With the latest international break now over, Everton can turn their attention back to finally ending their four-game winless streak in the Premier League.
A 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur prior to the two-week stoppage halted a run of three consecutive defeats, but a return of one point from a possible 12 still makes for grim reading.
However, the Toffees’ recent form has been in sharp contrast to their early-season exploits.
Rafa Benitez’s charges climbed up into a European qualification place after losing just one of their opening seven top-flight fixtures, sparking hope that they could finally challenge the top teams in the upper echelons of English football.
Nevertheless, a string of injuries to key players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Abdoulaye Doucoure soon brought the Merseyside outfit crashing back down to earth.
With summer signing Salomon Rondon failing to find the back of the net, and Mason Holgate struggling at the back, Benitez’s problems spread throughout the pitch, but arguably none have been as big as his engine room woes.
Doucoure was in the form of his life prior to his fitness setback, scoring two goals and providing a further four assists in just eight outings as he catapulted the Blues up the Premier League standings.
His enforced absence left Benitez with a set of problems to solve, and the 61-year-old has so far struggled to come up with the answers.
Tom Davies was first trialled alongside Allan in central midfield against Watford, and despite his early goal, was sacrificed the following weeks after the Hornets handed out a humiliating 5-2 thrashing.
The unfortunate Jean-Philippe Gbamin then got his chance in the trip to face Wolves, but he looked every bit a player who had featured just four times in the last two years in the opening 45 minutes at Molineux and was substituted at half-time.
Former England international Fabian Delph was his replacement, and the tough-tackling dynamo has certainly been an improvement on his predecessors.
Delph’s commitment, tactical intelligence and full-blooded nature have helped Everton to stop the rot, yet his physical and technical attributes remain far inferior to that of the £22.5m-rated Doucoure’s, limiting Everton’s attacking threat in the final third of the pitch.
The former France U21 international has the ability to revive Everton’s season and resurrect dreams of a top-six finish, his manager just needs to be brave enough to throw him back in at the deep end.