Maybe a few weeks or months down the road Evertonians will look back on the start of December 2019 and wonder, as they did two years ago when the club lifted itself clear of relegation danger during the transition from David Unsworth and Sam Allardyce, what all the panic was about. But this past week, after humiliation in the Merseyside derby, the dismissal of Marco Silva and with a daunting run of fixtures in the run-up to Christmas, there was a deep sense of foreboding at Everton.
There may have been 23 more games to go in the Premier League season before kick-off today and, as the big man himself acknowledged to the press yesterday, plenty of time for this team to drag itself out of the bottom three but Duncan Ferguson will have been acutely aware of the low ebb that Everton found themselves after three successive defeats.
Everton badly needed a result today; one point would have done in the circumstances but three would have been priceless and cometh the hour, cometh the Talisman, wearing Howard Kendall's watch it would later be revealed, to inspire from a hitherto listless and directionless team a performance of high intensity, desire and determination that was matched by a raucous and then rapturous Goodison Park.
The team sheet, featuring the much-maligned Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin, Theo Walcott and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a player who hadn’t scored since October, might not have been greeted with much enthusiasm but the trust instilled in them by Ferguson was returned ten-fold. To a man, Everton scrapped, harried, chased and bull-dozed their way through a blistering first half in which they took an early lead and then held Chelsea at bay, ceding as much as 80% of the ball to the visitors and yet still managing to carve out a great chance to go into the interval with a bigger advantage.
And when the pace of their efforts inevitably dropped in the second half, they retained their shape, their concentration and work ethic to eventually stifle a Chelsea team that came to Goodison with one of the best away records in the division. Indeed, it was to the credit of Frank Lampard’s side that they didn’t wilt in the face of Everton’s ferocious start and early strike through Richarlison.
At times in the first half they danced around the close attention, snapping tackles and full-blooded lunges from Blue jerseys, manfully trying to play their way through the maelstrom and with a bit more fortune, they might have ruined Ferguson’s day. Willian was a particular threat during the first 45 minutes and Michael Keane almost gifted him an equaliser with 18 minutes gone with a horrible touch on the edge of his own box and Tammy Abraham came very close to touching him one of the Brazilian’s centres from the right. Meanwhile, when Djibril Sidibé over-committed exposing the home side’s right flank, Mason Mount also nearly connected with the young striker later in the half but his ball was just a few inches off his toe in the middle.
Otherwise, however, it was Everton’s no-frills, back to basics approach of getting the ball forward early, winning second balls and 50-50 challenges that was the dominant theme. A widely-shared post-match statistic revealed that the team made 37 tackles overall in the game, the most by a Premier League side this season and more than any Everton team in over decade.
It was over-exuberant at times but largely remained on the right side of the line between passion and illegality and yet there was plenty of silk on show as well from what remains a talented squad, even with the mounting injuries – Yerry Mina missed out with a hamstring strain, Lucas Digne went off with a groin problem and Mason Holgate limped over the finish line – that threaten to ensure that the next month remains keenly challenging regardless of the opposition.
In a pleasing and long-overdue break from Silva’s reliance on a lone — and all-too-often isolated — striker, Ferguson deployed Richarlison up front with Calvert-Lewin and the difference in terms of the latter’s game was significant. Both players were involved in the opening goal, a well-worked move that Richarlison started by collecting a pass from his strike partner and laying it off wide to Sidibé who still had plenty of work to do to advance and whip in a perfect cross that Richarlison met in the middle with another unstoppable header. A goal straight from the playbook of Big Dunc, the player.
Calvert-Lewin was involved again with a quarter of an hour gone when he chested Jordan Pickford’s pinpoint clearance down with aplomb to Walcott who stabbed it back to him first time to break the line of two defenders and put him in on goal but from the angle he couldn’t beat Kepa Arrizabalaga.
With fresh instructions from Ferguson at the break, Everton emerged from half-time with the same sense of purpose that had served them so well in the first period and they doubled their lead just four minutes after the restart. Sidibé, who responded admirably from his poor showing in the Anfield derby on Wednesday with a great performance, got in smartly to knock the ball off Christian Pulisic’s foot and Kurt Zouma, back at Goodison for the first time since his loan spell with the Toffees ended in May, could only slice it into the air.
Calvert-Lewin jostled with Andreas Christensen as it dropped, got a fortunate bounce off Zouma that took it beyond the defender and had time to weigh up his shot before steering it beyond Kepa to make it 2-0. Ferguson, who had leapt down the touchline in unbridled joy for the first goal, went galloping out of his technical area again, this time scooping up a ballboy as he celebrated what felt like a massively important second goal.
Chelsea were back in it within three minutes, though, thanks to an accomplished finish by Mateo Kovacic. Lampard’s side attacked down their left flank and N’golo Kanté found Cesar Azpilicueta but his centre was swept out of the six-yard box by Digne. Unfortunately, it went straight to Kovacic who guided a controlled first-time shot past the unsighted Pickford and inside the post to make it 2-1. The Video Assistant Referee deemed that, despite appearing to be blocking the keeper’s line of sight, Abraham did not sufficiently interfere with play.
Walcott had a chance to restore the two-goal lead when he burst past the last defender but went for goal with Richarlison lurking in the middle and Kepa made a decent one-handed stop while Kanté set Mount up at the other end with a great chance to test Pickford but he drove his shot well wide and into the Park End.
Sensing that his team might need bolstering in midfield, Ferguson withdrew Richarlison with 20 minutes to go and introduced Tom Davies, a decision that did not sit particularly well with the Brazilian, but Christensen was still afforded too much space in the 79th minute to advance and ping one narrowly off target from distance.
A minute later, Holgate, another particularly impressive performer on the day, blocked Mount’s volley and Pickford tipped Azpilicueta’s shot over from the rebound as Chelsea continued to press for an equaliser but it was to be Calvert-Lewin’s day.
Kepa’s pass out from his area missed Zouma and was intercepted by the alert Walcott who tucked a beautiful pass between two Chelsea players and into Calvert-Lewin’s path. He back-heeled it to Davies who couldn’t quite dig it out from under his feet, Kanté blocked the loose ball and it ricocheted nicely for Calvert-Lewin to stretch out a boot, knock it through the legs of both Azpilicueta and the keeper and into the empty net. Lady Luck, who had utterly abandoned Silva, smiled on the Blues today.
It’s not clear at this point how long Ferguson will remain in charge at Goodison. If he is given the responsibility of overseeing the next few games or even asked to stay on in the role until the end of the season, you would hope that future results won’t tarnish what was a magical day for him and a match that will live long in the collective Evertonian memory. The way he spoke after the game, you got the feeling he would have loved to take this match and result back home with him, put it on the mantle if he could and just be happy with that for the time being.
More than a few supporters questioned the wisdom of appointing Ferguson, a first-team coach about whose abilities we knew very little, to the job of taking up the reins from Silva with the team in such dire need of a pick-me-up but he has answered the call in typically “Duncan” fashion — with a passion and hunger that left no player on that team in doubt of what it means to represent Everton Football Club. In the context of the weak displays Goodison has seen this season, reaction that he and a bear-pit crowd managed to inspire in the players should not be understated.
His influence spurred the Blues to a massive victory that smashed through the wall of worry that has surrounded the club and its supporters as they viewed this pre-Christmas schedule with dread. A trip to rejuvenated Manchester United will test the team to the limits but there’s no question that a performance of this ilk will have struggling Arsenal quivering in their boots back at Goodison in a fortnight’s time and there is renewed hope for the cup tie against Leicester as well.
Duncan Ferguson takes charge of Everton for the visit of Chelsea as caretaker manager with Marco Silva finally sacked this week following a dreadful run of results that sees Everton starting this match in the relegation zone.
No big surprises in his team selection, Schneiderlin and Walcott starting with Davies and Bernard dropped to the bench, where Niasse features, but Mina is out with a hamstring injury.
Frank Lampard names the same side that beat Aston Villa during the week, with a certain Ross Barkley not in the starting line-up but on the bench. The former Everton star has started just 5 Premier League games this season and has only completed one of them.
Chelsea kicked off but the early stages were very poor, with scrappy play from both sides. Chelsea showing better forward play when they finally got the ball.
But the next play was straight out of the Duncan Ferguson playbook, a ball out to Sidibe crossed in perfectly for Richarlison to bury with a fine leap and some excellent head movement. A great start inside 5 mins!
A spell of Chelsea possession went nowhere as a result of hounding and harrying by the Everton players that really got the fans onside. Walcott put in a tasty cross that was too far in front of the stretching Richarlison.
Chelsea were coming into it more, winning a corner that was defended away well by Calvert-Lewin. But Sidibe was leaving a lot of space but Pickford gathered and the ball fell nicely for Walcott to play in Calvert-Lewin but absolutely hopeless technique from the Everton centre-forward saw Kepa save his shot easily.
A free-kick was wasted and then Iwobi played the wrong ball for Digne and any chance was gone. Keane played an awful ball, expecting Pickford to come too far out of his area, but defenders rallied and rescued him.
Chelsea looked better and better as the game progressed, Mount and Pulisic causing fear in the Everton defence, while Richarlison was suffering from a knock on the ankle he had received.
Willian galloped along the touchline and powered in a cross that Abraham came very close to finishing as it fizzed across the Everton goal, which was starting to lead a charmed life.
A sloppy drag back by Digne earned him a needless yellow card, with Everton just not clicking in attack, while Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous whenever they surged forward. Mount danced past Sidibe and fired in a wicked ball that Abraham again was inches from connecting with.
The high-tempo pressing by the Blues flagged somewhat but they got forward thanks to Pickford's goalkick, Walcott's shot was blocked and more defending was needed at the other end to block Mount's shot.
More good attacking by Chelsea had Everton defending like terriers, a really stupid tackle from behind by Richarlison was yellow-carded. More incisive penetration by Chelsea was met with swarming bodies in Blue desperate to block and keep a clean sheet at half-time.
Walcott won a corner just before the break, but nothing came of it as the whistle finally blew, Everton hanging on to their 1-0 lead.
It would be a massive achievement for Everton to keep Chelsea off the score sheet with the agricultural style of play they were forced into for much of the first half. An early free-kick was delivered well by Sigurdsson right to Calvert-Lewin but it just struck his head and flew off in some random direction.
But a looped ball delivered forward thanks to Sidibe's intervention found its way to Calvert-Lewin off Zouma and he turned well to fire very nicely past Kepa this time, for a fine goal to give Everton a 2-goal lead (after the customary VAR check).
Richarlison had a rare chance to run and shoot at Kepa, but that was all he could manage. At the other end, a cleared ball out Kovacic volleys back and just inside the post, a high-quality strike and his first league goal in nearly 3 years.
Sidibe did very well to rob the ball and power it through to Calvert-Lewin but he could not dig the shot out this time. Walcott did well to break free and run at goal but shooting was not the right option, and the chance to make it 3 was gone.
Iwobi gave away a free-kick for a set-piece delivery that was whipped in. Walcott again looked to get free but Kante was equal to it this time. Chelsea kept running the ball at Everton though, Kovacic threatening again. Then Mount fired wide from a dangerous position.
Tom Davies came on to shore up the midfield with Richarlison sacrificed from the attack after Sidibe was lucky to get a decision in a rough tussle with Pulisic. Davies initially played forward, getting the ball out to Dige and then trying to head in the return cross.
Digne stretched his groin and Baines was readied but not needed in the end. Calvert-Lewin saw a chance to catch out Kepa but his execution was simply awful, his poor shot having no chance of beating the Chelsea keeper.
Chelsea pushed Everton back, Pickford needing to be alert to keep the ball out of his goal as Digne finally succumbed, Baines getting a good reception for his first appearance in 10 months.
But Everton kept their spirits up with Walcott and Davies contriving to see Calvert-Lewin get a chance to poke the ball goalward as Davies struggled to control it, a really scrappy goal, but a very important one.
Finally, the Goodison Park crowd felt a sense of relief and burst into voice, but they still had to hang on for 5 more minutes that saw the Everton defence rocking back deep to absorb the pressure, Pulisic's header straight at Pickford.
The ref added 6 minutes which were played out with a little more confidence thanks to the 2-goal cushion, but Chelsea kept pushing and probing till the end, and a very happy and massively relieved Goodison Park roar greeted the final whistle, with Duncan Ferguson making the most of the adulation.
Kick-off: 12:30pm, Saturday 7 December 2019
Everton: Pickford, Sidibe, Holgate, Keane, Digne [Y:30'] (82'Baines), Walcott (86' Bernard), Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Richarlison [Y:42'] (70' Davies), Calvert-Lewin [Y:65'].
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Tosun, Kean, Niasse.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James (82' Batshuayi), Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Willian (71' Hudson-Odoi), Mount, Pulisic, Abraham.
Subs not Used: Jorginho, Barkley, Caballero, Tomori, Emerson Palmieri.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Blues fight with pride... thanks to one manA bright and early start meant that I was picked up by Dan and his son Alfie at around 10 am before we navigated on to collect Ste and Gaz. All the talk in the car was naturally about the footballing week. We discussed our atrocious Merseyside derby defending and the severe injustice we suffered with lack of VAR use and red cards for Liverpool players in that game. We also of course discussed the after-shock of that result - the painfully slow sacking of Marco SIlva on Thursday (“Why didn’t they just ask him to stay at home?” asked Dan), and subsequent appointment of our Caretaker Manager, Duncan Ferguson.
I’ve got to admit, I was very sad and disappointed for Marco Silva. I really felt he deserved more time. We don’t need to go into specifics here as we all know them, but four factors out of his hands all played a big factor in his demise - recruitment (or lack thereof at centre-back); awful injury luck; disgusting VAR decisions; and, player errors in key moments of tight games. A lot conspired against Marco and I feel that, if not for the terrible bulk injuries we suffered and woeful official decisions with VAR, we would not have come to this decision.
I was very upset with our club on Thursday and I emailed Denise Barrett-Baxendale to let her know as much. To the club’s credit, Denise passed on my email to Scott McLeod, our Head of Communications & Engagement, who did reply in-depth explaining the clubs decisions. I like that. I’ve no experience of contacting senior figures of other clubs of course so I’ve no idea if that is the norm, but I think it’s a good thing that senior figures at the club are willing to engage with supporters. Robert Elstone used to do the same. It’s important they keep doing this.
On Saturday morning, I watched Duncan Ferguson’s press conference back and what struck me was that, when asked how the players took the news of Marco’s sacking, he said “It was pretty mixed”. That suggests to me there was more of a split in the dressing room than I thought. And, if I hadn’t come around to the notion of sacking Marco Silva before we kicked off against Chelsea, I was certainly on board afterwards. We wouldn’t have got that performance from the players if Marco was still in charge. No way.
It was fair to say that many were rather underwhelmed with the line-up when we saw it in the pub. We weren’t sure there were enough legs in midfield, and most wanted to see Moise Kean have a go in attack. I was happy enough with keeping Dominic in, and adding Theo, though I thought Tom Davies would have been handy in the middle and didn’t particularly want Alex Iwobi in the XI. No centre-back on the bench was a concern, albeit an unfounded one, and the return to the squad of Oumar Niasse raised an eyebrow or two.
Ross Barkley was on the substitutes bench for the visitors, backing up a team littered with quality both youthful and senior. For every Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham was an N’Gola Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Willian. We had our work cut out…
The atmosphere at 12:30 pm kick-offs are often quiet and sterile, though there was no danger of that this time. I think the crowd realised the importance of their role in the game, and nobody really resonates with our fanbase like Duncan Ferguson. The atmosphere was pumping, and the players responded. Our 37 tackles in the game were the most by any team in the Premier League all season, and the most by any Everton team in a decade. Everton played the game like it was a Merseyside derby… well at least the way we used to play Merseyside derbies. They were up for the fight, didn’t shirk their responsibilities, and the crowd responded brilliantly. It was a joy to be there.
Duncan surprised us by going 4-4-2. There was none of this playing the ball around at the back from goal-kicks. It was direct, it was aggressive and the players were brave.
The early goal certainly helped and it was a somewhat familiar one - a ball in from the right by Djibril Sidibé, and a header into the net by Richarlison really lifted the spirits. We continued to fight hard. Chelsea threatened in our penalty area on a few occasions but Tammy Abraham failed to hit the target with his opportunities. At the other end, Dominic had his drive at goal saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga when he might have done better. The players were very committed and deserved to go into the break a goal ahead.
At half-time, we admit to sniggering at the prospects of the lady hitting the crossbar in the half-time competition, though she came a lot closer than most have done this season.
The second half was more of the same - our players fighting like their lives depended on it, and Everton scoring again within five minutes of kick-off, Dominic Calvert-Lewin this time benefiting from some slack defending from Kurt Zouma, capitalising on a lucky bounce and slotting confidently past the onrushing Kepa Arrizabalaga. If there was a roof, it would have been lifted off and the already iconic images and videos of Duncan bearhugging the ballboy will live long in the memory. What an amazing feeling!
This is Everton. You know this means that it’s very straightforward and within seven minutes, and with about 40 minutes still to play, Everton handed Chelsea an early lifeline when Mateo Kovacic's well-placed volley from distance found its way into the net past an unsighted Jordan Pickford. We hoped for a VAR intervention with offside as Tammy Abraham was stood directly in front of Jordan, but replays showed he was clearly onside and the goal fairly stood. Everton had a big fight on their hands.
The crowd played their part and roared the team on, while the defence, and goalkeeper when required, held firm to keep out the Londoners. Our team got in the way of everything and never stopped fighting. It was splendid to see as its been a long time since we’ve seen that from our team.
We’d already had other opportunities, mainly from Theo Walcott’s running, to make the game safe on the break but we couldn’t quite get the goal. We eventually did so however, making the most of poor goalkeeping from Kepa Arrizabalaga, first in going all Manuel Neuer and running out with the ball and playing a very stray pass out to Kurt Zouma. This was intercepted by Theo Walcott who played in Dominic. He back-heeled to substitute Tom Davies who wriggled past a few challenges (a bit Leon Osman-like) but was disrupted by a last-ditch tackle from N’Gola Kante. The ball fell to Dominic who jabbed quickly at goal, the ball squirming through the legs of the beleaguered goalkeeper and into the net. The game was effectively sealed and it was a joy to see the team, Dominic and Tom particularly, celebrating with the man they clearly think so highly of. Amazing!
All eyes were on Duncan Ferguson at full time and he calmly walked across the Goodison Park turf in the direction of referee Craig Pawson, as “Duncan, Duncan Ferguson” boomed out over the tannoy… and from the mouths of the supporters. Having shook hands with the officials, he then embraced his players before pumping his fists at the adoring supporters in the Bullens Road and Gwladys Street. It was an emotional moment, and you had to be delighted for Duncan, as you can see how much it means to him.
Last time we walked away from Goodison Park, we had supporters arguing with each other after the Goodison Park crowd had just sung “You're getting sacked in the morning” at Marco Silva. This time, it was great to walk out with smiles on our faces.
In his press conference, Duncan alluded to the great thing about football being that there’s always another game around the corner. This was never more apparent than with this fixture. It’s funny how football can change quickly.
Regardless of what manager comes in next, the day belonged to Duncan, and nobody can take it away from him.
Onwards and upwards Blues.
Pickford: I’d give him the benefit of the doubt with the goal as he seemed unsighted and he made one or two key saves to keep us ahead. He distributed well mostly, though ironically his biggest distribution blip - a long kick upfield which bounced straight through to Kepa Arrizabagala, indirectly resulted in our third goal. 7
Digne: Did well. Solid until forced off with injury. 7
Holgate: I thought Mason was excellent. Brave, committed and up for the fight. 8
Keane: He made a big error in the first half which nearly let Chelsea in but thankfully got away with it. Second half, he was very good. He was brave, won a lot of headers, and made a lot of clearances. Basically, our defence was everything that it wasn’t on Wednesday evening. 7
Sidibé: When he’s focused, I think Djibril is a great player. He’s calm on the ball, uses it intelligently and has a good delivery. He can defend well also and he seems to be a pretty good team player. He excelled in this game in my opinion both in attack and defence. 8
Schneiderlin: Morgan is much-maligned when things go wrong, though not very appreciated when we play well. Well, he was immense yesterday, perhaps his best performance for us to date. Sharp in his many countless tackles, and he benefited from having a motivated Gylfi alongside him who also covered a lot of ground and used the ball intelligently. Brilliant, Morgan! 8
Sigurdsson: Also very good. He covered a lot of ground and got the ball forward well into attacking areas. 7
Iwobi: He had quite a bright first half but lost his way after the break and, if not for injuries, surely wouldn’t have survived the game. He’s still finding his feet so I’ll reserve judgement, but I feel his best role currently, particularly with the return to fitness of Bernard, would be as impact substitute as he seems to make things happen in little spells of games. 6
Walcott: Theo always shows a good attitude and has a willingness to work for the team. His pace stretched them in the second half and, with a bit more composure in the final third, he could have contributed to another goal. 7
Richarlison: Certainly our player of the season so far, and he chipped in with another important goal. You have to assume the opposition will switch on to this routine we currently have which results in a full-back crossing the ball in for our late arriving Brazilian in the box - it’s hardly rocket science. Though let’s not under-estimate the quality of the build-up play, accuracy of delivery, and bravery of Richarlison to get himself into the position to power the ball into the net. If you get the run on your marker, it’s difficult to stop if the delivery is right. Nevertheless, let’s make hay while the sun shines with this. Other than that, Richarlison was his busy and productive self, and ran himself ragged before substituted on 71 minutes. 7
Calvert-Lewin: An immense effort from Dominic, and one which Duncan would have been proud of in his heyday. He was colossal in attack, got up for every header, hassled their defenders all game, and most importantly, scored two vital goals to win us the game. Outstanding, Dominic. Undoubtedly his best performance yet for Everton. That’s your marker Dominic, now go get it. My Man of the Match. 9
Davies (for Richarlison): A few wayward passes but his energy was a timely contribution to the game and he had a big hand in the third goal of course. Great to see him celebrating with Dominic and Duncan when we scored our third goal. 7
Baines (for Digne): With not a single minute of action all season, I was a touch concerned that 35-year-old Leighton Baines had to come in to a game which was on a knife-edge. Well, what was I worried about? Leighton is as fit as a fiddle and as cool as a cucumber and it was nice to see him make a contribution to the win. 7
Bernard (for Walcott): Just after our third goal, Theo had to come off injured. Bernard proved an able deputy in his short time on the pitch, getting involved and contributing. 6
Everton begin life without Marco Silva with a difficult assignment against Chelsea and Duncan Ferguson in the dugout as caretaker manager.
Silva was dismissed yesterday following a meeting with Farhad Moshiri￼ and Ferguson, a first-team coach under the four previous managers, put in temporary charge while the club seeks a permanent successor to the Portuguese.
Like David Unsworth in 2016, it will be the first time Ferguson will have taken charge of a Premier League fixture, but, in elevating a beloved former player at a time when the team is in desperate need of points, the Everton hierarchy will hope to have ensured a raucous atmosphere at Goodison Park when the teams run out at lunchtime on Saturday.
The Scot will have just one full training session with the squad before he decides on his first starting lineup and it will be intriguing to see which players and formation he selects and how closely they tack to the ones typically selected by Silva.
Ferguson's biggest challenge will be the same as that which faced Silva in his last two matches, however — namely the lack of reliable midfield options given the injuries to Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Jean-Philip Gbamin.
Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson have started each of the last two games in the middle of the park but the Iceland international, in particular, has disappointed given his role as captain and supposed leader while Davies has struggled alongside him. While Sigurdsson has played as a “six” for previous clubs and at international level, he has been found wanting in that role for Everton and, once again, it will be interesting to see whether Morgan Schneiderlin, a more natural defensive midfielder, gets the nod this time.
The Frenchman started each of the last two games on the bench and came on as a second-half substitute and it remains to be seen whether Ferguson feels he is worthy of a start given the paucity of other options. Delph is expected to be ruled out again with the hamstring strain he sustained against Tottenham last month.
It's also impossible to know from the outside whether Ferguson will opt for three centre-halves, as Silva did at the King Power Stadium and Anfield, or whether he will return to a 4-2-3-1, ideally with Alex Iwobi in the No 10 slot. The Nigerian has attracted criticism from some quarters for his performances recently but he remains one of the Blues' most effective attacking players and has been involved in goals in each of the last three games despite being played out of his favoured central position.
It's not out of the question, however, that the interim boss, as a striker himself, goes with some version of 4-4-2, with two strikers or Richarlison playing off the centre-forward. It's a guess as to whether he would go with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a No 9 in his mould, or the pacier Moise Kean who has been bright on his two showings as a sub in recent days.
Chelsea have been unexpectedly strong in Frank Lampard's first season. Expected to struggle with the loss of Eden Hazard, a transfer embargo preventing new signings over the summer, and a host of young players needing to be bedded in, the Stamford Bridge playing legend has the Londoners in fourth place, six points clear of Wolves below them.
They lost at home to West Ham on Saturday, a result that should give Everton hope for this weekend, but bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday evening. They have been strong on the road against teams in the lower half this season, winning at Watford, Burnley, Southampton, and Norwich but have conceded 21 times so far, more than any team in the top seven.
With this being a home game, no-one knowing what to expect now that Silva is gone and Ferguson is in charge, and the home fans up for giving the Big Man a rousing debut, there's every reason to optimistic that Everton could get something from this match.
As they showed at Leicester, if they can stay compact at the back, not engage too high a line, and be combative in midfield, they can keep opposition chances to a minimum and then let Richarlison, the emerging Talisman in attack, and those around him try and grab goals at the other end.
A victory would take a massive load off collective Blue shoulders and bash a hole through the wall of worry that has surrounded this run of fixtures before Christmas. Get a point or three against Chelsea, take some confidence to Old Trafford to maybe force a draw there and heap more misery on Arsenal with a victory back at Goodison and things really would be looking up. Who knows — maybe Dunc can buy Messers Moshiri and Brands the time they need to find the next long-term manager without an air of panic suffocating the club's decision-making?
Kick-off: 12:30pm, Saturday 7 December, 2019
Referee: Craig Pawson
Last Time: Everton 2 - 0 Chelsea
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Sidibé, Holgate, Mina, Digne, Schneiderlin, Davies, Iwobi, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin