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Cenk Tosun finally showing killer instinct at Everton

Saturday 24th March 2018

Top-class poachers like to be clinical with every touch, flaunting an uncommon knack for being at the right place at the right time. They bury all kind of opportunities: headers, tap-ins, follow-ups, long-range volleys, set pieces with either foot. Cenk Tosun is finally showing such exceptional traits at Everton.

Romelu Lukaku's summer exit left a vacuum in the Toffees attack. Sandro Ramirez's futile attempt culminated in a La Liga return after only six months. Young Dominic Calvert-Lewin showed great promise but hasn’t seemed ready for the responsibility. Oumar Niasse did his bit when called upon but not enough to convince he was a long-term fix.

Tosun was purchased in January to do the heavy lifting. Signed for a record fee from Besiktas he had no business but to bang in goals. His resume was hopeful. At struggling Gaziantepspor he notched 39 strikes in little more than a 100 games. He proved a more potent finisher in Istanbul, averaging one goal every other match. His four group stage goals spurred the Black Eagles to the Champions League last 16.

Tosun failed to hit the ground running on Merseyside. His first four outings yielded no fruit. English football's tempo and rigour appeared his match. For long stretches in matches he cut a lonely figure, reduced to chasing after long balls. 

Everton was in dire need of an offensive renaissance. Goals have been their shortfall. Tosun's work was not good enough. Sam Allardyce lost patience, returning to Niasse and Calvert-Lewin. There were even rumours of a potential summer return to Turkey. But Tosun was resolute. He wanted to prove himself.

His perseverance, hard-work, and dedication are finally yielding dividends. Tosun's last three matches have produced four strikes. The run kick-started at Burnley. He followed that up with his first at Goodison Park against Brighton then both goals in a 2-1 victory over Stoke City. Collectively, they represented the many tools in the Turk's locker. 

Amid the flying bodies and muddled minds of a typical Premier League penalty area, Tosun retains his head. As Kipling said, he thrusts himself where others have doubts. At Stoke, he scrambled to his feet after seeing a header saved. He found the opening in the melee and filled it to wrap his left foot around the ball and open the scoring. For the second he used his aerial strength to greater effect. 

Yet his sublime effort to win the home tilt with Brighton has earned the most plaudits. On the back of three defeats in four matches, the 26-year-old struck a thunderous right-footed volley from just inside the penalty area to scatter the thunderheads and let the sun into Goodison Park. 

Tosun’s clinical nature and an inherent belief in his own ability have enabled him to employ a degree of patience on the pitch. He does not go chasing chances where they do not exist. Nor does he snatch at openings when they arrive. Seven of his eight shots in the matches with Burnley, Brighton, and Stoke forced effort from the goalkeepers at the least. Three attempts yielded two goals at Stoke. That is clinical. 

Tosun is not yet in Lukaku’s bracket. He will be should he maintain such devastating form.

Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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