Although few expected Everton to get anything from their trip to the Etihad Stadium this past Saturday, the tiresome tale of the Blues’ failing to capitalise on promising attacking opportunities is surely beginning to grate on the fanbase.
Sean Dyche’s side put in a tremendous defensive display against Manchester City and limited them to long-range efforts and half-chances.
But once the resistance was broken, thanks to a thunderous effort from Erling Haaland in the 71st minute, the match was over as a contest as the Blues looked bereft of ideas in the final third and never truly looked like getting back into the game.
Haaland added a second goal in the 85th minute to put the game to bed and leave Everton questioning how they can solve their attacking impotence.
Everton’s baron spell in front of goal has been highlighted by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s inability to find the net since the Blues’ 1-0 victory away to West Ham back on the 29th October.
They have also been without top scorer Abdoulaye Doucoure for 10 of the last 11 fixtures, due to a couple of niggling hamstring injuries, leaving the Toffees lacking in their attacking line, netting only twice in the Premier League in 2024 from 50 shots on goal.
It would be easy to point the blame directly at Calvert-Lewin due to his prolonged goal-scoring drought, but while Everton’s number nine is clearly not playing to his full potential currently, the lack of support he is getting during attacking transitions is also a massive issue for Dyche’s side.
An analytical piece by @TacticallyMatt on X (formerly Twitter) perfectly shows the lack of options Calvert-Lewin has during Everton attacks.
The last couple of games have seen Dyche favour Ashley Young and Dwight McNeil on the wings for Everton, and while McNeil does get forward when gets the chance neither he nor Young have the blistering pace that can catch teams out when launching a counter-attack.
As for Ashley Young, he rarely shows any desire to get forward and often holds his position when Everton are on the attack, as evidenced by @TacticallyMatt’s analysis.
While this is understandable when playing away to a side like Manchester City, this has been a common theme for Everton throughout 2024 and has left the attacking phases of the Blues’ play severely lacking in pace and composure in front of goal for the last few weeks.
Many of the Toffees’ last few performances have been crying out for a pacy winger with a potential eye for a goal, and while Arnaut Danjuma looks to be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Lewis Dobbin is available and maybe it is time for Sean Dyche to take a proper look at the 21-year-old.
Dobbin is a natural attacker and showed his goal-scoring ability with his late goal against Chelsea back in December, his first goal for the club. But since then he has largely been restricted to short cameos from the bench despite Everton’s woes in front of goal.
The Toffees youngster is also one of the quickest players in the squad and is a direct, attacking player, which would seemingly fit in perfectly with Dyche’s counter-attacking system.
However, despite all the plaudits Sean Dyche has received for the job he has done with Everton thus far, and rightly so, he does seem reluctant to give chances to the younger, attack-minded players in the squad.
Look no further than Nathan Patterson, who has rapidly dropped down the pecking order since Seamus Coleman and Ashley Young returned from their respective injuries.
It is therefore unlikely that Lewis Dobbin will get a prolonged run in the side as it appears that Dyche favours experience over youthful exuberance.
But with Everton currently in the relegation zone and looking blunt in the attacking third, something to change and change soon if Everton are going to steer clear of a third nail-biting relegation battle on the trot.