It’s been a long start to the season; we are almost at the mid point and close to Christmas so at least I can get excited for something. To be honest, my mind is drifting more and more away from football. It’s hard to say but I no longer get a buzz when Everton are playing, especially compared to a few years ago. Martinez totally drained me and I still haven’t recovered, Koeman’s side playing poor almost every week now does not help it either. This isn’t one for the record books between Everton and Manchester United, but I felt it was an interesting tactical watch. Here’s my analysis.
Everton started in a 442, no Barkley or Jagielka to watch, replaced by Cleverley and Funes Mori. Stekelnburg started in goal, with Baines and Coleman the fullbacks. Mori and Williams in centre-back, Gueye and Barry in front of them. Cleverley and Bolaise started on the wings, Lukaku and Mirallas as the two strikers.
Manchester United started in a 433. De Gea in goal, Jones and Rojo as centre-backs. Valencia and Darmian started at right-back and left-back, alongside a midfield trio of Pogba, Carrick and Herrera. Mkhitaryan, Martial and Ibrahimovic all going forward.
From the off you could tell possession was entirely in United’s favor. Everton’s drift and press-space was effective but with the ball came barely anything. Lukaku was invisible throughout and the same goes for his strike partner for the day, Kevin Mirallas. Both would have just 10 touches of the ball during the first 25 minutes, every other outfield player would have more.
It was more defence v defence than anything else; the ‘hoof ball’ tactic towards Lukaku didn’t work once as both Jones and Rojo pocketed him both in the air and on the pitch. Meanwhile, United’s build-up play was an eye-watering watch for the fans, Ibrahimovic was provided with nothing throughout the entire half and it took an awful decision from Stekelenburg to create the first real opportunity.
Neither team posed any threat; no player was making any dangerous runs towards the penalty area. After 15 minutes of watching Mourinho’s side knocking the ball from side to side and the entire Everton side back, pressing, move back and pressing, the boredom started to come in.
A creative player was missing in the Everton team, but the inability to not only get the ball in the opponents half but to actually keep it was very frustrating. I haven’t done much article writing over the past month because of this, same old, same old. Ok, defensively at least we looked solid during parts but we’ve been awful with ball retention and using possession.
As the first half dragged, it looked as if we’d go into half-time level on the scoreboards. One ball over the top, one ball behind the defence and one diabolical piece of goalkeeping from Stekelenburg made it 1-0 to the visitors. Martial’s long ball forward caught out both Williams and Funes Mori, creating the time and space for Ibrahimovich to run through. Stekelenburg foolishly sprints towards the striker, giving Zlatan the only option but to chip him. He did, he scored. I still don’t understand why the Dutchman came out there and I don’t think I ever will.
The dullness from the first half continued on into the second, neither team was really threatening but United should’ve finished it. Both Pogba and Herrera saw a lot of the ball and where both making it click at times. Ander’s shot from close range would’ve ended the game at this point; fortunately the bar was in place to stop it.
Everton’s defence were reliant on Idrissa Gueye – once again. Although the visitors were missing a man to break through into the area, Gueye’s covering in front of the back four was crucial throughout the match.
The Toffees had just one shot in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, Kevin Mirallas’ effort well saved from de Gea but it seemed as if the visitors wasted chances boosted the Blues. From the 65th minute, Everton would go from 42% to 60% possession and we actually started to create decent chances. Valencia replacing the injured Bolasie boosted Everton going forward, the striker coming close from 6 yards, his header saved from the United goalkeeper.
Mourinho’s men didn’t dominate as much as the BBC told everyone on Match of the Day – you can still control the game without having the ball and it was Everton on the front foot for the last 30 minutes of the match. We had a lot more touches inside their area, more than the first half. Our passing success rate took a massive boost (62% to 80%) and we successfully kept control of the ball.
Our efforts were rewarded as the impact substitute Fellaini brought down Idrissa Gueye inside the penalty area. Baines finally took a penalty and netted to make the game 1-1. United tried to bring the game back into there favor but brilliant defending from Mason Holgate kept the visitors away. Ending the match a tie.
A few talking points
Everton improved but it shouldn’t have taken so many United-mischances to give us the boot up the backside we needed. 442 must be the way forward now and there have been many Evertonians that have said that since the opening day. They had one shot on target the entire match and that was from our own error. Not only should it be a 442 but it should be Holgate in the back four over Seamus Coleman who I don’t think I’ve seen have a world-class performance in 2 and a half seasons.
Going forward is still a concern too, especially if Bolasie is going to be out for a while as he is the only player out of that regular midfield 3 (Barkley, him and Mirallas) that provides Lukaku and that is impressive from a winger who can’t cross.
Yes it was a better Everton, but it’s still only 1 win in 9 games and 2 points in the last four. Going away from home has proved to be a difficult task and going to Watford is no easy one. It’s amazing how we still sit eighth in the table but we can’t afford to keep moving down, especially with Arsenal and Liverpool fixtures on the horizon.
Stats via Squawka and Whoscored,
Up the Toffees.