Another immensely poor, disjointed, unorganised Everton performance under Marco Silva to make it 3 home defeats in the last four and just three wins since the end of November. The Toffees have offered nothing different over the past few weeks, the selection of the team today was more than odd with a 34-year-old Leighton Baines (who gained a knock against Huddersfield in the week) starting at left-back, before being replaced after just half-an-hour.
Wolves were the complete opposite, three at the back allowed them to overload our midfield whilst still offering players forward when the ball was overturned. Having the playmaking skills of Ruben Neves, the creativity of Joao Moutinho and the ball recoveries of Leander Dendoncker was a clear mismatch against Everton’s midfield. Nuno Espirito Santo set Wolves in a 3-5-2 and they sure did their homework.
From the exception of the sheer amount of goals Everton concede from set-plays (another one in this game), their other huge dilemma is this midfield. Not only does it offer minimal progress forward, but once it is pressed or there is an overload; The Toffees give the ball away with far too much ease.
Here Michael Keane is forward to pass the ball back out wide instead of making a progressive pass towards Andre Gomes or any of our midfielders for a fact. Both Sigurdsson and Davies are far too forward and static, next to no support is being offered for the ball-carrier. Wolves have total position superiority, having complete control without having possession. If Keane makes a pass to Gomes, both Jimenez and Jota will be on him regardless if his first touch is good or not. Then Davies/Sigurdsson will be outnumbered in the middle third, without any support to retain the ball.
This isn’t the first week we’ve seen such poor positional play from Everton, against Millwall and Southampton we were having a great chunk of possession, but not a single one of our forwards were getting a good spell of the ball in good enough areas.
Here is another example of Wolves being positionally superior and causing Everton so many problems in progressing the ball forward. Pickford’s goal-kick would work in Everton’s favour with Tosun winning the aerial duel and the ball going back to Coleman. The way Wolves would overload to isolate one side of the pitch was very impressive and after 4 consecutive backpasses from Sigurdsson, to Walcott, to Keane who then turns around to pass the ball back to Pickford again, the visitors would soon win possession back very quickly.
In possession, Wolves did a great job at baiting our players forward. They didn’t have much of the ball, but when they did their passing was so much more effective and they created decent chances because of it. Another reoccurring problem Everton have been facing is long-balls over the top and opposition players running in from behind – which caught us out away to Huddersfield leading to Lucas Digne’s dismissal.
Here, Wolves win a free-kick inside their own half by the half-way line, instead of smashing it onward instantly, the ball is kept between the defenders. Although Everton put players forward – just look how high Tom Davies is – Conor Coady is given so much time to pick his pass, expose the defensive highline and release Diogo Jota through on goal with nobody but Jordan Pickford in sight.
What also made the visitors 352 so successful is that you can have so many players in all three-thirds of the pitch. If you need to attack, not only do you have two strikers, but you can also have your wing-backs in support as well as another midfielder… if you need to attack, you can keep your wing-backs tight to your three centre-backs, as well as have a solid midfield three.
They could transition from a high-pressing team into a low-block, compact, solid system with no room to manoeuvre in-between the lines. Attacking against these types of defences are challenging for most clubs, but for Everton, you’re almost guaranteed to keep a clean sheet against us – it’s easy to defend against a team who has no capable player of consistently breaking lines.
Here, Wolves had once again overloaded us when we have possession of the ball, 7 v 9 in the final third and barely any passing lanes open, Zouma’s access to a forward player doesn’t exist. So many players are marked out of the game and after a short while, Everton would lose possession again.
Everton desperately missed Lucas Digne in this game, our only player who can make forward passes and offer decent service in the penalty area. Cenk Tosun received the ball 25 times throughout the game, virtually all of them in positions of no use to a striker of his abilities. His highest pass combination to him? Seamus Coleman on 6, Sigurdsson had 4 passes to him despite both of them in identical positions on the average position maps.
Everton were immensely poor, but a big part of that was due to Nuno Espirito Santo’s set-up. Dendoncker was brilliant at winning possession back and caused our midfielders huge problems whenever he would regain the ball. Marco Silva could’ve done a lot more with changing his system, I was noticing Gylfi Sigurdsson dropping deeper, but he still contributed very little and would lose the ball easily. This 424 is hopeless and I fully expect any manager with half a brain to fancy their chances against us; we give too much space for the opposition, have midfielders who are once pressed either make a dodgy back pass or lose possession and cannot defend dead-ball situations to save our lives.
It’s not just all down to Marco Silva, our players deserve a good share of the blame as well, however, it’s been two months since we started to be sussed out and nothing has changed since.
Where do Everton possibly go from here?
Stats via @StatsZone.