For the second successive week Everton let a first half lead slip culminating in a loss of 4 valuable points. The post match narrative on social media was of Everton’s seemingly dis-jointed pre season and subsequently poor fitness levels coming back to haunt them. Would it have happened under the Moyes era when we ran through rainforests wearing tyres for fun? Or was it just shoddy defending? As with most things the answer is probably lies somewhere in between.
Here are the Martinez post match quotes on the fitness issue;
“I just felt that certain individuals, and as a team, we dropped our energy levels and we couldn’t control it. When you do that, you have to score that third goal or you allow Arsenal to get one all of a sudden and it becomes momentum and you have something to lose.The disappointment is the result – there are no two ways about it. But the performance was phenomenal. It gave us exactly what we wanted; a clear direction of where we have to work because it was an early part of the season performance where we couldn’t maintain it for 90 minutes, but for long spells of the game it was one where we deserved the three points. We’re frustrated but we now know where we need to work in order to get those performances to last 90 minutes.”
So lets firstly take a look at how we have fared in 15 minute splits on and off the ball in the opening games.
Off the ball – Taking a look at our pressure off the ball there is perhaps a significant collapse in terms of the last 30 minutes in the Arsenal game as our pressure seems to drop off quite a bit after the initial fifteen minute spell after the start of the second half.
On the ball – The collapse in terms of our ball retention is clear in the Arsenal game as our pass completion plummets the longer the game goes on from a high of 90% to less than 60%.Increased errors on the ball are a by-product of tired legs.
Now lets take a look at the goals conceded yesterday.
Goal1 – There are bits of fatigue on show in the way that Coleman invites Arsenal into our box in the next two screen shots following an Arsenal throw. The positioning of McGeady (circled) is interesting too. Last season he revealed how Martinez basically told him not to track back in order to keep his fullback in their own half and give us a better option on the break. Its a very bold move especially when you are two up against a very good side. The problem it creates is that Coleman is left isolated and can’t really commit to a challenge. As Cazorla is allowed to encroach to within 18 yards of our goal Ramsey ghosts in behind a ball watching Osman to stab home.
Goal 2 – For the second goal Chambers plays a great 30 yard pass which completely dissects our left flank but we really shouldn’t have let the pass go through our midfield. The gap between McGeady (now been shifted to the left to accommodate Atsu) and Osman both circled – is far too wide. Arsenal then play in two crosses, Jagielka gets caught under the ball on the second one and Giroud bullies Distin to head home after a nice ball from Monreal.
I think fitness is a problem although I’d say it doesn’t explain the story fully. Wenger’s introduction of Giroud certainly changed the game in Arsenal’s favour. I thought we were comfortable with Arsenal’s short game in the first half and we did a job on them going forward with Naismith’s link play in the air and on the deck superb throughout. With Giroud on, Arsenal pumped more balls into the box and we simply didn’t defend them well enough – Giroud in truth should have scored at least one more before his equaliser.
On the positive side we have played very well in spells of both games and going forward we have looked capable of scoring freely before the final stages of games. Were still unbeaten and the fitness will keep on improving, however the defensive lapses need to be nipped in the bud pronto especially with Chelsea due at L4 next week.