Line-ups and Key Data
Everton named an unchanged line-up from the side that drew 2-2 with Norwich last week, going for a midfield triangle with Barkley at the peak and wide forwards Pienaar and Mirallas supporting Jelavic. West Brom lined up with a counter attacking approach with Long and Rosenberg upfront and Morrison supporting from the right side with Mulumbu covering his defensive duties against Baines. On the other flank Dorrans – usually tasked with picking up Baines on the opposite channel – was given the role of keeping Coleman quiet.
The Blues had the bulk of play with 61% possession and 54% territory. Passes wise we made 478, completing 83% which is down on last week’s lofty totals but still higher than last season’s average figures. In the final third we made 186 passes to WBA’s 84.
West Brom Defensive Shape
West Brom gave us significant troubles home and away last year, beating us at their place and then narrowly losing at Goodison. In many ways they are the kind of well organised side we struggle against most where space is reduced as the opponent is so focused on the defensive phase of play. They get back into shape really well, adopting Moyes-style 11 men back for corners.
In the 190 minutes against them last season we scored just 1 goal from open play, that being a Baines wonder strike from outside the box.
It was no surprise then that we failed to score, but was there an improvement in our creativity and shooting?
Chances Created & Shots
Last season we created 12.6 chances per game over the season, the fourth most in the league. This season so far we are averaging 14.5 per game and yesterday created 15 chances, which is 7 more than the equivalent game against the Baggies last season under the old regime.
On average it takes 9 shots for a team to score a goal. Last season it took us 11 shots to score a goal, with us averaging 16.7 shots per game. Liverpool (19.4) had the most shots per game last season but like us were quite wasteful. In the two games so far we have averaged 21 shots per game, which is well up on last season’s figure.
As per the below visual, we recorded 22 shots yesterday compared to the 16 in the equivalent fixture last season. Of the recorded shots, 5 were credible scoring chances in the central zone of the opposition danger area (22%) whereas last season there was a tad more credible chances ( 25%) albeit from fewer openings. The bulk of the shots yesterday came from long range (7) with Barkley responsible for 3 of these shots and 5 in total with just 1 on target. The amount of shots from set plays was also up from 2 to 7.
We swung in a sizeable 28 crosses but engineered few chances from these. Given that we know that it takes 50+ crosses to score a goal, against opposition who outnumbered us 5 to 1 in their box yesterday it was always going to take a delivery of exquisite accuracy to find a man.
The closest we came was when Fellaini ventured further forward and was picked out by Jagielka from a deep delivery, only for the Belgian’s finish to strike the post.
Mirallas was largely ineffectual as was Jelavic who had another sorry afternoon with just 2 opportunities in the opposition box (1 blocked and 1 wide) . Kone showed when he came on that he has a few different tools in his locker to Jela, specifically being able to take the ball, turn and beat his man and I’d be tempted to give him a chance in the next few games.
The positive is we are working the ball into the opposition area more, with more chances (albeit not a plethora of clear cut chances) and bags of shots. We also controlled the game on the ball and restricted our opponent to just 6 chances from open play.
On the negative side, the % of big chances has reduced slightly with a higher % of shots from outside the box, something Wigan were known for under RM.
Martinez said afterwards that we deserved to win, and on the balance of play you could go along with that, but there wasn’t a correlation with passing control and real chances created and crucially we didn’t have a cutting edge when the few clear cut opportunities presented themselves. WBA worked hard off the ball and looked a threat on the break / set plays and overall a point was probably the fair result.