Wednesday’s fixture against Burnley brings added importance for Everton following Sunday’s defeat. The Blues fell to a 2-1 defeat at the London Stadium, adding to the relegation fears. Frank Lampard’s men could not beat an out of sorts West Ham United, with two individual errors costing the Blues in what was a much-improved performance on the road. Sunday’s defeat meant that Everton have lost their last six games away from home, their worst run for six years.
The Blues sit two places and four points ahead of tomorrow’s opponents, having played the same number of games. Both teams have two games in hand on Watford and three on Leeds, but Everton need to start grinding out results on the road, and fast.
Sean Dyche’s side are in a much more precarious situation than the Toffees and need to put a string of positive results together sooner rather than later if they are to beat the drop. They fell to a 0-2 home defeat to Premier League holders, Manchester City which meant that they are winless in five games, conceding eleven and scoring one.
The Clarets will be without club captain Ben Mee, who has been on the sidelines since the defeat to Leicester on 1 March, as well as Icelandic winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson who picked up a calf injury in his recovery from appendicitis. Erik Pieters is still out with a knee injury sustained in the clash against Crystal Palace, and Matej Vydra is nearing a return to full fitness after dislocating his elbow.
On a positive note for Sean Dyche, Republic of Ireland international Nathan Collins is available after serving his one-match ban following his dismissal against Brentford.
Everton are without ex-Burnley man Michael Keane following his sending-off against West Ham – the third game in succession Everton had a man sent off in the Premier League, the first time it has happened in the clubs’ history, whilst Allan is serving the last of a three-game ban after his dismissal against Newcastle United.
Top scorer Andros Townsend is out for the rest of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the defeat to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. Donny van de Beek pulled up in the warm-up before the West Ham game after injuring his thigh and is out of tomorrow’s fixture. Yerry Mina, Tom Davies and Nathan Patterson – who was in line to start against the Hammers before injuring his ankle, requiring surgery, are also out.
Yet it is not all doom and gloom for Frank Lampard. Seamus Coleman, who missed Sunday’s defeat with illness is expected to return for the clash at Turf Moor, Fabian Delph could also be in contention, as could André Gomes who will be assessed before the game.
One to watch – Burnley
Everton know all about Dwight McNeil’s quality, his sublime solo goal at Goodison last season was one of the goals of the season. However, he has not been able to rediscover that good form this season.
The 22-year-old has played twenty-eight games in the Premier League this season, has not scored and has only registered one assist. But let’s remember, he is playing against Everton and due a goal, so we probably know what is going to happen.
Despite his lack of goal contributions this season, there is no denying that there is a quality player there. His crossing and set pieces have caused defences countless problems for the past few seasons. However, it is his end product that has let him down this season, evidenced by his lack of goals.
One to watch – Everton
Although he was at fault for West Ham’s second goal, Alex Iwobi was arguably Everton’s best player. His dribbling, link-up play and passing were a positive in the defeat at the London Stadium.
The 25-year-old has been in a good run of form recently, after his winning goal against Newcastle. The Nigerian just needs to produce on a more regular basis.
There is no doubt though that playing him in the left of the midfield three in a 433 is his best position and where he thrives the most. It allows him to run with the ball and drive Everton up the pitch, allowing the other two midfielders to sit back in case of a counterattack. Lampard and Everton need to make more use of Iwobi’s quality in this position tomorrow evening.
Tomorrow’s clash could arguably be Everton’s most important fixture in twenty years, and is a must-win game. The two sides met at Goodison earlier in the season, with Everton running out 3-1 winners, scoring three goals in six minutes.
The Toffees are also looking for their first league double over the Clarets since the 2018/19 season, with victory tomorrow moving them seven points ahead of Sean Dyche’s side, with eleven games to go.
Everton’s away form is the worst in the league, with only six points won on the road all season, but Sunday’s display at West Ham was an improved showing, but they were unable to come away with a much-needed win. If that Everton turn up, then there is no reason why they cannot grind out a win.