Three days after a tough defeat on the road to Aston Villa, Everton are back in action in West London. The Toffees travel south to take on Queens Park Rangers, a team currently sitting eighth in the EFL Championship.
Putting league form aside, both Everton and QPR scored two goals in the second round to reach this point in the competition. QPR brushed aside Oxford United by a score of 2-0 at home. Everton had a slightly tougher time on the road at Huddersfield, ultimately winning 2-1 despite playing much of the second half with ten men.
The Blues last faced off with QPR in March of 2015. Everton emerged victorious by a final score of 2-1 in that one, thanks to goals from Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon. The Toffees have won their previous four matches with Queens Park Rangers. They are unbeaten in six straight against QPR.
Everton have been bitten by the injury bug as of late. The Toffees will be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jordan Pickford, Richarlison and Seamus Coleman in this one. Because of this, the younger players may end up being especially important today.
With that in mind, here are three players who could make a difference for Everton in this one.
Under the rotating carousel of Everton managers over the past few seasons, Tom Davies has not always gotten regular game time. However, he has proven that he can contribute positively in the right system.
Davies has been dealing with injuries this season, and he has only played nine Premier League minutes thus far. The fact that he came on as a substitute last time out against Aston Villa suggests at the very least that he is close to full fitness.
Therefore, today’s game is a great opportunity for Davies to start and get some minutes in his legs. Davies started against Huddersfield earlier this season in the Carabao Cup. He picked up an assist in that one on Alex Iwobi’s opening goal.
If Davies starts and contributes offensively against QPR, he can further his case to manager Rafa Benitez that he deserves more game time when fully fit.
Coming off of a loan spell with Preston North End in the Championship, 20-year-old Anthony Gordon is looking to make an impact at Everton this year. Gordon has featured twice this season for Everton, coming on as a substitute against both Southampton and Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Given that Everton’s injury woes are adding to a preexisting lack in squad depth, today’s game is a perfect opportunity to give a young player like Gordon a chance. The Everton academy product knows the opposition well. Gordon played 80 minutes for Preston North End in a 0-0 draw against QPR in February.
Playing Gordon on the left wing with a more senior player like Alex Iwobi on the right would give the youngster a great chance to make an impact and continue to get his feet wet with the Everton first team.
20-year-old Ellis Simms has earned a lot of attention for his goal scoring prowess with the Everton U23s over the past few seasons. Simms had a very successful loan with Blackpool in the second half of the 2020-21 season. He scored ten goals for the club and helped The Seasiders earn promotion from League One to the Championship.
Simms was on the bench for Everton against Aston Villa, but he did not feature. In fact, the young striker has yet to make his senior debut for the club. Today’s match against QPR could be a perfect chance for that to happen.
Simms clearly demonstrated that he can score goals at the professional level with Blackpool in League One last season. An outing against a Championship side would be the logical next step. With both Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin out for this one, the opportunity is there for someone else to make an impact at striker.
Simms very well could be that someone. A debut against QPR would be a great step for a player who will hopefully contribute for Everton for years to come.
Everton vs QPR – Final Thoughts
The most important thing is that Everton take care of business and move on to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. If they can do so while resting senior players and giving opportunities to young players, that would be ideal.
The EFL Cup is a competition Everton should be taking seriously, especially under a manager like Rafa Benitez who has had success in cup competitions in the past.
Don’t forget, a place in Europe is up for grabs for the winner of this competition. As Rafa Benitez pointed out in his match preview, this competition is also a great chance for players to prove themselves. Here’s hoping that Davies, Gordon and Simms can all do so if they get a shot today.
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Featured image courtesy of @Everton.