Everton continued their push for European football with an impressive win against the team who sit one place behind them in the Premier League, West Brom. It was Romelu Lukaku, the man who has been in spectacular form as of late, who led the Toffees to victory.
Coming into the game, the Belgian striker had six goals in his last five games, including four against Bournemouth in a match that finished 6-3. The player extended this good run with a goal and an assist against West Brom and could have easily scored more if his finishing was better.
Many of the plaudits Lukaku gained early in his career were due to his fantastic goal-scoring form at West Brom during a loan spell in the 2012/13 season. Playing against his former club, the Belgian was a threat all game and proved too much for the Baggies to handle.
Lukaku was unlucky not to grab a goal in the 16th minute. Clean through after being released by Gareth Barry, the 23-year-old dragged his shot centimetres wide of the post, sending an early warning to Tony Pulis and his men.
His assist for Morgan Schneiderlin’s goal was a particularly good bit of play. Initially coming short, he then span off his defender and stretched West Brom’s defence.
Receiving the ball with very little support, the Belgian used his strength, control, and footwork to get away from two defenders before picking out Schneiderlin, who polished off a fantastic breakaway goal that effectively killed the game.
Doubts about Lukaku’s hold-up and link-up play have been aired in the past, but watching the game against the Baggies, it is clear the player has made vast improvements in this area of his game. Whether it be a simple one-two, clever movement, or a flick, Lukaku was consistently able to find his teammates in dangerous areas.
He was finally rewarded for his hard work late in the game with a typical striker’s goal. The Belgian made the most of a hopeful cross, pinning his man before getting some space and heading the ball away from the hapless Forster. A goal that cements Lukaku’s position as Everton’s all-time leading top scorer in the Premier League.
Ronald Koeman will be delighted with his star man’s performance in an important game which now sees Everton go seven points clear of the team below them. Providing the team suffer no major slip-ups, European football looks a near-certainty for the Toffees next season, which would be a great achievement for Koeman in his first season in charge.
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Everton signing Rodrigo at £35m would undermine Cenk Tosun position
The Spaniard has been linked with a move to Everton over the weekend.
Reports today have suggested that Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion are all keeping tabs on Valencia striker Rodrigo.
Calciomercato claim Rodrigo is wanted by all three clubs who are looking to bolster their attacking options.
The report also mentions his whopping €120 million (£105.4 million) release clause. Everton, though, are expected to start their bidding at around €40 million (£35 million).
Rodrigo is a fine striker. This season the Spanish international has netted 16 goals in 35 games for Valencia and he could head to the World Cup with Spain in the summer.
But, for Everton, his signing would only further undermine the man they finally brought in to replace Romelu Lukaku in January.
It has not been plain sailing for Turkish striker Cenk Tosun since his Goodison Park arrival. Signed for a fee reported to be in the region of £27 million by the BBC, Tosun has had to wait for his chance under Sam Allardyce.
That tactic now appears to be paying off dividends with Tosun scoring four goals in his last three games for the Toffees.
Next season, after a full pre-season schedule, Tosun will rightfully expect to be the undisputed starting striker at Everton.
No doubt, the Merseyside club could look to bring in other strikers, but splashing out this amount on a player like Rodrigo would send the wrong message to Tosun.
Rodrigo, who spent time on loan at Bolton Wanderers earlier in his career, will not be willing to play second fiddle to Tosun. Everton will also not want to pay that sort of money for him if that’s the case.
Everton should instead give Tosun a try. With the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Oumar Niasse and Ademola Lookman in reserve, they would have a good striking department without any recruits.
Spending so much money on Rodrigo would just seem a lavish expense for a side that would do better bringing in someone lower key, and lower priced.
After shock international call is Antonee Robinson a future Everton star
The defender has been in good form for Bolton Wanderers this season.
Bolton Wanderers have recently seen one of their players called up to international duty for the first time. Antonee Robinson has been included in the senior USA squad for the upcoming fixture against Paraguay
The left-back was born in Milton Keynes but his father is from New York state so qualifies for the USMNT. Robinson has previously played for the USA under-18 side and received a call-up to the under-20s but this is his first senior call.
For Everton fans, it will be a sign of the excellent work he has been putting in with the Championship strugglers. Robinson is on a season long loan at the Macron Stadium from Everton.
The 20-year-old has been a revelation for the Trotters, performing brilliantly and featuring in 26 league games this campaign. Despite recently losing his place to the more experienced Andrew Taylor it has been an excellent campaign for Robinson.
Everton must be keeping track of his development, especially considering that left-back is a position that they need to improve.
This season has seen Cuco Martina play out of position to fill the role. Leighton Baines is still an excellent operator, as he is shown since his return from injury. The issue however is that Baines seems to be picking up injuries on far to regular a basis for Everton’s liking.
Robinson therefore could be the answer on the long-term. There has been talk of Everton diving into the transfer market to fill the role but in the 20-year-old the Toffees have a potential long-term replacement.
Everton have a long history of bringing through young talent and at the moment have a queue of youngsters knocking at the first-team door.
One of those players is Robinson. Considering the problem area that is left-back, it should not be ruled out that Robinson is a potential solution to Everton’s positional trouble.
Sam Allardyce deserves credit for Cenk Tosun treatment
The Turkish international has four goals in his last three games.
Everton can now start building for next season, with the win v Stoke City this weekend. Despite their early season woes, Everton have survived, with the 2-1 win against the Potters Everton have moved to the traditionally safe 40 point mark. One man who is also finally finding his feet at Everton is Turkish striker Cenk Tosun. He scored both of Everton’s goals in the important win.
Signed from Besiktas in January the Turkish international was sidelined by Sam Allardyce early on at Goodison Park. Tosun, who according to Sky Sports cost £27 million, was often named among the substitutes with Oumar Niasse preferred up front. Allardyce explained he was easing Tosun into life in the Premier League, much to the annoyance of some Everton fans.
However, it appears to have worked. Speaking after the game yesterday Allardyce had this to say about his striker:
“The confidence he has gained now from us taking him out early doors [has helped], when everyone was saying ‘you’re not playing him’ – you know, the usual rubbish you get from outside the football club. But, of course, they don’t know. I do, they don’t. We wanted to get him fitter and more used to the players he was playing with.”
It has to be said, Allardyce might be right. Tosun has been brilliant in recent weeks. Adding to his two goals against Stoke the 26-year-old has scored in the recent defeat v Burnley and win against Brighton. Tosun, who scored eight times in 16 league games for Besiktas this season, is finally finding his feet.
Allardyce’s plan all along was to ensure Tosun did not have a struggle early on. If Tosun had been thrown into the first-team, which was playing poorly, with immediate effect it could have been detrimental.
One game without a goal becomes two, then three, then four and so on. Instead Everton ensured that Tosun was comfortable in the team set-up and fit for Premier League action.
Now they are reaping the benefits with Tosun in fine goalscoring form.
If he can keep up his current form it will not be a surprise if he manages to find his way to double figures for Everton this season. That would be a phenomenal feat and one which would certainly validate Big Sam’s often criticised decision.
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