Why were Everton so poor without Richarlison? by Callum Davies


Why were Everton so poor without Richarlison?

A short but (somewhat) detailed analysis of life without our Richie.

In recent seasons, I have been the first to point out our over-reliance on a certain ’50 million pound’ Brazilian. Since joining from Watford, Richarlison has topped our league scoring charts in both seasons and been a consistent performer amongst all the disappointment of the previous two years. It therefore, should come as no surprise that once again we are left yearning for his return following his three-match suspension for a late tackle against Liverpool.

I just thought that this time it would be different.

Having signed superstar James Rodriguez to link up alongside a Dominic Calvert-Lewin in supreme goalscoring form, further backed up by our other new signings Abdoulaye Doucouré and Allan… I thought our reliance on one single player might have somewhat dwindled.

It seems we cannot shake the inevitable dependence on Richarlison, despite the constant influx of new, high quality players. This leads me to the big question: why? Or more specifically, why this season?

It’s no secret that Richarlison offers us pace and creativity that we otherwise lack, and is another top quality player that the opposition have to mark therefore creating space for others; in particular Calvert Lewin. However, I feel like his defensive contribution just in front of Lucas Digne is one which is greatly overlooked when considering his importance to our team, and with this Digne is allowed more freedom to create further up the pitch. Our defence has hardly sparkled this season, and even in the four league wins we opened the season with we conceded five and kept only one clean sheet. Our fine goalscoring appears to have papered over the cracks, and it is clear that Richarlison’s impact on our attack and defence has never been more important.

It is easy to look at the stats as to why he is so missed, but I think that what he contributes to the Ancelotti’s system far outweighs his previous goal and assist numbers.

As a lone striker, Calvert-Lewin has seldom shown himself to be the answer to all our problems over the years. However, Silva’s sacking in December of 2019 saw ‘Big Dunc’ enter the technical area for three games: his first being a home match against Chelsea. He diverted from the 4-2-3-1 we had adopted for most of Silva’s tenure, instead opting for a 4-4-2 which saw Richarlison partner Calvert-Lewin up front. Scoring twice, Calvert-Lewin would go on to score a further eight league goals in this formation and finish joint top scorer in the league for Everton with Richarlison.

It is clear for all to see that Calvert-Lewin has previously played his best football alongside a striker partner, which is what makes his electric start this season in Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 system all the more intriguing. I think that what Richarlison offers within this formation is almost like a second striker; he comes off the left and partners Calvert-Lewin while James, who occupies the right wing, delivers the service. This sort of system can be seen in action in Calvert-Lewin’s second goal against West Brom, with James dropping deep to play the ball over the defence for Richarlison who passed across for a Calvert-Lewin tap-in. This system also offers more for our attacking full backs, as Digne and Coleman have the option of finding either of the two “strikers” whilst also being able to find James in whichever pocket of space he finds himself in. Against United, we pumped balls forward at every opportunity. I’m not saying this is sparkling football that will propel us to titles and cups, but with Richarlison fighting for nothing-balls alongside Calvert-Lewin, it will at least increase our chances of actually forging an opportunity from them.

Se despite not starting the season in a rich vein of goalscoring form like Calvert-Lewin, or winning all the plaudits of the media like James, I still stand by the claim that Richarlison remains our most important player and that he brings out the best in those around him. I doubt many could argue following our last three results, with just two goals scored in three matches.

Let’s hope that upon his return we can get back to the Everton side that started the league campaign, rather than the one that we have unfortunately become so accustomed to seeing.

Callum Davies