Continuing our season review of Everton players we turn our attention to the most problematic area of the team, the Blues midfield.
Ah the Everton midfield. What else can be said about this set of players who have so spectacularly failed to deliver and fulfill what potential they have, yet again this season.
Thinking about how to analyse this part of the Toffees team, I will focus on the most regular starting players of this past season.
The Iceland midfielder had an awful season this past campaign. His form was dreadful for most of the time, bar the occasional half-decent performance.
Going into this campaign, Sigurdsson had actually been one of the better Blues players in the 2018-19 season scoring 14 goals and contributing seven assists.
He hadn’t set the Premier League alight by any means but it was a decent return. And he had been playing reasonably well under Marco Silva, apparently liking his 4-2-3-1 formation, where he could play in his preferred No 10-type position.
But this season started poorly for him and the team and it didn’t ever really improve until Silva went and then Carlo Ancelotti eventually took over.
Sigurdsson’s form had been very ordinary at best, he was too often lacking commitment and quality in his play and his goals and creativity dried up.
To be fair to him, once Silva had gone and first Duncan Ferguson and then Ancelotti took over, both played starting playing in a 4-4-2 formation.
Operating as one of two orthodox central midfielders isn’t to Sigurdsson’s strengths. He lacks the pace, energy and combativeness to play in that position.
But it was the lack of effort and willingness to work for the team, that was the most telling and infuriating aspect of his play. That is what will really rile with Evertonians.
Personally I don’t want to see him playing for the Toffees again and I hope that he is a someone Ancelotti will ship out this summer as he tries to rebuild the Blues engine room.
Davies is another frustrating figure in the Blues midfield. He is a young player who came through the ranks at Goodison Park and for whom there were high hopes early on. Isn’t that so often the story with such players?
To some extent this season was a real test as to whether he could fulfill his supposed potential at last after several indifferent campaigns.
Alas he couldn’t take that chance and failed to give any real indication that he has the ability to be a Premier League player, at least at Everton.
Lack of effort wasn’t really his problem, generally he did work hard when he played. But the quality of his play was very erratic and his passing was too often inaccurate and inconsistent. In addition, Davies didn’t offer enough in attack and failed to score goals.
It seems that his level is as a Championship player and I suspect that he too will be shown the door if a decent offer comes in.
Portuguese midfielder Gomes, was probably overall the Toffees best performing midfield player last season.
He started the campaign reasonably well but it was clear even early on, that he was missing his regular partner in the middle from the previous campaign, Idrissa Gueye.
Without the Senegal players’ energy and tremendous workrate alongside him, Gomes wasn’t as effective offensively and was doing too much tracking back and tackling, often getting himself booked for some clumsy challenges too.
And of course the player bought to replace Gana, Jean-Philppe Gbamin, was injured very early on in the season before he could establish any rapport with Gomes and didn’t play again.
Then came that dreadful injury for Gomes himself against Spurs in November. He had been in generally good form coming into that game and it was a massive blow in a season of bad luck and injuries, to see him cynically scythed down and suffer a badly broken ankle.
That seemed to be the end not just of his contribution this season but possibly also quite a chunk of the next one too. However, almost miraculously, Gomes returned to action in February, well ahead of even the most optimistic forecasts.
His game though did seem inhibited a little, perhaps not unsurprisingly after such a horrific injury. His performances and influence suffered from this and he wasn’t as effective as he had been before the injury.
Gomes best performance during the latter half of the season, was probably the penultimate game against Sheffield United when Ancelotti reverted to that 4-2-3-1 system that Silva had used.
That actually seems to be the best formation for Gomes, allowing him to sit and play almost like a quarterback. It could be that once Gbamin is back he would suit being paired with the Portugese in that formation as he also likes to operate a little deeper.. we’ll see.
Lets hope that we do get the best of Gomes next season, as his playing well would seem to be a key to the Blues improving their midfield creativity and goals.
Moving on we come to the wide midfielders starting with the former Arsenal player Walcott who had a truly forgettable season.
The former England international has been yet another player brought in by the Blues for a huge sum who has proved a largely wasted signing.
The ex-Arsenal man was in and out of the team during the season and mixed the occasional decent performance with largely anonymous outings.
To give him some due, he often put in a decent amount of effort when he played, but too often his contributions were fleeting and erratic. Crucially he didn’t create enough chances or score goals, a critical requirement for a wide player.
Walcott is another player who should be moved on this summer as he’s quite clearly failed to contribute enough to merit a place in a remolded midfield.
Continuing the theme of ex-Arsenal players we come to Iwobi, who Everton signed on deadline day last summer after they had allegedly failed to secure the signature of their real target, Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
He’s a frustrating player as although the fee paid for him was way over the top, Iwobi does have ability and seemed to me a player who might find his place at Goodison Park.
Iwobi has pace and power and runs well with the ball committing defenders. Having a genuine ball-carrier from midfield could have made a real difference to the effectiveness of the Toffees attacking play.
Too often though he couldn’t deliver the right final pass or play with enough consistency, a theme for all Everton’s midfield.He also failed to make the most use of this threat and didn’t score goals.
Another problem was that he constantly shunted all over the midfield, never getting a long enough sustained run in one position, although he did get plenty of games to prove he could contribute effectively.
I feel that just maybe there’s still a good player in there somewhere, but if an offer comes in for him then I’d be content for him to be sold.
Finally we come to a player who has slipped down the pecking order in the Blues midfield and has become a little forgotten, the diminutive Brazilian Bernard.
After his arrival on a free transfer in 2018, Bernard was a player who appeared to settle quite well into the Everton team and produced some good performances from time to time as well.
In particular, in the latter half of the 2018-19 campaign, he seemed to have found his niche playing wide on the left but cutting inside and giving Lucas Digne, with whom he developed a good understanding, the space to overlap.
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But then as with so many Toffees midfield players, this season things haven’t gone so well. He wasn’t nearly as effective and once again was shuffled around in the team as Silva searched in vain for a way to rediscover the form and performances from the last third of the previous season.
And when Ancelotti arrived, with his lack of size, he seemed a fish out of water in a 4-4-2 and had fewer opportunities as the Italian didn’t seem keen to play him, even often preferring the ever-underwhelming Sigurdsson on the left hand side. He’s also had recurring injury problems.
I think that its safe to say he probably won’t be wearing an Everton shirt next season, although, as with so many of these players, its hard to see who will fork out the money to sign him.
Other ratings: Fabian Delph 2/10, Anthony Gordon 6/10
Well that’s the Everton midfield. Of all those players mentioned in depth above, I think only one, Andre Gomes, should be still at the club and considered for a starting position in the Toffees team next season.