2021 got off to a bit of a misstep for Everton after a flat performance in the loss at home against West Ham United on New Year’s Day. Still, there’s a long year ahead for the Blues and plenty of time to correct course as Carlo Ancelotti looks to lead his side to Europe.
The Royal Blue Mersey put their heads together on this roundtable to discuss what they see in this squad, and who they are tipping to have a great upcoming half-season. We’d love to hear your opinions too, so drop us a line in the comments below too.
What are the strengths and weaknesses in this Everton squad?
Matthew - Strengths: solid defenders, tenacious midfielders, devastating forwards. Weaknesses: not enough of those players (yet).
Tom - Ancelotti has assembled a first XI capable of competing with and beating the best teams in the country. Sadly, there is little quality beyond that, with only really central defence displaying any strength in depth.
Pat - Strengths: defense and attack; great young core and one to be excited about for the future. Weaknesses: midfield; injuries and consistency issues have cost us this season.
Pete - Strength: a strong core of relatively young players to build a team around (Godfrey, Holgate, Richarlison, DCL). Weakness: A lack of Plan B options to call from the bench.
Ian - The biggest strength of Everton is its midfield duo of Allan and Doucouré paired with the forward crew of Richi, DCL and James. The greatest weakness has to be lack of depth. The team has done well to put in several good shifts without some of the aforementioned players, but depth issues will restrict Everton from realizing its full potential this season.
Trent - Looking at Everton, I feel as though how we start can be either our strength or our weakness; strong, ambitious play works better for us than when we allow a team to make their statement early on.
Calvin - Despite all the magic Ancelotti has weaved into this side, there’s little he (or Marcel Brands) can do about squad depth while we are still stuck with deadweight on the wage bill. So while Carlo might have a Plan B or even Plan C for later on in games, it’s rare he can effectively execute those plans with his off-the-bench options.
Where should Everton strengthen (if at all?) during the January transfer window (and who?)
Matthew - Striker should be the biggest priority, but it’ll be hard due to lack of January market value and the fact that Dominic Calvert-Lewin will almost certainly still be first-choice. Ivan Toney at Brentford seems a sensible (if potentially expensive) investment.
Tom - We all know the January window is not the best time to recruit and Everton have been burned more than once with their winter shopping, so I do not expect many big money transfers. However, they have also been guilty in the past of failing to capitalise on strong starts to the season by not bolstering the squad in January, with the team fading during the second of the campaign as a result.
Therefore, some loan or short-term deals could be a financially prudent way boost the squad, especially with the weighty contacts book Ancelotti no doubt possesses. Someone like Sami Khedira or, perhaps more optimistically Isco, would fit the bill.
Pat - Midfield. I believe we are a strong midfielder or two away from being able to compete with the best. Our squad depth can be worked on.
Pete - Right-back remains something of an issue, especially considering Seamus’ age/injury record. Max Aarons from Norwich would fit the bill perfectly. A tricky striker to have on the bench would useful too.
Ian - With injuries ravaging the squad and Ancelotti’s reluctance to play Anthony Gordon, perhaps Everton will sign a midfielder or a winger.
Trent - The midfield and attack need strengthening and so names like Isco, Arkadiusz Milik and Leon Bailey should be looked at intensely.
Calvin - A quality backup in midfield — hey, Jean-Philippe Gbamin is like a new signing right? — and a versatile forward who can play across the frontline seem like glaring needs.
I remain a big fan of Emiliano Buendia but we don’t appear in conversation for him, although his teammate Max Aarons is being linked and that would settle the question about who is the long term solution behind Seamus Coleman.
Which Everton player is going to have the best remainder of the season?
Matthew - Abdoulaye Doucouré, who I think has been solid all season so far but has really stepped up a few levels in December.
Tom - Richarlison. The Brazilian’s influence was highlighted by how much the team struggled during his suspension earlier this season. I fancy him to reach new heights during the second half of the season to spearhead the Toffees’ push for European football.
Pat - Dominic Calvert-Lewin. I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon despite his current drought.
Pete - Richarlison. His goals/assists return haven’t been indicative to the quality of his performances so far.
Ian - Here’s an overly-optimistic take: A fully-fit James will continue to light up the Prem once he returns from his prolonged recovery period and finish the season with 15 assists and 10 goals! Good thing he doesn’t have a lengthy injury history that could prevent that from happening...
Trent - For us to reach our proper potential, Dominic Calvert-Lewin will have to continue to evolve and develop before our very eyes.
Calvin - Richarlison is a popular answer, so I will go with Lucas Digne, who is going to come back from his injury layoff and be the chance-creating monster that he was earlier this season, and the goals will start flowing once again.