Few would have expected Dominic Calvert-Lewin to have scored 11 goals in his opening 11 Premier League appearances of 2020-21, but the Everton striker has become one of the hottest properties in English football.
There is enough evidence to suggest we are witnessing the breakthrough of a future superstar, with Calvert-Lewin’s performances under the management of Carlo Ancelotti being nothing short of spectacular.
Since Ancelotti first took charge of Everton on Boxing Day 2019, Calvert-Lewin has scored 19 Premier League goals – a joint-high tally in the competition alongside Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Unlike his Merseyside rival, however, the English forward hasn’t netted any of his goals from the penalty spot.
Since Ancelotti’s first game in charge of Everton almost 12 months ago, the only two players to have scored more non-penalty goals than Calvert-Lewin across the top five European leagues are Bundesliga pair Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland. The Everton striker has also scored the most headed goals in the Premier League over this period (6), with only Montpellier’s Andy Delort netting more with his head overall (7).
So, what has Ancelotti done to make Calvert-Lewin such a feared striker in the Premier League?
Looking at the 23-year-old’s Premier League record under each manager at Everton, it seems clear that not only does Ancelotti’s tactical style suit Calvert-Lewin, but it has enabled him to play to his personal strengths as the target man that Everton need.
Under Ancelotti, he’s his best minutes-per-goal ratio, best shot conversion rate and has attempted shots at goal more frequently. In turn, this has improved his Expected Goals per 90 minutes average and the average quality of chance in front of goal (xG per shot).
As seen in the xG maps above, the areas in which he’s able to attempt shots has dramatically improved over time with each manager, with a heavy representation of great quality shots inside the central areas of the box under Ancelotti – more specifically inside the six-yard box.
In fact, under the Italian, he’s scored nine goals from inside the six-yard box in the Premier League – a tally that is four more than any other player in this period.
One reason for his upturn in goalscoring opportunities is the fact Ancelotti is deploying him as a classic number nine.
Calvert-Lewin has seen his average touches per 90 minutes drop under the Italian’s management, but at the same time seen more of the ball inside the opposition goal area.
Fifteen per cent of his touches have been inside the penalty box since Ancelotti took charge, a big increase from previous managers.
When compared to other Premier League strikers since Ancelotti arrived at Goodison Park, Calvert-Lewin is one of the standouts.
His non-penalty xG per 90 (0.62) is the third best in the Premier League of all players to have played at least 1000 minutes since Boxing Day 2019, behind only Tammy Abraham (0.67) and Michail Antonio (0.65). However, his non-penalty goals per 90 average of 0.65 is the best of these three.
When analysing the top five European Leagues over this period, Calvert-Lewin’s record is even more impressive given the quality of the competition and the clubs they play for.
How far could Ancelotti take Calvert-Lewin? The Italian has been in charge of some of the biggest clubs in Europe and managed some world class strikers. Could the Englishman be next?
Of players to have scored 10+ top-flight league goals during Ancelotti’s managerial career, only seven have managed a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Calvert-Lewin.
He is averaging goals at the same rate as Didier Drogba did in the Premier League during Ancelotti’s reign at Chelsea over 2009-10 and 2010-11 and of all the players in the list above, only David Trezeguet was as young as Calvert-Lewin.
With Everton hosting Chelsea this weekend, it’ll be a strong test for Calvert-Lewin against a Chelsea side with the joint-most clean sheets (5) and lowest xG against tally (8.7) in the Premier League so far in 2020-21. Based on his strong start under the Italian, it’ll be a test that he will be relishing.