EVERTON VS LILLE – PREVIEW
Everton are back in Europa League action and looking to cement their place at the top of Group H when they take on Lille at Goodison Park on Thursday.
Everton’s last game was a 0-0 draw against Swansea on Saturday. The Blues dominated the game but couldn’t take advantage of Swansea being reduced to 10 men to claim all 3 points.
A fortnight ago, we played out another 0-0 draw, this one over in France against Thursday’s opponents. Both defences were in good form to keep the scores deadlocked. In that game we had a defensive approach and didn’t have many clear-cut chances to win the game. Thursday’s game should be very different though. We have home advantage on our side and a strong line up playing in an attacking style should be on show. The game should be similar to our 4-1 win over Wolfsburg although with Lille being so compact in defence our play may not be rewarded with as many goals. We have only lost one game in our last five, Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o look to be forming a threatening partnership up front and with Ross Barkley getting stronger every game, there is reason for Toffees to be confident.
Under Rene Girard, Lille is known for its defensive strength. Girard would prefer to win 1-0 to 3-1 unlike his predecessor Rudi Garcia who was all about attack. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see those tactics in use tomorrow as he looks to contain Everton then catch them on the counter attack. That said, Lille have yet to win in the group and if they were to lose to us and Wolfsburg were to beat Krasnodar in the group’s other game, then that would leave Lille 4 points behind the Germans with just two group games left. This might mean they go for a more attacking approach in a bid to secure a needed win if they are to qualify for the next round. 6 clean sheets this season and 21 last season shows how compact Lille are in defence. Attacking is their problem. In Divock Origi, Michael Frey and Ronny Rodelin they have players who can score, they just aren’t getting the service. Marcos Lopes, on loan from Manchester City had been playing well in the attacking midfield role before getting injured. He returned against St.Etienne at the weekend only to come off at half time injured once more. Marvin Martin, who was signed in 2012, can also play in that position but hasn’t lived up to expectations yet. Lille goes into the game without a win in 6 games. They lie 12th in Ligue 1, are in bad form and this is a great opportunity to take advantage of that and win. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and defenders Simon Kjaer and Marco Basa are at the heart of Lille’s excellent defensive reputation and if on form, could frustrate Everton. Rio Mavuba is a strong midfielder while Origi, the quick Belgian caused us problems last time and needs to be kept quiet.
Arouna Kone, Bryan Oviedo, Kevin Mirallas and John Stones are out for Everton once more although Antolin Alcaraz has now joined the injury list after dislocating his shoulder against Swansea. Sylvain Distin is the obvious choice to come into the starting line up although we travel to Sunderland on Sunday and it’s unlikely that the veteran Distin will be able to play both games. Therefore, Tyias Browning or Brendan Galloway will probably feature sometime this week.
Lille is without Lopes and Jonathan Delaplace for the game.
EVERTION LIKELY LINE UP: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Browning, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Besic, Barkley, Pienaar, Lukaku (4-3-3)
LILLE LIKELY LINE UP: Enyeama, Beria, Kjaer, Basa, Souare, Mavuba, Gueye, Balmont, Corchia, Frey, Origi (4-3-3)
A confident, attacking Everton side roared on by the Goodsion faithful should beat a Lille side in bad form no matter how strong the French side is in defence.
PEDICTION: Everton 2-0 Lille.