Everton completed a smash and grab job to claim 3 points in what was a pretty disjointed display by the Blues characterised by poor passing in the second period.
Everton opened up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Anichebe leading the line with Osman behind him, Barkley from the right and Arteta left side. The 3 attacking midfielders interchanged a fair bit with Arteta moving inside more as the game went on with Osman shifting to the right. Blackburn played more of a 4-4-1-1 with Hoilett playing through the middle off Jason Roberts. Injuries to Pedersen and Dunn would see Hoilett switch back to the flank midway through the first period.
Our first half display was decent, with Arteta playing well and Barkley again carrying our main threat – the youngster had a productive first half and even though he was withdrawn early in the second half he still completed more dribbles and created more chances than his teammates
Passing game collapses
The second half was a horror show for the Blues. As the stats show below, we couldn’t get hold of the ball and when we did our pass completion dipped. Blackburn made considerably fewer passes but made more of their possession than the Blues – their % of long balls was 3% higher than the Blues and they worked the ball into our box much quicker.
The Blues defence continued to drop deeper and deeper as the second period progressed – Distin made a huge 16 clearances but 50% of these surrendered possession to Blackburn. Our passing was increasingly poor – both Blackburn penalties came from passing miscues – firstly Barkley and then Cahill later on.
The Blues rode their luck to get 3 points here; Blackburn missed two penalties and also lost their 2 most creative players to injury. The positives where good defensive shifts for the team from Fellaini and Anichebe – who both won over 90% of their aerial duels supporting a defence that looked shaky with Jagielka again out of sorts. Osman was anonymous in one of his poorest games in a long time. Tim Howard will take the plaudits as he saved the Blues and buried the ghost of his nightmare at Ewood 12 months ago.
Ultimately last season we started the campaign battering teams with possession and getting nothing, so 3points and a clean sheet will do nicely although we certainly need to improve in terms of passing based on today’s showing.