View: 0 crosses, 17 ball losses - DCL absence has major effect on Everton senior star v Fulham
Lucas Digne is so often the magic man for Everton but his Fulham shocker proved just how much he relies upon Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The Blues spluttered big time at Goodison Park on Sunday as the lowly Cottagers took them to task in a display that belied the substantial points gap between the two sides.
This was supposed to be an Everton side high on confidence after Wednesday’s FA Cup success over Tottenham Hotspur ensured they entered the game on a run of just one defeat in eight while the visitors had not tasted Premier League success since November 30.
However Fulham threw the form book out of the window to win 2-0 as the Blues produced arguably their worst performance of the season and there were a whole host of performers culpable.
At Goodison News we have chosen to highlight Digne’s display with the usually reliable defender churning out a disasterclass that was not in keeping with his usual high standards.
It was clear from the eye that Digne had a nightmare but there are also a number of statistics to back up this assertion.
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According to Wyscout he was only successful in 57% of total actions which falls well below his season average of 66.7%, so what exactly went wrong?
Well, along with most of his teammates, Digne’s attacking output was almost non-existent as he scored zero for xG and xA.
Digne is heralded as one of the best crossers in the Premier League and for good reason with an average of 5.23 per 90 at a 33% completion rate in all competitions.
Indeed only Trent Alexander Arnold produces more per 90 in the Premier League this season than Digne’s 6.3 and he is in the top 30 most accurate crossers.
However he failed to complete a single one of his five attempts on Sunday as he felt the effect of no recognised striker in the Everton starting XI.
His partnership with Calvert-Lewin is one of the best duos in the league and they have combined for numerous goals in recent years with the French international laying the ball on a plate for the striker to finish off.
Calvert-Lewin was absent from the Goodison Park clash with a hamstring complaint and this looks to have thrown off Digne who has only failed to complete a cross once before this season.
That was against Wolves on January 12 and yes, you guessed it, Calvert-Lewin was not playing in that game either.
The England international has played in 20 of Everton’s 22 Premier League games this season while Digne has featured 14 times.
So, 12 games with Digne and Calvert-Lewin has seen the 27-year-old be successful with a cross while the two occasions he has been without the Blues main man he has failed to register one – it’s not rocket science.
He was also unsuccessful with 52% of his forward passes (second-lowest of the season) and failed to make a pass into the penalty area for only the second league game of the campaign.
But that does not excuse Digne from other parts of his game that were noticeably on the wane v Fulham.
It was one of his poorest defensive games this season with a defensive duel success of 43% something he has only managed worse in one other league game (his average is 55.4%).
The left-back also lost the ball 17 times – against only Liverpool on October 17 has he given it away more times (19).
The absence of Calvert-Lewin v Fulham was a big blow his importance to the team is no secret with his 13 Premier League goals making up more than a third of the Blues’ total of 34.
Digne’s whipped balls from the left into him are such an important facet of Everton’s game under Carlo Ancelotti and without a recognised striker leading the line this is always likely to suffer.
But we still expect more from one of the best full back’s in Europe and this performance should be an outlier rather than a regular occurrence.
It’s time for Digne to step up and prove the Blues are not a one-man team.
In other Everton news, fans react to Mason Holgate display v Fulham.