Duncan Ferguson could be taking charge of his last game as Everton’s caretaker manager with Carlo Ancelotti expected to replace him, so he’ll be desperate to end his tenure strongly.
What will the result be vs Arsenal on Saturday?
The Toffees host Arsenal at Goodison Park on Saturday and have no fresh injury concerns, so Ferguson could stick with the same starting eleven that has earned him one win and two draws (in 90 minutes) since his appointment.
Everton’s fixture list might be a problem, however, as the Blues have their third game in six days and have two more matches to come after Christmas – Arsenal (December 21), Burnley (December 26), Newcastle United (December 28).
Ferguson even admitted to Everton’s official website: “There is some concern… (playing) three games in six days,” so he might consider changes to his lineup. It could make sense to prioritise more winnable fixtures against Burnley and Newcastle than Arsenal.
Everton’s caretaker boss will have a decision to make on Leighton Baines. The 35-year-old has started Everton’s last two games and may not be capable of playing a third game in less than a week.
Whether he can contain Nicolas Pepe/Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains to be seen too. If Lucas Digne is fit to start, he should get the nod.
Ferguson could also drop Bernard after Wednesday’s EFL Cup defeat to Leicester. Richarlison may replace him, and the extra slot in attack could be filled by the returning Gylfi Sigurdsson in a playmaker role.
Fabian Delph would likely replace Mason Holgate in the engine room if he passes a late fitness test, but given the 30-year-old has been injured for nearly seven weeks and has had just one light training session, it’s hard to see him starting.
Predicted XI to face Arsenal (4-4-1-1): Jordan Pickford; Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne; Alex Iwobi, Tom Davies, Mason Holgate, Richarlison; Gylfi Sigurdsson; Dominic Calvert-Lewin