A familiar sense of dread is building around Everton. Last season was one to forget for the Toffees as they only just avoided suffering relegation from the Premier League for the first time, but the trauma of the fight against the drop could be repeated with Frank Lampard’s team desperately lacking in form and confidence.
Everton have lost both of their opening two Premier League fixtures this season with the away defeat to Aston Villa particularly concerning. Lampard’s team weren’t played off the pitch, but Villa rarely looked troubled. Everton scored a consolation goal late on, but even that was an own goal scored by Lucas Digne.
Anthony Gordon started up front in the defeats to Chelsea and Aston Villa, but this isn’t the 21-year-old’s natural position. He is a winger by trade and is only playing through the middle due to Lampard’s lack of options. Gordon is the most suitable centre forward Everton have at this moment in time.
Of course, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a proven centre forward at Premier League level. However, his injury record in recent times is cause for concern with the England international set to be sidelined for the next month. Without Calvert-Lewin, Everton’s attack lacks a focal point. Their play doesn’t have a purpose.
Richarlison was central to Everton’s successful efforts to stave off the threat of relegation last season, but the Brazilian was sold to Tottenham Hotspur this summer. Dwight McNeil was signed as a replacement, and the 22-year-old could become an important player for the Toffees this season, but not for the reasons Richarlison was.
There might be more outgoings before the summer transfer window closes at the end of the month. Gordon is a target for Chelsea with the Stamford Bridge club lodging two offers worth over £40m for the youngster. A fee of around £50m would surely convince Everton to sell their best young player.
Dele Alli was seen as a significant addition to Lampard’s team in January, but the midfielder has failed to make much of an impression at Goodison Park. There are now reports Alli could be on his way out of Everton with Besiktas keen to sign him on loan until the end of the season. The most telling thing is Everton are reportedly willing to let Alli leave.
This summer’s transfer window has been a subdued one for Everton. Lampard has predominantly focused on strengthening his defence with Conor Coady and James Tarkowski signed. Those additions could help the Toffees stay away from the bottom of the Premier League table, but the outlook isn’t so positive at the top of the pitch. Lampard wants at least one more attacker brought in.
“Dominic has been injured for two weeks and it is a five or six week injury, so we have to have a bit of perspective,” Lampard said after the defeat to Villa. “We are not going to be foolish on that part. We are going to try and find the right player that can maybe help us in the short term but in the long term complement the fact that we have Dominic at the club. We just have to assess all those things.”
The success or failure of Everton’s season could be determined over the next two weeks. Their need for attacking reinforcements is clear, but concerns over the club’s financial health persists. It might be the case that Gordon is sold to raise funds. This, however, might be what is required to solve a glaring deficiency in Lampard’s team. As things stand, it’s not clear how Everton will score goals this season.