Passing / Territory Stats
The Toffee’s comfortably had more of the ball (60% v 40% ) and kept it better (80% v 70%) with better final third completion (82% v 74%) leading to us creating 18 chances to Reading’s 6.
This is fairly consistent with Reading this season with McDermott preferring a territory based game in the opponents half of the pitch and often by-passing the middle of the park. To achieve this he uses 2 forwards to keep opposition defenders ‘penned in’ and will look to hit them early from the back. This formula worked to an extent with the Royals shading territory 50.4% to 49.6%.
The key to this win was utilising the right side which had a hand in all 3 goals and created 47% of our chances compared to just 26% from the left side.
The below passing network gives an indication of who passed to who….
Notes on ‘The Passing Network’: Only displays players who have played for the bulk of the game. The vertical axis shows the player who has made the pass with the horizontal showing the receiver, i.e. Coleman played 19 passes to Gibson / Gibson played 18 to Coleman. The larger the font of the number the more the passes.
With Reading overloading to negate out left side, the shift in play from left to right was crucial as there was always acres of space to play into if we played the switch quickly. Particularly in the second half, Gibson was able to facilitate this by getting the ball out of his feet and moving it accurately to Coleman to develop attacking moves.
Coleman was the games most involved performer with his combination with Gibson the most frequent from either side. The Irishman’s return to action has been timely and the opening goal was indicative of how ruthless he can be when left 1 v 1. Coleman is still very much a work in progress but if we can train his brain to think a bit more in terms of where to go after he has passed the ball in 2 v 1 situations then he can really kick on in the coming years.
In the first period we had been ok in patches but as the above visual shows, we moved the ball a lot quicker in the second period, particularly in the 61-75 minute period when we crushed Reading passing wise and created a third of our 18 scoring opportunities.
In terms of game changing quality, Pienaar was the stand out performer with his shift to the right side instrumental in our second half dominance. His fifth league goal of the season – a personal best – was truly outstanding, as was his through pass to Mirallas for goal three. The speedy Belgian took his goal well and grew in importance as the game developed.
With his skinny, quick legs and mischievous streetwise cunning, Mirallas is the footballing equivalent of an urban fox.
As the passing network shows he and Osman’s link up with Jelavic was particularly good but were ultimately unsuccessful in ending the Croatian’s continuing goal drought.
Some brief thoughts on the defence…
At the back we did ok considering we were without our regular keeper and best centre half.
Making his first appearance since a cameo as a malnourished extra in Romper Stomper, Jan Mucha had an ok game in the nets with his pass completion 35%, compared to Howard’s 38% in the Reading game earlier this season. He didn’t look too comfortable on crosses and mostly stayed on his line although he did make one superb stop from Noel Hunt in the second half. Hopefully Howard will be back next week, as fist pumping phony Jonny Heitinga is sure to be having nightmares about his re-match with Aroune Kone all week.
On the right of the back four, Coleman did well in terms of blocking crosses (Reading’s key attacking weapon) with 7 interceptions. Overall we repelled the lateral threat ok with 12 crosses blocked to Reading’s 4. However, we did concede a soft goal late on after a re-shuffle had seen Anichebe move in front of Coleman on the right side of midfield where he is less assured defensively. Worryingly, it was the 4th goal we have conceded this week with each one resulting in us not being able to defend the high ball into our box.
This was a fairly routine win against one of the weakest sides we have faced at Goodison in a while and should set us up nicely for Wigan next week. Coleman, Mirallas and Pienaar all excelled whilst Fellaini did ok in patches although his influence was nowhere near as pivotal as the derisory analysis served up by Hansen and the laughing imbecile Shearer on motd would have you believe.
In conclusion, we are now up to 45 points from 28 games which is an average 1.6 points per game. This would roughly bring us out with 61 points in the final reckoning, the same total that got us 4th spot on in 2004/5 . Whilst an improvement on last season it would still leave us short of our best ever points haul under Moyes in 2007/8 when we amassed 65 points, an average of 1.7 points per game.