It has been a mixed start to the season for Everton, who drew with Crystal Palace on the opening day, beat Watford at Goodison Park and lost to Aston Villa last time out.
On the plus side, the Toffees have kept two clean sheets in three matches, continuing a trend from the end of last season when their defensive solidity was their biggest strength. Marco Silva’s side conceded fewer goals in 2018/19 than Arsenal and Manchester United, both of whom finished above them. From matchday 28 onwards, Everton lost only two of 11 matches and shut their opponents out in eight of those encounters.
The problem for the Merseysiders came at the other end of the field. Everton found the net on just 54 occasions; by way of comparison, Arsenal scored 73 times and United finished the campaign with 65 goals to their name.
It is still early days, of course, but things do not appear to have changed too much in 2019/20. Everton were held to a goalless draw by Palace, then edged past Watford 1-0, before failing to find the net in their defeat at Villa Park. Silva will know that his team must show more of an attacking edge when Wolves visit Goodison Park on Sunday.
The Portuguese has opted for Dominic Calvert-Lewin as his centre-forward so far this term, with summer signing Moise Kean having to make do with a place on the bench. The former Juventus frontman has appeared in all three matches but has only been on the pitch for 67 minutes, although some supporters are calling for his inclusion in the XI against Wolves.
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In fairness to Calvert-Lewin, chance creation has arguably been as big a problem as conversion. Everton have only the 14th highest Expected Goals (xG) figure across three games (3.31), and unlike many teams in the division they are yet to play a big-six opponent.
Even so, Calvert-Lewin has never looked like the most natural of finishers, even though his hold-up play and ability to run the channels is impressive. Kean is still young and the sample size is perhaps a little low to be completely reliable, but the signs from last season suggest that he will still score goals as long as he gets opportunities: the teenager scored seven goals in 17 appearances for Juventus, several of which were as a substitute.
“It is my opinion and our decision to play him front attack as a striker,” Silva said of Kean in the summer. “Sometimes he played on the right or left for the national team but when we decided to go for a player like him it was to play as a striker.
“He can play wide but we have enough solutions there, and we have big quality playing out wide, so we will look to him to play as a striker. Dominic, Cenk [Tosun] and Moise Kean are No.9 and since he arrived Moise did not train for one minute out of this position.”
Everton fans are excited to watch him play there from the start in the Premier League, and they could be granted their wish this weekend.