Why a lack of pressing is costing Everton dearly

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We’ve been so crud lately that this latest tale of woe didn’t really come as a surprise.  Having put the lid back on the barbiturates it’s time to chew through the fat of this latest toffee calamity with five key areas in particular coming under the microscope….

  1. Our defence is too deep

One possible explanation for the selection of Garbutt at left back with Baines in an advanced midfield spot was to accommodate our veteran centre back pairing of Distin (37) and Alcaraz (32) by injecting a bit more pace into a leggy back four.

Perhaps as a result of the aged partnership we defended way too deep and allowed Newcastle to dictate play 20 yards from our goal, which is extreme brinkmanship from Martinez given how bad we are at protecting our goal lately. Yesterday Distin and Barry in particular just couldn’t move the ball out of our defensive third, with Barry struggling badly against the pressure of Sissoko.

I see the logic in defending deep and bringing sides onto you for the space it creates at the other end, but if your shape is iffy it can be suicidal and yesterday ours was all over the place with big gaps both between and either side of the centre halves from the off.

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  1. Defensive errors

The result of defending deep is that when our backline makes defensive errors they are invariably in dangerous areas. It’s now 10 individual errors we’ve committed that have led to an opposition goal this season, which is more than any other side in the division.

For Goal 1 the defensive line is awful with Distin 2 yards behind the rest. Kone also switches off and allows his marker to get a run in behind him at Distin. When the ball is put back into the middle Coleman is also guilty of ballwatching which allows Cisse the space for his goal.

For goal 2, each of Robles, Barry and Baines has the chance to clear their lines in the move and failed, but its McGeady who makes the biggest error as he gets barged off the ball on our 18 yard line. Coleman is then guilty again of not getting tight enough, this time with Perez who slots through his legs and past Robles.

For Goal 3 the brainless Barkley makes a comedy gaffe, although the positioning of Alcaraz also creates a big space for Newcastle to move into.

What can we do to remedy this? Well interim we need better organisation but long term the requirement is surely better options at CB, preferably 2 more that can both pass the ball out of defence and into midfield under pressure and also with the recovery speed to negate the threat of being caught in behind should we press higher up the pitch.

  1. Lack of pressure on the ball

This is the big one for me.

The lack of pressure we make on our opponents is a massive problem all over the park. Unsurprisingly, we now press less than any side in the league; we make the 2nd fewest tackles in the divison, the 2nd fewest interceptions and the and 4th fewest blocks. If you take a look at the third goal, SEVEN Newcastle players are allowed to make passes from their 18 yard line to ours, none of which are even subject to a challenge from a blue shirt.

  1. Lack of defensive qualities

The back line are rightly being questioned at the moment, but the forward players do little to afford protection with the likes of McGeady, Barkley and Eto’o all guilty of providing a powder puff first line of defence which in turn puts huge pressure on a leggy midfield and a hopeless defence. Being coached to not press is one thing, but losing attempted tackles and being generally ‘too nice’ is another. Opponents stop our rhythm and counter attacks by tactical fouls, but its an approach which is seemingly discouraged at Finch Farm.

Unsurprisingly then, we make the fewest fouls in the league.

A couple of incidents summed this up in the first half. Firstly when Eto’o kicked the ball into touch in the final third when we had players in the Newcastle 18 yard box for an attack. Then shortly after Coleman is thwacked 3 times by Cisse and there is no reaction from the Irishman’s team-mates. I’m not advocating natural justice as a way of retribution, but seeing some kind of reaction from his colleagues would at least show some solidarity in the group.  it was similar to the Costa incident v Chelsea earlier this season when even our captain turned the other cheek.

All in all being too fucking nice is a legitimate beef that can be levelled at this current Everton side.

  1. Out passed, and out shot.

The only positive aspect of our forward play was the fluidity between Eto’o and Kone, certainly with the support Eto’o provided with the Cameroon star making 13 successful passes to the Ivorian. In our last three games the link from number 10 to number 9 has yielded less than half that amount of passes in each game. I thought Kone’s attacking game was good and he asked a lot more questions of the opposition defence than Lukaku has done in recent weeks.

Unfortunately, our amount of shots was not enough and was trumped by  Newcastle, plus our shooting accuracy was appalling, with just 25% of shots hitting the target – that’s our lowest return of the season. We also ‘lost the passing’ which is something we’ve only done on two other occasions this season (against Man City and Arsenal) and overall I thought Newcastle deserved the win.

Conclusion

The result leaves us teetering on the edge of the drop zone after a run of five defeats in six. We’ve now conceded 3 or more goals in consecutive Premier League away games for the first time in 10 years, and only QPR now have a worse defensive record than us in the league.

Losing to clueless operatives like Hughes and Pardew in as many days has put Martinez on a sticky wicket, although talk of him losing his position is way over the top for me – but he does needs a result from somewhere quickly.

EB

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5 thoughts on “Why a lack of pressing is costing Everton dearly

  1. All valid, but 4 is the biggest issue for me. Recently heard and read blues saying they’d rather the team played fairly than be a bunch of snides to win. The last seven or eight games is the result of that attitude.

  2. I’ve been banging on about our lack of defensive quality for a while now but our backline (number 2) is the major issue. The number of individual errors is shocking but looking at the personnel in the backline, sides will be feeling that they can easily get one over us. I cannot understand how we expect to keep ourselves in football games when the calamitous Alcaraz and Distin are offering their ‘qualities’ to the mix; sadly, it is a season too far for Distin and Alcaraz was never fit (literally and metaphorically) to be brought into the club. Martinez has overlooked the need for two new centre halves for way too long. The winter of my discontent continues…

  3. Think Bešić deserves a run in the side which will help him adjust to the Prem. Will provide the aggression and energy needed. Stop gap centre half? Probabley too short. Can’t understand why we gave Barry a three year contract. Should we have sold Duffy I wonder? Agree – more pace down the middle, more pressure, higher line to force sides deeper. We are too vunerable to the counter attack.

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