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Apr 20, 2024 10:51 am

Everton look to carve space in standings vs. Nottingham Forest

Abdoulaye Doucoure

Everton and visiting Nottingham Forest each could take a major step toward assuring their Premier League survival when they meet Sunday in Liverpool, England.

Both Everton (16th) and Forest (17th) find themselves closer to the relegation line because of sanctions for violating Financial Fair Play regulations. The Toffees have been stripped eight points for two violations, while Forest incurred a four-point penalty for one offense.

Yet Everton (9-15-8, 27 points) in particular have been playing like a team worthy of its place toward the bottom end of the table. Everton have earned just one victory in their last 15 league matches, a 1-0 home victory over Burnley on April 6.

A 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea on Monday night has only raised the pressure on manager Sean Dyche at Everton, who only scored six goals in their last nine league fixtures.

“The noise around here is so intense. Big badge, big club. I have got used to it,” Dyche said. “There are a handful of players who understand it differently. We have to start the process of correcting the story — this has been a really tough spell. … It is a constant work in process.”

It’s been so barren in attack for Everton that Abdoulaye Doucoure remains the Toffees’ top scorer with six league goals despite not finding the net since Dec. 10. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had a fortuitous match-winner against Burnley, has five.

Forest’s form has improved since Nuno Espirito Santo took the managerial reins from Steve Cooper back in mid-December, having earned 16 points in 17 matches.

And a recent run of six points in the last five matches has come despite missing influential striker Taiwo Awoniyi to a fresh thigh injury. He’s likely still out Sunday, though Anthony Elanga could return on the wing from an undisclosed injury.

But the Trees (7-17-9, 26 points) have only two points from their travels in 2024, draws at Luton Town and Bournemouth. And they’ve conceded 33 times while away, tied with West Ham for the fourth-worst mark in the league.

While the atmosphere at Goodison may be tense, Espirito Santo still firmly believes Everton’s home support has to be considered.

“I know how strong they are at Goodison Park and how hard it is going to face them,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game. Part of the plan is to play good, control and dominate the game. If that happens the crowd gets silenced.”

–Field Level Media

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