Everton’s Australia tour: Attacking solutions, transition success and shining Price


Anthony Gordon scored a hat-trick as Everton finished their tour of Australia with a morale-boosting 5-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers. 

Frank Lampard’s side needed penalties to beat Celtic over the weekend but started more strongly at the CommBank Stadium, with Neal Maupay opening the scoring from Nathan Patterson’s cross. 

Ramy Najjarine equalised from distance against the run of play, but Everton responded well. Gordon put them back in the lead 12 minutes later before scoring two more in the second half around a first senior goal from academy graduate Tom Cannon. 

The Athletic looks at some of the main talking points from the trip. 

A new way?

One of the main aims during the tour has been finding solutions in attack given Everton’s first 15 league games of the season have yielded a paltry 11 goals. 

Lampard has not been helped by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s injury problems, but this is not just on the strikers. Their accumulated expected goals (xG) total of 15.5 highlights a lack of creativity as much as clinical edge. Both need addressing if Everton are to pull clear of danger. 

“We’re so focused on coming up with the ideas because goals win games,” said first-team coach Ashley Cole. “We are trying new ideas out on the training pitch and hopefully we see the benefits.”

Lampard experimented on tour, playing three in defence against Celtic and reverting back to the usual 4-3-3 on Tuesday. The move to 3-4-3 was partially necessary due to a lack of options in central midfield. Everton were stilted in their play against Ange Postecoglu’s side, threatening only in fits and starts, but regained some fluidity against more inferior opposition. 

They hope Calvert-Lewin will be fit to return against Wolves on December 26, but the need for something different when he is not there is clear. In Maupay, Lampard has an entirely different kind of striker, one accustomed to Brighton’s possession-based game. 


Neal Maupay offers a different threat from Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Photo: Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Everton have often looked like a team set up to play to Calvert-Lewin’s strengths, even when the England international is not there, so it is tempting to put down Maupay’s slow start at Goodison Park to a lack of adequate service as much as any failings on his part.

Maupay needs an altogether different kind of supply. He is never going to rise above or power past defenders. He is not blessed with either the pace or physicality of his colleague, so the long ball is redundant. Instead, he is at his best finding space around the box. His goal came from clever movement and a pinpoint cross, and he threatened from range on a couple of other occasions after being picked out with incisive passes through the lines. 

Everton know they need to address their lack of threat in January, having been thwarted in their attempts to do so over the summer, but this was a step forward at least in terms of understanding how to get the best out of Maupay. 



Everton are sliding into a crisis – so how does Lampard fix things?

A side in transition — in all senses

After last season’s heavy dose of largely pragmatic football, Everton have struggled to get to grips with Lampard’s more proactive style this term. The burden on Idrissa Gueye as the sole No 6 has been overwhelming, and they have had trouble building from the back and in transition.

Both issues were evident again on Tuesday. Najjarine’s goal came as he exploited space in between the lines before a sloppy pass from Abdoulaye Doucoure almost resulted in Wanderers taking the lead. 

Above all, Lampard’s system requires players who can handle the ball, particularly in midfield. But after years of moving in a different, more pragmatic direction, this is still not a squad fully equipped to do what he wants. 

Instead, most of Everton’s best work offensively came in transition. Although they looked to build from the back, Lampard used the passing quality of Isaac Price and Dwight McNeil in central areas to spring his pacy attackers. Gordon, in particular, thrived in the space — he and Gray are at their best when they can isolate opposing full-backs. 

It is an approach that suits this group of players and may be Lampard’s best chance of success until he can add further quality in future windows. 

Price stakes his claim

The big winner from Everton’s tour was teenage midfielder Price. 

The 19-year-old has slotted in seamlessly to the first-team environment, impressing coaching staff and team-mates with his all-round game. A chance presented itself on tour, in part due to the absence of several regulars, and he seized it. 

A standout against Celtic, Price impressed again from a position at the base of midfield. Sensing his comfort in possession, defenders trusted him to receive the ball under pressure in tight areas. He was competitive in the tackle — a little too competitive at times— passed short and long well and showed his ability to surge past players. 

Isaac Price

Isaac Price showed he is ready for first-team minutes (Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images for Bursty)

Although capable of playing as a No 6, he has excelled this season further forward for the under-21s, adding goals to his game. The arrival of Seb Quirk, his partner at under-21 level, late in the second half, allowed him to showcase the more attacking elements in his game. 

With his contract due to expire over the summer, Everton hope to tie Price to a new deal. Opportunities like this will help their cause, but they will need to show him that the pathway is still there when their internationals return.  

On this evidence, first-team minutes should not be too far away.

(Top photo: Steve Christo – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)


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