Analysing Everton’s Passing & Pressing Tempo

As we head into the new season this post will take a look at both our attacking and defensive tempo to determine how we fare in relation to other clubs both at home and abroad.

Prozone quantify passing tempo as ‘time on the ball divided passes made’  so basically, how rapid you make passes in the time you are in possession.

Common themes associated with a high passing tempo are;

  • Team plays a short passing game
  • Players comfortable on the ball / good pass completion
  • Good first touch to enable quick distribution
  • Fluid movement off the ball

The following tables has been produced based on last season’s passing / pressing / time of possession data;

Unsurprisingly, Swansea and Man City move the ball the quickest, with Stoke the slowest. Our passing tempo is 5.8 which is quicker than both our 2010/11 figure of 6.4 and 2009/10 of 6.3  despite having less possession time this season than either of the previous two seasons.

Barcelona are rightfully lauded as the benchmark for moving the ball quickly and unsurprisingly they registered 5.06 last season based on the prozone formula would top any of the sides in the Premier League.

If we use the same formula for pressing we would take the take the time not in possession and divide by the volume of pressing ‘contacts’. Pressing contacts include tackles, interceptions and fouls committed. Basically the team who makes the most pressing contacts in the time not in possession equates to a high pressing tempo.

The higher the pressure the lower the number (so for example Arsenal is high pressure 52.4 whilst Stoke is low pressure 87.5)

In the last 3 seasons our pressure has gone down ( from 47.7 in 09/10 to 69.10 this season) mostly due to us making 18% less pressure contacts in this period. This would indicate less pressure and more emphasis on player positioning as a defensive approach (more men behind the ball & closing angles) rather than contact pressure  (tackles)

Common themes associated with a high pressing tempo

  • High volume of Possession regains relating to % time off the ball
  • Force opponents into mistakes
  • High energy levels
  • Pressure as a team (not individual)
  • Play the game predominantly in opposition half

We can see that we are around mid table in this respect with Arsenal playing the highest tempo in terms of pressure when not in possession.

Bilbao won many friends last season with Bielsa’s strategic high tempo approach to regaining possession. Unsurprisingly, they record a pressure factor of 31.04, which is mostly based on interceptions (not tackles /fouls).


In terms of passing, we are spending more time off the ball than on it – this was the case even after the arrival of passers like Gibson and Pienaar this campaign. Passing wise, I think we are probably where we should be in the table. The fact we had less of the ball last season than the 2 previous campaigns but have a higher passing tempo means we are moving the ball faster.  It’s certainly an area to continue to improve on this season if we are to evolve and be more proactive in winning games.

For me, the pressing results are a tad misleading for Everton anyway. Whilst in 11th, the data doesn’t take into account our own ‘2 phase’ pressing tempo. For example, the Spurs win was based on high contact pressure 1st half. This pressure can’t be sustained for 90mins, so you have 2 options a) excessive ball retention, not necessarily going anyway but engineered to allow players to get a breather or b) put 10 men behind the ball in a rigid shape so sides are resorted to passing in front of you, thus enabling you to rest and re-energise. Given the tools we have available Option B is usually deployed.

Obviously this analysis is heavily caveated and may not tell the full story but thanks for reading and hopefully it wasn’t too confusing!



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