Since his stunning performance against Sunderland on November 1, Arouna Kone has been nothing but ineffective going forward.
It seems Everton boss Roberto Martinez is still dining out on the Ivorian’s first Premier League hat-trick in the 6-2 thrashing two months ago.
Since then, Kone has appeared seven times for the Toffees, without finding the net once and added just one more assist to take his season’s tally to four. His first two came in the opening fixtures of the campaign - proving Kone’s impact on the pitch has not been enough in recent times to justify his place in the team.
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To further emphasise his poor form: since his treble, Kone has taken a total of 14 shots but only five have gone on to hit the target. Martinez’s continued persistence must be questioned given the quality of the attacking alternatives he has at his disposal.
Everton’s summer signing Aaron Lennon has barely featured this term, starting just one league game, while it appears Kevin Mirallas has fallen out of favour with the Catalan. Another possible alternative, Steven Naismith, appears to be off to Norwich in a deal worth around £8 million.
Mirallas scored after coming off the bench against Leicester to ensure an exciting finish and looked very dangerous in the 1-0 win at Newcastle, taking six shots, two of which were on target.
The Belgian has, however, been linked with a move away from Goodison Park in January. But, regardless of potential personal issues between player and manager, Martinez must keep him. This is not only due to Kone’s poor form but the fact that Barcelona have the option to buy back Everton’s top provider - Gerard Deulofeu in the summer.
The Everton boss may argue that Kone’s inclusion in the team has helped goal machine Romelu Lukaku flourish this season.
It is clear to see that their relationship is a positive one – the Belgian forward even described playing with Kone as “heaven” in April. They are often seen celebrating together with gleeful grins and pre-planned gestures.
However, the statistics do not lie and the last time Kone and Lukaku linked up to any great effect was against West Ham in November.
In his role as a player on the left side of attack, Kone constantly leaves the Everton left-back exposed. Against Stoke, right-winger Xherdan Shaqiri scored twice, while Joselu also fired in from the Potters’ right flank.
With Leighton Baines back in the first team after a long time out injured, the England man needs a player with more defensive nous in front of him. After all, Baines is one of the most effective attackers in the Everton blue despite the fact he is a defender.
The same argument can be applied to when Brendon Galloway fills in for Baines. Although he is no Baines going forward - and in spite of his stellar showings this season - he is inexperienced and would no doubt prefer a more defensive-minded player in front of him.
With Everton languishing in the bottom half of the table with arguably the most talented squad they have had since the 1980s, Martinez must change something in order to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Perhaps a good starting point would involve dropping Kone but a marquee signing such as securing the services of Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko - whom Everton have been linked with again - could be what’s needed to boost morale and improve results.
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