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It was only fitting to see Frank Lampard’s era at Goodison Park begin with the acquisition of two midfielders who will endeavour to add to Everton’s goal threat, as Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek prepare to learn from one of the finest lynchpins that the Premier League has had to offer.
Despite his popularity in all quarters, Duncan Ferguson‘s brief time in interim charge of Everton started and ended with a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa courtesy of Emiliano Buendia‘s header – Steven Gerrard certainly enjoyed that one – and a Toffees side under the tutelage of Rafael Benitez only scraped past Hull in the FA Cup after 120 minutes.
Avoiding a catastrophic relegation and attempting to clamber back up to the top half of the Premier League rankings will be the ultimate goal for Lampard over the next few months, but a cup run would serve to increase the morale in Everton’s ranks after a dismal autumnal and festive period.
Early exits have become something of a habit for Everton in the FA Cup, though, with the Toffees only making it to the fifth round or beyond once in the last five editions as they bowed out to Manchester City in the quarter-finals last year.
Defeat to Villa marked a fifth home loss from their last seven in front of their own fans for Everton, and the return of ‘Super Frank’ to the Premier League touchline will be overshadowed by the deadline-day signing of another celebrated name for the visitors.
Alli and Van de Beek will both have to wait for their Everton debuts as they are cup-tied for this fixture, and the same goes for Aston Villa loanee Anwar El Ghazi, but Alex Iwobi is back from Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Fabian Delph, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Davies remain in the treatment room for the hosts, who have now been handed yet another scare for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who reportedly took a knock to the knee in training.
Richarlison could therefore lead the line with support from Demarai Gray, but Salomon Rondon bagged a hat-trick while on Venezuela duty and could come into contention if he is deemed fit enough.
As for the visitors, Toney was recently forced to apologise after a video of the 25-year-old saying “f*** Brentford” was leaked online, but there is nothing to suggest that he will not be considered for selection by Frank.
Eriksen will only be considered for a substitute outing if he is ready at all, and Frank also had Tarique Fosu, Josh Dasilva, Julian Jeanvier and David Raya still recovering from their various ailments.
Rico Henry and Mathias Jensen were involved in a nasty clash of heads in the Wolves defeat and will need to be checked before this battle, but Frank Onyeka is back from AFCON and ready to man the midfield.
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Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Keane, Godfrey; Townsend, Allan, Gomes, Gordon; Gray; Richarlison
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Norgaard, Onyeka, Janelt, Roerslev; Toney, Mbeumo