Early Saturday morning (for those of us in the States), Everton suffered a home defeat at the hands of Newcastle United. Newcastle secured the victory by a final score of two goals to nil. The two tallies came courtesy of striker Callum Wilson. The 28-year-old opened the scoring to give Newcastle the lead in the 73rd minute. He then proceeded to put the game to bed deep into stoppage time.
We have seen this past week that the Premier League is a highly competitive league. Any team can beat their opponents on any given weekend. Sheffield United’s stunning victory over Manchester United on Wednesday certainly puts Everton’s defeat into context.
At the same time, today’s match should not be written off as a one-off. Valuable lessons can be taken from what went wrong at Goodison Park. Hopefully, these lessons can then be dealt with in a way that ensures the defeat is a learning experience, rather than just a disappointment.
For starters, let us take a look at the substitutes that Carlo Ancelotti named for today’s Premier League clash.
- Andre Gomes (subbed on in the 63rd minute for Alex Iwobi)
- Robin Olsen (GK)
- João Virgínia (GK)
- Ben Godfrey
- Mason Holgate
- Jonjoe Kenny
- Tom Davies
- Anthony Gordon
Any time a manager names eight substitutes rather than the maximum of nine, it is a clear indicator of a problem. For Everton, that problem is squad depth.
The main issue that stands out is the lack of attacking options. The only attacker on today’s bench was Anthony Gordon. Although talented, Gordon is just 19 and has made only seven appearances for the first team this season.
Unfortunately, the Toffees are about to get even lighter in that department.
Cenk Tosun’s Twitter activity would seem to indicate that the striker is heading back to Besiktas in his native Turkey.
Yeniden tarih yazmaya hazır mıyız ⁉️🦅 https://t.co/JawOAgu0Jy
— Cenk Tosun (@CenkTosun_) January 30, 2021
Paddy Boyland of The Athletic has confirmed Tosun is in talks to leave the club. What is more of a surprise is that Boyland is also reporting that midfielder Bernard is in the same boat.
Ancelotti confirms Bernard and Tosun in talks over moves away.
On potential additions, he says they will look but are "not desperate."
— Patrick Boyland (@Paddy_Boyland) January 30, 2021
As Boyland points out, Ancelotti has said that Everton are “not desperate” with regards to incoming transfers. However, the potential departures of Tosun and Bernard would leave Everton incredibly shorthanded with regard to attacking options.
It may not happen, but it feels as though the addition of a wide attacking option with pace would be extremely helpful for the second half of the season.
In many ways, today’s performance was a good measuring stick for where Everton are at this point in the season. There is no reason why the Toffees cannot still qualify for the Europa League and make a decent cup run.
However, any illusions of Everton challenging for top four or even the title should be put to bed. In truth, they should have been put to bed a long time ago.
Most fans and people around the club understand that Everton has lacked the depth to challenge for the Champions League spots since the beginning of the season. It has been mostly outside sources that have added Everton to discussions of the division’s best.
Today’s game was absolutely among Everton’s worst performances of the season. That being said, it is important not to get too caught up in any one result.
That match was soul destroying but perspective is needed. It isn't 'this season or bust' it's about building the club up to be in the European mix every season again. We have wasted the past five years but we now are finally going in the right direction with the right people.
— Terry McAllister (@terrymcallister) January 30, 2021
As Terry McAllister rightfully points out, 2020/21 is not the make or break season for what the club is building. As long as the club continues to make meaningful progress in the right direction, the occasional frustrating result can be forgiven.
There is no denying that Everton are in a significantly better place than they were a year ago. Carlo Ancelotti is the manager, and James Rodríguez can be seen delivering delightful passes to his Everton teammates on a weekly basis.
Yes, today’s result was incredibly disappointing. But, if all goes according to plan, such disappointments will become increasingly rare as progress continues to be made.
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