Everton Collapse #2 – Poor defending or fatigue?


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‘Is Steve Tashjian there please? Asking for a friend’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


5 thoughts on “Everton Collapse #2 – Poor defending or fatigue?

  1. I think fitness is an issue, but is this not a deliberate ploy by Martinez knowing that we will likely play around 45-50 games this season if it goes well? I think he is trying to combat late season tiredness by not overloading with pre season friendlies, Arsenal looked a bit sharper than us late on yesterday which is no surprise as they’ve played double the amount of competitive games we have.

    Parts of the game yesterday were very pleasing, I think McCarthy in particular was tremendous, and I thought bar a few dodgy decisions Lukaku looked much better than last week, and finally Naismith is becoming more and more important each week.

    • Good point – I think you are right and he is playing the long game in terms of preserving energy levels for the season. I think it was a lot better than Leicester and a similar step up for the next game should see us get a result.

  2. If the staff are aware that energy levels are a factor and that we may have to defend steadily for the remainder of the match,why bring on two attacking options for the last two substitution? Surely we could have bolstered midfield and still retained an attacking threat.Are we tied to giving Atsu minutes as part of his loan deal? Maybe the aggression and work rate of Besic would have been a better option.

  3. Martinez seems like he’s talking in circles. How are fresh wingers supposed to get you that 3rd goal when you don’t have the energy levels to press the ball and win it back? Wingers don’t press the ball, they run with it, and Everton didn’t have the energy in the middle of the park to win it back so they could run with it.

    The last guys I’d expect on that pitch to press the ball and win it back would be McGeady and Atsu.

  4. Most of the comments on here reflect about fatigue or a perceived lack of tactical nous on Marinez’s behalf. These all have a place but I have some concerns about the centre half pairing of Jagielka and Distin, and the lack of cover. The first two games have got me worried considering the goals we have conceded. The first for Leicester by Ulloa was a poor clearance by Distin that gave him the chance. The second Leicester goal, whilst unfortunate for Jagielka, was not good by Stones as he lost Chris Wood and presented him with an easy opportunity. This is not the first time Stones’ positional sense can be called into question. The Arsenal goals were not of the highest quality yesterday. Cazorla’s cross should have been closed down better but Distin switched off in the middle and sensed no danger. On the second goal, Jagielka got sucked in under the ball but Distin got outmuscled by Giroud which was disappointing.

    It might appear that I am trying to ‘hammer’ Distin here and put him culpable for everything that has happened so far. I am not. He was superb last year and still has a vital role to play. But with Jagielka and Distin advancing in age, if is maybe time to look at the thought that Everton need a new centre – half around the age of 25/26. Stones still looks quite raw at the moment but still has huge promise considering his age. Alcaraz is an absolute liability, in my opinion, and many PL teams would look on his name on the team sheet and think that they can expose him; not to mention his poor track record with injury. With the higher number of games, Distin and Jagielka’s advancing years (and fatigue), Stones’ slight naïveté and the ‘no option’ of Alcaraz, Everton look thin at the back with only three real possibilities. If we are serious about all competitions this year, this just isn’t enough.

    There has been talk about Besic playing there but I think that he has been bought for a midfield role rather than centre – half. I could be wrong about that though, but I still feel that Everton have a defensive fragility that is starting to become exposed. A centre half with experience, international credibility and five or six good years in front of him would be a shrewd move before the transfer deadline.

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