The 50 Most Crucial Everton Stats from the season so far

31%  – Leighton Baines has attempted 62 crosses, posting a cross completion of 31% – up 3% on last seasons figure

88% – Jack Rodwell’s pass completion is the highest at the club

2.7 – Saha shot per game – the highest at the club

20 – Fouls committed per game – only 4 clubs have made more.

2.8  – Times per game Fellaini/Osman dispossessed – the most at the club

83% – Tony Hibbert headers won – highest figure from the regular starters.

325  – Average short passes we have made per game this season

10 – Our Average number of shots in away games. The lowest in division

23  – Crosses made per game – last season it was 27

9 – Points taken by Everton in the half time league. 1 less than actual table.

7.69 – Average mileage covered by Fellaini per game– his 7.84 miles against Man City was the highest polled by any player that weekend in the league

4  – Tim Howard has saved four of the last seven penalties that he has faced in the Premier League

46 – Average passes made by Fellaini per game– the most at the club

71% – Lowest pass completion figure (Cahill / Billy)

58 - Velios has scored a goal every 58 minutes during his various cameos.

78% - Everton Pass completion – up 2% on last season

46% – Everton Average possession – down 4% on last season

14  – Number of shots per game this season – 3 up on last season’s total

36% - Everton Shooting Accuracy – down 9% on last season

18 - Average interceptions per game – Up 6 from last season’s figure of 12

15% - Reduction in shots made from inside 18 yard area

13%  - Increase in shots made from outside the 18 yard box

2.8  - Tackles per game made by Fellaini – the most at the club.

60% - Of our goals have been scored  in the last 15 minutes of matches

2.6 - Most chances created per game  (Baines)

8  - Most fouled player in a game  (Drenthe v Fulham)

1.44 – Goals conceded per game

37% – Lowest possession figure (Man City Away)

59% - Most possession in one game (Blackburn Away)

53 % – Aerial duels won – up 6% on last season’s 47%

85% – Of the goals conceded have their origin from our right side

0 – The amount of players Everton have in the EA Index for top 100 players in division.

1.11  – Average goals scored per game – last season 1.34

10  - Points accrued after 9 games – the same points tally as this stage last season

2  - Clean Sheets in 12 months from away games.

37 - Games since we had a 0-0 draw

6  - Most offside’s won in 1 game ( high line v Villa)

4 - Average Shot blocked per game

16 % – Of our passes have been long balls

65 – Amount of long balls on average per game – Norwich highest with 74 (more than Stoke)

5% – Of our total passes are crosses

39% – Attacks focused Down left – only Wolves posted a higher figure

25% – Joint lowest in league for attacking through the middle

26% – Time spent in opposition half – the 2nd highest  in league

1  - Through balls per game – joint lowest in division

1174 – Average reduction in attendance at home games

1  - Clean Sheet this season – Joint Lowest in league

36  – We score every 36 minutes With drenthe on pitch – 6 goals in total

149 – We score every 149 minutes without Drenthe on the pitch – 4 goals in total

100 – On average the number of fewer passes made per game than this stage last season

14 – Senior outfield players available for selection since Anichebe injury which is the smallest pool in the division 

Many thanks to Opta & whoscored.com for some of the data used in this article.

5 Tactical Points on Everton 0-1 Manchester United

1. 4-4-1-1 v 4-2-3-1 The key differential in terms of formation was United’s wide players were deployed further up the pitch to press our fullbacks. Everton opened up 4-4-1-1 with Osman starting very advanced in close proximity to Saha. Coleman was wide right and Billy was asked to occupy the left flank. An initial look at United’s personnel would hint that Ferguson was going on the offensive but the opposite was true. United were more 4-2-3-1 with Welbeck and Park playing high up field and Rooney pivoting between supporting Hernandez  but mostly as a third central midfielder. Rooney played this role well – adding physicality to United’s midfield and providing the passing range they have missed since Scholes retirement. 

2. Blues outnumbered in midfield United started the game the better and got the opening goal just before the 20 minute mark. This was due in large part to the fact that in the opening period the Blues were outnumbered 3v2 in central midfield – United making 150 passes to our 116 in this period. With Osman advanced and Rooney sitting more in midfield alongside Cleverley & Fletcher, United had an extra man meaning Rodwell & Fellaini were being bypassed by United midfield triangles.  Moyes made the call to ask Osman to sit deeper in midfield to go 3 v 3 with United and from this point the Blues took control of possession making more passes (394 v 333) for the remainder do the game. We also bossed territorial dominance with 33% of the game being played in United’s half compared to 24% in our own area of the pitch which led to more shots (19 v 7) – however De Gea was forced into few meaningful saves.

3. Baines nullified Perhaps mindful of last season when 2 Baines deliveries rescued Everton in injury time, Ferguson played the more defensively astute Park on the right wing – he and Welbeck pinned back the Everton fullbacks for the most part. Whilst there is little point in doing this with Hibbert who provides minimal going forward, eliminating Baines basically takes out Everton’s most effective attacking weapon. Baines clearly misses a decent left sides partner – he received just 5 passes from Billy/Barkley combined and  is working on scraps at the moment. United made a massive 20 interception in total, with Park registering 25% of these. He was specifically blocking off the angle to the supply coming into Baines leading to the roaming wingback registering just 1 successful cross in the entire game.

4. United target our right side United had distinctly less of the ball and seemed to be looking to keep the game tight. The chalkboard shows just how little of the ball they actually had in terms of playing the ball into our box – however there seemed a deliberate ploy to work play out to our right side – (46%) rather than our left (27%) – and eventually this led to the goal when Evra whipped in for Hernandez to convert. Hibbert found Welbeck’ pace and ball control difficult to combat and prior to the goal United almost took the lead when a similar move led to a clear cut chance for Park who hit a tepid shot into Howard’s body. Chelsea recently exploited our right side a few weeks ago, plundering all 3 goals from this area.

5. Familiar lack of incision costs The players worked really hard and more than matched United’s endeavour but we simply lack the final ball to make the possession count. We average just 1 through ball per game this season – the joint lowest in the division. We have sold our 2 most creative players and not replaced them and it shows. Today, Coleman had a fantastic game – alongside Fellaini he was our best player – and was the only midfielder to successfully pass a ball into United’s 18 yard box all-day. Osman was deployed in the ‘No.10’ role but was mute in behind Saha and often drifted out to the flanks leaving Saha isolated. Billy was replaced at half time having posted the lowest pass completion (70%) out of any of the starting line-ups. It was even more galling given the impact of Drenthe last week – a player who has genuine penetration in his locker. Whilst I think Fellaini and Rodwell are both good players, neither is the deep lying playmaker we crave.

Conclusion

 There was an air of inevitability about this one. The Blues huffed and puffed a lot but were kept at arms length for the most part by a stubborn United rearguard marshalled superbly by the commanding Vidic. This was a much improved display to the feeble spanking at the Bridge though and with some winnable fixtures coming up – plus the return of Rosyton – the onus is now on the Blues to put some form together between now and the festive period.

Everton v Manchester United – Tactical Preview

Saturday sees us entertain champions Manchester United in a fixture which often provides plenty of incident, bags of goals and the occasional decent result for the Blues.

Man United Strengths

Ferguson’s teams will always attack you down the flanks with great speed and width. Young/Nani will occupy the wing berths and this is the principal area we will focus on here. Last season United got great joy against us from the flanks with all 4 of the goals they scored against us in the 2 games coming from our left side (3 of which were crosses – examples above)

How do you stop this? There are 3 options…. United will look to push play to the wingers from Ferdinand or the 2 central midfielders (probably Fletcher & Anderson)  This can be stopped by our wingers blocking off the angles for passes by positioning themselves inside as shown (right) to stop the supply. Alternatively you can push your winger’s right up in a 4-2-3-1 to snuff out the supply from fullbacks. The 3rd way – what Moyes seems to prefer – is to stand off to invite the cross and focus on defending our18 yard box – this is a risky strategy given United’s quality in delivery from either flank- they have scored 8 goals from set piece situations this season – more than any other side – and in Young they have a top exponent of winning free kicks in dangerous positions.

Man United Weaknesses

United will always look to attack and will give you a chance – even at 1-5 down on Sunday they were committing bodies and leaving 2v3 at the back. This season they seem even more committed to offense – the introduction of the more fluid Young in place of the more rigid Valencia is a contributing factor.  They will usually adopt an orthodox 4-4-2 but with Rooney dropping in to make 4-5-1 when not in possession.

 This offensive approach has led to United shipping a fair few goals this season and they have recorded just 1 clean sheet on their travels in the league. This season their rearguard seems more suspect for several factors. New keeper De Gea has something of a weakness from long range shots – he was beaten 11 times from outside the box last season in La Liga (more than any other goalkeeper) and opposition sides have looked to exploit this. He has looked more culpable from crosses for me though – something which is a specialism for us.

 United’s inability to protect their keeper seems to be the key issue as the table (left) shows they concede more shots per game than any side in the league. United have been unable to deploy a stable defensive partnership due to injuries to key personnel (although Vidic and Ferdinand could both figure on Saturday) Their more free flowing style has seen Carrick  overlooked so far this campaign and with Anderson more advanced this season and Fletcher/Cleverley are both better offensively – perhaps this lack of protection has cost United in a way we shipped goals badly after the departure of Lee Carsley a few season back

 Everton approach

As mentioned above United’s strengths are out wide and for this reason I could see us being more 4-4-1-1 than last weeks 4-2-3-1 with our wide midfielders being given more of a defensive brief for this one. Drenthe has been class and his pace, ability to beat his man and ability to  win free kicks will be sorely missed. We usually keep quite a high line and press high upfield against United and leave space in behind – last season at Old Trafford Anderson exploited this with numerous long range passes into the space behind our defence – mostly down our left side again which we will need to monitor.

Fatigue will obviously be a factor – since United’s mauling last week we have played 2 games – one going to extra time – in contrast United fielded a reserve squad atAldershotso will be much fresher. Our game is based on pressing and work rate and maintaining this over 90 minutes will be tricky. Unexpectedly after their calamitous displays in midweek, both Heitinga & Mucha will return to the bench. Billy had a good game and will be pushing Coleman for a start here but I’d expect him to start from the bench also.

Prediction

I really can’t see United shutting us out and with our own defensive woes this season I could see this one providing plenty of goals. Last season’s encounter witnessed us score 2 against Utd in injury team whilst United scored their winner against us in the fixture at OT in injury time. This, coupled with the fact that we’ve scored 60% of our goals in the last 15 minutes of games this season means it could be setup for a grandstand finish….so don’t leave early. I’m going for a 2-2 draw.

 

Fulham 1-3 Everton – 10 Point Tactical Analysis

  1. The Blues started the game in a 4-2-3-1 system with Drenthe and Fellaini the key support to Velios – Osman and Rodwell took it in turns to assist down the left flank interchanging for long spells. Fulham opened up in more of a 4-4-2 with Zamora/Johnson up top
  2. Our 3 attacking midfielders were playing quite narrow with Baines providing the real width – often the left sided marauder was  playing ahead of the midfielders as an auxiliary left winger. The Blues at times were holding a back 3 of Distin, Jagielka and Hibbert who tucked inside with Neville in front keeping an eye on Dempsey– see average position chart (below) This was due to Fulham predominantly attacking down the middle of the pitch.
  3. 3.Both sides defended quite deep – Everton to nullify the pace of Johnson and Zamora by reducing the space in behind. Fulham play deep/mostly counter attack and were encouraging us to attack them –  this contributed to there only being just 1 offside in the entire game and thus a lot of room in the middle of the park
  4. The Blues could get away with this approach as Fulham play very narrow and attack through the centre. Their wingers are often inverted and their fullbacks don’t provide great support – it thus gets very tight in the middle of the park – notice in the below chalkboard all our tackles are from the centre with limited Fulham pressure down the flanks
  5. The display of Drenthe was one of a true match-winner. In the preview we optimistically predicted he might start right wing and his inclusion was rewarded instantly. Good pressure from Fellaini followed by some slick passing enabled Drenthe to take possession of the ball and strike a truly superb goal. Drenthe posted a sublime 95% pass completion and was heavily involved in all Everton’s enterprising play.  He also had 2 shots on target, 2 successful dribbles and created 2 chances for teammates.
  6. Fulham changed things around just after the hour mark, Ruiz replacing Murphy and Jol switched to 4-1-4-1, with Andy Johnson shifted wide right and Ruiz and Moussa Dembélé in behind Zamora.
  7. Rodwell was one of our top perfomers  – as well as the goal and assist, he posted 90% pass compeltion – bettered only be Drenthe.
  8. A key facet to our play is set pieces. Arteta and Pienaar were masters at winning freekicks in or around the opponent’s 18 yard line.  Drenthe has this ability in his locker too. He was the most fouled player on the pitch – upended 8 times – and the chalkboard (left) shows many of them were in dangerous areas (circled in orange) which Baines could exploit.
  9.  Fulham pinned us back for lengthy spells and will feel hard done by a 1-3 reverse. The game ulitmately turned on a moment of madness from current Fulham striker Zamora missing an absolute sitter – closely followed by a moment of inspiration from ex Fulham forward Louis Saha at the other end.
  10. The Blues have one of the fittest sides in the divison – last season we scored the highest amount of our goals (27 % ) in the last 15 minutes – this season the Blues have recorded a staggering 60% of their goals in the last fifteen minutes of games. This win was crucial given recent results and the Chelsea/Man Utd double header this week. 

Fulham v Everton Tactical Preview

Sunday sees us head to Fulham in a game which offers some respite from the gruesome run of fixtures the Blues currently find themselves caught up in. This quick preview will look at the Cottagers strengths and weaknesses and how we will approach the fixture…..

Fulham Strengths

Fulham will predominantly attack down their right side and use counter attack as their main attacking weapon.  As fans we are constantly told by the pundits that defending pace is a ‘defenders nightmare’….so how best to stop it? Well I’d expect Distin and co to drop deeper to deny the space in behind for Andy Johnson to exploit rather than run the risk of a straight race which would favour the former Toffee.

Fulham have played 9 games in all competitions at home already this campaign and are still unbeaten with 6 clean sheets to boot. Jol’s outfit will look to Danny Murphy in the middle of the park to pull the strings – he has created a chance for a teammate on average 3.1 times per game this campaign with 3 assists so far.

Dempsey provides the most penetrative threat in Fulham’s ranks. Last season he scored 5 goals from corners  – the most in the division. He’ll start wide left but will cut inside and his runs will need to be tracked – we didn’t do this last season and it cost us as he slotted at Goodison – giving Rodwell the slip in the build up to the goal (left).

Fulham Weaknesses

Fulham can be a tad negative and there is still a Roy Hodgson feel about the side in their focus and borderline obsession with defensive shape. They will be happy for us to have the ball in defence and take the game to them. The chalkboard (left) shows their interceptions in a recent defeat at Wolves when almost all their pressing is applied in their own half to bring teams onto them meaning we will have time and space to bring the ball out of defence.

As noted above I would expect us to defend deep to cope with Johnson – with Fulham not playing a high line either there will be a lot of space in the middle of the park which could mean we see a fair bit of the ball if Cahill drops to give us a 3 v 2 advantage in midfield.

Everton Personnel & Strategy

With just 4 goals from open play this season (only Stoke and Swansea have registered fewer) we have looked really toothless at times. 50% of these goals have been scored by Greek youngster Apostolos Velios in the 58 minutes he has appeared. I just can’t see Moyes starting with him though and would expect Saha to continue alongside Cahill who will pivot between the striker and midfield zones.

There seems to be a question mark over Drenthe’s fitness hence his role so far has been restricted to that of an impact substitute. In every game he has made an impact though and surely he will be given an opportunity from the off in this fixture. He could potentially be pitched in on the right cutting in on his left as Coleman has struggled to make an impact lately.

Verdict

With Fulham having played the majority of a European away game on Thursday night with ten men, the Blues certainly have an advantage going into this one. Nobody drew more top flight games than these two last season – 31 in total – and Fulham have carried this on this season with 50% of their league games so far deadlocked. I think Moyes would settle for a point to stop the recent rot. 1-1.

Return of the McFadden – Analysis on his Everton Arrival

James McFadden returned to the club yesterday in a short term deal until the end of the season. The signature has been met with some derision from the Blues faithful – many of whom were unimpressed by his first spell at the club – characterized by minimal output and now compounded with  a major injury in his closet. Is this pessimism justified? This post will take a quick look at the roles McFadden could occupy in his second stint at L4

 

Attacking Midfielder (Left) A natural left footer, he will look to dribble and hog the touchline. Not being a great crosser and being on the same wing as Baines means this isn’t really a good fit as he would petrude the space Baines likes to ride into. With Osman, Drenthe & Billy ahead of him in the pecking order and Barkley emerging this wouldn’t seem likely.

 

Attacking Midfielder (right) Probably the most likely. Moyes likes his wide midfielders to cut inside enabling the fullbacks to get right up the line and deliver crosses. This would be preferable for somebody like McFadden who is a natural leftie In a 4-4-1-1 his defensive qualities – or lack of them – would be exposed so a 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders mopping up would be a better proposal. Coleman has started right midfield when fit this season but he has two issues – firstly his best qualities are defensively with limited ability on the ball – secondly his stamina is poor – he has been subbed in every game this season so can’t provide an option for 90mins. The Irish marauder was flagging at times last season but our lack of options meant he was often asked to play even in spells of poor form and injury. This gives us another option especially in the home games when Coleman’s pace is less useful.

 

Attacking Midfielder (centre) Cahill is very rarely left out and when he is Osman is firmly next in the queue for this role. McFadden played very much a second striker role in his first spell (mostly off Beattie) and to be fair his displays outshone the big lump most of the time. He has a decent long range shot in his locker too – his career highlight in the Parc Des Princes one such example and many Blues will recall his wonder goals against Fulham and Charlton. Like Osman and unlike Cahill, he does have good technique, possess vision and the craft to create opportunities and deliver a number ten role– albeit it doesn’t come off that much.

Striker – McFadden has led the line for Scotland in the past with mixed results. His goalscoring record is not fantastic. Physically he isn’t capable of leading the line for the Blues on his own. His preference is also to come deep to get the ball which is an option we already have with Saha/Cahill. I could only see him starting right up top if it was alongside a player with physical stature in a 4-4-2 . Again unlikely.

Conclusion

If he is going to start I think it will be right midfield. I could also see cameos as an attacking midfielder in home games when we are chasing a goal and opposition defences are deep. His ability from deadballs is negated by the fact that hes a leftie and we have arguably the best left footed delivery in the division already. All in all we are short on options in right midfield and need some cover – we have limited options in terms of finance and the kid knows the club and most of the players already. He is flexible in terms of positioning and can be interchangeable in the attacking midfiled berths in a 4-2-3-1 (something Coleman can’t do) Granted, it sends out the wrong signals to bring somebody back to the club who was deemed not good enough in his prime and who now carries a weaker physical record – but desperation is perhaps a tad harsh. The pragmatic view is that we have no transfer muscle and this is probably as good as we can get to boost squad depth– its little more than a stop gap move which probable suits both parties well.



Chelsea 3-1 Everton – 10 Point Tactical Analysis

  1. Team wise, the line-ups proposed here on Wednesday were almost correct – the only difference being Ivanovic coming in for Luiz at the back. It was very much 4-4-1-1 for Everton with Cahill’s dual role being to assist in midfield and pivot to support Saha.
  2. In previous games Moyes has looked to Fellaini to stop the supply to Chelsea’s attacking players which comes from  Mikel . This didn’t seem on the agenda yesterday – the Nigerian had 104 touches of the ball and registered a staggering 97% pass completion – the strategy was clearly to only press when Chelsea crossed our half way line.
  3. Mata was very much the main man. The preview highlighted the growing influence of him and he was to prove Chelsea’s talisman. He was heavily involved in all of the goals. Unlike with David Silva there was no man marker assigned and often Mata would drift from left to right to centre with Hibbert/Fellaini/Cahill taking it in turns to pick up tracking duties. Badly. The Spaniard’s utilisation of space and movement was the key difference between this Chelsea side and the more rigid teams we have faced at the Bridge in recent years.
  4. Still, we contributed to our own downfall with some truly kamikaze defensive work. For the first goal Mata (above) was allowed to waltz inside with no Everton player pressing and dink the ball over the top – this shouldn’t have been a surprise as he did exactly the same trick in Chelsea’s last home game against Swansea for Torres opener. Coleman and Baines were also guilty of Mata watching as they criminally switched off. The free kick which led to the second goal (above) came from Mata dragging Hibbert inside enabling Cole a one on one with Coleman – the Irishman’s challenge was a tad rash > these two players really don’t like each other . For the final goal (below) our right side was again exposed with dire consequences enabling Mata time to run and pick out Ramires.
  5. Fellaini appeared to be targeted by Chelsea and whenever he got on the ball he was pressed intensely. The Belgian was dispossessed 7 times – comfortably more than any player on the pitch.
  6. As has been mentioned on here regularly, the departure of our best passers Pienaar and Arteta has hit us hard and resulted in a shift in style and us playing on average 100 passes less per game than this stage last season. Yesterday we posted just 31% of the play – in the corresponding fixture last season it was 43%. Our average passing sequence was 4 while Chelsea’s was 7 which speak volumes. The result of not being able to sustain any period of possession in the opponents half is that it puts intense pressure on our defence which at the moment looks very shaky.
  7. When we did win the ball back we were too deep .Credit to Chelsea they kept us pinned in for long spells – the home side keep a high defensive line which enables them to compress play in opponents halves meaning when we did get the ball we were often crowded out and possession was lost again. At times like this an out-ball is required – Saha and Cahill will always come short away from the opposition goal – we needed someone (Drenthe?) who could go the other way and expose the space in behind Chelsea’s high line.
  8. Baines has been our key attacking weapon but as the below average position shots (below left) show he was isolated yesterday – compare this with last season (below right)and the proximity of Pienaar (20) which aided the combination play between the two which often enabled us to build possession and relieve pressure on our defence – Something we have failed to do in the last 3 outings.
  9. Our wide options are dreadful. Osman did some decent things yesterday but he hasn’t got anywhere near the storming form that lit up our end to last season. He was dispossessed far too easily yesterday. On the other flank Coleman’s  pass completion was inept – at 68% the poorest of any player on the pitch – and at time he really does show poor distribution. He has delivered  just 3 completed passes into the opponent’s 18 yard box in 3 games and for an attacking winger this is not good enough.
  10. The substitutions clearly made an impact. In 58 just minutes of bit part sub roles Velios has scored 2 making him our top scorer (!) Drenthe’s cameo roles from the bench have shown he can provide the penetration we lack – we certainly need things to be freshened up . Both should be in contention for next week’s trip to Fulham.

Everton Scout Report: Apostolos Velios – Stats & Analysis

Background.

Velios joined last season from Greek side Iraklis, a side his father played for at senior level.  The Greek forward had joined the Iraklis youth academy in 2008 and made his first team debut one year later in  April 2009 at just 17 years of age. He scored his first professional goal for the club later in the 2009/10 campaign against the mighty Olympiakos and went on to make 22 apps for the club, scoring four goals.

Despite interest from Fulham, Olympiacos and AEK Athens, he eventually switched to L4 for  £250,000 following the recommendation of Moyes top scout Mick Doherty (sadly Doherty has since left to become Chelsea’s European scout )

Vellios has also appeared at international level for Greece at U17, U19 and U21 level. He has made in total 22 appearances combined scoring 8 goals.

Statistical Analysis

His primary ability is to play as a target man, stretching defences with his physicality .He is capable of pushing opposition defences backwards and winning headers – something he has excelled in his cameos this campaign – winning 75% of his aerial duels – most notably his goal against Wigan but also the header which teed up Fellaini against WBA in the Carling cup.

As a striker inside the box you should always make two runs – one for the defender and one for you. For example, If you’re making a near-post run, pretend you’re making a back-post run – and vice-versa. This puts the defender off and give you the extra space and you’ll also have momentum over him. The screenshot above shows this nicely.

Velios possesses good control (insert good touch for a big man cliché) and a powerful shot with either foot. So far he has been limited this season to just 48 minutes of league action from substitute cameos which has yielded 4 shots and 1 goal.  Not bad considering that Rooney averages the most shots per game in the division at 6.2 per game.

Transfer Policy & Squad Composition

The Clubs transfer policy adopts the business strategy of ‘invest to save’. The dire financial position means that this investment has to be small, but rather than invest in small fees for average senior players whose careers have already peaked , the money is channelled to younger players with superior quality who could eventually become top draw performers. In essence some of these buys, such as recent acquisition George Green, could be deemed a risk but the rewards are huge – the £60k purchase of Seamus Coleman being one such example.

“I’ve got to make sure that those players feel I believe in them. I’ve told the supporters we’ll be giving a lot of the young boy’s opportunities, and it’ll be up to them to show that they can do it. In turn, it could mean that some results don’t go the way we want. It’s difficult for an Everton supporter to accept that because they see themselves as one of the big clubs”

                                                                                                                       David Moyes

There is definitely a feeling then that the composition of the squad is changing – the squad Moyes built which took us to the Cup Final for example was mostly built signing senior players such as Lescott, Pienaar, &Yakubu. Due to the finance, the emphasis is now on younger players coming through with the squad depth over the next 2-3 years based on academy graduates and astute purchases like Velios who at 19 looks a real star for the future.

Chelsea v Everton : Tactical Preview & Statistical Analysis

The Blues head to Stamford Bridge this weekend looking to stretch their unbeaten run against Chelsea to 8 games in a fixture which has yielded 6 successive draws …

Recent history

Games between the sides have been tight in recent times and especially so at the Bridge. In the last 7 home and away the Blues have triumphed three times with 4 draws. Why is it that we usually do well against them? An oversimplified way of looking at it is that due to our strong defence and limited offense, our games are always narrow and invariably decided by the 1 goal. We are resolute centrally and attack on the flanks – teams tend to get joy against us who attack our flanks (and specifically our left flank) Chelsea conversely have tended to play quite narrow and do not exploit the flanks as much– the opposite to a side such as Man United  against whom we have a wretched record home and away.

Games between the clubs have become characterized by deadlock through the middle with the key battles out on the flanks. Coleman is usually assigned to track Ashley Cole down our right, and it’s our left side where there is usually most space as Chelsea don’t have anyone out on their right who can provide real width in midfield – Ramires will look to move across but neither Ivanovic or Ferriera did much against us last season with Baines dominating this channel.  AVB has looked to use Bosingwa to remedy this since he came to the club and his matchup with Baines should be the games most interesting duel.

Chelsea Formation

AVB has already shown his tactical flexibility. Last season Chelsea for the most part were 4-3-3 under Ancelotti. This campaign we have already seen  4-3-3, 4-4-2 diamond,  4-1-3-2 and 4-2-1-3. As the players average position image (left) from a recent home game shows, Chelsea usually convert into a back three when in possession with Mikel and the two central defenders who split (probably Terry & Luiz for this one) so their formation would be 4-3-3 off the ball and 3-4-3 on it. (defenders red, midfielders yellow, strikers orange)

Chelsea strengths & weaknesses

Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge have both impressed and they make Chelsea more direct from the wide striker berths than Anelka & Malouda. Sturridge is direct with a shoot on sight policy  – he is a selfish striker with a massive goal threat (something we’d like to see at Goodison) averaging 4 shots per game. On the left, Mata was recruited to supply the bullets for Torres – he has created 3.2 chances per game with an assist in each of his last 2 games –the Blues will need to watch his movement coming inside.

In terms of weaknesses, Chelsea do have vulnerability at the back. Their defensive line has been suspect this campaign – Whilst AVB has been lauded as a Mourinho mark 2 they are very different managers. AVB has only 1 clean sheet in his first 7 games and none at Stamford Bridge – by contrast Mourinho had 6 shut-outs in his first 7 games. AVB is more expansive though – Chelsea plundering 17 goals in 7 games so far– Mourinho’s side slotted just 7 in his first 7 games.

Norwich showed that long balls over the top of Chelsea’s high defensive line can pay dividends. As the average position graphic shows Bosingwa/Cole play as wingbacks high up the pitch so long diagonal balls in behind them would be one method of exploitation. This approach got Norwich 10 shots – 50% of which where from inside the Chelsea 18 yard box.

Everton strategy and likely lineup.

In previous meetings Fellaini has been key in pressing Chelsea’s anchor man who dictates play (usually Mikel although Meireles has filled this slot)

In our first 6 games we have averaged 92 less passes per game than the opening 6 of last season – with our % of long balls going up from 14% to 17%. Therefore I can see us looking to get joy from hitting diagonals behind Chelsea’s centre backs and feeding of scraps.

I would be surprised if there are any changes in personnel for this one with Drenthe again likely to start from the bench despite his fantastic cameo against Liverpool.

Prediction

Chelsea are a class act but I think we can certainly pinch a point in this one. Based on the above I’ll be putting a fiver on a 1-1 draw.

Everton 0-2 Liverpool – Tactical Deconstruction

A deplorable red card decision by Martin Atkinson turned this Merseyside derby completely on its head as Liverpool exploited the 11 v 10 advantage through 2 second half goals….

11 v 11 Starting line ups…..

The red card decision meant that the Blues had to readjust. Moyes deployed Cahill left midfield and Osman tucked inside along Fellaini. The Blues were thus left in a similar scenario to last weeks game with City,  playing 2 solid banks of four close together in front of our 18 yard area to deny Liverpool space between the lines and in behind.

11 v 10 line-ups….

Liverpool make extra man count

The logic of playing 11 v 10 is simple for the team with the advantage; make the pitch as big as possible by using attacking fullbacks to make your opponents consume more energy tracking runs which leads to fatigue.

As you can see from the chalkboard (right) our pressing game was restricted because of the change in approach –  at 11 v 11 we pressed Liverpool high in their own half with the bulk of our tackles  made here  – following the red card we adjusted and defended our 18 yard line pressing only when Liverpool crossed the halfway line.

As a result of this, Liverpool dominated possession of the ball from the back with Reina’s pass completion 78% in comparison to Howard’s 36% . Liverpool were using their attacking fullbacks well with Kelly and Enrique joining and going beyond midfield at every opportunity. Before the red card, Liverpool’s pass completion was a stable 73% but following the dismissal it swelled to 83%. With the man advantage,  Kuyt missed a penalty after a truly stupid challenge by Jagielka and on the stroke of halftime Adam went close with a shot from outside the box.

Blues struggle to make openings

Offensively the Blues just couldn’t get any sustained period of play in the Liverpool half and vitally our best attacking weapon Leighton Baines didn’t register one successful cross all afternoon.  With limited options in the final third, we resorted to long shots at goal in comparison to Liverpool who were able to occupy more possession in our half and craft openings shown by the below graphic (Everton shots left Liverpool right)

Liverpool eventually broke the deadlock with 2 goals late on – both coming from down our right flank, firstly Carroll and then the vile Suarez. Both goals could have been avoided. Coleman’s stamina is not the best – he has been substituted in every game he has started this season – but as a natural defender he provides superb cover to his fullback and did well tracking Enrique throughout.  Both Liverpool goals came down our right shortly after Coleman had been withdrawn. Coincidence?

Conclusion

The game was ultimately decided by the buffoon that is Martin Atkinson; aided and abetted by the despicable Suarez. The Blues were well in the game up to this crazy decision and will duly feel hard done by. Liverpool made the extra man work to their advantage and eventually wore the Blues down.