Everton host Brighton in the Premier League this evening and if Frank Lampard wants to keep his job at Goodison Park, he must consider unleashing Dwight McNeil from the start.
The Toffees picked up a morale-boosting point against Manchester City in their last fixture but were set up extremely defensively at the Etihad, and Lampard must surely revert back to a more attacking formation when the Seagulls come to Merseyside on Tuesday evening.
If a defender is sacrificed and Lampard returns to a four-at-the-back formation, then he should consider reintroducing McNeil, who can provide some flair and quality in the final third, as his side look to take three points against an impressive Brighton outfit.
The young winger arrived from Burnley in the summer and was much maligned after managing no goals and just one assist in 38 appearances for the Clarets, as they were relegated to the Championship.
However, he already has two goals and one assist to his name in the Premier League this season, which makes the 23-year-old Everton’s joint-second top scorer, while only Alex Iwobi has contributed to more goals overall.
The former Burnley man also ranks fourth for key passes and dribbles per game, despite many of his appearances this season coming from the bench, which emphasises the threat he can add to Everton’s attack.
Lampard has led Everton to just two points from their last five Premier League fixtures and three points are a must against Brighton, or it is only a matter of time before they find themselves in the relegation places in the top flight, so it is no surprise that he is once again under serious pressure.
Although the point at City was a remarkable one, only a wonder goal from Demarai Gray prevented another loss and the Toffees will need to create far more chances against Roberto De Zerbi’s side on Tuesday if they want to win the game.
Therefore, he will need another attacking option on the pitch and after some impressive performances from McNeil so far this season, it is time he was handed more minutes from the start.
Joe Cole and Peter Crouch were full of praise for the Englishman on BT Sport when he impressed against Liverpool in 2021.
Crouch said: “I didn’t realise how good he was. He looked fitter, stronger faster in some way. He’s a wonderful footballer.”
Cole added: “Without sounding to give him a big up, he reminds me of Di Maria.”
Considering the Argentine’s sensational performance in the World Cup final recently, where he scored one of all the important goals, Everton could definitely use a player like Di Maria for the rest of the season.
Thus, if Lampard is to have any hope of keeping himself in the job, he must hand McNeil a start in the hope that he can be the difference maker this evening.