Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Chris Beesley

Sean Dyche has dilemma over who is Everton's best striker as Ellis Simms stakes claim to start

In one fell swoop Ellis Simms not only netted his first Premier League goal at Chelsea but drew level in the scoring stakes with all of Everton’s other strikers this season. But after his heroics off the bench at Stamford Bridge, is he now pushing to be the team's first choice?

Demarai Gray is the Blues’ top scorer in the Premier League this term on four but only one of these goals came when he was being deployed up front – from the penalty spot at Nottingham Forest – while the other two centre-forwards at Sean Dyche’s disposal, Neal Maupay and the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, have just one goal to their name each against West Ham United and Crystal Palace respectively.

It’s a sorry tale for any club, let alone one that has a rich heritage of prolific goalscorers, including the most-prolific marksman of all, Dixie Dean, who plundered a record-breaking 60 league goals in the 1927/28 title-winning campaign. But who is offered what for Everton when it comes to their attacking options?

READ MORE: Dele Alli breaks silence after Besiktas boss claims Everton midfielder 'missing'

READ MORE: Everton talent retired at 21, lost years to cocaine but has turned life around

A statistical examination of the quartet’s performances by Comparisonator throws up some intriguing results (although Gray has played 23 matches, his figures are taken from the eight occasions he has been deemed to be leading the line). Wary that his team need to find more ways of scoring given that they’re still averaging less than a goal per game (they’re now on 22 from 28 matches, although their ratio has increased from 0.75 under Frank Lampard to 0.88), Dyche has spoken on several occasions of what he calls “the bliss to miss”.

The new Blues boss insists he’s not going to chastise his players for failing to score so long as they’re getting in the right positions to do so and he wants them to increase their opportunities. Given that, Simms is actually ahead of his team-mates when it comes to shots per 90 minutes on the pitch with 2.67, followed by Maupay on 2.01; Gray (1.56) and Calvert-Lewin (1.51).

Although Everton’s number nine has only played in the first hour of Dyche’s reign when he spurned at least three good opportunities to fins the net before leaving the 1-0 home win over Arsenal with a hamstring problem, the club’s management team will surely want the club’s most high-profile striker to start having more efforts than his current return whenever he does finally return to fitness. Calvert-Lewin also has the lowest return for shots on target (0.47), a category that Maupay tops among the group as the only one to average more than one a game (1.14); followed by Gray (0.85) and Simms (0.67).

Gray, brought in from his usual role down the flanks, is the busiest of the players with 6.39 attacking actions per 90 minutes, ahead of Calvert-Lewin (4.19), Simms (4) and Maupay (3.5), and supporting Dyche’s theory that you’ve got to buy a ticket to win the lottery, he also has the greatest number of successful attacking actions (2.41) to top Calvert-Lewin (1.86); Maupay (1.66) and Simms (1.33). When collating all this data, Maupay is deemed to have the greatest expected goals figure (0.4) just edging out Simms (0.39) while Calvert-Lewin is on 0.26 and Gray 0.23.

Speaking to the ECHO this week, Simms’ schoolboy football coach highlighted how he was always a good team player even as a youngster and that kind of approach is borne out in his passing statistics. Not only is the 22-year-old making more passes in the final third (11.33) than his older team-mates - Gray (11.21); Calvert-Lewin (9.42) and Maupay (6.92) - they’re hitting the spot too in terms of successful passes in the final third (8) compared to Gray’s 7.95, Calvert-Lewin’s 6.05 and Maupay’s 4.99.

It’s a similar story for key passes and successful key passes as Simms has a 100% success rate with his 1.33 for both compared to Gray’s 0.28 from 0.57, Calvert-Lewin’s 0.23 from 0.47 and Maupay’s 0.18 from 0.35. Simms also contests more offensive duels (20.67) than any of the others with Calvert-Lewin on 19.88, Gray 17.18 and Maupay 14.53. But Calvert-Lewin’s position as the club’s established target man is displayed by averaging 7.79 offensive duels won with Simms posting 6.67, Gray 3.69 and Maupay 3.33.

Overall, the figures show as we’d as already thought that Everton’s four centre-forward options offer varying attributes but considering that he’s by far the least-experienced of the quartet in terms of Premier League matches, Simms’ contributions seem to stack up well, particularly against Calvert-Lewin, the closest like-for-like equivalent and player who we keep hearing the Blues should be pinning their Premier League survival hopes upon.

What Dyche might insist, though, is that apart from that aforementioned 60-minute run-out against the Gunners, Everton’s number nine hasn’t operated within his evolving side, and that if the England international can get himself fit and firing again then the new manager might be able to start getting the best out of him after what has been an immensely frustrating season so far from a personal point of view.

Comparisonator is a football data comparison tool from 271 professional leagues around the world which compares players and clubs by utilising over 100 different parameters. Click here for more details.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.