In the four games since Frank Lampard took charge, Everton have looked equally dominant and despondent depending on whether they’ve been at home or away. The strolled to big wins over Brentford in the FA Cup and then swept aside Leeds United in the Premier League, but now face a whole different challenge at Goodison Park on Saturday with league leaders Manchester City visiting.
The Blues have had a pretty miserable recent record against the defending champions in recent years, having lost nine in a row in all competitions to Pep Guardiola’s side and only one of those was by a margin smaller than two goals.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference today, Lampard admitted that only winning their remaining home games would not be enough to ensure survival.
“We do not want to isolate and approach our home games. It hasn’t been good enough away from home all season, there are things I see that we need to improve on that front. We have a lot of games to go, we just need to keep our heads down, keep working on it and pick up results.
“Against Manchester City, there’s a reason why they’re top and they’re the best team. We have to understand that, and we have to worry about ourselves and try and get a result, but there are a lot of games coming after that too.”
Injuries have severely hampered the Blues all season long, first when Rafa Benitez was in charge and now for Lampard as well. Was the formation to use against City playing on his mind as an option to try get a result?
“In my time here, half of my decisions on shape or formation have been made for me through injuries. We’ve had a lot of injuries that I walked into, and important ones that happened right away so when you lose strong centre halves, it’s a difficult thing to manage. Sometimes formation is off that, and other times it’s to help you against the opposition and against City it’s to negate their strengths.”
There is a bit of an injury reprieve for Lampard this weekend with Demarai Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure back in training at Finch Farm this week.
“Ben Godfrey won’t be back, he’s still a couple of weeks away, which has always been the case with Ben, he is progressing well but it’s always a five-week injury and that gives him a couple of week.
“With Doucoure and Gray they are both training with us now and in the squad. Whether they start or not is an issue for me. Doucoure has been out for five weeks now and with Demarai we have to make sure coming into a game like this with the type of physical output that is needed to get the performance and potential result needed is a big ask.
“I’ll have to decide whether they are ready to start, but it’s good to have them back in the squad.”
Dominic Calvert-Lewin did not get much service in the defeat at Southampton last weekend, was this because Gray and Andros Townsend were not playing, or was the striker needing to do more himself?
“That is a team issue. It’s not the wingers, it’s not Dominic, it’s a team issue. How well you attack and how well you defend it’s absolutely a team structure issue.”
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there has been an outpouring of support from the Everton community for left back Vitalii Mykolenko. What is the player’s mental state right now
“He’s okay. I’ve spoken to him, the club has spoken to him. He has every bit of support that we can possibly give him, in terms of personal touch and club support, if and when he needs it.
“He knows he that support mechanism is there, he’s only been here for a short duration, so it’s ultra important he feels that from us and he does. The decision on whether to play or be available is for me and him to speak about.”