Struggles against top six sides
Unless Everton are on their absolute top form, they have consistently struggled to perform against top six sides. Yes, Tottenham Hotspur may not be in the top six this season, but historically they are one of the teams at the top of the table fighting for European football.
While there is a more in depth article on the site regarding Everton’s failures against the top six, it’s still worth mentioning here. Everton are capable of occasionally pulling off the odd upset of a much better side, the 4-0 win over Manchester City immediately comes to mind. But on the whole, Everton have mostly lost these matches before they’ve even started. This is an area Carlo Ancelotti can improve upon more than any previous Everton manager. He has won the biggest matches, managed the best players and best teams. He needs to rid Everton of an inferiority complex that is preventing them from reaching the next level.
This side is uniquely situated with Ancelotti at the helm. Never before have they had such an accomplished manager at the helm. Everton are no longer pulling managers from lower table teams and hoping that they can blossom into the best. They have an experienced, successful and well regarded manager at the helm. And he needs to improve this team not only on the pitch, but mentally as well.
Lack of depth limits Ancelotti
No matter how much Carlo Ancelotti improves the players on this team, he is greatly limited by the depth available to him. Matches like this one, where Everton are on short rest and playing good sides are going to be difficult to win with the current squad set up. Ancelotti can set up the side as well as he wants, but the fact remains that Everton’s only real attacking option off the bench is Bernard.
This issue not only limits options for substitutions, but also when players need a rest in a compressed schedule. Even with an expanded bench, Everton have three attacking options available to them outside of the usual starters: Bernard, Moise Kean and Anthony Gordon. This forces Ancelotti to play Gylfi Sigirdsson or Tom Davies on the wing and it also limits his ability to rest players like Andre Gomes. He basically has to keep his starters on the pitch because his other options likely won’t cut it against the better sides in this league.
Getting some reinforcements into this side has to be a top priority over the off season. Injuries happen and players fall out of form and better options are needed to spell these players when the unexpected happens.
Keeping players fresh
Despite the lack of depth that Everton have, Ancelotti has to make sure he can keep his best players fresh for the remainder of the season. He smartly subbed off Alex Iwobi, Seamus Coleman and a potentially injured Mason Holgate throughout the match. With five matches left and seven total in the month of July a few key players look like they may need a match off.
Andre Gomes most of all looks like he may need a bit of a rest. Unfortunately for Everton he is one of their most difficult to replace players. Neither Gylfi Sigurdsson nor Tom Davies really have the skill set that Gomes provides when he’s at his best. But Gomes has clearly not been at his best since returning from injury. It’s nothing short of a miracle that Gomes was able to return so quickly from such a horrible injury, but he simply hasn’t looked like the player that was so important for Everton prior to his injury.
Richarlison has also been taking quite a beating over the last few matches and could also do with a bit of a rest. Obviously none of this is ideal given that there are only five matches left in the season. Using the Southampton or Aston Villa matches to rest one or both of these players may be ideal. The upcoming fixtures against Wolves and Sheffield United are massively important given that they are ahead of Everton in the table. The Toffees will need to be at full strength for both of those matches and allowing their best players to recover a little may be important. Regardless of how long the lockdown related break went on, playing two matches a week for a month straight is a lot to ask of these players.