It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The decision by Everton’s billionaire majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to spend £134m on new players this summer was designed to help the squad hold their own against the Premier League elite. In spite of the departure of Romelu Lukaku, the club’s fans hoped that after finishing seventh in the league last season, the club were ready to gatecrash the division’s ‘big six’ teams.
Following the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal, there was speculation that striker Olivier Giroud would leave to join the Toffees. Signing the Frenchman would have been a major coup for the club. The move never materialised though and in his absence Everton’s squad looks woefully unbalanced. Boss Ronald Koeman has numerous options at 10, but few out-and-out number nines. Consequently, they have wonderful passers of the ball who are capable of creating chances, yet without a reliable goalscorer on the end of them, the team have failed to pose much of an attacking threat.
Giroud would have provided this crucial focal point. While he was scoring his 100th goal for the Gunners last night, Everton started their Europa League tie with Sandro Ramirez up front. The Spaniard is not proving to be the bargain the fans had hoped and he has yet to score in nine matches for the club.
Everton’s draw at home against Cypriot minnows Apollon Limassol was their first point in this year’s competition. They remain rooted to the bottom of Group E and Koeman summed up the performance by saying his team were “afraid to play football”. Last weekend against Bournemouth the Dutchman had to rely upon a brace from Oumar Niasse to secure Everton’s first league win since the opening weekend of the season. The striker was previously regarded as surplus to requirements, yet the club’s paucity of attacking options has led to the 27-year-old’s reintegration into the squad. The victory lifted the Toffees up to 14th in the table and Koeman said he thought the result could be a defining moment in Everton’s season.
Last night’s performance suggests it was a false dawn.