I’m going to sign off for 2012 by taking a look at 5 things to watch out for over the busy Christmas period:
I’ve become increasingly enraged at watching Everton’s corner taking recently and in particular Baines’s efforts. For the past 6 games the left-back’s corners into the box have been exclusively outswinging. Having conducted a study of the most successful side at corners (Man Utd) here and monitored this season’s goals from corners by all Premier League sides, I can categorically state that the most successful corners are inswinging into the near post. They require less touches (and therefore less luck) to end up in the back of the net.
Everton have only scored from corners twice this season – the first when Fellaini headed in Gibson’s outswinger (ahem) v Man Utd first game of the season and the second when Jones bizarrely punched Baines’s inswinger back across goal for Osman to smash home in the derby. Only two teams are worse at corners – Norwich who’ve scored one, and Newcastle who still haven’t scored any. Room for improvement.
Having now studied 1000s of shots in recent Premier League history, the average team would have scored 31 goals from the shots Everton have taken this season. Everton have currently scored 26. You can take this whichever way you want. Either we are team of Stuart Barlows, we don’t create good chances, or at some point Everton are due some luck in front of goal and we’ll be scoring more or less as many as we should. The reality being it’s probably a mix of all three.
Jelavic ‘loss of form’
It’s been interesting to note people talking of Jelavic’s loss of form over the last month or so – remarking on an apparent lack of fitness, or his on-field arguments with team mates. The Croatian has had 5 shots in his last 4 games. 2 of those were free kicks. He really is feeding off scraps at the moment and there can be no real criticism of his work rate. The shots study says the average Premier League player would have 5 goals from the shots Jelavic has taken this season. Jelavic has 6. He’s shown time and again that given the right service, he’ll slot.
Case for the defence
Everton haven’t kept a Premier League clean sheet for 11 games now, despite chopping and changing things at right-back and centre half. However, only 4 teams have conceded less this season. The shots study says we’re conceding the amount of goals we should for the shots we’ve faced. Everton are pretty good at restricting the amount of shots from the danger area – central in front of goal – where over 70% of all goals are scored from. We continue to take the game to the oppo spending more time in their half than any other team over the last 2 years.
The Scot has scored 3 goals from 12 shots this season which is a phenomenal strike rate. In that 12 shots he’s also missed a couple of absolute sitters that Gervinho would be proud of. Whatever you may think about this lad’s ability, by hook or by crook he seems to turn up in the right place at the right time. Given a bit of game time and leniency from the doubters, Naismith, may well turn out to be an absolute gem. Goals win games, and this lad gets them.
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