Top teams put chances away, but Everton can’t finish for toffee! Defeat by Fulham shows Sean Dyche’s side are desperate for a new No 9
- Everton were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Fulham at Goodison Park on Saturday
- Sean Dyche’s side missed several chances and it is clear they need a new striker
- Watch the first full episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ here
If it was not obvious already, it took just 32 seconds of the new Premier League season to see how desperate Everton are for a new striker.
What should have been a positive three points to start the season ended with a familiar whiff of profligacy at both ends.
Neal Maupay burst through and fired wide with less than a minute on the clock, setting in motion a pattern of wasteful finishing that saw Everton clock 19 shots and create multiple clearcut openings, only to be undone by one lapse of concentration at the other end that led to Bobby Decordova-Reid’s goal.
In terms of expected goals (xG), Everton’s 2.93 here was more than any Premier League side created in one match without scoring in the entirety of last season.
That xG tally is more than Manchester City and Arsenal had in their opening weekend wins.
Everton were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Fulham on Saturday afternoon at Goodison Park
Bobby De Cordova-Reid (middle-right) scored the only goal of the game to give Fulham the win
It comes as the home side were wasteful during the match, failing to put away several chances
Top teams put chances away, Everton do not. Maupay’s first minute shot was not in the Toffees’ best five openings of the day, with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Nathan Patterson also missing gilt-edged chances.
‘We created so many chances, we can’t rely on a constant clean sheet, everyone has to take responsibility to take chances and score goals,’ said manager Sean Dyche. ‘We are hoping to win more games. It didn’t happen today but it was a winning performance.’
He was right, too. Everton showed fitness and sharpness that was testament to Dyche’s infamously tough pre-season programmes. They were aggressive off the ball and pressed well, while Doucoure and Amadou Onana created all sorts of problems from midfield.
‘The positive things were looking sharper in transition, breaking the play up and being effective, and the actual quality of chances we created,’ added the manager.
‘I’ve said it a million times but sometimes you get games where you had 24 chances and you think, “Really?”. But today we had 19 and out of them it’s got to be half that were real chances.’
Everton’s director of football Kevin Thelwell admitted in his programme notes that it had been a tough window, with just three players signed — Ashley Young, 38, on a free transfer, loanee Arnaut Danjuma, and £15million striker Youssef Chermiti.
Former Sporting Lisbon forward Chermiti, 19, was at Goodison for a watching brief. Dyche and his staff see him more as a project for the mid-term future, but he must have been itching to get on when he saw the chances created.
Maupay, formerly of Brentford and Brighton, is a hard-working striker who is studious off the pitch, but his Premier League career has been blighted by missed chances. The club were forced to condemn fans on Saturday night after the Frenchman received nasty online abuse.
Neal Maupay (pictured) missed chances during the match, but the club was forced to condemn fans who had given him horrible abuse online on Saturday night
Micheal Keane (left) had a goal ruled out after James Tarkowski and Bernd Leno clashed inside the Fulham penalty area
Meanwhile, Dele Alli was in the stands to watch his side’s defeat to Fulham on Saturday
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
EVERTON (4-5-1): Pickford 6; Patterson 6.5, Keane 6, Tarkowski 7, Young 6.5; Onana 7, Gueye 6.5, Doucoure 7; Garner 6.5 (Dobbin 83min), Iwobi 6.5; Maupay 6 (Danjuma 72, 6). Booked: None. Manager: Sean Dyche 6.5.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno 8.5; Tete 5, Ream 7, Diop 6, Robinson 6.5; Reed 6.5, Lukic 6; Wilson 6, Cairney 6 (Pereira 58, 7), Willian 5 (Decordova-Reid 46, 6); Jimenez 7 (Mitrovic 57, 6). Scorer: Decordova-Reid 73. Booked: Willian, Tete, Silva. Manager: Marco Silva 6.5.
Referee: Stuart Attwell 5. Att: 38,940.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has started just 30 of 77 Premier League games since the start of the 2021-22 season and did not make the squad here as he ramps up a rehab programme. Danjuma was only fit enough to be a substitute, while Dwight McNeil is out for weeks.
Leeds are digging their heels in as Everton target forward Wilfried Gnonto, but the Italian asked not to be part of their squad at Birmingham on Saturday.
Southampton’s Che Adams has been discussed and he scored in a 4-4 draw with Norwich on Saturday.
Everton will play a lot worse and win this season, but while there are plenty of positives to take, one feels the signing of a new No 9 could be a hugely decisive factor in whether this season ends in another relegation dog-fight or a mid-table finish.
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