After a superb win in his opening game last Saturday, can Everton repeat the trick as they make the short trip to Anfield on Monday night for the next installment of the Merseyside derby.
The news that the ever-fragile Calvert-Lewin is ‘touch and go’ for Monday and may not take any part in the game is hardly a great surprise to Everton supporters.
His endless injury problems have been a constant background theme to all the uncertainty and upheaval ths Blues’ have been through over the last few seasons.
It has become a tiresome situation and one that has been going on for far too long now. Meanwhile the Toffees’ constantly struggled on the pitch, particularly in terms of scoring goal without Calvert-Lewin.
I don’t know why he has so many injury problems. Something isn’t right whether it’s to do with training programmes or another issue, it needs sorting out.
Calvert-Lewin did play last Saturday afternoon in Sean Dyche’s first game and played well as Everton defeated Arsenal 1-0 at Goodison Park.
The former England international was apparently carrying a slight problem when he played against the league leaders.
Dyche took a chance by playing Calvert-Lewin and substituted him later on in the hope that he would get through it ok and continue his recovery, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.
So then the obvious question is, if Calvert-Lewin is out, who will line up in attack for the Blues’ on Monday night?
In his pre-match press conference Dyche indicated he would be going with Ellis Simms (the obvious replacement) and one of Neal Maupay or Demarai Gray alongside him.
Simms has little Premier League experience and he will be facing the unique cauldron of a derby for the first time.
He isn’t a like-for-like alternative for Calvert-Lewin and is not as direct a centre-forward and doesn’t have DCL’s ability in the air.
All that means Dyche will have to adjust to some extent how he plays against Liverpool. The reality is that Everton will probably be on the back foot in terms of possession for long periods and will look for quick counter-attacks.
That being the case, I would think Gray would be the better bet given his pace and ability to take on and beat opponents.
As for the rest of the team there seems little reason to make many other changes. The midfield three was powerful and energetic against Arsenal and defensively the Toffees’ were strong and solid.
Although have said that, if Gray does line up alongside Simms then one of those three (probably Abdoulaye Doucoure) might miss out.
Whatever players and tactics Dyche chooses, can Everton win for only the second time at Anfield since 1999 following Carlo Ancelotti’s superbly crafted 2-0 victory two season’s ago?
I think Liverpool must still be favourites despite their poor form recently. They will be determined to bounce back after that Wolves defeat and will see this as a perfect chance to do so.
That might play into Everton’s hands though as the pressure from the home crowd not used to seeing their team struggle, could work against them.
Monday’s match is the latest in the most played fixture in English football history. Although we all hope not, it could also be the last one for a while if the Blues’ do go down at the end of this season.
So, what a perfect opportunity for this team to show last weekend wasn’t a one-off and to go and secure another unexpected win on the old enemy’s turf.