Everton supporters have been somewhat frustrated in recent times after seeing their side suffer a second straight Premier League defeat on Sunday.
Marco Silva’s men went into their trip to in-form Arsenal having lost 3-1 to West Ham in their previous league encounter, in turn suffering their first defeat under the guidance of new boss Silva following his appointment during the summer. And the Toffees were unable to get back to winning ways in the capital on Sunday as goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a 2-0 success for Unai Emery’s Gunners, thus prompting Everton’s fall to 12th place in the Premier League table.
Consequently, there have been many disappointed Toffees fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from BBC pundit and ex-midfielder Phil Neville, who has delivered an intriguing verdict on the Merseysiders by saying that they would be ‘challenging for the Champions League’ if they spent ‘£100 million on two centre forwards’.
And while there is no doubting that Neville is right to pinpoint the attacking third as a problem area in Silva’s team, it’s not their only problem area, as they are also below-par defensively as well.
Ultimately, ex-Evertonian Neville is spot on to highlight their shortcomings in the final third given the likes of Cenk Tosun, Oumar Niasse, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin simply haven’t produced the goods or got the goals necessary over recent times – after all, the Toffees haven’t replaced Romelu Lukaku, who left for Manchester United back in 2017.
And while any side in the division would struggle were they to lose a striker of Lukaku’s quality, Everton haven’t helped themselves in the transfer market, not least last summer in signing three number tens, and thus hoping that Malaga striker Sandro Ramirez could be the man to fill Lukaku’s boots – he only scored once last term for the Toffees.
So yes, Neville is right to suggest that further investment is needed in that area of the pitch, but to state that they would be ‘challenging for the Champions League’ is a stretch given they simply aren’t good enough at the back.
Ultimately, even under Sam Allardyce last term, who is renowned for making his teams difficult to beat, the Toffees seriously struggled to keep clean sheets in shipping 58 goals from their 38 Premier League games – that was 20 more than fourth place Liverpool.
Michael Keane found the going tough in his first season at Goodison Park last term while veteran centre back Phil Jagielka’s best days are behind him – a lot of expectations are on the shoulders of summer signings Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina, and while the latter has yet to feature, the former hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory so far.
And given just how attacking the full backs are, whether it’s Lucas Digne or Leighton Baines down the left or Seamus Coleman or Jonjoe Kenny down the right, the Toffees simply aren’t good enough defensively to challenge the top six sides for a Champions League place.
So while Neville is right to suggest that going forward needs serious improvement at Goodison Park, he has neglected something very important indeed when it comes to Silva’s side challenging for a top four spot, namely that they simply aren’t good enough at the back to do so.
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