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Why are Everton struggling this season?

Some numbers behind Everton’s woes

Michael Regan/Getty Images

After 20 games in 2013/14, Everton were riding high in fifth with 38 points . After 20 games this season they are 13th with 17 fewer points and half the number of wins.

Even if last season is seen as an over-achievement it is still an alarming collapse, especially as, on paper at least, the squad has been strengthened.

So what a behind the slump? Well the Press Association crunched some numbers and came up with some alarming statistics.

Firstly, a vulnerable defence is definitely a factor behind the club’s poor form. Last season Everton’s opponents needed an average of 12.6 shots to beat Tim Howard – only two other teams faced more shots per goal conceded. This season rival sides have needed an average of just 7.9 shots to score against Everton, the worst in the division.

Martinez always had a reputation for building neat passing sides with soft defences while at Wigan and that seems to have finally spread over to Goodison Park.

Injuries and an ageing squad haven’t helped either. At an average of 29 years and 363 days, Everton have the oldest side in the division, more than two and half years older than the league average.

When they played Manchester City last month they named the oldest starting line-up of the season, with more than half of the side aged 32 years or older.

Those ageing legs have not been helped by a succession of injuries that has meant Martinez has not been able to name an unchanged team, averaging 2.9 changes per match to his starting XI this season. Last season only two Premier League clubs named more unchanged line-ups and only five averaged fewer changes than their 1.7 per match.

It has also been suggested that the Toffees’ poor run has been exacerbated by a lack of confidence among the players, backed up by the numbers.

They have claimed just two of a possible 33 points from losing positions this season, the worst in the division. While only two other teams are worse at defending a lead, with Everton taking just 18 of a possible 33 points from winning positions.

A poorly organised defence, an ageing squad, a lengthy injury list and a lack of confidence; four cornerstones of misery for Martinez to deal with.

In the short-term Martinez can only really influence two of those factors – namely the shaky defending and low morale.

The hope is that Romelu Lukaku’s late equaliser against West Ham could lift spirits and prove the turning point in the season; while the return of John Stones could help tighten things up at the back.

Long-term, however, Martinez has to inject the squad with some youthful fresh legs and address the fitness concerns that has not only kept players off the pitch but seemingly restricted those on it from showing the same urgency and stamina they did last season.