After two consective Premier League defeats Everton next face a revitalised Newcastle United as they search for their first points since defeating Southampton on 1st October.
As they have since the start of the season, the Toffees’ defended with resolve and worked hard to compete with their more talented opponents. They also kept their shape and continued to try and play measured and controlled football, when they had possession.
But, the lack of cutting edge up front and wasted scoring chances in the first half cost the Blues’ a chance of securing a point, possibly more.
The honest truth is that Frank Lampard’s Everton are a project that is still some way from completion and it would be churlish to expect instant improvement everywhere.
Most supporters understand this and are willing to be patient for the moment, particularly as they can see tangible improvements from the side that finished the previous campaign.
However, the Premier League is a harsh arena and there is little time for teams to work on their weaknessess before they get exposed, as the Toffees’ were at the Tottenham Stadium.
The is nothing that can be done for now about the lack of attacking options, a consequence of failed transfer policies in the past and the fact that Everton didn’t add more than one forward in this summer’s window.
We will have to wait for January and see if the Blues’ make any moves to bring in additional attacking talent, something I think they have to try and do.
For now, Lampard does have the possibility of picking a returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin who has it seems finally overcome his latest injury problem and has played some minutes as a substitute in the last two games.
The question is, will he feel that Calvert-Lewin is ready to start a match so soon after a prolonged spell out and his long recent history of injuries?
It would also mean Lampard altering how his team lines up with one of the other forwards probably having to miss out unless the manager decides to leave just two in midfield.
This seems unlikely given the success his midfield three have generally enjoyed since the Blues’ boss went to a 4-3-3 and the strength of Newcastle’s middle.
One other option could be to revert to a sort of 4-4-2 with Alex Iwobi and Amadou Onana playing as wider midfielders on the left and right sides with Neal Maupay operating off Calvert-Lewin.
Both Iwobi and Onana like to get forward and contribute to the Toffees’ attacking play and this formation would also have the advantage of providing additional defensive protection for the full-backs Seamus Coleman and Vitalii Mykolenko.
It might also give Lampard the chance to employ James Garner – his other midfield signing this summer- from the start. His composure and class on the ball looks very promising and would I think add something extra to the Blues’ play.
Mykolenko looked worryingly exposed at times on Saturday and he seems to be going backwards a little from where he finished last season. And, of course Coleman doesn’t have the legs of his younger days.
Nathan Patterson’s return from his injury absence is still a few weeks away but the young Scot will offer defensive solidity and an attacking outlet missing at the moment.
As for Everton’s opponents on Wednesday night, the Magpies have made very significant progress since the Saudi takeover, now under Eddie Howe’s reign.
Howe is perhaps proving some people wrong, including me, who weren’t sure if he could step up and manage a big club with ambitions to do more than just survive in the Premier League.
Newcastle are now solid at the back, have steel, quality, and creativity in midfield, plus a potent goalscoring threat, especially in the shape of Miguel Almiron who is in great form.
The club have spent some of that enormous Saudi money well, so far, and look strong contenders for a European place this season.
So given that, Everton’s problems scoring goals and their poor recent form at Tynecastle, I don’t have that much confidence the Blues’ can get three points from this match.
A point though should at least be a realistic possilibity and while it might seem an excessively negative attitude, realistically until the Toffees’ can find more goals, they will struggle away from home against better sides.