A bump in the road or a return to Everton-ness?
Are Everton still magic or has Carlo’s James spell worn off?
It wasn’t pretty on the south coast for Everton, but what did the result really mean for the Blues?
Which Everton is real? The flying table toppers or familiar lethargic limpers?
The Blues have conceded 1.5 goals per game
Conceded goals when you’re winning games isn’t a problem, but if the chances and goals dry up, it exposes an issue.
The Blues haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last seven games, conceding two in five of those games.
So, with the goals having dried up at St Mary’s, it may be time to start asking some questions of our defence.
Jordan Pickford has received his fair share of criticism this season, but he was essentially faultless against Southampton.
It’s easy to put the finger on Everton’s defensive issue right now, but it’ll be interesting to see who become first choice when Carlo has four central defenders to choose from.
After his form last season, you’d expect Mason Holgate to be first choice and potentially pair with some brawn in the form of Michael Keane, with Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina acting as like-for-like replacements.
Everton have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 7 games in all competitions, conceding 2 goals in 5 of those games. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) October 25, 2020
Had most shots and most key passes
It was a pretty meagre showing from the Blues here and with Richarlison suspended, it seemed as though the Blues creative expectations fell squarely on the shoulders of James Rodriguez, who only just passed a late fitness test in order to play in this one.
Rodriguez is a phenomenal player, but Everton can’t be too reliant on him for two reasons: 1) his injury record isn’t the best and 2) it becomes to easy for opponents to focus on their defensive duties on him.
Against Saints, James completed two key passes for the Blues, with only Bernard also registering any key passes. He also had the most shots in a Blue shirt (but only two) and aside from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s rocket which cannoned off the bar, no other player looked like creating anything.
Alex Iwobi certainly missed his chance to impress and was pulled at half-time, but Anthony Gordon gave a good account of himself after coming on for the final 30 minutes. Indeed, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see Gordon start next weekend as he certainly is the most similar profile of player to Richarlison that we have.
The Blues have just one senior striker available
There seems to have been a misconception among the mainstream media that Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been the main man for Everton this season.
That’s not to take from his incredible scoring form, it’s just that he’s far from integral to Everton’s play. He “just” puts the ball in the net (which we’re very grateful for, Dominic)!
However, when Everton’s creative juices aren’t flowing in midfield and out wide, it effectively cuts DCL out of the game. Indeed, he touched the ball far less than any outfield player on the pitch in this one.
This isn’t a criticism of DCL, but more a concern about Everton’s lack attacking options. Having loaned Moise Kean to PSG and with Cenk Tosun out injured, a suspension to Richarlison meant that Calvert-Lewin was the only recognised senior striker in the squad.
So in a game like this when we’re not creating chances, it would be nice to have a different profile of striker – or even a second striker to partner him – as the Blues look to change things up.
Surely competition up top will be something the Blues will be looking to add in January.
A new look left-flank is in order after back-to-back reds
A big chance for a promising Niels Nkounkou and Anthony Gordon partnership could be in the offing though.
All is not lost
Top of the league
Despite a loss here, Everton remain top of the league for another week.
Indeed, this looks like it could be one of the most open Premier League seasons ever. Forget the Big Six, you could make an argument that there are 11/12 very capable teams (“big 6” plus Everton, Wolves, Leicester City, Leeds United, Southampton and maybe even Aston Villa) in the Premier League this season, all of whom will be eyeing up a potential European spot.
For now, the Blues need to get back on track. And that means a win at the other end of the country against Newcastle next weekend.