Landon Donovan was used mostly on the right flank during his first period at the club and this is the most likely position given Coleman’s form this season. In a 4-2-3-1 it frees Donovan from the defensive restrictions a flatter midfield structure gives and enables him the opportunity to play higher up the pitch and closer to goal. He was also deployed wide left in spells of the Man Utd game with Pienaar playing central – something which worked well. Positives of this are that he is able to cut inside onto his better right foot and wouldn’t restrict Baines running zone. He can also play through the middle as a central striker as he has done for the USA and LA Galaxy on numerous occasions. The chalkboard of a recent game against Houston in the MLS (above left) shows how he likes to cut inside and interchange between the roles of attacking right midfield and striker.
2.Genuine goal threat
Donovan provided a genuine goalscoring threat in his first spell at the club and averages a goal every 189mins in the MLS which is close to a 1 in 2 game ratio – not bad for a player who is not principally used as a striker. The screenshot below shows his movement inside looking for a through ball in the home game against Sunderland.
With Cahill’s continued goal scoring nightmare and Saha’s tepid strike rate of 1 goal from 39 shots this season, Donovan’s pedigree as a goalscorer will be much needed.
He has almost as many assists in the MLS (93) as he does goals (115) down the years. The chalkboard (left, top) shows the amount of balls he played into the opposition area in the Man Utd win, compared to current right mid Coleman in a recent game against Stoke (bottom). His corner delivery from the right was particularly good – notably assisting goals against Arsenal and Chelsea and he gives us a different option in terms of out-swingers from the right to the Drenthe/Baines left footed in-swinger.
4.Movement & Pace in abundance
Coleman will predominantly dribble and run down the flank but lacks ability on the ball so often you get limited output in terms of crossing. I like Coleman but he often carries the look of a player who has played low standard football for the bulk of his career compared to where he currently finds himself. With Donovan you get a lot more in terms of movement. Donovan will invariably angle runs inside – the below screenshot shows his goal against Sunderland when latching onto a Cahill header where he runs from the outside inwards – a scenario which happened regularly enough to suggest that it was a Finch Farm pre-rehearsed move.
We have scored 0 goals from fast break situations this season – in some ways due to the high line we play but also down to the lack of speed – but with Drenthe hopefully ready for a prolonged period in the first eleven and Donovan we have 2 extremely quick wide men capable of playing on either flank. One option is to play 4-3-2-1 with the pair playing as wide forwards off one central target man.
In his last loan spell he didn’t complete any games. In all but one of the matches he was subbed in the 70th minute and in his latter games started as a sub. His stamina doesn’t seem too shabby but there maybe a condition in his loan agreement that he can’t play full games – either that or Moyes sees fit to use him more sparingly to maximise his acceleration. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was used as a sub in some games. Moyes is unfairly derided by quarters of the Goodison faithful for his poor substitutions but we score a higher % of goals in the final stages than any club in the league and 29% of our goals this campaign have been scored by subs – again the highest in the top flight.
The deal represents minimal risk in that there is limited cash involved and you get a proven player of high pedigree who knows the club and can hit the ground running straight away. Things have changed since his last spell at the club – players such as Arteta and Pienaar have gone and others such as Cahill and Saha are now in the winter of their careers. Therefore there is more pressure and burden of expectation for him to deliver but I’m confident the 2 months he spends at the club will be fruitful.