There's probably a lesson in Everton's 3-2 loss to Leicester City. Only that lesson may be too boring or too familiar to hear right now.
On the boring side, there's those who'll point out the lazy narrative that Everton, like many a team before in this 2015-16 season, took Leicester too lightly and paid the price just as 10 other teams have so far. But that didn't appear to be the case Saturday. On the familiar, and more conceivable side, the lesson is that a dynamic Leicester attack broke down a Toffees defense that's had its share of issues lately that Roberto Martinez doesn't figure to be close to fixing.
But in the interest of looking less at Everton's problems and more at its strengths (T-3rd in BPL with 31 goals), here's what the Toffees can learn from the league's leading scorers, which as Everton now know is Leicester City.
Leicester is used to not having the ball. This was very clear on Saturday as the Toffees maintained 67 percent possession, including dominant on-ball stretches in the first and last 10 minutes of the match. Even more shocking, Everton completed 538 passes to Leicester's 272. In nearly completing double the passes, Everton was also more accurate with 77 percent completion to Leicester's 61 percent. So, with all this ball-chasing, how have Leicester been able to maintain the energy to score a league-leading 37 goals?
For starters, there's no wasted movement in the Foxes attack. That starts with Jamie Vardy. You won't find a more direct striker in the current Premier League than Vardy. The man who leads the league with 15 goals is clearly seeing red every time he touches the ball. And even when he's not scoring, he's still limiting his touches and making the right passes, as Everton saw on the Foxes' third goal.
While the nucleus of Leicester's attack will always be Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the supplemental players under Claudio Ranieri are also quick to follow this philosophy. On the wing opposite Mahrez, the Foxes employ a different type of player in Marc Albrighton. Where Mahrez will curl in as a true creative dual-threat, Albrighton's game is simpler. As a crosser above all else, Albrighton knows his exact role for Leicester. Something the Toffees need from Arouna Kone.
As for Mahrez, he has more critical touches than any other Leicester player, but there's still a directness to his game that you rarely see with skilled wingers. This is where Gerard Deulofeu's subpar game can serve a purpose. After a great run of games, the Spaniard disappointed against Leicester as it seemed nothing would come off for him. That'll happen for any 21-year-old in the top flight, but part of the reason all of Deulofeu's touches seemed off was simply that there were too many of them. He can emulate Mahrez here. Yes, Deulofeu has the ability for cheeky and sublime passes, but not every good pass needs to be all of that.
We wrap up with the only non-Leicester player to score in at least eight games in a row and have at least 13 goals on the season, Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian is a more talented player than Vardy. Lukaku can play with his back to goal to link up with the midfielders and/or bring down passes in ways that Vardy will never be able to do for Leicester. But a more forward approach from Lukaku would more than likely lead to Everton getting penalty calls. This needs to be brought up with Leicester having netted two penalties Saturday whilst the Toffees have yet to even draw a foul in the box.
While Vardy has done this for Leicester all year and was the man who drew Leicester's second PK, the Ramiro Funes Mori foul on Shinji Okazaki to set up Leicester's first goal was a perfect example of how Leicester earns PKs, and why Lukaku and Everton don't. After bringing down the ball in an awkward area for Funes Mori, Okazaki's continued forward movement forces the decision. Lukaku on the other hand, will either shoot immediately in this spot or make a back-pass, often to Ross Barkley. More touches directly to goal for Everton will force defenders into decisions, which could earn some easy goals for the Toffees.
It's worth noting that Everton will continue to score goals sticking with its current style. But it's also worth a mention that both Everton goals against Leicester were the result of guys firing away from in the box once they caught sight of goal. Results in which the Toffees retain two-thirds possession and then equal the opponent's shots on goal is enough to point out that a more direct approach with less wasted movement is begging, Martinez just needs to make the right tweaks.