Time to assess Everton’s list. A few fantasy options, all of which are guaranteed a starting spot… but where will they line up?
Everton look set to maintain the 4-5-1 /4-4-1-1 variation that they stuck with last year. The squad looks relatively similar, just with Naismith replacing the American-bound Cahill.
Presuming he stays, Baines represents a solid choice, as he will remain as first choice left-back all season. His penalty duties and free kick ability will mean he has a massive potential to score for you. That is, if Manchester United don’t pounce for him first…
The CB pair looks like it will be Jagielka and Heitinga. This COULD change however, If Moyes opts to be more defensive, given that he is playing at Old Trafford in the first week. This could see a defensive 4-5-1 be adopted, with Distin to be given a start in CB, and Heitinga drop into a defensive mid position. It would also probably mean Gibson drops to the bench and Naismith moved to a flank. None of Jagielka, Distin or Heitinga are really fantasy relevant though. The Right-back battle looks like it comes down to two other fantasy irrelevant players, Hibbert and Neville. Hibbert played relatively well when preferred in the position to Neville at the end of last year, so I’m tipping him to maintain his superiority.
Looks fairly set, and I’m tipping Osman to partner Fellaini in the heart of the midfield. Both are tireless workers. Rodwell potentially could start, but I’m unsure of his fitness since he tore his hamstring. Will definitely be getting games as the season rolls on though, the kid is one for the future. Same goes for Ross Barkley. The re-signing of Pienaar means Everton add the creative flair into their midfield that it so desperately needs, whilst Gibson is a tremendous striker of the ball in and around the box, and should get the nod opposite Stevie-P. He lacks a bit of the pace and creativity that Pienaar possesses, but what he doesn’t have he makes up for in class.
First things first, Jelavic and Naismith will start for Everton. Jelavic will be up front, thats for sure. The one variable however, looks to be the inclusion of Naismith. He has the potential to play as a second striker, play on the flank or play in the hole, as Kagawa will do for Man Utd. I think that he’ll start where Tim Cahill left off, and will occupy the area behind his Croatian counterpart. One thing to be wary of with both of them however, during their time together as the strikers for Rangers, Naismith scored the majority of the goals. Whether that will translate to the PL remains to be seen, but I can’t help but feel Jelavic may become Demba Ba Mk II- foiled by the addition of another attacker. I could be wrong though, so watch closely!
The thing to take from this is that all four of the fantasy relevant players from Everton will start (Baines, Pienaar, Jelavic and Naismith.) Their positions are safe, so if you are worried about their playing time, don’t be! (Unless Baines ships off to Manchester.)
As always, questions are welcome, or alternative XI’s can be posted in the comments.