Under Carlo Ancelloti, Everton is a resurgent team in the 2020/21 Premier League season. Currently, they are first in the table with 12 points in four games, winning all their games so far. They have beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0, thrashed West Brom 5-2, beat Crystal Palace 2-1, and outplayed Brighton 4-2. In all of these games, there is one common goalscorer- Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Calvert-Lewin has been mythical this season, scoring six goals and topping the goalscoring charts. While it might be too early to say, the 23-year-old Englishman has a great season ahead of him with how he sets up in Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics.
Recently, he also got his first call-up to the England national team and has shown the class to warrant a spot as one of the attackers despite fierce competition from other strikers like Harry Kane and Danny Ings.
In this tactical analysis, we will make a scout report on how Calvert-Lewin has improved under Ancelloti by understanding how he plays and how he fits in Everton’s tactics. We will also analyse him under the lens of other English strikers and see whether he should travel with the English squad to the Euros 2021 in this analysis.
Considering that Calvert-Lewin trained as a central midfielder at Sheffield United’s youth system, Calvert-Lewin offers the best of both worlds. He is good at passing and has a good vision while playmaking. He also offers close control of the ball when he dribbles. This, paired up with his greatest strengths: Pace and Acceleration, make him an archetypal target man striker.
He stands tall at 187 cm, meaning that he has a great aerial ability as he has a strong leap. He has attempted the 9th most defensive duels in the league with the 10th highest success in the 2019/20 season. He also has the 4th most headed goals in the same timeframe.
Calvert-Lewin is a great finisher with just one touch. Ancelloti has compared him to AC Milan legend Filippo Inzaghi because of how easily both strikers can score with just one touch of the ball. This all-round ability in terms of passing, dribbling, pace, finishing and aerial ability is very rare in strikers, and Calvert-Lewin is one of the lucky ones.
In the 2019/20 season, Everton mostly stuck with the 4-4-2 formation, with Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin forming the front two. In the 2019/20 season, Richarlison scored 13 goals while Calvert-Lewin scored the same number. The most important skill of theirs was their ability to link-up very well. Richarlison was always the wide player, so he would go wide and pick up the ball to dribble into the final third. Meanwhile, Calvert-Lewin would stay in the centre and get to the ball after getting chances fed to him. Our focus will be on Calvert-Lewin’s positioning, however. We can see this in practice below:
Richarlison runs in from the right-wing with the ball while Calvert-Lewin (number 9) is waiting in the box. This is where Calvert-Lewin is always positioned to receive the passes. He is good at staggering runs so that he can reach the ball at the right time. He runs slowly to keep up with Richarlison, weaves left and right, and then accelerates down the middle of the box to get to the end of Richarlison’s pass. Calvert-Lewin can then easily score from a perfect pass from Richarlison.
We can see his shot map below:
The ones that are in pink are goals, while the others are shots blocked, missed, or saved. The pink dots are all clustered inside the penalty area and are equally divided on all parts of the pitch. This indicates how centrally Calvert-Lewin plays when he is on and off the ball. An important part of Calvert-Lewin’s goal contributions is how well he runs off-the-ball, as those are how he enters into these goalscoring opportunities. He generally runs in from the left half-space to get onto the end of the ball and is evident when looking at the high volume of shots from that area.
Defensively, Calvert-Lewin is important to the team in terms of pressing. He has to be good at pressing the opponent’s defensive players to win the ball back high up the pitch. When the opponent plays with a back four, it is easier for him to press the closes centre-back and full-back and force a back-pass or a long-ball, which increases Everton’s chances of gaining possession.
We can see his pressing against Manchester United below:
Both Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are integral in pressing here, but we will focus on Calvert-Lewin. The pink arrow indicates De Gea’s passing lane, which Calvert-Lewin blocks by standing between his two markers. This means that De Gea cannot pass to Matic. De Gea’s other passing option is Harry Maguire, but he is also covered by Calvert-Lewin as the Everton striker is only a few meters from him. Coupled with De Gea’s poor decision-making, Calvert-Lewin blocks the last-ditch pass from De Gea to score a goal.
The current season: 2020/21, has been his best start to a season so far. We can see his statistics for the current season below:
Calvert-Lewin ranks on top of the league for goals scored with the 15th most shots in the league. This shows how clinical he is as a striker, as most of his goals have been with his first touch of the ball. He has the second-highest shot accuracy percentage at 67%, which indicates how efficient he is with his shots taken.
Calvert-Lewin’s heading statistics here is something to marvel about. He attempts the seventh most aerial duels per 90 in the league and has the twelfth most success with his aerial duels. He has scored three goals from headers, which is the highest in the league.
In Ancelotti’s tactics, Calvert-Lewin played as a striker in a 4-3-3, with Richarlison on the left and new signing James Rodriguez on the right. However, Rodriguez drops back regularly to feed passes to the front three, with Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman providing width to create attacking opportunities. Now, he plays more of a target man role, as the focal point of Everton’s attack.
We can see an example of his role below:
A long ball from Jordan Pickford was sent to the attacking half, and Calvert-Lewin was ready to pounce. At 6’ 2”, he is in a great position to win flick-ons to get the ball to his team-mates. Then, he makes runs into the final third and links-up with the midfield in the box.
Calvert-Lewin’s movement in the box is another crucial improvement of his this season. As he is a fast and agile player, he can make runs into the channels between the opposition’s defensive lines. He plays with his back to the goal and turns when a through ball comes in his direction. He can also stagger his runs very well, and as we saw above, get in front of the goal to score with ease.
The main reason why Calvert-Lewin has improved over the season has come down to two main factors: The way he is set up in Everton’s tactics, and the players around him. Signing James Rodriguez has been great for Everton as the Colombian playmaker adds creativity and dribbling ability into Everton’s side. Additionally, with the shift to the 4-3-3, Calvert-Lewin has been able to play more centrally as a ‘fox in the box’, instead of one that drops back deep to link-up with his team-mates.
Calvert-Lewin is set to be the starting striker for his team, so his next objective should be playing for England. His main competitors are Danny Ings of Southampton, Harry Kane of Spurs, and Tammy Abraham of Chelsea. The former two are older compared to Calvert-Lewin and Abraham but are still in the mix for starting the Euros 2021 and World Cup 2022. We will compare the English strikers, see where Calvert-Lewin ranks, and evaluate whether he deserves a starting spot in England’s squad. The players we will consider are:
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
- Harry Kane
- Tammy Abraham
- Danny Ings
- Callum Wilson
- Eddie Nketiah
- Dominic Solanke
- Ollie Watkins
- Che Adams
- Michail Antonio
- Jay Rodriguez
Jamie Vardy has not been considered as he retired from international football entirely.
In the first section, we will compare is the shots taken by a player per 90 and the touches they take in the box. It gives us an idea about the striker’s ability to be in goalscoring positions and their instincts in the final third.
The only four strikers above average in these metrics are Tammy Abraham, Calvert-Lewin (in brown), Che Adams and Danny Ings. Calvert-Lewin takes the second most shots after Abraham and has the fourth-highest number of touches in the box. So, he ranks third-best in this criteria.
The next comparison we will make is between xG per 90 and Goals per 90. This gives us an idea of how clinical a striker is with the chances they get.
This section here clearly shows the three best English strikers available to Southgate: Calvert-Lewin, Kane, and Ings. Ings is the most clinical striker here with the highest positive difference between Goals per-90 and xG per 90 with 0.24. So here, Calvert-Lewin ranks third–best again with an xG of 0.58 and goals scored per 90 at 0.55. While he slightly underperforms his xG, it is very marginal and has definitely improved in the 2020/21 season.
There is no doubt about the fact that Dominic Calvert-Lewin has improved over the course of last season. He has grown leaps and bounds from where he was under Marco Silva and Ronald Koeman. He is currently rivaling England’s finest strikers like Harry Kane. Deservedly, he got his first call-up for the English National team for the upcoming international break. While Southgate doesn’t seem to be great at picking the right players for the England National Team, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has earned his call-up to England’s future competitions.