1.Teams Both sides deployed variants of 4-5-1. Everton opened up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Osman and Fellaini both sitting fairly deep with Coleman and Drenthe tasked with pressing Wolves high up the pitch. Cahill basically played alongside Saha in a strike duo as the average position image (below) shows. Wolves started up in a more cautious 4-5-1. The key difference in the Wolves approach was that whereas Coleman/Drenthe were tasked with closing Wolves fullbacks down when in possession, Wolves wingers basically doubled up with their fullbacks when we got the ball, with Hunt’s tracking of Coleman an example.
2.Crossing. The bulk of the game (38%) was played in the Wolves half as the image (left) shows. This was due to our pressing in the Wolves area and keeping decent possession when we had the ball. Wolves game is all about crosses; no club in the league play a higher percentage of their passes from wide areas into the opposition box. Moyes defensive plan was clear – mitigate the risk of the crosses by occupying the Wolves area and not letting them get near our box. In the last match up v McCarthy’s men they peppered our box with 31 crosses – yesterday they failed to make any successful crosses into our box in the entire game.
3.Passing Incision Our passing was much more incisive than Wolves. As per points 1 & 2, Wolves couldn’t get any possession around our goal and thus couldn’t get into our box leading to them not having any shots from inside our area. The chalkboards below show the difference between the two sides in terms of working the ball successfully into their opponent’s danger area.
On the other hand, with Wolves sitting deep Baines was allowed much more room to manoeuvre than he has afforded in recent weeks and his partnership with Drenthe from an offensive perspective looked good. As the image from point 1 shows the pair played close together – something Baines has missed since Pienaar’s departure.
4.Foul Play. Our preview noted that one of Wolves key weaknesses is their capacity to persistently foul and give away free kicks in dangerous areas– especially on their travels. For this reason we thought Baines would prosper (we also predicted a 2-1 win for the Blues!) This was evident in that both our goals came as a result of Wolves foul play. Firstly, Cahill was upended for the Baines free kick that Jagielka smashed home. Then when Hunt (the games most persistent fouler with 6 indiscretions) brought Saha down for the clincher. Granted there wasn’t much contact but Henry was lucky not to have conceded a pen in the first half for a more blatant foul on Cahill.
5.Stand-out Saha Whereas Baines will rightly get plaudits for his assist and goal, Saha was our top performer. The forward didn’t score but his contribution to the side was vital. He was our top passer, posting an 89% success rate; created more chances for team-mates (3) had more shots (6) and also won the penalty and numerous other free kicks in and around the Wolves area. A great afternoon’s work for the French forward.