Everton have made a positive start to the 2019/20 Premier League campaign and remain the only team in the division yet to concede a goal, but the deployment of offensive personnel has left question marks.
The Toffees made two impressive, attacking signings in the summer transfer window – both Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi arriving on Merseyside – in an attempt to bolster their goalscoring options.
However, Everton fired a blank in their opening match at Selhurst Park and narrowly achieved a 1-0 victory against Watford last Saturday; Bernard scored the goal, but what does that mean for Richarlison?
The 22-year-old endured an excellent debut season for the Toffees in 2018/19 – netting 13 times and chipping in with one assist – but now operating on the right side of midfield, he has been underwhelming thus far.
Marco Silva has opted to deploy Bernard on the left side of midfield this season and has immediately exhibited signs of improvement. In the 2018/19 campaign, the 26-year-old scored just once and registered three assists in the Premier League; the Brazilian has already matched his goalscoring tally after two matches and exerts improved levels of confidence and quality.
The playmaker is relishing his new role – last season he averaged 1.2 key passes and 1.2 dribbles per match and those figures have risen to 2.0 and 3.0 respectively so far this term. It is evident that Bernard operates to a higher standard on the left, but is it worth the consequential sacrifice of Richarlison?
If you want to get the best out of Richarlison, you simply have to play him on the left. Last season he was averaging 0.1 crosses and 0.6 long balls per match in the Premier League, highlighting his direct nature and goalscoring instinct. However, this season he has averaged 0.5 crosses and one long ball per match, demonstrating the added importance on Richarlison to become a provider opposed to a goalscorer.
Bernard and Richarlison are different players. The former is more creative and enjoys operating as the person to provide goals while the latter is an obvious goalscorer who relishes the role of scoring goals for the Toffees.
The addition of Iwobi will provide further competition in that left-midfield role and if Silva continues to deploy Richarlison on the right, I am confident that we will rarely witness the 22-year-old’s goalscoring talent that we saw last season.