8 points in the first 9 matches.
4 points in the next 3.
6 points in last 2.
After the beginning of the season felt like a nightmare that might never end, the past few weeks have provided Everton fans with joy many of us thought may no longer exist in the world.
Sure, Everton weren’t Crystal Palace bad, but the fact the Toffees only briefly dipped into the relegation zone is more a mirage built on earlier season points than an indication of a secure mid-table spot.
If the bleeding didn’t stop soon fans knew the season would be one that could go down in history for the most infamous of reasons.
The last two league matches have brought two victories, and with them a crucial six points.
More importantly, however, the squad has found confidence for the first time since before Raheem Sterling stole a point at the Etihad in week two.
Since then the season has been a roller coaster that fans and players alike have wanted to disembark.
Now with breathing space, albeit limited, between the Toffees and the relegation battle, the team seems poised to regain their place among the mid-table elite and work to reestablish themselves to their rightful place in 7th, a position any Everton fan would have bitten your hand off for only weeks ago.
So without further hesitation....
Q: Now that Koeman is gone, do you think Kevin Mirallas will start eating pasta again?— Rachel Rose Gold (@RachelRoseGold1) December 4, 2017
The following is a series of not-so-great one -liners:
- Much like his wife’s pasta, Mirallas has been off the boil.
- He’s probably already full from eating up space.
- He can get slower?
- I wish I could stomach his play.
- Mirallas may as well eat pasta, he’s yet to make an al dente on the team so far this season.
- At least the pasta knows how to stay out of hot water.
Proof Leon Osman isn't a proper Evertonian - he's optimistic going into the derby.— Sean Lunt (@Sean_Lunt) December 4, 2017
THIS is why social media rules.
Phil Neville's daughter on instagram pic.twitter.com/1RlTmVNZJx— Arsène's Son (@hughwizzy) December 1, 2017
Nothing to do with soccer, but so what....enjoy....
The O.G. Way to make Mochi is so satisfying to watch. pic.twitter.com/sArpu80qK4— Thrillist (@Thrillist) December 6, 2017
100% record with England— Paddy Power (@paddypower) December 2, 2017
100% record with Everton
How many 100% records does a man need before Real Madrid come calling? pic.twitter.com/xEg2IqPFnc
Speaking of Big Sam....
It appears that unlike his predecessor Ronald Koeman, who never said no to a trip to the beach, even on deadline day..
Big Sam will skip a trip to Cyprus and instead prep for the short trip (with huge implications) across Stanley Park for the Merseyside Derby Sunday.
While I find it a bit abnormal, I do think that the new manager’s ability to dictate his own terms in order to go for a derby win.
(Someone write down those words so I can eat them later.)
Meanwhile, in the Everton Communications & Media Office.... pic.twitter.com/ajql4Wv20Q— Watched Toffee (@WatchedToffee) November 30, 2017
Whether signing players or managers, the Everton communications office can be listed as being nothing other than Missing In Action.
While officially declaring Big Sam manager well after the knowledge was public might not seem like THAT big of a deal, but it is reflective of the larger issue of a lack of leadership throughout the club.
The Communications and Media Office is the entity of the club that should be controlling the message that is being put out by the public.
Because this message has been absent, supporters have been left to look to the field for reflections of how the club is operating, which based on the results before Big Sam and the last two wins was TERRIBLY.
As someone who is deeply invested in the club, I can only hope that higher-ups in the club will realize what a detriment it is to lack a arm of the club to engage and encourage fans during even the darkest of times.
In fact, Everton, would you like to have me join the club as your official mailbag liason?
I'd love a deep dive into DCL - seems to my novice eyes like he's doing quite well. Do we really need a striker to replace him in January? Or just another good option so DCL is not overworked?— Ankur Mandhania (@amandhania) December 4, 2017
Who has more assists this season, Dominic-Calvert Lewin or Christian Eriksen?
If you said Calvert-Lewin you would be right!
(and also guessing him because you are on an Everton site....but I digress..congrats...you got it right....get over yourself)
Anyways..... when you look at DCL over the course of the season, his skills are undeniable.
Look at the radar below:
Between an outrageous number of touches in the box, never losing possession plus contributing to both the buildup (xGChain/ Key Passes) AND the final product (xG+xA=.56) Calvert-Lewin has clearly become more than just a project worth investing.
Put another way:
Calvert-Lewin has shown hold-up play and passing ability that ranks among the tops at his position, while also contributing a goal every other game through his assists/goals.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - Premier League 17/18— Football Radars (@FussballRadars) October 3, 2017
Over .5 expected goals and assists per 90 is pretty good for a 20 year old. pic.twitter.com/nRGCzEAXtd
Not to get your hopes up, but let’s compare him to a 21 year old Harry Kane.
Harry Edward Kane, Spurs 14-15. pic.twitter.com/d1uKpOLhLL— StatsBomb (@StatsBomb) July 10, 2015
The radars are constructed a bit differently, but the stats are optimistic for DCL.
While Kane had a superior goal-scoring rate, he was FAR less useful than Calvert-Lewin when you take into account assists, hold up play, and chances created.
In fact, between his assists and goals, Kane was only slightly more productive in overall per game goal production (xA+xG=.72) than DCL (.56)
Consider the fact that Kane was being carried along by a squad that would eventually end up finishing 5th, and not on a squad on a their third manager before Boxing Day and DCL’s production becomes even more mouth-watering.
In his first-year as a full-time Premier League player DCL has shown the ability to have a positive impact on all aspects of the Toffees, from ground to air.
DCL vs Huddersfield:— Toffee Analysis (@ToffeeAnalysis) December 3, 2017
13 aerial duels won
1 goal pic.twitter.com/adE5EggK6q
Did I mention how good in the air he is:
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been involved in 174 aerial duels in the league this season - more than any other player in the top 5 European leagues.— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) December 4, 2017
He has also won 78 of them - the second-most in the top 5 European leagues (behind Hannover's Salif Sane - 80).#EFC
Of course, this stat also goes to show that Everton have played a serious amount of long balls as the team lacked confidence, identity, a manager etc....
While Big Sam is certainly not going to transform Everton into Manchester City, the mere calming presence of having a manager will help settle down an indisputably talented side and help DCL feature his ground game even more.
As for the notion the Blues would be unable to score without Romelu Lukaku?
Brian will have more in the Mailbag, but here's some stats, after 15 games:— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) December 4, 2017
EFC 16-17 - GF 19, GA 19, Pts 20
EFC 17-18 - GF 19, GA 28, Pts 18
The above stat is even more impressive when you take into account everything from the KILLER schedule to start the season to playing under our third manager of the season.
For all of the fuss made about no replacement being brought in for Rom, the current squad (only days removed from a full-blown relegation crisis) have put the ball in the back of the net at the same pace as last year’s Europe -qualifying side.
(The Toffees are also only two points off last years total as well but that is for another time.)
As for what the Toffees need to do in January, the answer is a bit complicated and involves answering the following questions:
- Will Sandro Ramirez get a shot over the next month to establish himself in the rotation?
- Is there any forward available in January worth overpaying for?
I have been disheartened by the way Sandro has sputtered the past few months with Toffees and really hope he can follow up his goal against Lyon with another against Apollon Limassol and get a run during the busy season.
If so, the Toffees could afford to bring in a cheaper option to compliment DCL, Niasse, and Sandro and then look to sign a big-time striker in the summer.
If not, the Toffees will need to bring in a bigger name striker in January, which usually means acquiring either overpriced or slightly damaged goods.
What I DO know, however, is that Everton possess one of the most promising and complete forwards in the Premier League who has it in him to become a top-level striker.
The verdict on DCL?
Seven Sticks of Dynamite
It’s not an album, but I wanted to make sure you heard this song.
Once you get past the weirdness of the cover art, you find an album made to showcase Bjork’s wide-ranging and impressive skills.
Tons of great songs litter the album and while it’s likely you may find one or two songs not your your taste, you are even more assured to find a handful you’ll love.
Give it a try, like Everton, it may not be as bad as you think.
Favorite Track: Utopia
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Coheed and Cambria
My favorite album from my favorite band of all-time.
Favorite Track: Blood Red Summer
Pay attention over the next week as I provide a very special answer to the following question:
Who is your favorite Everton player and why is it Aaron Lennon— Adam Braun (@abraun_15) December 4, 2017