1.Selection and Tactics
Norwich setup in a 4-4-2 with former Blue John Ruddy tasked with kicking long balls to Holt and Morison. Attacks were focused down our left flank and former target Kyle Naughton was the main link man, making more touches than any of his colleagues. As noted in the preview, Norwich hit more long balls per game than any side in the league and this was evident in this fixture, with long balls forming 27% of Norwich’s total passes. This resulted in them being more compact but led to their most creative talent Wes Hoolahan being bypassed for the most part.
We setup in a 4-2-3-1 with Fellaini and Neville (circled right ) holding and Cahill playing just behind Saha. Gueye became the 8th player to line up ahead of Baines in the left midfield slot this season and Leon Osman returned to replace the injured Seamus Coleman on the right flank. The image (right) shows average positions of our players. In terms of approach, we played a shorter game than usual, hitting just 14% long balls which is less than our season average.
2.A Case for the Defence
One of the more bizarre aspects of the season so far is that at home we comfortably concede fewer shots per game than any side in the league, yet we have still not kept a clean sheet at home. Grant Holt’s impressive scoring record continued as he slotted his 7th of the season yesterday in what was Norwich’s only shot on target in the game. Tim Howard has been called on to make just 1 save in the last 6 hours of play at Goodison with our last 3 visitors (Wolves, Stoke & Norwich) mustering a combined 4 shots on target, 3 of which have been goals.
3.Slow build up play
Despite having more of the ball the speed with which we moved it was pedestrian. Norwich sat deep and defended their 18 yard line with no pressure further up field. The chalkboard (right) of their interceptions shows this nicely.
Fellaini and Neville as the midfield base is not exactly dynamic as both players’ qualities are better suited to pressing and the defensive side of the game . Despite us having 62% of possession between them they mustered just 2 passes into the Norwich 18 yard box during the game. Fellaini in particular was disappointing and he really needs to become a more consistent performer – his focus at times is wayward. Osman was probably our best player on the day and he and Baines were our slickest passers.
Moyes substitutions made the crucial difference in the second period. Gueye didn’t really make much of an impact, failing with all 7 crosses and only beating his man once. Cahill was again a periphery player and was withdrawn for Stracqualursi – a player yet to start a league game but already unfairly dismissed by many fans as a joke. Granted, the Argentine does have the look of a defender playing upfront but he, along with Drenthe, provided much more urgency as we turned up the tempo in the last 20 minutes.
Drenthe is quite simply the key player for us now. Statistically it takes us 40mins to score when he plays, and156 mins when he doesn’t. This time he was deployed down the right flank with Osman on the left and this improved both wings. I would definitely start both in the same roles on Wednesday. In his cameo yesterday Drenthe posted a 100% pass completion and made 4 shots, with 1 assist. His general play had a directness of which we have really lacked during his injury lay off.
This was a game we should have won based on our possession of the ball and the chances we created. There were definitely positives to take from the game – Osman put in his best shift of the season whilst Stracqualursi and Drenthe both made positive contributions from the bench. Norwich are an effective side and executed their game plan well and will be pleased with a point. I would have settled for 4 points from 6 in these crucial back to back home games against sides with poor away records so we really need to get 3 points on Wednesday – I’m confident we can do this.