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Everton 2022-23 Season Review: Central Midfielders Report Cards

Assessing the seasons for Gueye, Onana, Doucoure, Garner, and Davies

Everton FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Our review of the just-ended Everton season continues with a review of central midfield options.

Too frequently over the past several years, Everton’s managerial merry go round has created many issues when it comes to players being in and out of favour with the arriving manager after being first choice for the departing one. This season, the departure of Frank Lampard at the end of January was a significant moment that changed the effectiveness, both positively and negatively, for the central midfielders on the team.

Everton FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Will Palmer/Sportsphoto/Allstar Via Getty Images

Amadou Onana

Appearances - 33, Goals - 1, Assists - 2, Yellow Cards - 9, Red Cards - 0, PL xG+xA/90 - 0.20

21 year old Amadou Onana arrived at Everton in early August for €35.00m from LOSC Lille with the blessing of Frank Lampard. His first (and possibly his last) season has been defined by his passionate play and his physical presence on the pitch. Throughout the season both Lampard and Dyche spent time figuring out the best position for the young Belgian.

At Lille, Onana was used primarily as a sitting midfielder and Lampard used him in this role but the lack of firepower up front led him to be used in a more advanced role, playing both as an 8 and 10. When Dyche arrived the necessity to tighten things up at the back saw his time drop with him only completing the full 90 minutes in 6 of the last 15 games.

In addition to his stamina and work rate, Onana’s 6’4” stature also aids his defensive contribution. He ranks in the 93rd percentile for aerial duels won, helps Everton when defending set pieces, and can use his long stride and limbs to better his tackling ability. Tracking back showed how he could steal the ball back. His tackling was ranked in the 77th percentile, 74th for interceptions and clearances.

With another summer of belt tightening financially, there is already talk of Onana being the player who is sacrificed to cash in on his potential. I for one would be very disappointed if this were to happen. He is already a full international with Belgium and as Dyche gets to learn how best to use him there will be far more for him to offer the team. His comments at the end of the season showed how he saw his future with the team. A very solid first season. Let’s hope it is not his last.

Grade: B- (for committed)

Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Tom Davies

Appearances - 19, Goals - 0, Assists - 0, Yellow Cards - 3, Red Cards - 0, PL xG+xA/90 - 0

After making his first appearance for Everton in 2016, Tom Davies has racked up 6 goals and five assists in his 155 Premier League games. His first two seasons were statistically his best and it was at this point that he started to have his progress hampered by the managerial roundabout. Marco Silva only gave him 4 starts and he only played 4 games under Rafa Benitez in an injury plagued season.

This year, his last under his current contract, he started only 4 games, made 15 appearances from the bench and only completed one match. Early in the season under Lampard he was given his chance when Doucouré was injured. The team had four draws and one loss during this period, but it could not keep him in the team when Doucouré returned. With the arrival of Dyche, Davies was mainly used as a late substitute or was an unused sub. He was not even in the squad for the final 3 games of the season.

It is time for Tom Davies to find a new team so that he can get a fresh start. He has been around for a long time but is only 24 years old. His willingness to get stuck into a game and intercept passes was appreciated by Evertonians but his passing, tackling, and concentration were lacking.

Grade: D (for disappointing)

Everton FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Abdoulaye Doucoure

Appearances - 27, Goals - 5, Assists - 2, Yellow Cards - 6, Red Cards - 1, PL xG+xA/90 - 0.24

In twenty years, this season will be remembered for that moment when Doucouré charged onto the loose ball at the edge of the box and slammed home the winning goal to keep Everton in the Premier League for another season. In fact, he should be remembered as one of the players of the season who was a contributor when he was on the pitch and sorely missed when he was sidelined. Doucouré was another player whose fortunes turned with the arrival of Sean Dyche, and only magnified his importance.

Doucouré was missing for 13 games due to injury and suspension. Everton never won a game, drew six and scored only six goals. He was in the team for 25 games and the team won 8, drew six, lost 11 and scored 28. Interestingly, of the 11 losses, he only played in 5 of them for the full 90 minutes and started only 6. Three of those losses were the opening game against Chelsea, City away and Liverpool.

On the defensive end, his involvement only slightly changed the stats with the average being 1.3 GA without him and 1.3 GA when he was in the team. That can be overlooked when we had 0.5 GF without him and 1.1 GF with him in the team.

That moment against Bournemouth will be remembered but Doucouré’s contribution to the team was critical and the confidence that Dyche put in him was rewarded handsomely. He played 15 games under Dyche and the team accumulated 20 points out of a possible 45. If that was extrapolated over the full 38 games we would have ended with 50 points which would have been good enough for 11th.

Grade: B+ (for bossing it)

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Idrissa Gueye

Appearances - 33, Goals - 0, Assists - 1, Yellow Cards - 7, Red Cards - 0, PL xG+xA/90 - 0.05

When Everton resigned Idrissa Gana Gueye last summer there was a collective sigh of relief that we had finally found the player to take over from Gana when he left for PSG three years before. Neither Allan or Tom Davies could replicate the consistency of Gueye. In his first stint at the club he started 33 games each year and this year he did exactly the same. He was the workhorse in the middle whose primary responsibility was to sit deeper, protect the back line and break up the attacking play when called upon.

Statistically this year, Gueye has shown the quality that drove PSG to get him 4 years ago. He ranked third in the Premier League in tackles with 97 and 2nd in interceptions. His other quality that shines through is his passing. He ended the season with a passing accuracy of 85% and an even more impressive 89% in his own half.

With the Senegal international now 33 years old, there must be a long term plan to find a replacement. The one area of concern was his concentration which can be seen in his errors leading to goals. Between 2015 and 2019, he had zero errors, whereas this year he had three errors which is a concerning dip which was second only behind Hugo Lloris and we know that his time at Tottenham is drawing to a close.

Grade: C+ (for committed)