Everton is a club that always seems to hang around the middle of the English Premier League table. They have never been relegated but have never won a title. Since the modern Premier League was established in 1992, Everton has only qualified for the Champions League once (2005-06). They currently sit 11th place in the table after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Monday. Despite being seventh in payroll and having a lot of solid players, why is Everton stuck in mediocrity, even with UCL winner in manager Carlo Ancelotti? Simple. They lack a game-changer and a go-to scorer.
Tottenham defeated Everton 1-0 on an own goal from Everton defender Michael Keane in the 24th minute. Despite 11 shots with three on target, Everton could not find the equalizer. While watching the match, I couldn’t help but notice how easily Tottenham winger Heung-Min Son set up chances for the Spurs while no one on Everton could do the same. Then, it hit me. Since the 2016-17 season ended, Everton has not had a game-changer or go-to scorer since striker Romelu Lukaku left for Manchester United the following summer.
In 2016-17, Lukaku scored 25 goals in the Premier League, leading Everton to a seventh-place finish and qualifying for Europa League play. For the next three seasons, their leading goals scorers were Wayne Rooney with 10, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson with 13 each and this season, Dominic Calvert-Lewin with 13. They finished eighth the last two seasons and are currently 11th.
While these numbers certainly aren’t bad, they are mediocre and that is the problem. It is no coincidence that the last time Everton qualified for European play, they had a player who scored more than 20 league goals. The players they have now are solid but they don’t have a player who can create his own chances or be the player who can be depended on like Lukaku was a few years ago.
Everton has posted solid results during “Project Restart”. They tied with Liverpool while defeating Norwich City and third place Leicester City. However, today’s loss to the Hotspur, who came off a loss to Sheffield United, shows that Everton is simply mediocre. They need to go find a game-changer if they want to return to European play.