Their highest performing defender in terms of match rating according to SofaScore, Michael Keane (6.92), has been frequently criticised throughout the year, and calls for him to be dropped are becoming more and more regular.
Having made two errors which have led to goals in the top flight this season, with Ben Godfrey having made an additional one, and neither Mason Holgate or Yerry Mina covering themselves in too much glory either this season, manager Frank Lampard is running short on players at the back that he can consistently trust.
He will also be wishing that the club didn’t sell 6 foot 4 Shane Duffy back in 2014, when he joined Blackburn for just £1.7m after failing to convince then-manager Roberto Martinez – with him now becoming a solid Premier League defender at Brighton where he has averaged an average match rating of 7.13 – higher than every single Everton player.
Speaking on Premier Sports TV at the start of the month, former Republic of Ireland players Shay Given and Kenny Cunningham praised their compatriot for reviving his career at the South-Coast club.
“I’ll give him credit, he turned things around at the start of the season in the summer and won over the manager,” said Cunningham.
“He got a run in the team but he’s been out of the team since then, and he had a rough time against Burnley a few weeks ago. But he’s got an opportunity with Webster out of the team.”
Given then added: “He worked hard at the start of the season, but recently his form has dipped slightly, like Brighton’s… But I think on his day in both boxes, he’s a massive part of this team.”
Duffy ranks in the top 1% among central defenders in Europe’s top five leagues and continental competitions for aerials won per 90 (5.08) and percentage of aerials won per 90 (77.9%), stats that no doubt would be useful in Frank Lampard’s team right now.
With Everton currently in a relegation scrap, Lampard would have loved to have a player like the 51-time Republic of Ireland international at his disposal, and his experience, leadership and dominating presence would have added some crucial stability in the Merseyside club’s backline.