Gylfi Sigurdsson netted his 50th Premier League goal with aplomb two
weeks ago, during the Toffees’ 2-1 away win over Leicester. It was a
fantastic finish, one that epitomised the Iceland international’s
return to form after a forgettable first campaign on Merseyside last
season under different circumstances.
Players usually take time when settling into new surroundings and
adapt to differing responsibilities after making a move. When the
proposed deal is a club-record £45m, expectations are naturally high
and supporters increasingly demanding.
To say Everton were underwhelming last term would be an
understatement. They were a side disjointed, left in the lurch by
various managerial rumblings and never seemed to have much cohesion.
Players regularly dropped and returned into the starting line-up at
will, fans aired their frustrations and the season as a whole was
Sigurdsson, despite his efforts, was not exempt from criticism. After
scoring nine goals and creating 13 assists for Swansea the season
beforehand, he combined for just seven goal contributions. The
29-year-old already has five in eight games this term. That says it
all, really. Playing in various attacking positions hindered him with
regards to continuity, while his creative genius was mainly only on
display for a month or so before Christmas.
In his defence, he sustained a knee injury in mid-March and was
sidelined for the remainder of the campaign, missing eight games,
while remaining an unused substitute twice. I’m holding him to a
higher standard though and especially during a World Cup year, critics
were justified in expecting better from the club’s new talisman.
Drastic improvement under Marco Silva’s guidance
This season though, he has shown precisely why they were content in
parting with £45m for his services. An improved level of defensive
contribution for both club and country, he has embraced the challenge
that comes with linking up alongside new teammates – six summer
acquisitions, including Brazilian forward Richarlison, who took plenty
of attention away from his club-record signing tag upon arrival.
While playing in his preferred role as the number ten, he has proven
Sam Allardyce wrong – he’s not “too slow” to play weekly. Instead when
utilised effectively, allow more of a creative licence to roam forward
and you’ll unlock the best from him.
The deft flick to leave James Maddison for dead, the vision to spot
Kasper Schmeichel slightly off the line and wherewithal to strike
ferociously into the top corner? The sign of a top-quality player is
one that can offer moments of individual brilliance, helping their
team in precarious situations.
Gylfi’s goal at the King Power was his 19th scored in England’s top-flight outside the area – no-one has scored more since he first joined the league in 2012. Philippe Coutinho is level, while David Silva and Christian Eriksen both have 16 apiece.
It’s frustrating that his Tottenham move that year was ultimately
unsuccessful, as he’d shown enough promise to justify succeeding in
north London. Perhaps thrust towards the deep end too early, he has
since matured and will relish being one of Everton’s key players as
they look to break the top six monopoly. It’ll be interesting to see
how he and his other attacking teammates continue to gel, as the
campaign progresses. His influence is not going unnoticed, though.
Stats’ source: WhoScored