Carlo Ancelotti is set for his first major test of the season as a potential injury to star forward Richarlison could derail Everton’s unbeaten start.
Richarlison has been one of Everton’s standout players in the new campaign, with the Brazilian helping himself to four goals and two assists across all competitions – only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (eight goals, no assists) has been involved in more.
But in a cruel twist during the Toffees’ Carabao Cup rout of West Ham United on Wednesday night, Richarlison was forced off nursing what the Liverpool Echo suspect to be an ankle injury.
The 23-year-old appeared to be in real discomfort early in the second-half moments after striking the back of the net to restore Everton’s one-goal advantage, having tracked back to aid his teammates in preventing Ben Johnson from fashioning an instant reply.
Richarlison attempted to carry on deeper into the Round of 16 tie but fell back down in a heap within moments after failing to shrug the limp and was soon brought off for Alex Iwobi, sparking fears on Merseyside of a potential absence for the star forward.
Losing Richarlison for any lengthy period of time would deal Ancelotti his first major test of the campaign ahead of hosting Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, with the Italian potentially without a dangerous spearhead of his boisterous front line.
Everton have only faced one serious test in Tottenham Hotspur to date but went into the Premier League curtain-raiser with relatively low expectations, given the Blues had failed to win any of their trips to a top-six side since 2013.
Ancelotti will be hopeful that Richarlison’s potential injury will be nothing to worry about as the Italian has no like-for-like replacement in line to fill the void the 23-year-old would leave behind.
Richarlison offers his side their most lethal option on the left-hand of the pitch with his drifting runs and relentless effort hard for any player to match, and hard for any defender to contain for a full 90 minutes.
That was certainly the case in Everton’s only real test of the term thus far against Tottenham, when the 19-cap winger recorded by far the most dribbles (11) with a 100% success rate and contributed seven shots, a key ball and five successful tackles, per WhoScored.
He again shone brightly against West Ham with three successful dribbles, three shots and one key ball while finding teammates with 92% of his 26 attempted passes before departing the action after 61-minutes.
Brighton may not be a level above the rest but with Liverpool around the corner on October 17 following the international break, Ancelotti will be hoping for positive news when it comes to Richarlison’s potential availability.