Earlier in the season, Everton were playing in exactly the right manner for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to thrive in his new role.
Of course the striker deserves huge amounts of credit for how much he honed his talents over the course of 2020, and you don’t need me to tell you again on just how much his game has altered over the last 12 months.
But the beginning of this campaign showed a Blues side almost perfectly set up for a striker adept with one-touch finishes and heading ability to truly find his groove.
Calvert-Lewin raced out to the top of the goalscoring charts in the Premier League, earned himself a senior England call up and truly established himself as a hugely improving prospect.
Things have been a little different recently, however, even with Everton picking up some fantastic results.
And, against West Ham United on Friday evening, the performance perfectly summed up the rough that will come with the smooth for the young striker.
In their attempts to fill the gaps left by important players over recent weeks Everton have reverted to a much more solid style.
Less chances are being created, less opportunities are being allowed to the opposition at the same time.
Importantly, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have generally been fairly clinical in front of goal still and that’s how they went into their New Year’s Day fixture with four straight victories under their belt.
Perhaps on this occasion though, the fatigue of the Christmas period begun to sink in. The Blues looked too flat, devoid of creativity or energy in the final third and never really looked like breaking down a resolute visiting defence.
For Calvert-Lewin, ultimately that will have been very frustrating.
There have been matches this term in which he hasn’t been really involved all that much, but has always been in the right place at the right time to convert an opportunity he knew would fall his way,
Against West Ham, that wasn’t the case.
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In fact, we saw the 23-year-old revert in some ways to his old style of play while leading the line at the top end of the pitch.
He was running the channels much more than we have seen him do this season. He was dropping back to almost a central midfield position at times in a bid to pick up possession and attempt to create chances.
They’re admirable traits of course and his work rate will continue to impress fans, but that’s not the job that has made him so successful this term.
However, it was the responsibility he felt he needed to take on his shoulders in this circumstance. Everton’s creative players were not at the races on a chilly evening at Goodison Park, a chance wasn’t necessarily going to fall the way of the striker if he didn’t attempt to fashion one himself.
Blues fans haven’t seen Calvert-Lewin perform in this way for some time because he hasn’t needed to.
His tireless efforts were ended in the 79 minute as he was replaced by Cenk Tosun, no doubt disappointed that he couldn’t create the game-wining opportunity.
*Who was your MOTM against West Ham? Cast your vote here.
Calvert-Lewin has been crucial for Everton this season. Even though he hasn’t scored since the draw with Burnley almost a month ago, he continues to be just as influential.
But perhaps the absences of the likes of Lucas Digne and James Rodriguez, usually so adept at putting crosses into the box and finding the striker, are starting to show somewhat.
To have the 23-year-old at the top of his game, Everton need to give him the right service.
Against West Ham, that couldn’t have been further from being the case at times.