Ahead of Everton’s first game since March in the Merseyside derby on June 21, we’re recapping how the Blues have fared in each area of the pitch in what’s been a pretty trying season, for the most part.
We finish up front, where the Romelu Lukaku-shaped void is finally showing signs of being filled.
Forward - recap
Forward has been a problem position for Everton ever since the departure of Romelu Lukaku. The team has struggled to find a player that could replace the goal output of the big Belgian. Instead Everton have often found themselves scoring by committee and spreading out the load among various midfielders and strikers. But the 2019-20 season feels like the first time since the departure of Lukaku that the team have finally sorted out their woes up top.
The second half of this season has been a coming out party for Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Having previously been known more for his work rate than goalscoring prowess, the young forward seems to have come into his own under Carlo Ancelotti. No longer having to play as the lone striker, Calvert-Lewin has used his unparalleled work rate to tally a career high 13 goals so far this season. Everton have also expressed enough belief in the young striker to award him a new five year contract that will keep him at the club through 2025.
All that being said, he is far from a finished product. He still the tendency to be a bit sloppy with the ball at his feet, but at 23 years old he still has time to improve. If he can continue to build off of what has been a breakout season, then that gives Ancelotti and Marcel Brands one less position to worry about.
Richarlison has easily been the best signing that Marco Silva made during his time at Everton. The young Brazilian brought some much-needed skill and goals to a side sorely lacking both and made a huge impact in his first season with the club. Under Silva he was deployed across the front three at winger and striker, but under Ancelotti he seems to have found a home as the team’s second striker.
Playing as the lone forward was never the right position for him and he had a tendency to get isolated on the wings and struggle to positively impact the match. But the switch to a 4-4-2 has benefited Richarlison just as much as it has Calvert-Lewin. Since Ancelotti took over as manager Richarlison, has scored four times in the nine matches he has played.
Neither of Everton’s starting forwards benefit from being the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1. But together, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin are a potent duo capable of wreaking havoc on most Premier League defences.
Moise Kean arrived at Everton to much fanfare and high expectations. A highly-touted youngster arriving from Juventus will always be expected to perform right away, but so far, Kean has struggled to come to terms with the Premier League.
The majority of Kean’s appearances this season have come as a substitute, where he has been so far unable to put his mark on the match. But the biggest disappointment has been his lack of goals. He had some near misses early in the season, but Silva struggled to find the right spot for him in his one striker formation. Then Duncan Ferguson substituted the young striker into a match against Manchester United only to yank him 18 minutes later. At that moment it seemed as if the Kean experiment was over before it truly began.
However, fellow countryman Ancelotti seems to be making more of a point to get Kean time on the pitch. This even led to Kean’s first goal against Newcastle. At this point in the season, Kean is going to struggle to get minutes with Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison performing so well. But Ancelotti’s two-striker system should suit Kean’s style of play more than Silva’s did.
It’s also important to remember how young Kean is. The Premier League is a different animal than, Serie A and Kean will have plenty of time to adjust. There have been flashes of the player we expect Kean to be, but it may take time for Ancelotti to unlock that potential.