By Nick Ware

30th Jan, 2021 | 11:40am

View: 'Lucky' Everton doing the business despite suffering alarming attacking drop off

Everton might be one of the luckiest teams on paper but this team is showing its quality through adversity this season as they hunt European football.

Despite a number of injuries to key men Carlo Ancelotti’s side currently sit seventh in the Premier League and are just four points off the top four with two games in hand.

However at Goodison News we have noticed a few worrying statistical trends that are worth keeping an eye on.

Per Wyscout Everton are in the bottom half of the division for touches in the penalty area per 90 with 14.32 which is less than rock-bottom Sheffield United who have only scored 12 Premier League goals this season, less than half of the Blues total (29).

Indeed they have seen a drop off in recent games.

In fact over their last seven games they have failed to reach this average with Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City seeing a season-low figure of eight touches in the penalty area.

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The only other time they have recorded single figures in a game was at Crystal Palace on September 26.

Incidentally star striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has not scored a Premier League goal since the average was last outperformed v Burnley on December 5 when they amassed a mammoth 22 touches, a figure they have only beaten once (in a 5-2 v West Brom on September 19).

Results have not been affected too much as the Blues have won five of their last seven in the league but it is a worrying drop off in attacking output and one that will concern Ancelotti looking ahead.

In terms of stats Everton are actually taping over a number of issues.

The Blues are actually the second ‘luckiest’ team in the league with an Expected Points differential of 8.50 – they are currently seventh in the division with 33 points but they should only have 24.5, according to Wyscout data.

They were actually first before Manchester United’s shock defeat to Sheffield United on Wedneday.

Of course this is only a numerical figure that does not tell the whole story but it does show that they may be riding their luck on occasion this season and it is not a metric that will please the Everton analysts who are looking for quality and consistency.

They are outperforming their xG of 26.34 (29 actual) but remarkably the have the highest xG per shot (0.148).

Only four sides have taken less shots than Everton’s 178 this season but their 43.3% shot accuracy is beaten only by Tottenham Hotspur.

Much of this is down to the efforts of Calvert-Lewin who has outperformed his 9.62 xG with 11 Premier League goals despite not scoring one since that Burnley game at the start of December, nearly two months ago.

This can be looked at in a few ways – either you can commend the club for placing faith in a striker who is establishing himself as one of the elite centre forwards in England, or you can question the overall play conducted under the tutelage of Ancelotti.

Should he be getting more out of this side?

Well, there have been numerous factors that have caused Ancelotti to constantly adjust his tactics.

There have been injuries to key men Lucas Digne and James Rodriguez who are the two most important conductors in the Everton attack.

The French full back ranks 11th in the top five European leagues for expected assists (0.47 per 90) this season despite missing eight league games through injury.

Furthermore only five players in Europe produce more crosses per 90 (6.44) while his 36.76% completion puts him among the most accurate crossers in the division despite the deluge of them that he delivers.

With Calvert-Lewin’s aerial threat this is clearly one of their best routes to goal evidenced in the four assists Digne has produced for the England international and he has the most headed goals in the Premier League this season (four).

Furthermore summer signing Rodriguez was brought in to sprinkle some star dust on the side and he has provided exactly that with a number of scintilating displays lighting up Goodison Park, but he too has missed a number of games (five).

Shorn of their two most creative outlets for a good proportion of the season there is no wonder that Everton are struggling to find consistency in their patterns of play.

Ben Godfrey has been used as a makeshift left back for much of the season and for all his sterling defensive work he cannot offer the same creativity that Digne can give while much the same can be said about Mason Holgate down the other flank.

Allan was also signed in the summer and established himself as a key enforcer in the middle of midfield who helped knit play together but he has missed the last five league games too.

There has been a lot of chopping and changing in this Blues team and that is never going to make for good reading when it comes to analysing tactics and styles of play.

Clearly, Ancelotti has work to do to forge a squad that is capable of working the ball into dangerous areas into the box.

However, with only one summer transfer window behind him it has been difficult to fit all the pieces of the puzzle in and it requires some patience before things can be settled.

In the meantime they can rely on Calvert-Lewin to ensure they do not get left behind.

In other Everton news, see our exclusive with Kevin Campbell on the potential exit of Jonjoe Kenny.