Coming off of an impressive win over Burnley, Everton FC are back in action on Saturday. The Toffees will travel to Villa Park in Birmingham for the latest installment of the Cazoo derby.
It is another important game for Everton, who are looking to continue their unbeaten start to the 2021-22 season. There is also a lot at stake for the home team in this one. Aston Villa have been slow out of the gates this season. They will want to use this match to pick up points ahead of two tough fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester United in the coming week.
With three big points on the line for both teams, this promises to be a tightly contested affair. With that in mind, here are three players for Everton who could make a difference on Saturday.
With manager Rafa Benitez confirming that Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be out for the next two to three weeks, Richarlison will have to shoulder extra goalscoring responsibility.
The versatile Brazilian has a goal and an assist in four Premier League games this season. However, both of those came in the season opener against Southampton. Saturday would be a great opportunity for the 24-year-old to get back on the scoresheet.
It seems likely that Richarlison will be playing in a front three with Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray, as he did against Burnley. If this is the case, he will have another opportunity to work with two wingers who are playing very well at the moment.
Richarlison always makes his presence felt in an Everton shirt. However, the man known for his trademark pigeon dance is clearly happiest when he is scoring goals. A Richarlison goal on Saturday could go a long way towards securing three points.
Abdoulaye Doucouré has been tremendous alongside Allan in midfield this season for Everton. His performance against Burnley was his best of the season, as he chipped in with two important assists.
Rafa Benitez has brought a new approach on how to get the best out of Doucouré, and the results have shown up on the field. The 28-year-old Frenchman has been given license to push higher up the pitch and influence the game on the offensive end. Benitez has even challenged him to hit a target of five Premier League goals this season.
Doucouré’s defensive abilities and his tireless legs have paired extremely well with his new role in the final third. On the road against a team like Aston Villa, the complete midfield game of Abdoulaye Doucouré will come in handy.
On the defensive end, Doucouré will harry Villa’s attackers and help win the ball back. Once Everton are in possession, Doucouré can use his surging forward runs to help construct effective counterattacks.
Michael Keane’s 2021-22 Premier League season did not get off to the best of starts. The big center back had a few shaky moments against Southampton and Leeds, including an error in the season opener that led to Everton’s first goal against of the campaign.
However, Keane has been much better in his last two outings. The 28-year-old has always been a confidence player. Keane has demonstrated in the past that he can be a very effective defender when he gets on a roll. Keane’s goal against Burnley on Monday should help in that aspect.
Given Everton’s depth at center back, it is certainly possible that Keane will not play against Villa. However, Big Mick is the only defender to have started all five of Everton’s matches in 2021-22. It seems as though Rafa Benitez trusts Keane and is going to give him every opportunity to prove himself this season.
If Keane does get the nod on Saturday, building on his performance against Burnley would be a big help for Everton.
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Featured image courtesy of @Everton.