Ehhhhhhhh…. oh dear. After some sort of midweek positivity that we might get something from today, we were plummeted straight back to reality as Unsworth’s Everton crumbled at Leicester. We looked disorganised, unstructured and slow from the off whilst Leicester, under their new manager, started the complete opposite. Leicester kept on threatening with speed until they broke the deadlock from Jamie Vardy who finished off a fantastic run by Demarai Gray. The hosts would finish off the game before the hour mark Gray’s cross hooked in off Jonjoe Kenny and Everton would be 2-0 down. We never recovered from that point, Schmeichel barely threatened from the visitor’s lack of shot quality. Here is our analysis from the game.
Unsworth’s starting line-up contained a couple of odd decisions for me (not the first time from an Everton manager this season). I’ve never been a fan of a 4231, especially one with Tom Davies in holding midfield alongside the recently brain-dead Idrissa Gueye. Davies has been lacking in confidence recently but putting him in an abnormal position was never going to help.
Aaron Lennon and Kevin Mirallas retained their positions from the Chelsea game, so a decent number 10 would’ve helped them in terms of creating opportunities. Rooney wasn’t that. Sure, he produced that one ball from just outside the box to find Lennon, but otherwise he lost the ball more times than anyone that I’ve ever seen for Everton.
A team which lacked any attacking spark and an ancient defence which is no way capable of defending counters and so it showed.
Leicester defensive set-up causing problems
Another week, another team in a 442, another game we can’t breakthrough. Performing in a 4231 involves a number 10 who provides for your main striker. I should’ve taken more screenshots to highlight this issue, but there were so many times where we moved forward and you saw this, miles of space with not a white shirt in site.
This lasted pretty much the entire game, zero support for DCL involved in us hoofing it long for him with nobody to knock it down too. Due to the state of our midfield, Rooney needed to sprint back to help, but when moving it back up the pitch again we were stuck in no man’s land. We were awful in retaining the ball, crumbling under the pressure from Maguire and Morgan in defence, all before Ndidi will win the ball back for them.
This is our heat map from the entire game, where you can see a huge gap around the penalty area. Any sort of number 10 should be covering this area, but we lacked any creative source at all, which is crazy when you consider that we spent £65m on players to fill this gap.
There were also plenty of occasions where we would be ready for the cross but nobody would be set. Here, DCL is the only person who looks like he could get a half chance from a decent delivery. The result of this ended up going to Mirallas and nothing coming from possession.
Everton attempted just a measly 7 crosses in open play in the first-half, not even one resulting in an opportunity being created. It was bonkers how wasteful we were in possession, 55.9% of our possession we had maintained in the first 45 was in there half.
Unable to handle the counter
Leicester won possession in very, very good positions, especially in the first half. Overall, both teams were poor in keeping the ball but Leicester made up for it with the exceptional pace of Vardy, Mahrez and Gray.
The first goal perfectly summarised Everton’s performance, a poor free-kick from Baines on the right side is cleared straight into a winger who is capable of completing take ons (like Vlasic and Lookman who weren’t playing). Two seconds later he runs through our two “defensive” midfielders to create a 5 vs 3. Passes it to Mahrez, squares it to Vardy and Leicester have the lead. A very impressive counter attack, sure, but how could Everton be so reliant on Jagielka, Williams and Baines (combined age of 100) trying to stop that attack? I feel awful for Kenny considering how much our defenders rely on him for pace.
Leicester barely had the ball in our third, but they didn’t need too whatsoever. The lack of an actual midfielder took a massive toll on the entire team, Beni Baningime would cover this in the second half but it was far too late.
We performed better defensively in the second 45, but it’s not as if Leicester needed to go full throttle against an Everton team severely lacking in attacking and defensive ability.
Missing a number 9
Not replacing Lukaku has probably defined most of our season so far and it showed more than ever in this game. The complete lack of any decent chance from our players was eye-watering to watch, especially as there were several occasions where we could’ve had a good chance.
Overall, we were lucky not to concede 7 in that game but Leicester were guaranteed their clean sheet not even 10 minutes into the match.
Calvert-Lewin has a great amount of potential and I do believe he’s our best striker, but he’s no making it easy for himself getting in the right positions, nor are the rest of the squad with a very worrying lack of creativity (which has lasted for years now). Maybe two upfront will benefit DCL more but our wingers must create more chances.
We have already changed our starting formation 7 times this season, only using a 433 once – which is by far our best offensive formation. Reverting to this system will at least cover some cracks in my opinion, but it’s going to be a horribly bumpy road until January hits and whoever comes in has a gigantic job on their hands. I’d like to see more pace in our attack and that can come from the likes of Vlasic, Sandro and Lookman, but pensioners and out of form players are killing this team. It’s the first time I’m genuinely concerned for Everton’s future, we have a very long season ahead of us at this rate.
Stats via Whoscored, squawka and @Caley_graphics,
Up the Toffees.