Everton’s season has been plagued by injuries and they appear out of sorts. The recent 1-4 thumping against their Merseyside rivals, Liverpool, could very well be one of the last straws afforded to Rafa Benitez. The defeat against their local rivals now makes it three in a row for Everton, as they remain winless in eight games. Everton will be facing Chelsea, Arsenal, and Leicester in their upcoming matches in December, and their form in recent matches has done little to inspire confidence among the Toffees’ faithful. Although Everton’s problems are not limited to the attack, the return of Richarlison along with Calvert-Lewin in the attack might provide some relief.
While Everton stood little chance of holding off Liverpool in their current form, they have been equally underwhelming in the games where one might expect them to win. With Calvert-Lewin injured for the better part of the season, much of the attacking responsibilities have fallen on the shoulders of Richarlison, but the Brazilian has not been able to perform at the level as he usually does because of the lack of service. His frustration was evident in the defeat against Manchester City, where he received his fifth yellow card, earning a one-match suspension, which he served in another defeat against Brentford.
In the absence of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, Everton has lacked the focal point in the attack. Calvert-Lewin’s replacement, Salomon Rondon, has been below par and has not been able to provide any attacking depth or threat. Everton’s wingers have struggled to cross the ball and when they do cross, Rondon has failed to take advantage.
It is clear that Rafa Benitez’s side have missed the attacking duo of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. Everton looked like a different team in the few games that they have appeared together at the start of this season.
Let’s analyze some stats to understand the attacking duo’s role in Everton’s attack.
There are few complete forwards in the Premier League as Calvert-Lewin. His dominant physique, ability in the air and finishing, are matched by a handful of strikers. In the three appearances that he has made this season, he has performed brilliantly, scoring a goal in each of those appearances. In addition to his goals, his attacking and creativity stats have also been noteworthy.
When Calvert-Lewin is the focal point of Everton’s attack, it is Richarlison who often creates space that allows the forward to run the channels. Richarlison is quick and direct in his passing and often tries to drift infield from the left. He does not shy away from taking shots at the goal as well. His attacking and creativity stats this season have been impressive, but the lack of service from his team has left him frustrated.
Calvert-Lewin’s shot map from just three games puts into perspective the level of threat he carries. He is adept at running the channels and times his runs brilliantly, creating spaces between the defenders and penetrating the opposition box. His shot map further highlights his threat from inside the box. All three of his goals this season have been scored from inside the box.
Last season, under Ancelotti, Richarlison was deployed on the left side of the attack in a 4-2-3-1 system, and he played closely with Calvert-Lewin. Just as Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison is also a considerable threat in the air and can position himself well to win the aerial duels. This season he has been deployed in multiple positions by Benitez, although his role remains almost the same.
Everton have missed the attacking output and combination play of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. While Richarlison is fit and available for Everton’s upcoming tough round of fixtures, Calvert-Lewin’s expected return is still unclear. Nevertheless, it is certain that their return eventually will provide Everton with the attacking edge as they look to climb their way back to the top half of the table.