The 2018/19 Premier League campaign for Everton demonstrated glimpses of what they can achieve in 19/20; could they be the team to break into the top six?
With an eighth-place finish last season, the Toffees were three points short of European Football, with Wolves claiming the seventh spot after excelling on their return to the top-flight. Everton finished the second half of the season strongly and can take a plethora of positives into the 2019/20 campaign.
Richarlison signed for the blue half of Merseyside last summer from Watford in a deal worth £50m, reuniting with manager Marco Silva from their days in Hertfordshire together.
The 22-year-old came to Goodison Park and instantly filled the fans with excitement, finishing Everton’s joint-top goalscorer with 13 goals – often from left-midfield. His pace, versatility and dribbling ability makes him unpredictable; even the best defenders struggled to cope with the Brazilian.
However, it was not a striker who finished joint-top goalscorer with Richarlison – it was creative playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, scoring 13 goals and registering six assists in the Premier League. With such a dynamic, creative, impactful midfield, Everton have the resources to push into the top six, but there is one dimension they are lacking – a recognised goalscoring striker.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin led the line for the Toffees last season, but the 22-year-old only mustered up six goals from his 35 league appearances. It is apparent that this is where the issue lies, and if Everton were to invest in a 20-goal-a-season striker, they would have the firepower to push into the top six.
As an Everton fan, I think Richarlison is going to be a standout player next season have done so well in his first. Hopefully with a decent striker if we sign one it'll only improve his performances. Sadly out of Copa America with mumps…
— Football Index Fanboy (@FanboyIndex) June 30, 2019
Silva loves to play fast, free-flowing, attacking football, all of which is a striker’s dream. With Andre Gomes and Idrissa Gueye holding in midfield, the four attackers in front of them have the reassurance and freedom to attack, without the worry of being carved open through the middle of the park.
With both Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman as their starting full-backs, Everton have assembled an excellent squad; both aforementioned players are capable of contributing both defensively and offensively.
If you compare the Toffees’ squad to that of, for example, Arsenal, they are not overly dissimilar, and arguably without Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang supplying an abundance of goals, the Gunners would struggle.
However, Everton face stern competition from other clubs who have similar ambitions of breaking the top-six barrier. Wolves, West Ham and Leicester City all have targets of finishing in the top seven, and eventually breaking past the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
One thing Everton demonstrated last season is their ability to beat the top sides in the division, dispatching Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United at Goodison Park towards the back-end of the campaign.
But, the Toffees often struggled to consistently beat the teams around them, which hindered their chances of finishing higher than seventh. Next season they will know exactly what they need to do, and if they can find consistency in their results, they are more than capable of finishing in the top six.
Arsenal are a side who could struggle next season, and with an extremely fragile defence, they could find themselves slipping out of the top six unless they strengthen significantly before the end of the current transfer window.
There was an over-reliance on the strikers in north London to provide the success, and if Aubameyang has an off-season, they could be in huge trouble.
United fans: Wan-Bisakka is a huge signing.
Liverpool fans: 6 times.
Chelsea fans: At least we won the Europa League.
City fans: 101 points next season?
Spurs fans: Let’s get Ndombele over the line.
Arsenal fans: Have you seen our new kits? Adidas have done a madness.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) July 1, 2019
As previously mentioned, there are other teams competing with Everton, and if the Toffees fail to find a striker who is going to score them 15-20 goals next season, they will find it difficult to break into the top six.
Silva is assembling a special group of players on Merseyside, and he and his squad could shock people next season if they can find the balance of consistency against the lower teams in the table, but also raise their performances against the top-six teams.
Everton could finish fifth and that is what I am predicting.