their ten matches on the road despite only winning twice – coming at Watford on the opening weekend and at Arsenal on December 5.
We, on the other hand, sit tenth for possession at home with a level 50% share of the ball, which will offer Brighton plenty of encouragement that they will be given chances to leave their stamp on Goodison Park come Saturday afternoon.
In other Everton news, the club have been offered the chance to sign a £4.5m-rated midfielder during the January window.