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Everton 2021/22 Season Preview: Strikers

Can DCL follow up his breakthrough season with another one?

Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison of Everton
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Stats: 2020/21 Everton Strikers

Player Minutes Goals Assists xG+xA/90 (PL only)
Player Minutes Goals Assists xG+xA/90 (PL only)
Dominic Calvert-Lewin 3313' 21 5 0.64
Richarlison 3351' 13 3 0.44
Cenk Tosun 164' 1 0 0.18
Moise Kean 117' 2 0 0.20
Joshua King 137' 0 0 0.60

Tactics

Everton will need to get both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison more help for this year. Joshua King was not the ticket last year, and whether he wasn’t good enough, or whether the old boss Carlo Ancelotti did not give him a chance, is neither here nor there. Under Rafa Benitez, the strikers of Everton will likely improve as the famously obsessive manager has more time with them.

Meanwhile, as Cenk Tosun is coming off a fairly harsh knee injury, and does not appear to be a part of the future for the club, much of what the Blues will have to think about regarding reinforcements for the striker position will come down to whether or not Moise Kean remains on Merseyside.

Under Ancelotti, Everton lined up quite often in 4-3-3’s, sometimes in 4-4-2’s and occasionally in other shapes as well to accommodate injuries or squad deficiencies. Under the new boss Rafa however, the name of the game is pragmatism, and how to best accentuate the players that he possesses with the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 already being deployed.

Rafa and his staff will want to get Calvert-Lewin in the best position in front of goal as often as possible. The Everton number nine has been improving in leaps and bounds over the last two seasons in particular, and the coaching staff will want to assist that progress as best as they can. Should Kean remain on Merseyside, he and DCL could form a remarkable striking tandem up front, with Richarlison on the left and Andros Townsend or James Rodriguez sending balls in from the right side.

Current Players

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

The young man from Sheffield continues to grow and mature into one of the best number nines in the Premier League. With 21 goals and five assists across all competitions last season, compared to just 15 goals and one assist the campaign before, there is no doubt that the 24-year-old striker still has room for improvement as he develops into a more rounded striker.

DCL’s build-up play is one of the strongest parts of his game and under Ancelotti he adopted a more ‘fox-in-the-box’ approach with a minimum of touches before getting off a shot on goal. The added service from the wings this season will give him a chance to work on his shooting accuracy. Benitez is known for putting in as much work as is necessary to see results with his players, and as a former teacher has shown the patience to get the most out of his squad.

Richarlison

The 24-year-old, just coming off of his country’s gold medal at the Olympics and finishing runners-up in the Copa Americe, will be again crucial for Everton. Last season Richarlison struggled at times, with his finishing and dribbling often letting him down.

The Brazilian remains a confidence player, and nothing boosts him more than playing and getting chances. Richarlison often gets a bad rap for the scowl on his face as he’s on the pitch, but nothing turns that frown upside down faster than a goal. Last season he showed himself to be pretty adept at both wide forward and secondary striker, but the big thing for Benitez this season will be to manage his minutes after all his exertions over the summer. Between the start of last season in the second week of September and tomorrow’s season opener, that will be a whopping 60 games Richarlison has featured in.

Everton FC v UNAM Pumas - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Douglas DeFelice - Everton/Everton FC via Getty Images

Moise Kean

The young Italian striker rediscovered his scoring touch while loaned to PSG last season. Kean had not been able to replicate that kind of form with the Blues and even if he remains on Merseyside at the end of this transfer window, rumours of a possible move are never too far away from him. He’s looked hungry in preseason already and does provide Benitez a different attacking dimension than either DCL or Richarlison.

With 17 goals and one assist with PSG, and another two before he left in the Carabao Cup with Everton, the 21-year-old would have been a wonderful resource for the Toffees over the 2020-21 season. Perhaps however, it was best that he did go to another league to regain confidence and swagger with some of the best players in the world.

Cenk Tosun

The Turkish forward has not seen his career progress very far since his move to Everton and will be coming off of a brutal knee injury that saw his loan period back to Besiktas cut short. While he is still with Everton for now, there is little hope that he will remain with the club, and that is likely the best for all parties.

Ellis Simms

The 20-year-old also had a breakthrough season much like DCL, nabbing 18 goals and two assists across all competitions with the Everton Under-23s and on loan at Blackpool where he helped them on their promotion push to the Championship.

Should Moise Kean be sold, with the inevitable sale of Cenk Tosun expected at some point down the road as well, Simms will likely be the next man up on Merseyside. the youngster is certainly an exciting player who has outgrown the Premier League 2 level, and needs to be playing consistent minutes hopefully on loan as a starter in the Championship.

Lewis Dobbin

The youngster got off to a hot start with the Under-18s last season but picked up an unfortunate knee injury that required surgery and saw him miss the rest of the season. He’s back on his feet this summer though and has made an immediate impression in preseason friendlies after getting promoted to the Under-23s while still only 18 years old. He will be looking to cement his spot in David Unsworth’s side while ensuring that Simms will not be missed.

State of the Position

This is, potentially, a very complete and talent-laden collection of strikers, or one that might be very top heavy as it was last season. No team can rely on two top talents alone, and if that pair is doing the majority of the scoring, when they inevitably have an off day, the entire team suffers.

Should Kean on Merseyside, he could very well offer us more firepower and take some pressure off of Richy and DCL. If Tosun is not moved on at some point when he is healthy once again, he could provide another body to help in key situations for Everton, but is not a long term answer of course. Benitez’s former player at Newcastle United and Dalian Professional Salomon Rondon has been linked with a low budget transfer while Demarai Gray has shown he can be used as a secondary striker as well.

The future for the position certainly looks positive though with Simms showing he can score consistently at League 1 level and Dobbins the latest to be given an opportunity to shine as well.


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