Ancelotti makes 4 changes, Sigurdsson & Iwobi start: Predicted Everton XI vs Brighton – opinion

Everton welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon looking to maintain the Toffees’ unbeaten start to the season, but Carlo Ancelotti is set to be without some key names.

The Blues will match a feat last achieved during the 1986/87 season when Howard Kendell’s side clinched their most-recent league title, with victory over Brighton a potential seventh win on the bounce.

Ancelotti oversaw a dominant 1-0 win over Graham Potters’ Seagulls in the same fixture last term, when a sole effort from Richarlison broke the deadlock with a curling strike low into the far corner of Mat Ryan’s net.

Unfortunately for Toffees supporters, Richarlison is a doubt for this weekend’s encounter following the ankle injury sustained during Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup rout of West Ham United, with Ancelotti confirming the forward will undergo a late fitness test on Saturday morning.

Richarlison is not the only absentee, either, as Ancelotti told reporters at his pre-game press conference on Friday that five first-team options are unavailable.

“We don’t have [Mason] Holgate, [Jarrad] Branthwaite, [Jonjoe] Kenny is out, Allan is out, [and Andre] Gomes is out,“ he said, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo.

Holgate and Branthwaite being sidelined leaves Ancelotti with a slack set of options in central defence, leaving it likely Michael Keane and Yerry Mina will maintain their 100% Premier League appearance record for the season.

But with changes elsewhere on the cards, here’s an Everton XI we could see against Brighton…

Everton PXI vs Brighton - Ancelotti makes 4 changes, Sigurdsson & Iwobi start: Predicted Everton XI vs Brighton - opinion

Ancelotti will be comfortable with an array of options to replace Richarlison should the Brazilian fail his late fitness test, with Alex Iwobi, Bernard and Anthony Gordon all adept on the left-wing.

Iwobi, despite reports linking the £34million winger with a potential move away, would stand the most likely deputy having replaced Richarlison against West Ham during the week and offering a creative spark while setting-up Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s second goal of the night when his effort ricocheted off the post.

Ancelotti can also call on Gylfi Sigurdsson to join the £50,000-per-week attacker in starting a Premier League game for the first time this season come Saturday afternoon with Gomes sidelined, having thus far only beckoned the former Swansea man from the bench.

Sigurdsson started Wednesday’s EFL Cup tie at home to West Ham and provided two key balls from 52/58 accurate passes, per SofaScore, while winning each of his three ground duels, his sole aerial contest and his only attempted dribble.

With Allan forced to depart the holding midfield role, Fabian Delph can expect a rare chance to impress Ancelotti against Brighton having only featured in two Carabao Cup fixtures this term, including the win over David Moyes’ London Stadium natives.

Delph stood out defensively against the Hammers by providing a strong shield to the back four with four successful ground duels and one successful aerial contest, while recording four tackles, one interception and blocked one shot as well as completing 62 of his 67 passes.

Calvert-Lewin’s best start to a season in his Everton career with eight goals in five appearances will ensure the 23-year-old once again leads the Blues’ attacking efforts, joined by summer signing James Rodriguez with overlapping support from full-backs Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman.

AND in other news, a long-time Everton star has emerged as a transfer option for a Premier League competitor.

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