Saturday sees us take on Blackburn with the Blues finding their usual great end of season form with 4 wins and 2 draws from our last 6 games, underpinned by solid home form at Goodison.
Blackburn strategy and Intel
Over the past 2 seasons, Rovers have been a solid outfit on their home turf and poor travellers. In this period they have accrued 71% of their points on their home patch and conceded on average of 2.1 goals per game on the road – only Wigan possess a worse defensive record away from home. The one notable recent exception being their clean sheet at the Emirates a few weeks back. More often than not though, they are a soft touch away from Ewood, shown last season when an Everton side bang out of form and confidence rolled them over 3-0.
Blackburn Fact of the Day: Based on half time scores, Blackburn would currently be occupying a Champions League Spot.
Creativity wise, Pedersen is their principal playmaker. Out of the 45 chances he has created for opponents 6 have resulted in assists, averaging a chance created every 52minutes. The speedy Hoilett has been impressive in recent weeks – the Canadian can play on either flank, but I would expect him to play right side on Saturday to accommodate Pedersen on the left. These will be the likely wide men in a 4-1-4-1 setup. The other midfield berths are likely to be filled by Jermaine Jones, Emerton & the more creative David Dunn. Phil Jones has been allotted to midfield in the above tactics board but with Nelson today being ruled out for the season its likely he will be deployed at centre back.
Up front, Kalinic, the match winner in the reverse fixture, is their most prolific forward having registered 5 goals this campaign, averaging a shot on target every 102 mins. He is currently out of favour though, with Santa Cruz likely to start as the lone striker. The Paraguayan International has failed to score in 467 minutes of football but has a good goal scoring record at Goodison Park .
As is the case with any team assembled by previous boss ‘Big’ Sam, Rovers are physically imposing and will try to force you out to the wings to cross the ball, safe in the knowledge they have plenty of big guys to repel any aerial threat. Samba is a huge presence but if you can play the ball around him he is easily isolated and you can get real joy here
Everton likely line-up.
The Blues have non of their big hitters due to return for this one so will continue with the same team which routed Wolves last time out in a 4-2-3-1 setup. This system basically means a delineation of the midfield duties into either ‘defend’ or ‘attack’, so you have 6 defenders and 4 attackers. Heitinga and Neville will screen the back four and then a fluid 3 in front of them of Osman, Gueye & Billy will support Beckford.
Everton Fact of the Day: With Leon Osman in the side Everton’s win% this season has been 35%, without him it drops significantly to 25%.
I blogged this week on Osman’s great recent run of form and the key role he has played of late, and the midfield schemer will again be central to our chances of success on Saturday.
More direct approach from Blues
The Blues biggest win of the season last week was achieved despite recording our lowest amount of passes made/pass completion figures of the season. Our strategy is more direct than the possession based game we started the campaign with, mainly due to the personnel options, but this is not to say we are playing long balls (why would you with nobody above 6ft in your midfield/attack?!). We are just getting the ball forward into the striker’s feet a lot more rapidly than we have been doing and playing more counter attack approach.
As mentioned earlier, Rovers will try to get us to play down the flanks to cross the ball into the box where they have an aerial advantage. It’s important we show patience and stick to our own game and keep the ball on the ground, be patient and try to bring Rovers onto us and then hit them on the break. The only issue here is that whilst Wolves attacked us from the off last week leaving massive gaps in behind their high defensive line, Blackburn won’t be so adventurous, and thus we will need to be patient.
This will be a tough match up for the Blues and its important we stick to our game plan and don’t get influenced by Rovers physicality. If we can do this I’m confident the goals will come. 2-0 Toffees.