Everton’s season may have just entered treacherous waters with financial fair play, but on the pitch new manager Sean Dyche still has to navigate his side to safety.
It has been a difficult year for the Toffees, who find themselves 15th in the Premier League table. However, within the darkness that has poured over Goodison Park of late, there have been sparks of something bright.
Firstly, the resurgence of Alex Iwobi, who has averaged a WhoScored match rating of 6.76, in midfield has come as a surprise to many, and now Ellis Simms’ displays have helped the Merseyside club to five points from their last three matches.
The former Sunderland striker’s first Premier League goal came against Chelsea, where he capitalised on his strengthful nature before guiding the ball past Kepa. Dyche spoke about Simms’ game against Chelsea after the match, he said: “I thought the Chelsea game was a good sign of that, of the difference in his physicality. He is quick, he is strong and he used it.”
This goal came at a time where Everton have been lacking their usual outlet Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has had an injury-plagued 18 months. The 22-year-old should give the Toffees hope for the remainder of the season, and potentially going into the next.
Should Dyche start Simms over Calvert-Lewin?
Losing Calvert-Lewin, who scored 16 Premier League goals in the 2020/21 season, has been a huge problem for the Merseyside club. Despite signing Neal Maupay from Brighton and Hove Albion for an undisclosed fee, the transfer hasn’t worked out for either party.
This has left Everton searching for someone to fill Calvert-Lewin’s shoes at the front of Everton’s attack: Simms could be the man. The former Blackpool forward has proven that he has the ability to hold his own in the Premier League, as we saw against Chelsea, it is just consistency that is needed.
However, the 22-year-old showed clear consistency in the Championship already this season, where, as per FBref, he outperformed his expected goals by 0.17 per 90 minutes. Not only does this show he is a confident finisher, but it demonstrates that he is finding himself in the correct positions to accumulate the xG.
The £3.3k-per-week striker, hailed an “absolute nuisance” by journalist Paul Smith, also had 1.99 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes in the Championship, something which has risen to 2.37 in the Premier League.
What this demonstrates is that Simms has the potential to grow at the Merseyside club to the level that Calvert-Lewin was at during the 2020/21 season. When both are fit, Dyche will have a dilemma with who to entrust to lead the line, but, so far, the youthful striker is making a compelling case.