Old habits die hard.
Starting to feel like “20-minute bottle-jobs” should replace the “NSNO” motto on our badge, especially at the Vitality Stadium. I was mentally preparing myself for the worst when Richarlison was sent-off, but once again, Everton got my heart-racing when Walcott finished off a slick attacking move to put us one-up. When Keane headed home the second, I had already envisioned the upbeat, Sunday-morning type-up of yesterday’s game. Within 10 minutes, Everton completely ruined this (which is now something of an art-form). A penalty and awful defending from a corner helped make it 2-2, once again, Bournemouth away had cursed us.
Upon second-review of the game, it made me realise that we really didn’t deserve to go 2 goals ahead in the first place. A severe lack of creating chances despite having a lot of possession in the first half, as well as an almost mythical midfield-presence didn’t stop the hosts from having decent shots at goal.
How Bournemouth stopped Richarlison
It was quite clear to Eddie Howe that Richarlison was the danger man, not only from the fact that he scored 3 goals in the first 2 of the season, but also he’s the only Everton player capable of taking the ball forward and at pace. He does this by dropping deep, not only helping him in defence but also giving him much more space to go into; usually dropping into the half-space which enables options both in the centre of the pitch and the wing. All of Richarlison’s promising potential in this game was completely stopped by Bournemouth’s overloading into his channel.
He was stopped early on, Everton win the ball back from deep, but you can see Bournemouth haven’t overcommitted in terms of numbers forward. Davies plays the ball out to the Brazilian, who within seconds has 3 players on him and ushered out to the side-line. Not only is it incredibly difficult for Richarlison to take-on three players by himself, but all passing-options are cancelled out very quickly, which is very important as a pass to Sigurdsson could’ve potentially created a 3v3 situation.
Another example moments later, Everton had quite a lot of possession against a hard-working, well-organised Bournemouth team, whose frontline positioning helped cancel out a lot of forward passes from our centre-backs into midfield. You can see when Baines gets the ball, that the aim is to stop the ball getting to Richarlison and cutting out this passing-lane. The ball does find Richarlison, but within one touch, two players are on him… again. Everton do keep possession, but in order to do so, Richarlison is forced into a backward-pass to Keane.
My final example is pretty similar to the one I’ve just mentioned, Gueye drops incredibly deep (in Schneiderlin-esque fashion) to fill Keane’s position and allow him to move out wide more. Leighton Baines is immediately pressured by Brooks, you can see the entire Bournemouth team has shifted towards Everton’s left-flank, making it hard for any player on that side to make progression with the ball. Richarlison is ushered out to the side-line once again and the hosts stop his influence in possession once again.
A combination of cutting passing lanes and shifting onto that side of the pitch completely cancelled out any service towards him. Baines still managed to find Richarlison 7 times during the 40 minutes he was on the pitch, however Sigurdsson passed to him once in open play, Davies twice (creating a chance in 1 out of those 2) and Gueye three times. Everton simply couldn’t find another way to feed him the ball after doing so well in the previous two games in doing so.
As a result, Richarlison had next to no influence in the game whatsoever, Bournemouth shifting onto one side of the pitch did create more space on the other side and did have better results (both goals coming from this area), but the hosts organisation certainly rattled the Brazilians cage. It’ll be very interesting to see how Silva sets his side up without his presence.
An ageing-problem: Everton’s Midfield
Prior to yesterday’s game, you can see a growing issue between the not-so-good-as-it-looks partnership between Gueye and Schneiderlin. They simply cannot win back possession in the middle of the park and transiton the ball from defence to attack. Our midfield isn’t a great option if you want to pick a forward pass or break the lines; an issue we haven’t fully-recovered from since Mikel Arteta left.
The positioning of our midfield without the ball is odd, you often see one man pressing up rather high, whilst the other is position where they should be (in this case, Davies is in a much better position than Gueye). Not only is this odd but it’s incredibly dangerous, you can see the amount of space left behind Gueye as he moves up and if you bait Davies forward, you can break our midfield with two touches or one pass of the ball.
Ryan Fraser beats both midfielders with one pass and the ball goes from Bournemouth’s backline into the penalty area within 11 seconds – even with numbers back we look immensely uncomfortable.
The roles reverse here, Davies is the man who is committed too far in front as well as our frontline who are now behind the Bournemouth defence. The transition between Daniels and King beats our midfield very quickly, luckily Wilson is offside thanks to Michael Keane’s position.
In possession, you can see a major issue in terms of our build-up, Idrissa Gueye cannot find an effective pass forward. This isn’t just Gueye’s fault, the positioning of both Bournemouth and Everton players has an effect on his decision making, but he is continually forced to making side-way, backward passing which has no attacking intent. Eventually, it is up to Mason Holgate to take the ball forward and make a good pass into Coleman out-wide.
Gueye is a good team player, he makes a great number of tackles and is probably one of the better ball recoverers in the Everton team; but he cannot play the same role as Schneiderlin and certainly cannot play the “number 8” role which looks like he is designated too when Schneiderlin is back in the team. Like a few others, he is misplaced in this system.
The attack: Walcott’s gain and Sigurdsson’s depletion
Walcott is very, very good when he’s behind the defensive line, he has the pace and drive to take the ball from the halfway line into the box without any issue and his goal yesterday highlighted that. A quick transitional move broke the Bournemouth defence, and you can instantly see trouble when Sigurdsson’s pass from between the lines found Tosun on the flank, stretching Bournemouth’s defence for the first time in the game. More moves like this and we would’ve walked the game.
Looking at the average positions and pass map, you can see Walcott fairly well fed from our midfield and Coleman, without doubt Theo Walcott was our biggest attacking threat throughout the game. Meanwhile, Sigurdsson’s position creates a certain amount of mystery. Not only is he in front of Tosun, but he is covering where the Turkish striker should be.
Sigurdsson has proven to be Everton’s most awkward ever signing, he hasn’t fitted in any system the last four managers have put him in. He is sort of playing as a second-striker behind Tosun, but a third-man in midfield would be much more beneficial for the whole team. Against Southampton, Sigurdsson was deeper which led to him being much more productive, away to Bournemouth he struggled a lot and went missing.
I don’t want to come off as overly negative in this article, we’ve all season a major improvement in this team in comparison of the sheer disaster it was left in last season. However, these are issues that need to be repaired under Marco Silva. The top six is breakable and getting 5 points from a possible 9 isn’t a bad start. With Richarlison out for 3 games, it’ll be interesting to see if Lookman makes a return, or Bernard comes in for his first appearance for the club. It’s a much more positive position to be in comparison to 10 months ago but dropping two points here shouldn’t go unnoticed. Learn from it.
Up the Toffees.