Carlo Ancelotti will take charge of his first Everton game as the Toffees play host to Burnley on the traditional Boxing Day fixture.
After a relatively quick search following the sacking of Marco Silva, Everton managed to work out a deal to bring three-time Champions League winner Ancelotti to Merseyside. The Italian boss oversaw Duncan Ferguson’s final game as caretaker boss as the Toffees played out a 0-0 draw with Arsenal.
The size of the job, which will include a squad overhaul, cannot be understated. Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has invested hundreds of millions since buying into the club back in 2016 The project has, quite simply, stalled and it rests on the shoulders of Ancelotti to give it an injection of a winning background.
It’s not an easy start, however, as Sean Dyche’s ever difficult Clarets roll into town to kick off a rapid-fire round of festive games that sees both clubs travel across the country in the next week.
Last time out
The two sides have already locked horns this season, so the Boxing Day meeting will be the last one in the league until next season.
It was Dyche’s men who prevailed at Turf Moor though, with Jeff Hendrick bagging a late winner to send the Blues back to Merseyside without anything to show for it. Yet, ironically, the pair met last Boxing Day as well.
It was a much better showing from the travelling Toffees, as Marco Silva’s men ran out 5-1 winners following an early flurry of goals.
Ancelotti keen to help Kean
Less than a week into officially being Everton manager, Ancelotti has already offered hope that he can be the man to kickstart Moise Kean’s Toffees spell. The highly-touted youngster has yet to find the net for the Blues and suffered the humiliation of being sub-subbed during the 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
“I tried to sign him before he signed for Everton,” the new boss noted. "He is a fantastic player, we have to remember he is only 19. We have to wait and work with him. He has top quality."
Dyche praises Ancelotti’s capabilities
As for Dyche, he recognised the challenge of taking on a club with a new manager – especially one with the calibre of his Italian counterpart. "Without a doubt, he is certainly one of the biggest managers in the Premier League,” the Clarets boss said in his pre-match press conference.
The former Watford defender continued: “ Everton might be a different challenge. It would be interesting to know if there was a remit, what that is, but he must have gone in there with the thought that he can make it a very successful place."
Team News and predicted XI’s
Even though he’ll be keen to implement his style on the squad sooner rather than later, Ancelotti can’t exactly ring the changes through the Everton side.
Long-term absentees Andre Gomes, Jean-Phillipe Gbamin, and Morgan Schneiderlin will all miss out. Alex Iwobi picked up a hamstring injury against Arsenal and is set to be out until the new year at the earliest. Theo Walcott is also unavailable.
As for the Clarets, former Everton wideman Aaron Lennon is hoping to be fit after coming down with an illness. Johann Berg Gudmundsson is also hoping to return.
They will definitely be without Jeff Hendrick, however, as the Republic of Ireland international serves a one-game suspension for picking up five yellow cards.
Everton: Pickford, Sidibe, Digne, Mina, Holgate, Davies, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Bernard, Kean, Calvert-Lewin.
Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Taylor, Tarkowski, Mee, Drinkwater, Westwood, McNeil, Gudmundsson, Woods, Barnes.