Carlo Ancelotti is facing some awkward decisions over Lucas Digne’s role in the Everton starting line-up, after the defender proved a source of irritation rather than creation in Saturday’s defeat at home to Manchester United.
Digne returned to the squad following his one-match suspension for being shown a straight red card in October’s loss to Southampton, but was unable to bring the same level of inspiration to the left-channel that supporters have come to expect of the £18million former FC Barcelona man.
Everton’s offensive threat was rather severely held back by Digne, in fact, with the French gem often wasteful when presented with a chance to exploit Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s open defence.
His link-up play with Bernard was perfect, as was his willingness to push forward and get in behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but chances for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to strike home his 12th goal of the season were not as forthcoming.
Digne’s deliveries were often overhit or misdirected, allowing for the Red Devils to sweep up possession and soak up the pressure before hitting Everton on the counter, causing the Toffees to drop outside of the top-four after a third-straight Premier League defeat.
It was the first time since November 2006 that Ancelotti has lost three league games on the bounce in his managerial career, and Digne played a key role in ensuring the Italian’s record reset on Saturday as he appeared far from the player Marco Silva claimed has everything.
“Lucas has everything we expect from a professional football player,” Silva told EvertonTV. “Everything. And I am not just talking about his quality – everyone knows his quality.
“I decided last season he was one of my first targets after I met with the club’s owner and our director of football, I did not have doubts about his quality. And he showed that during the season. He has everything as a professional football player.”
The only thing Digne had against Manchester United, however, was the lowest match-rating by an outfield Everton player who started at 6.3 out of 10, per SofaScore.
The £90,000-per-week full-back scored lowly as a result of winning just four duels (3/6 ground, 1/1 aerial), while delivering just two accurate crosses from nine attempts, misplacing four of five attempted long balls and turning over possession 18 times.
Only James Rodriguez lost possession (20) more often than Digne of those who opened the match in royal blue, while the French maestro further failed to beat his marker when attempting his sole dribble of the game.
Digne’s best moment of the match came when his fierce strike rattled the outside of David de Gea’s post just before the half-hour mark, but Ancelotti will surely have been far from impressed by the overall performance given.
Ancelotti now faces some awkward questions over the international break, deciding if he needs to change how Everton attack games and whether he needs to ask Digne to change his role in the side to avoid going a sixth match without a win.