For better or worse, the summer transfer window has closed and Everton's roster for the next four months is set.
The Toffees' activity on deadline day was a little underwhelming -- but overall the team made a number of moves this summer. Still, a number of Evertonians are complaining about the lack of depth in Ronald Koeman's side at this stage. Are these criticisms fair though?
To answer this question, we'll look at a number of theoretical lineups to see where exactly big gaps in the squad might still remain. Overall, this analysis will show that the Toffees may have done better for themselves than many have given them credit for.
To start, let's look at what we might expect an ideal, healthy, and fit Everton starting lineup will probably look like:
This is the same lineup we saw Everton utilize against Stoke City, except with Seamus Coleman in at right-back over Mason Holgate. There may be a little disagreement over whether Coleman deserves his spot back after Holgate's hot start (I think he does), as well as over which combination of Kevin Mirallas, Yannick Bolasie, Aaron Lennon, and Gerard Deulofeu should be playing at wing.
Still, those are debates that reveal the level of talent on the team -- with Holgate's emergence, right-back has become significantly less of a trouble spot -- and we now have four wingers who have proven to be difference makers at the Premier League level in the past, so it's a good problem to have.
There's little debate across the rest of the positions:
- Idrissa Gana Gueye has proven to be perhaps the best value signing of the window.
- Gareth Barry is continuing to do what Gareth Barry does.
- Phil Jagielka is proving that he still has it (when given decent defenders to play alongside).
- Ashley Williams has a distinguished Premier League career and doesn't appear to have lost a step.
- Ross Barkley is off to a stellar start.
- The team has scored three goals and conceded none with Romelu Lukaku on the pitch, while scoring only one and conceding two with him on it. Yes, I know he isn't scoring right now, but this is a player with 61 goals in 127 appearances for Everton -- almost exactly a goal every other game. He's going to be fine.
- Leighton Baines is perhaps the remaining wild card. Is he capable of reverting to the player he was at the height of his career? That's unclear, but he's better than Bryan Oviedo and any other left-back the Toffees could have picked up in the transfer market.
- Goalkeeper - If Stekelenburg got hurt long-term, I wouldn't want to see Joel have to take a long spell as the team's top goalie. But, that's true of probably 80% of teams and their backup goalies, so it is what it is.
- Striker - Valencia adds depth and is probably better than Kone, but if Lukaku were to pick up a serious injury, it would be problematic. The combination of Valencia, Kone, and Deulofeu up top would not be able to replicate what the big Belgian brings, but it is hard to be upset with management for the situation. Koeman wanted to bring in Manolo Gabbiadini, but forces outside of the Dutchman's control made that not possible. Valencia was the next best thing.
- Attacking midfielder - If Barkley got hurt, Everton simply would not have a player who could replicate what he does. Davies is promising and might be able to lessen the blow, but probably not enough to earn a regular starting spot behind Lukaku. One or more of Valencia, Mirallas, Bolasie, or Deulofeu would have to fill in, accompanied by a slight change in setup. It isn't ideal, but truly talented No. 10s don't grow on trees. With Valencia and Bolasie in, the Toffees at least have some kind of Plan B if the worst comes to pass.