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.