His movement in the area has developed significantly over the past year. Gary Neville once described Robin van Persie as “like a burglar in your house – you don’t know what room he’s in”. Calvert-Lewin perhaps still has a way to go to match Van Persie, but he has become a much more elusive figure for defenders than the player of previous campaigns. He positions himself between opposing central defenders – behind the near-side defender, who cannot see him, and far enough away from the other that he has space to himself (above). That also isn’t always where he ends up. He varies his runs, sometimes darting across the defender in front of him, and other times peeling off around the back.
He similarly provides a great deal of energy in the final third, and forces defenders into mistakes by pressuring them. On several occasions in 2019/20 he has profited with a goal after pouncing on an error –many of his goals against the bigger teams have come in this way. He has scored against Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea after poor defending; his acrobatic strike against Arsenal came after a brief lapse in concentration from David Luiz. Calvert-Lewin is always alert to mistakes in the penalty area, where he is proving increasingly ruthless.
Indeed, he has developed into something of a penalty-box poacher, with every one of his 15 goals in all competitions this season coming from inside the area, and all but four of them first-time strikes. He is lethal off one or two touches, although when he has more work to do – or an opponent to beat – he isn’t anything like as effective. He does still give defenders a chance to get back and block.
Though Calvert-Lewin is strong in the air and Richarlison superb at picking up the scraps, they are not a typical two-man forward line. They dovetail brilliantly, constantly swapping positions and jobs, moving out to the wings as well as dropping deep to create space for the other. Now that Calvert-Lewin has added potency in front of goal to his game, he can make genuine claim to being one of the top flight’s most dangerous centre-forwards.