Following a disappointing 0-0 draw at Fulham, Everton host Leicester City at Goodison Park this Saturday in their penultimate Premier League match before the World Cup.
That in itself sounds very strange to write. Anyway, Everton produced a limp and frustrating performance last time at Craven Cottage and in all honesty were lucky to escape with a point.
Had Fulham been a bit more clinical the Blues’ would have certainly gone down to defeat. As it was despite their failures in front of goal, the Toffees’ still needed another superb goalkeeping display from Jordan Pickford to keep the home team out.
This has been very much the story of the season so far. Solid and consistent defensive efforts, often featuring outstanding individual performances, have given Everton a strong foundation. But, the failure to create and score enough goals is persistently holding this team back.
Everyone knows what the problem is and that the side needs more creativity and goals from it’s forwards. The difficulty is how to resolve it.
Obviously the main way to do this is to bring in more and better players, something that wasn’t done in the summer when despite some good signings in defence and midfield, only one new forward Neal Maupay was recruited.
But of course, the Blues’ can’t sign anyone now until the January window opens. So, how can Frank Lampard try and bolster his side’s attacking potency until then?
I have recently written about possible ways to do this by changing the team’s formation in order to try and better take advantage of the Toffees’ key attacking asset; Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
This would include giving Nathan Patterson a start at right-back now that he is back from injury and returned to action when coming on against Fulham.
There’s no way to know if such changes would make a tangible difference, but I do think Lampard has to think hard and be creative to try and improve his anemic attack until the transfer window opens in two months time.
One other option being discussed in the media is whether one of those aforementioned summer midfield signings can come in and bring more of a goal threat to the team.
That player is James Garner. He hasn’t yet managed to get a start for the first-team since his move from Manchester United being restricted to a few appearances from the bench in recent matches.
The young midfielder has it seems certainly impressed his manager in training and it may be that Lampard decides to gamble on starting him to see if he can offer an additional attacking threat.
Looking at his past statistics though, Garner hasn’t been a prolific goalscorer netting four times for Nottingham Forest in his two seasons in the Championship with them.
As for other areas of his team, Lampard has no new injuries at the time of writing and in fact both his other two outstanding injury concerns, defenders Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey, are both back training with the first-team squad.
Neither are ready to play yet though and anyway Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have been a granite-like pair at centre-back since they came together, so for a change there is no need to worry greatly about this position.
Everton’s opponents Leicester City have had a difficult season only adding one major new player in the summer, and losing several key stars such as Kasper Schmeichel and Wesley Fofana. Although they still have talent they have struggled to get any momentum going.
Brendan Rogers is under pressure after this bad start, although their form has improved recently and they have managed to get out of the relegation zone, for now.
The Foxes have the second worst defensive record in the Premier League and have only won once away from home, although ironically of course that was in their last game at Wolves when they scored four without conceding.
This is a match that on paper the Toffees’ should be confident of winning. However, the lack of offensive punch in this team makes that far from certain.
Well this weekend, let’s hope we see the Everton side that so comprehensively defeated Crystal Palace last time they played at Goodison Park.
The Blues’ have this match and then another game against a struggling side in Bournemouth before the World Cup and then Wolves at home straight after it.
With Manchester City up after that, Everton need to try and get as many points as they can from these three games, starting this Saturday evening.