Everton played to a 1-0 defeat to Premier League elites Chelsea in the opening matchday as injuries already mount on. Despite the loss and damages sustained, the season could have started on a worse note.
With no recognizable striker and injuries across the board, Everton succumbed to Jorginho’s stoppage time penalty in the first half. Frank Lampard, who took over at Goodison Park midway through the previous campaign, fell to his former playing and managerial side.
Fans in Goodison Park witnessed a side who worked hard. Yet, Everton left much to be desired. This is particularly true in the final third, where a lack of quality hampered the Toffees.
Everton battling injuries already
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is unavailable through injury. Plus, it appears as if Frank Lampard phased Solomon Rondon out of consideration. Therefore, Anthony Gordon earned the role as lone striker in the Premier League opener for Everton. Traditionally a midfielder, the Englishman had flashes of talent under difficult conditions a season ago. Back then, he played as an attacking midfielder. The role of striker does not suit his strengths. Clearly, it was a necessary decision for Lampard.
Defensively, Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina look set for a spell on the sidelines through injury. Moreover, Godfrey’s issues seem longer term, an unfortunate occurrence for an already depleted side just one game in.
On the brighter side, new signing James Tarkowski should pair well with even newer arrival Conor Coady. Everton announced the loan signing of the English international who, at the age of 29, had extensive experience in the top flight. Tarkowski and Coady both have the benefit of experience.
Official, confirmed. Conor Coady has signed for Everton from Wolves on a season-long loan, full agreement now signed. ✅🔵 #EFC
Coady has completed medical tests today. pic.twitter.com/2XnaBhy6zv
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 8, 2022
The main issue now comes from handling the ball. The pair, alongside Michael Keane, are not exactly creative. In fact, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is likely better with the ball at his feet than the three center-backs in front of him. This limits how effectively Everton can get the ball forward in a reliable manner.
Essentially, all signs point toward Everton playing direct with the ball to allow the defenders to just do the ‘dirty work’ at the back.
Inconsistent or unproven depth
As you look up the pitch, Dwight McNeil arrived from Burnley to add depth to the attacking midfield. Previously, Gordon put in good shifts in this spot. Other names in that area of the field, Demarai Gray, Andros Townsend and Alex Iwobi, are much more inconsistent.
Amadou Onana, a 20-year-old defensive midfielder, recently arrived at Goodison for just shy of $40 million from Lille. Lampard hopes the Belgian can develop quickly into a versatile and impressive option in the center of the action. Despite the young age, Onana already has a cap for the Belgian first team and has Champions League experience at Lille.
Still, Everton requires a striker, and the injuries mounting do not help that need. The departure of Richarlison to Tottenham Hotspur remains a major blow to the side. His quality and emotional impact on the team played a massive role in survival in the Premier League. His absence up top is noticeable as Everton have limited chances at scoring. In the first game hosting Chelsea, the Blues outclassed the Toffees in practically every statistical category.
Transfer market remedies
Depth needs to be added. Currently, Calvert-Lewin is the only viable option when fit. Even then, he struggled in front of goal last season, and injuries limited him to 17 games with five goals.
Lampard will be well aware the finances aren’t as they were at Everton in previous seasons as the owners look to balance the books. He, and his scouting and recruitment team, will need to be clever with their identification of a suitable target to challenge as well as back up Calvert-Lewin. If this is not done, they face a long season ahead without the ability to really threaten sides in the final third.
There is no hiding from the fact that they could well be in another relegation battle come the end of the season. Lampard has a big job ahead of him and needs to really step up to prove he is the man for the job.
PHOTO: Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images
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