Let’s start on a happy note, shall we? For this column, here are some positives from the defeat to Manchester City.
- The four-center-back lineup, which allows Lucas Digne to occupy the left wing position, was relatively sturdy against the most potent attack in the league — City have won 10 straight matches to start the year, outscoring opponents 28–3. Here’s something: Everton represent 33.3-percent of the goals the Manchester outfit have conceded in the past ten games.
- Richarlison scored a… wonderfully worked goal. While the Brazilian might not have known much about the goal itself, the buildup between Alex Iwobi, Seamus Coleman and Digne was marvelous.
- Jordan Pickford did decently in his first game back since injury — City scored on a deflection, a Riyad Mahrez rocket and a Bernardo Silva trick shot. In a fixture they were always supposed to lose, the Toffees performed admirably.
Cue the Injuries
On a less upbeat cadence, center-half Yerry Mina had to be withdrawn at the 18’ mark with what looked to be a right-calf injury. The Blues have been hampered by the injury bug all season. Take a quick peek at Everton’s roster and it’s almost a guarantee that the player whose name you just read has been injured at some point. The results of such a pernicious injury outbreak have forced Carlo Ancelotti to adjust his starting XI for each fixture; consistency is not a luxury the Toffees have been granted this campaign.
Here’s the flip side, though: The Merseyside club has depth in defense, which means more of Ben Godfrey tearing down the flanks at full speed. For the most part, Mina has been in good form this season, developing a good rapport with center-back partner Michael Keane, so it’s discouraging to see him go down. Here’s to a speedy recovery, Yerry.
Why Sign King?
This is not to say that Joshua King isn’t a Premier League footballer, he absolutely is, don’t get that wrong. The point of this though is that, through four matches, he has been used in a substitute role each time, logging a total of 71 minutes. The Norwegian forward is averaging under 18 minutes per game, and I’m not sure his ceiling is any more than that in Ancelotti’s system — the 29-year-old hasn’t started even with Dominic Calvert-Lewin out.
Why sign a player that doesn’t fit into a manager’s plans and will be limited to substitute appearances at the end of games? This is yet another example of Ancelotti undervaluing youth players — the Italian opted to loan out 20-year-old forward Moise Kean, who would have had a similar role to King. Ancelotti clearly doesn’t think younger players can benefit his team, and it’s frustrating to see Kean scoring against Barcelona in the Champions League while the Toffees are struggling to generate offense against Fulham.