Manchester City 2 Everton 0: goal crisis contiuning to hurt Blues in 2024

The Toffees fought hard but were in the end defeated by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium yesterday afternoon to stay rooted in the bottom three.

Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League
Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages
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Sean Dyche's Everton side worked hard and frustrated the defending champions for most of the match until Erling Haaland netted twice to seal the points for the home team.

But although the Toffees defended well overall, denying City a shot on target until late in the second half when the effort and pressure told, once more they were toothless in attack.

In truth, the visitors had very few chances to score but when they did they fluffed them again with Jack Harrison missing a great chance and Dominic Calvert-Lewin again failing in front of goal.

It has now been three and a half months since the former England international striker last scored when he got the winner in the 1-0 win at West Ham in late October.

This barren run has unfortunately coincided and overlapped to a considerable degree with the absence of top scorer Abdoulaye Doucoure who has been out of the side since his first hamstring problem back in December.

Since then Everton haven't won a Premier League game in a period of matches that started with a 1-3 reverse at Goodison Park, to yesterday's opponents.

During this time the Blues defence is continuing to look solid and very consistent, as it has for most of the campaign.

And once more in particular the centre-back combination of James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite, is in my opnion playing as well as any in the League.

But unless somehow Dyche can find a way to conjure more goals out of this group of players, then I fear the Toffees will struggle to stay up, even if their appeal against November's points deduction is partially successful (which is surely the most optimistic outcome).

Calvert-Lewin's goal drought is especially concerning of course as he is Dyche's first-choice up front. He thought he had finally broken it last weekend against Spurs, only for his goal-bound effort to then be given to Harrison.

His confidence is low understandably and it showed yesterday with a weak finish when he put his effort over the bar.

As I have mentioned in the past perhaps the way to ovecome this problem is to try a different tactical approach althogether but this is something Dyche seems very relectant to do.

There is the option of just dropping Calvert-Lewin and putting Beto in the team as the lone centre-forward, but then he hasn't scored since the win over Newcastle on the 7th December. Still, there might be a case for gving him an extended run to see if he can break that run.

The problem though is compounded by the lack of options Dyche has with such a small, limited squad and injury issues as well.

After the game yesterday Dyche confirmed that Arnaut Danjuma could well be out for up to a month leaving the manager with precious few alternatives to his out-of-form strikers.

His only other orthodox option is Beto's fellow Portuguese centre-forward Youssef Chermiti.

But the youngster who signed from Sporting Lisbon in the summer, is still seen as very much one for the future. Maybe though it is time to give the tall teenager more consistent opportunity?

At least there is one glimmer of hope with the news that Doucoure is on track to return to the team, although we still don't know exactly when that will be.

Frankly, it cannot come soon enough with the games and the weeks ticking on while Everton still haven't won a league match in 2024.