Tactical Deconstruction: Евертон 2-1 Динамо Київ

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Roberto Martinez switched from 4-3-3- to 4-2-3-1 and made 3 personnel changes from last week’s gloomfest at Stoke.  Alcaraz came in for the injured Stones at the back and Barkley and Mirallas replaced Lennon and Gibson in midfield.

Sergi Rebrov deployed Kyiv’s usual 4-3-3 with the midfield anchored by Veloso with Sydorchuk and Buyalsky more advanced behind the attacking triumvirate of Yarmalenko, Mbokani and Gusev.

First 30 minutes

The opening half hour was extremely edgy with the Goodison hot-house threatening to blow its top due to the cagey nature of the home side. The anxiety both on and off the pitch was palpable, and this combined with Kyiv’s gameplan often left us snookered at both ends of the pitch.

When we had the ball at the back Kyiv squeezed us into our own half with Sydorchuk, Buyalksky and the wide forwards shuffling inside to block off passing angles from our defence into midfield, with Kyiv often having 11 men behind the ball. The outcome was that we often moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other and predominantly this dynamic came to a shuddering halt when the calamitous Alcaraz would lose his cool and attempt to dink daft, inaccurate balls over the Kyiv left back.

Here we badly missed the cat-like adventure of Stones bringing the ball out from the back and committing opposition defenders. The much maligned Paraguayan isn’t perhaps as shite as he is portrayed in some quarters, but here he was stinking Goodison out big style, and Mbokani was getting great joy against him, particularly in the air.

In the first half hour Kyiv won the shot count 4-0, and the away side deservedly scored with their first effort on 14 minutes.

After we had twice failed to deal with crosses into our box – with Alcaraz again chiefly at fault –  the resulting corner from Yarmalenko was cutely volleyed home by Gusev – in a similar manner to Giroud’s goal against us last week – with Howard typically beaten at his near post.

Gusev was initially picked up by Barkley at the far post but the toffee youngster’s run to track him was blocked off by Sydorchuk. When the ball is then met by Gusev it occurs in McCarthy’s ‘zone’ a the near post, and the Irishman should really have reacted better.

That said, both the Gusev and Giroud goals would have been easily avoided if we had a man  positioned on the posts.

One further horrendous error by Alcaraz – this time a blind back pass –  should have been finished by Mbokani, but the forward fluffed his lines and that was pretty much it from Kyiv as an attacking force.

Last 60 minutes

The turning point in the game came just before the half hour mark when Barry pinged a decent first time pass into Kyiv’s right channel between Silva and Vida for Lukaku to steam onto. The Big Belgian’s final ball was a bit crud, but the way he had sprung the Kyiv defence and powered past Kyiv’s grock infested backline was a warning to the Ukrainians , and one which the visitor’s headed by continuing to drop deeper and deeper into their own half.

Kyiv retreating to their 18 yard line meant we were now able to get the ball into the Kyiv box and through the gulleys with much more ease, and this resulted in as close to a long ball bombardment as we have seen under the Martinez stewardship.

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After a Jagielka header had been cleared off the line the equaliser  finally arrived and again it was Lukaku who was pivotal. The forward beasted 4 Kyiv defenders with ridiculous ease and played in Naismith who cushioned a nice right footed shot past the Kyiv keeper.

After the break Kyiv continued to camp out on their 18 yard line as wave after wave of blue attacks ensued – mostly led by Lukaku, and followed up by decent ‘2nd wave’ pressure from Barkley and Naismith that forced Kyiv’s defence into countless errors.

Danilo Silva was completely befuddled as to how to deal with us and particularly Lukaku, with the blundering galoot making more than double the amount of fouls than anyone on the pitch.

With the away side’s defence creaking and Everton dominating the shot count 16 v 6 in the last hour, the winning goal seemed inevitable and it finally came due to the intelligence of Leon Osman.

We’ve harped on all season on the blog about the imbalance of attacking personnel in terms of power over brains, principally due to the absence of key thinkers Osman and Pienaar’s ingenuity and ability to find space to received and link defence to attack.

Unsurprisingly it would be Osman’s ability to find such a pocket of space in a dangerous area which would get us over the line, as his clever run was picked out by McCarthy and resulted in the by now unravelling Danilo Silva handling for a penalty.

Lukaku, unquestionably the game’s star player, deservedly grabbed then winner from the spot, although it wasn’t the most clinical penalty the Gwladys Street end has ever seen!

Our resilience and ability to put a very capable side under so much concerted pressure and bag the win should rightly be lauded, and this result and performance puts us in a good position for next week’s return leg in Kyiv.


Everton v Dynamo Kyiv Евертон – Динамо Київ

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Thursday sees our return to Europa League action as the Toffees face a double-header against Ukrainian kingpins Dynamo Kyiv for a place in the Quarter Finals. Kyiv top their domestic championship which, combined with our distinctly crud form on home soil, makes the two-legged tussle with Ukraine’s finest anything but a formality. Lets take a look at the task in hand in more detail…

The Boss

Currently overseeing his first season in charge as number one, Sergei Rebrov has impressively overturned last season’s 12 point deficit to arch enemies Donetsk into a 4 point advantage as the Kyiv club  look to bag their 14th Ukrainian title.

Rebrov was an idol as a player at Kyiv under the stewardship of legendary coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi, bagging over 100 goals for the club in a trophy laden spell in the capital city which took the club to within an ace of a Champions League final in 1999.

A big money move to Spurs followed, however his career spiralled. A Partridge style descent into anonymity then ensued before he eventually washed up at West Ham under the stewardship of self gratifying uber snide-hawk Alan Pardew in the Championship. More titles did then follow in both Turkey and Russia before a final fling at his first love Kyiv.

He will remember Everton well having broken his Premier League scoring duck for Spurs against us!

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Rebrov’s old boss and Dynamo great, Valeriy Lobanovskyi

Due to his short time in the managerial hot seat it’s difficult to deduce Rebrov’s managerial style, although he unsurprisingly credits his mentor Lobanovskyi as the key influence in his career as a number one.

Lobanvskyi’s methods involved rigid tactics, a focus on fitness, the use of scientific and statistical systems to ensure a high level of performance from his players.The system of his play was drilled into the players to ensure each squad member would know exactly what would happen in any given situation and that each player in the squad knew the roles needed in the team.

This is already evident in Rebrov’s early tinkering, with 23 players used in the EL already, including 4 different players being deployed at left back, albeit the system remains 4-3-3.

Lets take a closer look at the players at Rebrov’s disposal….

In goal..

In goal Kyiv’s legendary keeper Oleksandr Schovkovskyi is most likely to keep goal. The 40 year veteran stands at 6ft 3″ and with 25 domestic titles to his name he is Kyiv’s most celebrated current player. A notoriously good penalty saver, he was first choice in the 2006 World Cup for Ukraine and his stock is underlined by a back catalogue of more than 100 ECL games . He also has a big kick in his locker and isn’t afraid to use it. Regular number one Oleksandr Rybka usually starts in the league  but has been used more sparingly in the Europa League.

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Schovcovskyi saving a penalty at WC2006


At the back the Croatian Domagoj Vida is a big 6ft grok who can play right across the back four. He turns like a bus and as a consequence has been booked in 4 of his 7 EL games this season. Whilst Vida is a shoe in at one of the fullback slots (probably on the right) the left back slot has been one of flux with Vida, Burda, Antunes and Oleg Gusev all having filled in this season. Gusev is the most experienced and is a useful squad player given that he is two footed and can play on either flank in defence or in midfield. Gusev is arguably more potent going forward and he both scored and assisted in the controversial return leg with  Guingamp in the last round.

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Getting in and around Kyiv’s big defenders will be crucial.

In the centre back slots height is aplenty. Alexsander Dragovic, a two footed Austrian is the principal ‘first pick’ centre back and is also the most comfortable of Kyiv’s defensive roster at bringing the ball out from the back. Formerly of Basle, Dragovic has been strongly linked with a big money summer move to Man United.Alongside him on the right side of centre is likely to be Brazilian Danilo Silva, another big hitter at 6ft 1″ who can play right back or centre back.

Man mountain 6ft 6″ Yevhen khacheridi has also been used alongside Dragovic this season and is a monster in the air as you’d expect of a man of his sizeable frame. If we can wheel Pienaar or Osman onto the pitch alongside Baines then you feel we could tie these big lids in knots.


Rebrov will usually go with a midfield triangle with 2 holders and 1 ‘number ten’ in front of them. Sergy Sydorchuk is usually one of the designated defensive midfielders but can also bomb forward. As per most of his colleagues, Sydorchuk is a tall, lean and robust player standing 6ft 2″ and more than capable of putting himself about. Alongside him Serhiy Rybelka is a more cultured cat, predominantly right footed and able to link defence with the forwards although he is suspended for the first leg. The slick Portuguese leftie Migel Veloso can play either holding or at 10 – and scored twice against us at the same stage whilst at Sporting Lisbon – however due to injury he could miss both legs.

Younes Belhanda is a Moroccan central midfielder and is better suited to playing free of defensive responsibility. He was sent off  just 3 minutes after coming on a substitute in the away game in Guingamp so there are question marks over his temperament in the heat of the battle. 5 assists in the Ukraine league from 14 starts would suggest he’s more flamboyant and subtle than some of his taller Ukrainian colleagues. In terms of comparable players over here he is similar in style to Sigurdsson at Swansea and is certainly one to be watched. Vitaliy Buyalsky can also play at 10 and is a good passer capable of unlocking teams.. albeit he is slighter in size than his oppressive colleagues

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In the forward three slots there is an abundance of pace and power. On the left Jeremain Lens usually occupies the left-wing slot and the right footed ex PSV winger has directly been involved in ten goals in eleven Ukraine league games this season. He’s good 1v1, has bags of pace and also has the brainpower to pick a through pass. Lens did come off injured  in today’s league game so it’s unknown whether he will be fit to start this one – if so expect Gusev to fill in.

The rockstar of the team is Andriy Yarmolenko, a powerful right-sided forward with a great left foot. The Russian born Ukraine international has 3 goals, 5 assists and 1 red card from his 7 EL games this season, with his incision making him statistically the EL’s top creator of goals.  Like his colleagues he’s also a big lad who can mix things up and Kyiv will look to play the ball long and quickly into his feet when possession is regained.

The centre forward in between the quick duo is likely to be Artem Kravets, a 6ft 2″ striker who boasts a goal ratio better than 1 in 2 this season in the Ukraine league, although he is less prolific (1 in 4) in the EL. Pretty much all his goals are tap ins or headers from close range and he provides little threat outside the box. Playing second fiddle to Kravets is Dieumerci Mbokani, a 6ft 2″ heavy hitting sort who was Kyiv’s top scorer last season in the league with 14 and for whom was linked to the Toffees in 2010 whilst at Monaco.

Bong Verdict

Kyiv represent a significant raising of the bar in comparison to Young Boys, with the margin for error in the competition now increasingly narrow.

Our opponents don’t have any of the physical weaknesses of the Swiss side and in terms of size they are considerably bigger and have the potential to overpower us. They’re also currently on an 18 game unbeaten run domestically, which includes 8 clean sheets in their last 9, so unlike us they have a habit of winning games, and are happy to win ugly

They are beatable, though, as was shown when arguably their best eleven were dismantled 3-0 by the mighty AaB of Denmark in the group phase, and at the weekend they failed to break down an even weaker opponent who played for nearly an hour with a men less.  Getting anything in Kyiv will be incredibly tough, however,  but I’m going for us to edge the home leg and then hold on, most likely by virtue of away goals.


Tactical Deconstruction: Arsenal 2-0 Everton

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Teams and Tactics

Martinez made three changes to the side which comfortably dispatched Young Boys in midweek with Stones, Besic and Barkley coming in for Alcaraz, Gibson and Naismith.  The defensive 4-3-3, which has Besic and McCarthy as the holders and Barry as the free man to link play to the forwards, was the same tactic which was offered up recently against Liverpool, a game in which we only had 1 shot on target.

Arsenal made 2 changes from their limp midweek showing against Monaco in the ECL, with Mertesacker benched for the debuting Gabriel with Welbeck also left out – for Oxlade Chamberlain –  in what was a more attacking 4-2-3-1 with Ozil in behind Giroud.

First Half

The opening 45 minutes was very much a half of two halves.

Everton started the game in an aggressive manner with Barkley regaining possession in the Arsenal final third in the first minute, and this was indicative of our early approach in looking to stop Arsenal playing out from the back and into midfield.

On the ball we had 70% of possession in this period, but worryingly created hardly anything barring a few half chances for Lukaku. First the Belgian foraged and almost took advantage of some hesitancy from Gabriel,  but he was repelled by some decent sweeping by Ospina. Then Barry fed him down the right flank, but  an excellent covering challenge from Gabriel again thwarted the Belgian from getting his shot in.

It was indicative of Lukaku’s afternoon in terms of service,  with Howard providing the most passes (3) to the Belgian in the opening 45 minutes,  a half in which we failed to have a single shot on target.

After the midpoint of the half Arsenal gradually came out of their shell with Sanchez (left) and Oxlade Chamberlain (right) both causing us problems down the flanks. Arsenal’s fullbacks where creating good 2v1’s against Garbutt and Coleman, thus exposing our lack of width in defensive midfield areas. A warning came on 26 minutes when  a cross from our right should have been buried by Giroud after poor concentration from Jagielka, however the Frenchman miscued horribly.

The forward didn’t make the same mistake twice, however, and from Ozil’s corner shortly after Giroud stole a yard on Stones and brushed a nice finish into the corner of Howard’s net. Stones is usually unflustered against the league’s best opposition but he did have his worst game of the season against Arsenal in the cup last season, and here he struggled throughout.

That said, if we had a man on the post the goal would have been easily avoided.

Second Half

The opening to the second half mirrored that of the first with us doing all the running and keeping Arsenal boxed in, aided and abetted by a flurry of Garbutt corners and free kicks.  Sadly the shots yield from this pressure was again minimal, and the game began to fizzle out to an even slower tempo to the first half, with neither side really looking capable of breaking the other down.

Off the ball Arsenal played with much vigour, though, wining nearly double the amount of first balls (51 v 29) and also edging the second ball count (61 v 54).

There was also more gumption to the home side’s forward play.

Arsenal at least committed more players forward when they had attacks, usually having 5-6 players ahead of the ball when attacking in our half compared to the 2-3 we had in theirs.  This allowed Arsenal to have more meaningful possession to the tune of more than double the amount of passes in our defensive third than we did in theirs.

We did however force our two best openings after the break, with Lukaku and Lennon the beneficiaries from good work by Barkley and Coleman. Lukaku’s shot was excellently repelled by Ospina whilst Lennon’s trickled effort was slow and feeble, a perfect microcosm for our league campaign.

That was about it from us as an attacking force, but, before you could say WERE ELEVEN POINTS BEHIND FUCKING STOKE, the home side had gone 2-0 up.

This time the goal came from a hopeful punt down field which Giroud won in the air and led to Rosicky plundering the ball past Howard with the help of a deflection off Jagielka.

Given that we’ve only scored 3 goals on the road against top half teams this season the outcome was now not even remotely in doubt, even with plenty of time still to play due to the lengthy stoppages.


There was an air of predictability about everything on show here as we deservedly sunk to our 11th defeat of the season amidst a wretched run which has seen us win just once in eleven league games.

Arsenal struggled in the first 20 minutes and perhaps with a little more positivity we could have got our noses in front , and in doing so turn some of the simmering panic in the home end into the full on 5 live fume which accompanies any ‘gooners’ defeat.  Alas we didn’t, and Arsenal triumphed in a game that they didn’t really have to get out of second gear to win.

The prospect of a midweek trip to an in form Stoke now has the appeal of an Alan Brazil Charity golf day, and with 7 defeats from 8 on the road it’d take a die-hard bluenose to offer up any positivity of us getting a result in the Potteries.