Talking Tactics

Calvert-Lewin has strength to trouble leaders

By Adrian Clarke 12 May 2023
Dominic Calvert-Lewin Leicester v Everton

Adrian Clarke says return of Everton centre-forward will pose problems for Man City on Sunday

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 36.

Player analysis - Dominic Calvert-Lewin (EVE)

Calvert-Lewin is tailor-made for Sean Dyche’s style of play, so it should be no surprise the striker has been one of the catalysts for Everton’s reinvigorated form. 

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The 26-year-old’s physical strength, aerial power and deceptive pace always makes him an outlet for the Toffees to spring counter-attacks. 

This has come to the fore against Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion, where Everton have picked up four precious points and scored seven goals in the process.

Chances will be harder to fashion against leaders Manchester City on Sunday, but Calvert-Lewin’s physicality can make him a real handful for Pep Guardiola’s side. 

Playing to his strengths

Dyche was always going to adopt a more direct approach than predecessor Frank Lampard

When you compare the ratio of passes that have gone "long" with Calvert-Lewin in the starting XI under both head coaches the difference is evident.

Jumping from 14.1 per cent to 21.3 per cent, Dyche is more willing to shape his approach around his tall centre-forward. When Calvert-Lewin has been unavailable for Dyche the figure drops to 18.6 per cent. 

With Calvert-Lewin as their focal point Everton have been able to make those forward passes stick with greater regularity. 

Feeding off second balls, flicks and lay-offs, it has helped the likes of Dwight McNeil, Alex Iwobi and Abdoulaye Doucoure make more of an impact, too. 

All three players have scored in the last two fixtures. 

Dyche’s brand of football suits Calvert-Lewin and in turn the rest of the side when he is fit and available. 

Everton’s shots and expected goals per 90 minutes have been considerably higher when Dyche has used the striker, compared with when Calvert-Lewin played under Lampard. 

Everton with Calvert-Lewin 22/23
Manager xG Shots Long pass %
Lampard 0.9 7.5 14.1%
Dyche 1.7 13.6 21.3%
A different test for City

The challenge for Dyche and his players will be to trying to impose their style on an opponent with as much quality as City. 

In his first match in charge, a 1-0 win at home to then leaders Arsenal, they did succeed in this, turning the contest into the type of match which suited them. 

Everton unsettled the Gunners’ rhythm on the ball, gained territory quickly, and asked awkward questions of the visiting defenders. 

From a tactical perspective, Dyche will want to test the resolve of City’s defensive players and take them outside of their comfort zone. 

This will mean firing as many high balls, channel passes and crosses in the direction of Calvert-Lewin as they can. 

As the table below shows, City’s defenders are not accustomed to experiencing a high volume of aerial duels. 

Guardiola’s defenders are strong in the air, but cracks may appear if they are forced into dealing with a stream of crosses or longer balls. 

DCL v City defence per 90 22/23
Player Aerial duels Aerial duels won
Calvert-Lewin 10.6 5.0
Dias 3.3 2.1
Ake 2.8 1.7
Stones 2.5 1.7
Akanji 2.3 1.0
Walker 1.6 1.1

Calvert-Lewin is the division’s strongest target man in the air, so containing his threat is sure to be an examination for them. 

Top forwards for aerial success 22/23
Forward Aerial duels won/90
Calvert-Lewin 4.99
Mitrovic 4.61
Moore 4.56
Toney 3.32
Adams 2.75
Also in this series

Part 1: How Jorginho has benefited from defensive change
Part 2: Harrison and Rodrigo can put Leeds on the front foot
Part 3: Fabinho finding form at right time to stop Maddison

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