Everton face Cherries twice in critical pre-World Cup fixtures

Everton (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Following a severely disappointing and lacklustre 2-0 loss to Leicester City on Saturday, Everton now face Bournemouth twice in the EFL Cup and Premier League before the World Cup begins.

If Everton produce performances similar to that of the weekend, they are very likely to lose both Cup and League matches against the Cherries.

That would see them knocked out of the Carabao Cup, surely the only possible albiet very slim, chance of reaching a final this season.

It would also leave the Premier League season in serious trouble and the team and manager under severe pressure when the campaign resumes in December with a flurry of fixtures.

I think Saturday’s defeat by the Foxes was arguably the worst Toffees’ effort seen at Goodison Park since Frank Lampard took over.

The home side were very poor, committing fundmental and basic errors in possession, lacking the bite and determination to properly compete with their opponents and blunted by their anemic attack, yet again.

After evidence of significant progress had seen over the first few months of the season and in the last Goodison game a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Crystal Palace, the Blues’ appeared to revert to a type we’ve seen all too often in the past, on Saturday night.

Of course, as everyone is only too aware, the most glaring problem is the chronic lack of attacking creativity and goal threat.

This is the result of a failure to add enough attacking talent in the summer leaving the team’s fortunes to a very considerable extent hanging on the fitness of a centre-forward who has missed huge chunks of the last two campaigns so far.

If, as I suspect will be the case and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is again out for both these two fixtures following his latest injury against Leicester, what will Lampard and his team do for goals?

Although he has only netted once since his return, Calvert-Lewin’s presence and threat was integral to how Everton were set up to play and none of the other forwards have convinced they can add anything more than the occasional goal.

The one silver thread in all this is the upcoming World Cup. The fact that this year’s tournament is taking place mid-season instead of as usual in the summer, does at least give Calvert-Lewin ample time to recover once again.

The Toffees’ striker was never very likely to get a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad anyway after missing so much of last season and the first few months of this with injury. Now, I think it is certain he won’t be boarding the plane for Qatar, even if he’s technically fit.

Long-term though, Calvert-Lewin’s injury problems are a serious concern, and for me they make it very hard to see how Lampard can possibly continue to base his attacking plans around him. So, let’s state it again: the Blues’ must bring in at least two more forwards in January.

But, until then the manager will have to muddle on as he has all season and try somehow to conjure goals out of the other attacking players, whose form has been erratic to say the least.

So, how might he do this in the matches against Bournemouth starting with the EFL Cup tie tomorrow night?

To be honest I don’t know. I’ve suggested possible formation and personnel changes etc to try and induce more goals, but if Calvert-Lewin is out, then there’s little such room for manouvre for the manager.

Given his lack of options he will probably have to go again with some front three combination of Anthony Gordon, Dwight McNeil, Demarai Gray or Neal Maupay. Might it be worth giving young striker Tom Cannon a chance at some point after his fine form for the Under-21’s?

With possible injuries to two of his first-choice midfielders as well, Idrissa Gueye and Amadou Onana, Lampard may well have to reshuffle his pack there too.

Presumably, Abdoulaye Doucoure and/or Tom Davies will come into the team although he will probably also give James Garner a start.

I think Garner’s ability to hold onto the ball might prove useful going forward as one of the issues facing the manager is the propensity of his starting three to concede possession too easily.

Finally, I’d like to see Nathan Patterson given a start as well as his attacking threat on the flank and energy have been badly missed.

A for other defensive changes Lampard may give Yerry Mina a run out tomorrow in a change to his regular centre-backs.

While the Premier League match between these two sides is the most vital – and Everton really need a positive performance and result in that game – tomorrow’s fixture is also important to show whether Lampard’s team can respond after that awful showing against Leicester.