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Has Dominic Calvert-Lewin Declined? A Brief Statistical Comparison

There has been a drastic drop-off in the Everton striker’s form since last year.

Everton v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

It doesn’t take a genius to point out the fact that the inconsistency from Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been one of the main factors in Everton’s awful 2021/22 season thus far. The former Sheffield United man was crucial for Carlo Ancelotti’s side last season, scoring 16 of the Toffees’ 47 goals (34%). No team that finished above 17th place relied on one single player for a larger percentage of their goals. The only two players that scored a larger portion of their club’s goals were David McGoldrick (40%) and Chris Wood (36%). Calvert-Lewin also did not take a single penalty kick during the 2020/21 season, and thus he finished joint-second in the Premier League with Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min for non-penalty goals.

So, what has changed this season? Firstly, injuries have played a huge role in the England international’s lack of form. After scoring in all of the first three games of the season, Calvert-Lewin missed 14 consecutive league matches due to a fractured toe and has twice since suffered knocks that kept him out of the matchday squad against Manchester City and Wolves, and forced him into substitute appearances against Newcastle and most recently Crystal Palace in an FA Cup Quarterfinal I’d like to quickly forget.

It’s more than fair to say his lack of consistent game time and inability to string together a run of more than 3 consecutive starts all season has had a significant impact on his performances when he has been on the pitch. In his first game back from the fractured toe, he clipped the top of the bar from the penalty spot; a miss which not only marked the first penalty blunder of his career but also ended up costing Everton a point as they suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion. His finishing in general has gone from being amongst the best in the league to significantly below the standards of a striker who 14 months prior was right in the mix for the Golden Boot. In 2020/21, Calvert-Lewin converted his non-penalty xG at a higher rate than even Mohamed Salah, and from the time of Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment to the fracturing of his toe in August, he scored 0.48 goals per 90 minutes played for Everton; the exact same as Romelu Lukaku during his prolific spell with the club.

However, the drop-off this season has been clear. In his 772 minutes of league play this season, the Everton #9’s non-penalty xG to non-penalty goals ratio has dropped down to just 29%, as he’s scored just 1 non-penalty goal from an expected 3.4. Add the two penalties he scored and the one he missed, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored 2.7 fewer goals than expected, which ranks joint-fourth worst in the entire league despite the fact he has only started 9 games. Finishing is not the only area in which he has regressed this season; his aerial duel win rate has dropped from 49.3% last season to 40.2% this season, his xGBuildup/90 has been cut nearly in half from 0.13 last season to .07 this season, and his xGChain/90 (aka expected goal contributions/90) has dropped from 0.62 to 0.43 {stats via FBRef and UnderStat}.

DCL stats - 2020/21 on the left, 2021/22 on the right
Understat

On a positive note, we recently saw a glimpse of the quality that we know he possesses, as, despite his extended absences and rocky form, he delivered a sublime assist for Alex Iwobi’s winner against Newcastle, which could prove to be one of the most crucial goals in Everton’s recent history.

The Times journalist Paul Joyce reported that over the international break, Everton have been putting DCL through rigorous training sessions in the hope of him returning to full fitness for the run-in; a sight all Evertonians will be hoping and praying for. There are no doubts that a fully fit and firing Dominic Calvert-Lewin can be lethal in the Premier League, and it now seems that the fate of Everton’s survival this season rests majorly in his hands. Getting him back on the pitch and on the scoresheet must be a top priority for Frank Lampard as we head into the home stretch of the campaign.

Can Dominic Calvert-Lewin do enough to keep us up? I sure hope so friends, I sure hope so.