Everton remained unchanged from last week’s demolition of Wolves. An early injury to Jonny Heitinga meant Jack Rodwell came into the team, but the formation remained 4-2-3-1. Blackburn setup in a 4-4-1-1 with former Barcelona man Ruben Rochina playing in behind Santa Cruz with wide support from Olsson and Emerton.
Playmaker Head to Head
The first half was something of a non event. Without Hoilett Blackburn lacked any real penetration or ability to get in behind the Everton defence, shown by the fact they only registered one shot on target in the entire match. Rochina was deployed off Santa Cruz as Blackburn’s principal playmaker and had some decent touches but there was no real runners in behind our backline for him to pick a pass with – Santa Cruz is good with his back to goal but less of a threat in behind. We possessed a tad more variety in the final third with the pace of Beckford, power of Magaye and movement of Billy and Osman.
The below chalkboard compares Rochina’s passing with Everton’s principal playmaker Leon Osman. Whilst Rochina had good pass completion figure (74%) which is well above his team’s average of 64%, he fails to register one successful pass into Everton’s penalty box. Compare this to Osman who had a pass completion of 80% (also above his teams average of 70%) but delivers more incision, with 7 of his passes penetrating the Blackburn penalty box. Osman’s goal topped of a great all-round performance as the diminutive schemer again took the plaudits for a stand out display.
Blackburn tire/Blues get goals
The Blues showed more incision in the second period as Blackburn began to fade, fitting in with the belief that Rovers are something of a first half team (before the game based on 1st half results they would have been in a Champions League spot). The % of Blackburn’s overall passes made in Everton’s final third dropped 10% in the second period from 32% to 22% as their forwards looked increasingly isolated with their defensive line dropping as the second period continued. Everton’s second goal was an example of this, as Leighton Baines was able to run 60 yards without being challenged. The full back then rolled the ball into the Blackburn box for Osman to tee up Coleman, who was rashly taken out by Phil Jones. It was a leggy challenge which summed up a Rovers side that had run out of steam.
Another good win for the Blues who have now taken 17 from the last 21 available points. Inspired by Osman and playing in a system which seems to suit the personell we have available at the moment, it was a fairly routine win against a Blackburn side who suffered from a below par second half display.