The 2019/20 Premier League season has been what can only be described as one of a huge change at Everton. Marco Silva was dismissed early in the season, with Duncan Ferguson taking over as caretaker manager for a three-game period. He was eventually replaced by Carlo Ancelotti. Therefore, there have been huge amounts of chopping and changing in the managerial aspect of the club which has seen several different systems and tactical setups. However, a relationship that has flourished since Ancelotti has come into the club is that of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. They have been essential to the way that Ancelotti has tried to play since he arrived at Goodison Park. The pair have been effective, prolific and a real handful for defenders to deal with.
In all honesty, the pair have been excellent throughout the season. Calvert-Lewin has scored 13 goals in the Premier League alone, whereas Richarlison has bagged 10. This highlights the effectiveness of the pairing and how they are a flourishing partnership. However, the point of this analysis is to highlight the particular tactical changes they have seen since Ancelotti has come into the club. They have particularly thriven since his arrival and have done particularly well in a two striker system. This is in comparison to a degree of mismanagement under previous management. If the footballing season is to continue, the pair could be the main reason for Everton getting themselves into a European place for next season.
This tactical analysis will highlight how the pair have thrived under Ancelotti and the tweaks he has made to provide them with a solid foundation to score goals. This analysis will also look at the tactics that have been used by the Italian to increase their goal scoring record, which has led to an excellent partnership being formed. This scout report will also look at ways they could potentially move forward with the same system.
The first aspect of the pairings game which should be analysed is their involvement with the game off the ball. Since Ancelotti has come into the club as manager, the pair have been excellent in pressing the ball from the opposition and winning the ball back high up the pitch. This is important for Everton, as their 4-4-2 system requires the front two to be able to win the ball back and push the team up the pitch. This is something that both of them have done extremely well. It is noticeable that they will press against the centre-backs. When they play against teams with a back four this is much easier as they will essentially go two for two against the opposing centre-backs. This has, therefore, worked to great effect in many games as the pair possesses strong physical attributes which means that pressing is something they can do to great effect.
Below is an example of this pressing in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in March 2020. We can see Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison both pressed right up against the Manchester United backline. This pressing results in a goal for Everton, as Calvert-Lewin, can intercept a David De Gea pass. This picture, therefore, highlights the improvement in the pressing game of the attacking pair, and their ability to win the ball back in high areas of the pitch. This is something that Ancelotti must take huge credit for, as playing them together as a striking unit has allowed these sorts of outcomes.
Pressing is significant for teams that want to play on the front foot, which Ancelotti has implemented into this Everton side. Under Marco Silva, they were often lethargic and did not seem like a team that had a clear desire to win the ball back. This could be assigned to the structure of the team itself and the players not having confidence in the system. This has significantly changed, and a lot of the success Everton have seen in terms of winning the ball back can be assigned to the front two. It is often a cliché that pressing starts from the front, and that the first defenders on the pitch are the centre-forwards. With Everton’s system under Ancelotti, this is factually correct. They are responsible for starting the press and the other attacking players will then follow suit. This, therefore, creates a thriving pressing system with the primary objective of winning the ball back high up the pitch and potentially counter-attacking.
Below is another example of this. As opposed to the first picture, the ball is not in front of them. This, therefore, means that the other players are assigned with having their backs to their own goals as opposed to Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison who have their back to the opposing goal. However, instead of ignoring their pressing responsibility, they pick up both of the Chelsea centre-backs. This is to prevent the passing options that the central midfielder has on the ball. It means he must go sideways or try a risky pass through the middle which can be intercepted and a counter-attack can potentially ensue. This is, therefore, a credit to the pressing system in place and it also highlights the importance of the pair when trying to win the ball back.
All great strike partnerships in the Premier League rely on this link-up play to score goals. The mental understanding of where the other player is maybe the single most important aspect of a partnership. When analysing the relationship between Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, it is clear to see that there is almost a friendship on the pitch and trust between the two that they will score goals. This once again has to be hugely attributed to the impact of Ancelotti. He has put his belief in the pair and allowed them to thrive together with the other creative players Everton have. When one drops slightly deeper to hold up the ball, the other will make a run into space where he can be found. The understanding between the two, therefore, allows for the link-up play to occur. This flexibility in attacking movement is vital for Everton’s success in attacking areas.
Below is another example of the link-up play which is often on show between the two attacking players. We can see a one-two being played between the two centre-forwards, with Calvert-Lewin making a good run in behind the defensive line. This is a primary example of the link-up play and understanding that is seen weekly between the two forwards.
Playing close together
This proximity positioning is something that Everton fans are perhaps used to compared to other clubs. Great strikers in the club’s history would often play alongside each other as opposed to playing with simply one upfront. This is something that has been brought back by Ancelotti to break down teams who play with a deeper defensive line. The two need to be close to one another to allow the wingers to go wider into areas where they can create. Overall, this system, therefore, works against these types of teams. When we looked earlier at how Everton could be flexible, this is also true which is once again testament to the flexible system that Ancelotti has in place. The ability to change between systems is very helpful, especially in the modern game.
Below is another example from the game against Brighton. We can see both of them with their backs to the goal and in positions to receive the ball. This allows the wider players to stay wide and the other attacking players to get forward into useful positions. Overall, having the strikers close together is extremely beneficial in certain games which we have seen Everton use often.
To conclude, it is clear to see that with Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison Everton have an extremely exciting partnership that contains goals, excellent pressing and desire to win matches. This has been brought out by Ancelotti’s excellent man-management and ability to understand what a good striking partnership should be able to do. This has also been coupled with the 4-4-2 system that Everton have often played in order to suit the players they have and get the service into these attacking players. Going forward, whenever the football season is to continue, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will be looking to build on what has been a fantastic season full of goals. With these two and a few more signings in key areas, Everton could be onto something really special and could start to challenge for the top six. The challenge for both forwards will be to maintain this excellent form and continue to score goals.