Everton head into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Fulham without top goalscorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, after the striker, suffered a minor hamstring strain. Calvert-Lewin picked up the injury during Wednesday’s FA Cup win over Tottenham. While the injury isn’t a long setback for the Toffees, it’s a disappointing blow.
The England international has scored 13 goals in 20 league appearances this season, helping Everton up to seventh in the league. It’s a relatively comfortable position to be in at this stage, given they are just four points adrift of the top four and have two games in hand on their rivals.
Against Fulham, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti will have several options up his sleeve to accommodate for Calvert-Lewin’s absence. Among them will be new signing Joshua King, who was a late addition to the ranks on deadline day last month.
King, 29, arrived from Bournemouth on an initial six-month deal, with the option to extend the deal further at the end of the season. A Norwegian international, the attacker has seen just 12 minutes of Premier League action since his arrival at Goodison Park, but he could be in line to make his first start on Sunday.
Primarily a centre-forward, King has also been utilised as a left-winger; though Everton’s central vacancy means King should be able to adapt his traditional role.
So what can Everton fans look forward to?
King struggled to find form in the Championship this season, failing to register either a goal or an assist from 12 league appearances. Bournemouth was relegated from the Premier League last season, though King managed six goals and four assists.
It might not sound like the most impressive statistic, but if you consider those goals came from just 13 shots on target, it’s a fairly decent conversion rate. King does have a prolific streak hidden away too, having struck gold in 2016-17 with 16 goals. If he can replicate that kind of form at Everton, then it will ease the burden on Calvert-Lewin.
Recruiting a prolific goalscorer has been somewhat of a prolonged struggle for Everton in recent seasons. Since the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United in 2017, Everton has lacked that goalscoring presence.
They made a healthy profit from the sale with an initial fee of £75 million, but the re-investment from multiple managers failed to come up with the goods. Then-manager Ronald Koeman’s first point of call was to draft in Sandro Ramirez for £5.2 million.
However, Sandro scored only once in 16 appearances before being sold in a permanent deal last summer. When Sam Allardyce took the reins in November 2017, a £27.5 million January splurge sourced striker Cenk Tosun.
The Turkey international also struggled to establish himself on the Premier League scene and is currently on loan at Besiktas. He has scored 11 goals in 58 appearances.
In the summer of 2018, meanwhile, Marco Silva then brought in Richarlison from Watford for £35 million. The Brazilian has been a much bigger success than his predecessors, but Everton still lacked that strong, centre-forward presence.
Silva then added promising youngster Moise Kean a year later, but it was a case of same old, same old, with Kean now on loan at Paris Saint-Germain.
As history suggests, Everton has spent a considerable amount on new strikers without any lasting return. It’s about time they ended that slump, but can King provide that? At least, in this case, King moves without the spotlight of a big fee; though he will still largely play second fiddle to Calvert-Lewin in a central role.
King possesses a mean burst of pace, is a good dribbler, and can play anywhere across the front three, which is understandably why Ancelotti signed him. He also has strong defensive qualities, which suits such a team that presses from the front.
All in all, it appears as though Ancelotti has bagged himself a quality player and one that suits his side very well. Hopefully, he can hit the ground running with an impressive display against Fulham, whom he turned down to sign for Everton on deadline day.