Statistics anaylised by the Liverpool Echo show that Everton centre-forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin has made some rapid strides over the last year.
These numbers indicate that the ex-England international is improving in several important categories, which crucially should lead to a better long-term goal return.
Calvert-Lewin has already bagged three goals so far this season, two more than the whole of the last campaign, and the Everton team has looked transformed since he returned again after the facial injury he suffered at Aston Villa in September.
Although summer signing Beto is a powerful and hard-working player he hasn’t looked as sharp and clinical, especially in front of goal as his rival for the number nine position.
Having the pacey and powerful Calvert-Lewin back leading the line has seen Sean Dyche’s Blues side win three of their last four matches.
Although he didn’t score in the latest of those wins against Bournemouth, Calvert-Lewin’s movement, pressing and intelligent forward play caused the Cherries constant problems. The 26-year-old also had two good chances that he could have put away.
His return to full fitness and arguably the best physical condition we have seen him in, has been a consequence of careful handling by Dyche who revealed his strategy to get the striker back completely healthy was the result of his own experiences as a player at Bristol City.
Dyche held Calvert-Lewin back from a return to the team and while it seemed as though he was being almost perversely unwilling to risk the player when the Toffees desperately needed him late last season, that caution appears to be paying off.
Now, comes another real test for the centre-forward’s improved effectiveness as Everton ready themselves for the latest installment of English football’s most played top flight derby fixture.
A trip to Anfield has yeilded almost nothing for the Blues over the last two decades (bar two wins in 1999 and 2021) at a ground where Everton actually played in and won their first league title way back in 1891.
The last of those league victories came under Carlo Ancelotti in front of an empty stadium because of the the Covid restrictions in place then.
Attempting to replicate that result is a massive task for the team that lines up tomorrow lunchtime. That is if the game goes ahead given the terrible weather on Merseyside at the moment.
But assuming it does, then Calvert-Lewin could have a huge part to play if Everton are to cause an upset and claim another win on the road this season.
For the Toffees to have a realistic chance at Anfield every one of their players are going to have to play at their peak level.
But, one player who is arguably more important to success tomorrow lunchtime than any other – apart from Jordan Pickford – is Calvert-Lewin.
He must produce a really strong all-round centre-forward display, harass and cause a leaky Liverpool defence as many problems as possible.
He along with every Everton player who gets a goalscoring chance, also needs to take those opportunities, something they have conspicuously failed to do far too often this campaign. The away team must be clinical in front of goal.
Well, let’s hope Calvert-Lewin can continue the excellent start to the season he is having and fingers crossed make a match-winning difference at last in a derby.