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Everton 2020/21 Season Preview: Strikers

An exciting group of strikers must build on the strengths and weaknesses witnessed last season

Newcastle United v Everton FC - Premier League
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton FC at St. James Park on December 28, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Stats: Everton 2019/20 Strikers

Player Minutes Goals Assists
Player Minutes Goals Assists
Richarlison 3501 15 4
Dominic Calvert-Lewin 2996 15 1
Moise Kean 1024 2 2
Cenk Tosun 504 2 3
*Includes Tosun’s Crystal Palace loan appearances

Tactics

Under Marco Silva, Everton were consistently attempting to play through a 4-2-3-1. This would feature the rotation of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean with usually Gylfi Sigurdsson or Alex Iwobi as the number ten. After the horrendous start to the campaign, the firing of Silva and eventual hiring of Carlo Ancelotti, the team’s tactics changed to suit the boss.

Liverpool FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Marco Silva reacts to decision on the pitch

In a 4-4-2, Ancelotti was able to better utilise the firepower of Everton than his predecessor had been able to. The shape helped to improve the strikers consistency, but players like Sigurdsson did suffer for it, not playing in a direct number ten role anymore. This measure attempted to hide imperfections in Everton’s back line by upping the direct firepower; while it did its job at times, other facets of the team were still exposed far too often as evidenced later in the season.

While the rest of the team still has to grow, the strikers will have to contribute more consistently this campaign.

Current Players

Richarlison - The 23-year-old has been considered a winger for much of his career, but became a greater central presence over the last year. Often paired alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin last campaign, the two were responsible for 30 goals between them. While this is impressive, the consistency for each player will have to be cranked higher should Everton endeavour to make a greater impact in the Premier League.

Sheffield United v Everton FC - Premier League
Richarlison of Everton controls the ball ahead of Ollie Norwood of Sheffield United
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Should Richarlison remain in front of the goal, likely alongside Calvert-Lewin, we will see noticeable improvement with more experience and a better midfield supporting him. With superior service, the Brazilian international should be looking at at least 20 goals himself, which is not to mention his assist tally either.

Richarlison’s diversity, should another winger not be procured, leaves the possibility open that he may not play centrally the entire year; the rest of the supporting cast up front will have something to say on that in either way, however.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - if it was expected that Richarlison would continue to improve in leaps and bounds, expectations seemed less than they probably should’ve for Calvert-Lewin. The former Blade from Sheffield, Calvert-Lewin single-handedly carried Everton through a mid-season stretch last term, scoring nearly every goal the Blues bagged for an entire month.

While there were spells where he was less visible, Calvert-Lewin would be impactful for more or less the whole season. With play at the wing position being extremely suspect, both he and Richarlison carried the load predominantly; a new season, and new wingers, could provide the service to turn he and whoever sits with him into real consistent danger men in the opposition box.

Moise Kean - after a shock transfer move that got everyone on Merseyside chatting, the reality of Kean’s move from Juventus to Everton showed itself more as an endeavour in patience. It was an investment into the club’s future, not necessarily their present. But everyone gets excited by young talent, enamoured by the immediate potential and what that could mean; players like Kylian Mbappe spoil us to be sure.

Everton FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Moise Kean of Everton battles for possession with Lloyd Kelly of AFC Bournemouth
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

While rumours persist that he could find himself back in Turin, this would be a mistake both short and long-term. The young Italian was not necessarily given the tools around him to succeed and until later in the season, he simply didn’t. But towards the end of the season, with proper time under Ancelotti, glimpses of the spirit and ability seen in Italy were visible in the north of England as well.

Should Kean remain with Everton and take steps forward as a striker, he could form the partnership with Calvert-Lewin that Richarlison currently fills, allowing him to move to a wing, hence strengthening the club. A front two of Kean and Calvert-Lewin, with James Rodriguez and Richarlison on each side is an imposing attack when firing on all cylinders; only time will tell as per that situation however.

Cenk Tosun and the rest - Tosun and Sandro Ramirez have all been reduced to depth or excess at Goodison Park. Tosun found himself in London on loan last year at Crystal Palace, while Sandro spent another year in Spain, this time at Real Valladolid.

While none have left again yet, it seems likely that, should they not be loaned out, they will be sold as ageing or without future in the Premier League. The rumours around Sandro already indicate as much, while still being only 25.

Real Valladolid CF v Real Betis Balompie - La Liga
VALLADOLID, SPAIN - JULY 19: Sandro Ramirez of Real Valladolid
Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

State of the Position

The talent immediately available at Everton is intriguing. The three young talents shine through up front so much so that. If Kean and Calvert-Lewin continue on their upward trajectory, Richarlison could move back to the wing position, providing strength, skill, goals, service and general pressure in the final attacking third.

Should the boss change the shape of the team though, we might see different skill sets shine and different opportunities to be had. Should it remain the 4-4-2, expect to see a cleaner, more crisp version of the team we saw at highs and lows last season.

If the trio can provide consistent attacking play from up front, few other English teams will have this unique combination of youth, technique and ability.

It might not be a bad idea to keep Tosun for the purpose of depth, although he might not be serviceable until the end of the calendar year. Being optimistic on this front is positive, for with the innovations behind the current striking group, there is true potential for both the club and its most dangerous offensive players.


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