Wolves 3 Everton 0: Blues back in relegation fight after damaging defeat

The Toffees suffered a serious reverse at Molineux this afternoon and they likely face another hugely challenging twelve months in 2024.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages
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Well, that was 2023 and a year filled with off-the-field chaos and controversy and more struggles on it, ended with a chastening three nil defeat for Everton at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This was a match which the Blues were never in and a throughly deserved win for their hosts who have been revitalised under Gary O'Neil, despite their own financial difficulties over the summer.

Goals from Max Kilman, Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson settled the outcome and it could have been more as they had two goals ruled out and also hit the woodwork.

It was a worrying afternoon for Sean Dyche and his team and once more underlined how limited his squad is and the adverse impact injuries are having.

Going into the game Dyche was without two midfielders as both Idrissa Gueye and Abdoulaye Doucoure were out and Amadou Onana was limping for most of today's match as well.

Meanwhile, ever more concerning is the continuing uncertainty over Jarrad Branthwaite's fitness as he looked laboured too and made uncharacteristic mistakes.

Losing the 21-year-old defensive starlet would be a massive blow, especially given how limited Dyche's alternatives are at centre-back with the error-prone Micheal Keane and inconsistent Ben Godfrey his only other first-choice central defenders.

This afternoon he went with the back-three formation that had worked well against Burnley in their last away win. But today it proved to be the wrong approach and simply gave all the initiative to Wolves.

As a result Everton conceded another three goals to add to the five they let in against Spurs and Manchester City in the previous two Premier League matches.

Having been one of the leading sides defensively in the league, the Blues are now leaking an increasing number of goals at the back.

Perhaps though even more worrying is the the lack of bite up front. Today the visitors didn't trouble Wolves keeper Jose Sa and he didn't have to make a single save.

Both centre-forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Beto have failed to score since the Portuguese summer signing netted his first league goal in the defeat of Newcastle United in early December.

Calvert-Lewin meanwhile hasn't scored since his winner at West Ham way back on the 29th of October. That's a long drought.

All this means Everton are right back in the thick of the relegation struggle as they enter the New Year.

Director of Football Kevin Thelwell has intimated that the club will be having a very quiet January transfer window, particularly given all the continuing uncertainty over 777 Partners takeover bid.

But surely with all these injuries and a disheartening run of results, there has to be some business done in the January transfer window, even if it is just a few loan deals?

Otherwise it could turn out to be another really difficult and challenging twelve months ahead.