By • Oct 17th, 2022 • Category: News |

They always say, “judge a team after ten matches”.  So here we are, ten games into the Premier League season and the Toffees lie in 14th place. 

Having narrowly escaped relegation at the end of last season, Everton were amongst the relegation favourites this term, with very strong odds at places such as bonuscode.co.nz for them to go down.  Yet after a summer of steady yet unspectacular recruitment, the Blues look more balanced, more solid and boast plenty of personality. There does not appear to be the same level of panic within the fanbase as there is an acceptance and trust in the process, even if there is a very long way to go.

The biggest improvement so far, many would say, is within the personality of the group. Andros Townsend – currently injured and unexpected to return until January – claimed in an interview this week that manager Frank Lampard had ‘weeded’ out players this summer that did not have the mentality to play for such a big club. 

There’s still a few more to depart, but seeing the likes of Andre Gomes and Cenk Tosun depart signals a shift in identity, which is half of the battle.

Taking The Handbrakes Off

After wins against West Ham and Southampton, defeats against United and Spurs were disappointing. It feels as though Everton are caught in two minds with their approach against these high level opponent – whether to go backs-to-the-wall, or attack teams. Can Everton begin to find the right balance and always play without fear?

Spurs weren’t great, and United didn’t offer many clear cut chances. Crucial goals conceded are coming from individual errors, a lack of concentration and this must be cut out.

It is clear Frank Lampard wants his side to take more control, have more possession and yet retain defensive solidity, but the lack of offensive threat is also a worry, with so few goals scored this season. To win more games, our finishing must improve, there must be more of a willingness to get forward. At the moment, the likes of Neal Maupay are completely isolated and in these last two fixtures we have played as individuals.

To be honest, I sometimes sit and watch this Everton side and wish they would take their handbrakes off.

Yes, we are more dependable defensively, with the added character and quality of James Tarkowksi and Conor Coady. However, this big strength can also be the downfall of the side, with their lack of pace meaning we cannot play a high line and get more players up the pitch through fear of being exposed. This is why the returning Nathan Patterson and Ben Godfrey are a huge boost – in certain games we can play 18 yards higher and utilise his recovery pace. We have the players to press in every position now, but without genuine pace in the back line, there is a real worry that if we are played through this can be exposed.

Newcastle Will Be Tough

Newcastle are high flying this season and look like a threatening side. Ideally you want this fixture as the early Saturday or Sunday kick off, and not mid-week away from home. There will be some temptation to drop Pickford for Begovic, who may handle the occasion better.

Moving forward, we need to see more from the likes of Onana, and Mykolenko. We currently have two slow full backs who appear unwilling to commit forward due to the lack of pace to get back. Neither are offering any attacking output and I feel there is massive room for improvement for Mykolenko going forward. More forward runs, more overlaps and underlaps, better delivery and more proactive.

It’s the same with Onana, there is huge potential there. He should be completing finishing drills and heading drills in training, having missed many chances this season which looked easier. He is so talented and you want to see him use his pace and power, to drive at opponents and break lines, but sometimes feel he is playing within himself, too safe, too conservative. It is early in the season and we need to show more ambition, less fear in these games and take our chances. Onana is doing so well for a young prospect and you feel he is playing at a fraction of his potential, and has so much more to give us this season.

Finally, I think it’s time to start Calvert-Lewin vs Newcastle. We have to force Newcastle back and I think he holds the ball up better, will be more of a target. Give him sixty minutes and then bring him off if required. It’s tricky to find a solution because 4-3-3 relies on full backs to get forward to add more width, and we don’t have this. So there is a temptation to go 4-4-2 and keep Demarai Gray at the top end of the pitch to support Calvert Lewin, with Anthony Gordon coming back into the side for some much needed pace and directness on the counter.

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