With his appearance against Manchester United last weekend, Joshua King graced Old Trafford once again, not as a Red Devil but as a Toffee. For Everton, the pace that the player demonstrated on the left side of the pitch was a welcome sight, and although he did not score in this his first game in the Royal Blue, the Blues drew the match in shock fashion.
Fast forwarding, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin coming up lame in the midweek Tottenham fifth round FA Cup match victory, the ability of the Norway striker to possibly slot into his number nine spot will be crucial for this weekend’s match versus Fulham. And while the club we will be facing is not in the best of form, that should not dampen the intensity with which we enter the match; Joshua King’s play must offer stability to an Everton side that are finding offensive fluidity and versatility as the season continues onward.
Goodison Park: A King’s Court with DCL on the Shelf
It is positive that the loss of Dominic should not mean the reevaluation of positioning for the rest of the club’s top talents. Richarlison can continue to play on either side of King while the other side is occupied by either Alex Iwobi or James Rodriguez. King’s versatility and ability to play on the wing will allow Carlo Ancelotti to even use Richarlison as the sole striker should he so choose.
The loss of important pieces has been difficult for us at times this season, as with the case of Richarlison after his red card ban. Yet during the absences of Lucas Digne, the club demonstrated fantastic resolve on the backend, with Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey shouldering more burden, demonstrating further versatility and mettle. Missing our top scorer this season will be difficult without question, yet Everton is better prepared to handle this adversity than they were even a day before the winter transfer window ended.
The transfer for King from AFC Bournemouth was important for just this reason, as well as for the club’s depth. This depth, which is glaring at some positions in comparison to the top names in the Premier League, has been improved with the 29-year-old’s arrival, and although he hasn’t yet made an impact during the season, a change of venue and improvement in the quality of his supporting cast can have positive results for a player and his new club.
With the form of Richarlison improving, as seen last in the Tottenham match, will, as DCL has done for him at times this season, relieve some of the stress and burden from the replacement number nine. If the Toffees can continue to grow in their play, while tightening up on corners and the mistakes that nearly cost us in both of the last two matches, the Norwegian on Merseyside should slot in properly and might even celebrate a goal or two.
Will Everton suit the King? I believe so, but for how long?
During his time at Bournemouth, the player grew to be a fish far too large for the pond he had accustomed himself to. During his spell at United as a young player, it is quite possible that he felt himself then a tiny fish in a massive lake comparatively speaking; yet this weekend, he has the opportunity to continue his career in a comfortable setting, as an ancillary, yet important piece of a team that is trending in the proper direction for European competition, as well as English competitiveness.
And he is capable to be sure, Joshua has shown that over the years, and had long been rumored to leave before the Cherries finally got relegated. His striking ability and instincts in front of the goalkeeper are noteworthy and, his ability to play out wide as well as directly up front must have been appealing for a side that has needed more quality choices and depth across an entire season. The Joshua King of last season, as well as seasons prior, is the King that the Toffees purchased as the winter window was slamming shut.
Yet should he deliver what we have seen from him over the years against Fulham, he’ll have proven his value far exceeds the £5 million that was spent to get him almost immediately. While injuries always loom, Calvert-Lewin has been durable, and so King was as much a depth purchase as an insurance policy for their number nine. Replacing Cenk Tosun with Josh King may, to the superficial eye, seem a minimal upgrade, yet those pessimists could very well see how wrong of an assessment that is when King is surrounded with a positive, up and coming squad.
With this said, I believe that he will make an impact, and one that could propel him and his confidence for the second half of a season which Everton badly need to take control of. If Don Carlo has three hot attacking pieces in DCL, Richarlison and King in play, with the ever developing cast behind them, Everton will absolutely have a real chance at both a top four Premiership spot, as well as an FA Cup crown. Alongside obvious names that deserve praise like DCL, Richarlison and Don Carlo, those of Alex Iwobi, Tom Davies, Gylfi Siggurdson and Abdoulaye Doucoure must also be given their proper do; King would simply be adding his name to the ever growing list of players whose forms are improving together, at the right time and with the right mindset.
With those possible successes, King could find himself on Merseyside for campaigns to come, with the financial flexibility such successes provide for a club; but first thing’s first, Fulham, and three points, in preparation for the visit from Manchester City just days later. The road will be tough from here on out, with slight reprieves here and there, yet for a player like King, the struggle is something he is used to; a perfect match for Merseyside and Everton alike, and he will show just why and how soon enough.