How Carlo Ancelotti has transformed Dominic Calvert-Lewin into a poacher

Dominic Calvert-Lewin needed 14 Premier League matches to score four goals last term. He’s matched that inside 180 minutes this term. The Everton No.9 followed up his winner against Spurs during the opening weekend of the new campaign by netting an impressive hat-trick against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. 

Afterwards, manager Carlo Ancelotti praised his forward, loosely comparing him to Pippo Inzaghi. 

“I had a fantastic striker in Inzaghi, who scored 300 goals and 210 with one touch. A striker has to be focused in the box and I think Calvert-Lewin understands really well because in the box he has speed, he jumps really high, he has power. Where he has improved more is in the box.”

Calvert-Lewin credited the Italian tactician with his improvement: “Carlo Ancelotti is on me every day for first-touch finishes and to be in the box, in the right areas. It’s nice to know what I’m working on in training is coming off on the pitch.”

It may sound pretty straightforward; to be in the right place at the right time, but it’s a skill very few players have. It’s also a skill that players need to work on to ensure it becomes instinctive. Without commitment from the individual, it’ll never be a true success. Calvert-Lewin’s improvement in front of goal is a good advertisement for Ancelotti and his staff. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's Premier League shot map before Carlo Ancelotti's arrival at Everton.

Before the former Napoli manager arrived at Goodison Park, the 23-year-old was struggling to impose himself in the penalty area. He was having shots in decent areas but very few arrived in the six-yard box. Calvert-Lewin was averaging just a little over two shots per 90 with an open-play expected goals average of 0.24 and a goals per 90 average of 0.33. For a bit more context, over a 38 game season that equates to an xG total of 9.12 and a goals total of 12.54. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's Premier League shot placement map before Carlo Ancelotti's arrival at Everton.

His finishing was a little streaky, too. Of the efforts he had on target, 55 per cent of them hit the middle of the goal with 37 per cent of his shots being central and low. He was focusing on getting them on target and the placement was perhaps an afterthought. There is also an argument to be made that, at the time, he was a young striker still trying to figure out his game. 

However, the arrival of Ancelotti has sparked Calvert-Lewin into evolving into one of the best young forwards in world football. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's Premier League shot placement map since Carlo Ancelotti's arrival at Everton.

Firstly, his shot placement map is much better. The sample size is smaller so the volume of efforts isn’t as large but what you can take from this is that 41 per cent of Calvert-Lewin’s efforts are now central and 44 per cent are to the right of the goalkeeper. Furthermore, 58 per cent of his goals arrive in that area. Pre-Ancelotti, this total was 18 per cent. His shot placement is much better and he’s averaging more shots per 90; these two factors combined mean his expected goals average is up, as is his goals per 90 totals. 

The Sheffield-born forward is now averaging close to three shots; his expected goals average is 0.62 and his goal return is now 0.55 per 90. What is interesting is that his post-shot expected goals average, a metric to take into account placement, is 0.66. He’s adding value to his efforts and he’s actually been unlucky not to score more. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's Premier League shot map since Carlo Ancelotti's arrival at Everton.

Calvert-Lewin’s shot map since the arrival of Ancelotti goes a long way to explaining why he’s now more dangerous than ever before. The number of goals he’s scored in the six-yard area is remarkable and a high number of his efforts come from 12-yards or closer. He’s also reduced the number of shots he has from outside of the penalty area. The No.9 is now a penalty-box poacher and Everton’s system is geared towards getting the best out of him. He could be a dark horse for the Golden Boot.

All the graphics and visualisations in this article use Wyscout data and were produced in the Twenty3 Content Toolbox.

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