After a fast start to the Premier League campaign, Everton fans would have been dreaming of a potential title challenge this term. The Toffees won their opening four matches to lift them to the summit of the table ahead of rivals Liverpool.
A showdown against the Reds ended in a stalemate. The reigning Premier League champions were also stung by the loss of Virgil van Dijk, potentially for the rest of time, after suffering a serious knee injury in a collision with Jordan Pickford.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men could have used the result and the news that Liverpool would be without their star defender as motivation to take a stranglehold of the division. However, it did not come to fruition, losing four out of their next five matches.
The Toffees are now off the pace of the leading group at the top of the table and are in a battle for a European spot. Everton are considered outsiders for a top six places in the odds on Premier League betting with Betfair on their exchange. Their slump is made all the more confusing due to an influx of talent that Ancelotti has had at his disposal.
Everton have been unfortunate with injuries themselves as Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman have been sidelined. However, there is more than enough depth in the squad to account for those absences, but the Italian has not pressed players of the ilk of Jonjoe Kenny into action. Instead, he has been forcing Alex Iwobi and Tom Davies to play out of position at wing-back. Significant resources were also placed on signing Allan from Napoli, who has been a hit in the middle of the park. This was a curious decision considering that Davies was already in place in front of the back four, potentially further stalling his development.
Ancelotti and the club’s hierarchy have cultivated extremely talented, but inconsistent players. You never know what you’re going to get from them on certain days. Jordan Pickford epitomises the issue between the sticks, resulting in the Toffees keeping only one clean sheet in their opening 11 games of the season. You can also level that accusation at Yerry Mina, Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Rodriguez, and Richarlison.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the only outlier in the final third, displaying outstanding levels of consistency this season. Richarlison is the same age and perhaps has more natural talent, but in terms of production, the England forward has trumped his team-mate this term.
The rest are running out of excuses for their inconsistency. There are many players are in or approaching the prime of their careers, therefore there should be very little drop-off in their performance week to week. Unfortunately for the Toffees, the club had lost the momentum built in the opening month of the campaign and they’re not going to get it back in a hurry. A win over Chelsea could kick-start a revival though.
Ancelotti needs to configure a way of bringing out the best in his team over an extended period of time. Everton’s issues with consistency last season resulted in an underwhelming 12th-place finish. They cannot afford to slip once again, failing to produce the performances on the field and in the Premier League standings that their talent should allow.
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