Everton have been worse since Frank Lampard took over – this week he must turn it around



Just 11 games to play, and only three points in it – Everton are in their biggest relegation fight in almost 20 years and far from certain to avoid the fate the fans cannot abide the thought of.

An awful lot might be riding on the late three points picked up against Newcastle in their last Premier League outing, but even the optimism earned there has since been wiped out by a dismal FA Cup hammering to Crystal Palace. The big factor in the Toffees’ favor right now, aside from being the team just the right side of the relegation zone, is the fact they have two games in hand.

But can they still reasonably expect to get the points required to stay above one of Watford, Burnley or Norwich?

On the plus side, two of their remaining fixtures are against the Hornets and the Clarets, obvious proverbial six-pointers to get a result in. Seven of the remaining nine, though, are against either teams who played in Europe this term, or teams who are fighting to be in Europe next term – most of the league’s finest, in other words, including five of the top seven. It isn’t going to be easy.

Frank Lampard was officially appointed on transfer deadline day at the end of January; since then it has been fewer than one point per game earned. Applying his current rate to the rest of the season would see the Toffees total 34, a very low tally which would have been enough to avoid the drop last term, but go down in five of the prior six.

His problems right now remain in both penalty boxes.

In attack, Everton are one of only five sides to average fewer than 14 touches per 90 minutes in the opposition penalty box – three of the other four are below them. One is Wolves, who defend rather better. Defensively, they’re among the five worst for passes allowed per defensive action – essentially, the time it takes to get a move on to try and stop their opponents playing around them.

They aren’t abysmal in terms of pure number of shots against them, rather middling in the table in that regard, but they have conceded more than the expected goals of all shots against them would suggest should be the case – and at the other end have scored fewer than they should have. Not a good combination.

Of course this isn’t there down to Lampard, with Rafa Benitez in charge for the first half of the season, but the big problem is that it’s getting worse, not better.

Everton were 16th when the Spaniard was dismissed, with a six-point gap between themselves and the bottom three. While xG and looking at the would-be table is far from the be-all and end-all, it’s suggestive that the Toffees were underperforming by around four points when he departed – they shouldby shot quality for and against in each game, have been a couple of places higher in the table.

Perhaps it’s notable Dominic Calvert-Lewin had played only five times to that point, scoring three back in August.

In recent games, and with the England striker back to fitness, Lampard hasn’t been able to turn the tables consistently: they are bottom three since 31 January for actual points won and bottom two for their expected tally.

(Getty Images)

On chance quality and performance, Everton were good against Leeds and that’s about it – in every other game they’ve been outplayed and out-scored in terms of xG. The second Newcastle match with Alex Iwobi’s stoppage-time winner is the only aberration between statistical probability and real outcome.

There don’t appear any easy answers.

Lampard has seen some genuinely good individual showings – Anthony Gordon is doing everything he can to be a go-to starter for sure – but the big issue remains a woeful lack of organization at the back.

For a team averaging 1.7 goals per game granted since he took over, finding a cohesive structure simply has to be key.

Everton have scored more than eleven in a league fixture precisely once since Lampard took over – it doesn’t need expected anything to work out how points are hard to get from those two numbers alone.

There’s now less than a week until Everton head to Turf Moor.

Although both sides play at the weekend before that, taking points against sides aiming for Europe (or the title, in Man City’s case) is a bonus, not a likelihood. It’s that midweek encounter that will determine just how much of a sickening struggle the rest of the season is going to be at Goodison Park.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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