Everton face Leicester City this evening in a Premier League game that could prove to be pivitol for the future of several of the current team’s starting eleven.
It would be good to go into this unique mid-season break having rounded off the first part of the campaign positively, with wins tonight and then again in the Blues’ final Premier League fixture at Bournemouth.
But for this to happen, the Toffees’ attack (which has as we all know been the weak link so far this season) needs to fire much better than it did at Craven Cottage and in so many other matches during this campaign.
The absence through injury of Dominic Calvert-Lewin has obviously been a key problem for Frank Lampard since the start of the campaign, as he lost his main centre-forward and goal-scorer around whom he was looking to build his attack.
Early in the season the manager tried different variations using a combination of Anthony Gordon, Demarai Gray, Neal Maupay and Dwight McNeil to overcome the lack of goal threat in his side. Ultimately though it was to very limited effect.
Now, Lampard has his main striker back fit and healthy. In the past few matches Calvert-Lewin has started with Gordon and Gray, and while the attack looked pretty good at home against Crystal Palace, they were largely impotent once more at Fulham.
One particular concern for the manager when looking at his attacking options, has to be the decline in the form of Gordon.
The young England Under-21 player had a break-through season last term. But, after a summer that included repeated rumours of a possible big money move to Chelsea, he has struggled to find his best form during this campaign.
That decline in form has been especially noticable at Goodison Park where Gordon has performed very poorly most of the season.
This could be partly just a consequence of so-called ‘second season syndrome’ that often seems to aflict young players.
Or it might also be a result of the stories in the summer of that supposed potential transfer to Chelsea unsettling him. Perhaps he really wanted that move and the failure to get it is distracting him.
In addition, there is also a recent history of home-grown players like Ross Barkley and Tom Davies, finding it particularly hard to produce their best at the Grand Old Lady, much to the frustration of the home support.
Whatever the reason Gordon is under a bit of pressure and he really needs a good game today against Leicester and if possible a goal as well.
As well as Gordon, his main wide attacking partner Demarai Gray has also had a very up and down campaign.
Gray has always been a frustratingly inconsistent player despite his obvious talent, which is why he failed to fulfill his early potential at today’s opponents and ended up playing in the Bundesliga before Everton signed him in summer 2021.
Like Gordon he has scored a few goals this season, but has also turned in some very poor performances too.
If as is likely Lampard picks them both again to start against the Foxes this evening, they each need a strong performance.
This would help allay gathering doubts about whether they can provide enough attacking threat, with a challenging second half to the season and a new transfer window coming up in just under two months time.