Everton were dealt a cruel set of blows on the eve of their first match of the season last night.
The Toffees have hardly found life perfect since Carlo Ancelotti departed earlier this summer and this was merely the tip of the iceberg.
Whether you believe in superstition or not, Friday 13th was indeed an unlucky date on the calendar for everyone associated with Everton.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference on that day, Rafa Benitez confirmed that the Toffees would be without five first-team players for their match with Southampton on Saturday.
The reason was that under government guidelines, they have to self isolate. Two of the players in question are Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin but another missing for the match is James Rodriguez.
The Colombian suffered from fitness issues towards the end of last season and he will now miss the first competitive match of the new campaign. Rodriguez only played in one of the club’s last six matches of 2020/21 after returning from a calf problem.
He has been regularly linked with a move away from Merseyside this summer, but even with his future in doubt, his absence from proceedings on Saturday will be a big blow for Everton.
With a lack of options to replace him in attacking midfield, Benitez is likely to be gutted over this news. After all, Richarlison has had a busy summer with Brazil and may have some fatigue in his legs.
Rodriguez signed on a free transfer last year, and judging by his first season at Goodison Park, he will be a hefty miss this weekend.
The Colombia international had a hand in ten goals and was the club’s most creative outlet. He supplied 1.7 key passes per game, which was by far the most from a player who regularly featured in an offensive position.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin may well return to the fray but his chances of scoring have now been hampered. Instead, Benitez will have to rely on his new signings Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray to load the bullets for Everton’s main marksman.