Everton must risk starting Dwight McNeil against Arsenal after Sheffield United cameo
Sean Dyche must risk starting Dwight McNeil when Everton return to Premier League action against Arsenal, following the winger’s return from injury.
Having appeared from the bench in the Toffees 2-2 draw with Sheffield United just before the international break, the former Burnley wide man has been pictured in training with Sean Dyche’s side looking fully fit and full of smiles (Liverpool Echo, 14 September) ahead of the clash with Mikel Arteta’s side on Sunday (17 September).
In what was a dreadful season for Everton last term, McNeil showed his worth for the Toffees, finishing as the top goalscorer at Goodison Park, finding the net seven times in the Premier League while registering three assists.
Dyche’s side have struggled for goals in the early stages of the season, having to wait until their fourth match of the campaign at Bramall Lane to score their first league goal and having last season’s top scorer involved from the start would help their hopes of getting a result.
Despite their poor form in front of goal, the Toffees sit seventh in the division for non-penalty expected goals so far this season (Squawka, 12 September), so need someone to put away the opportunities they’re creating. McNeil is more than capable of being that man, having nearly covered double his xG last year of 3.53 [Fotmob].
Creatively, having the 23-year-old in the side will be a huge boost as well. In his 36 Premier League appearances in the 2022/23 season, he created 49 chances for his teammates and a tall forward like Beto would thrive off the sort of crosses McNeil is capable of.
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With Alex Iwobi now a Fulham player and Demarai Gray playing in Saudi Arabia, Arnaut Danjuma is the primary alternative to McNeil to operate from the left-flank, but should the former Burnley man return it would allow Danjuma to operate closer to the striker.
In what will be a tough test against a very good Arsenal side, Dyche will need to have players that he can trust to do their defensive duty in every position. Having worked with McNeil both at Goodison and Turf Moor, there are few players more likely to play in the Everton boss’ style better than the winger.
Assuming he is fully fit and ready to play from the start, there is no reason why McNeil should not feature from the start at Goodison Park on Sunday.