After a blistering start to the 2020-21 campaign should Everton be worried by the lack of goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin recently?
The Everton and now England striker has had a superb season so far netting 14 times in all competitions and he is still very much in the hunt for the Golden Boot at the end of the campaign.
However, recently he has hit a barren patch and hasn’t scored for six matches. This dry spell has coincided with a dramatic decline in the team’s goals too.
In the first seven games of the season the Toffees scored 24 goals and averaged almost three and and half goals per game. They were playing some outstandingly free-flowing, attacking football and were blowing teams away at times.
Then came a run of four consecutive Premier League defeats, one win and one draw in which the Blues only manged five goals scored as they struggled with injuries and suspensions to their other attacking players James Rodriguez and Richarlison.
After that they recovered to win four more on the bounce though December, although that was despite only netting six times in those Premier League matches.
That run was secured on the back of an outstanding defence that only let in one goal during those matches and that was from a penalty.
While the Toffees star striker has continued to play well and do what he’s been doing all season, Calvert-Lewin’s last goal was the equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Burnley, almost exactly a month ago on 5th December.
So given that should Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti be concerned that his prolific front man hasn’t scored for over a month?
In one sense of course the answer is obviously yes because this Toffees side is so dependent on the England centre-forward for its goals.
After the 23-year-old Englishman, the next leading scorer is James Rodriguez who only has three and he last netted way back in the 4-2 win over Brighton at the beginning of October. So there’s not much goal support for Calvert-Lewin coming from his team mates.
Partly the problem for Calvert-Lewin is because he’s simply not getting the service he was back in the first two months or so of the season. The absence of Rodriguez, Richarlison and now also Lucas Digne has limited the chances he is getting.
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The other issue that complicates things is the actual form of Richarlison. The Brazilian forward has only scored two himself this season and his performances have been indifferent since he returned from suspension for the red card he picked up in the derby.
This is in contrast to last season when he managed thirteen strikes and he and Calvert-Lewin combined to net 26 times in the Premier League.
While simply poor form is part of the reason for the decline in the Brazilian international’s goal return, another factor is the new formation that Ancelotti has been using this season.
He has shifted to a 4-3-3 from the 4-4-2 he was going with last campaign. That means that Richarlison is no longer playing right up alongside Calvert-Lewin and so isn’t getting into the same positions as often.
He’s now playing in a wider role and while he was creating chances for his team mate earlier this season, Richarlison’s own goal tally has suffered. In addition, Calvert-Lewin has been playing much more centrally getting in the box and on the end of things. He’s very much taken up the mantle of becoming the Blues finisher-in-chief.
One way to solve this is to revert to something like the formation of last season. While ideally a 4-3-3 seems most likely to get the best out of his new players, perhaps Ancelotti needs to tweak it to ensure that Richarlison is operating more centrally and farther up front. That might help him to find his goal-scoring form again and give Calvert-Lewin some additional support.
Another consideration is whether the Toffees should invest in another forward to give Calvert-Lewin a breather and offer his manager an alternative way to play. I do think it’s important the Toffees try and find just such a player if they can in this transfer window, as a priority.
Everton are becoming too reliant on Calvert-Lewin and the other current alternatives in the squad are not up to the job. With Moise Kean also on loan at PSG and possibly staying there, the Blues are very thin up front both now and in the longer-term and need other viable options.