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Seamus Coleman will try to get involved in Everton's attack

With the Toffees still thin at wing, much of Everton's width must once again come from its full-backs. Can Seamus Coleman continue to provide it?

Seamus Coleman celebrates a goal with Leighton Baines.
Seamus Coleman celebrates a goal with Leighton Baines.
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Current Players

Player Age Nationality Key Stats
Seamus Coleman 26 Ireland Nine goals and four assists over the last two seasons
Tony Hibbert 34 England Debuted with the first team in 2000-01, making him the longest-tenured player at the club
Tyias Browning 21 England

13 caps for English youth sides

Key Departures and Arrivals

There were no departures or arrivals at right-back this offseason.

Returning Players

Seamus Coleman: The 26-year old could not replicate his consistent, tremendous form of 2013-14 in 2014-15, but he remains one of the most important players at Everton. Coleman, who scored six goals in 2014-15 and three goals in 2014-15, must continue to get involved in Everton's attack for the club to be successful. The Irishman's greatest asset is likely his speed without the ball, which helps him get into dangerous positions and behind opposing defenses with ease. Of course, Coleman has had moments of brilliance on the ball as well. Let's not forget that this happened:

Coleman has continued to be a positive factor on defense as well. His tackling and decision-making have been solid over the last two seasons, after being a defensive liability at times during his first few years with the club.

If there is one thing Coleman needs to work on, it is his distribution. He gets into dangerous positions incredibly frequently, yet has only four assists over the last two seasons. Over the same period, Leighton Baines has 13 assists.

Baines' numbers are aided by taking set pieces, but that is still a sizable discrepancy. Coleman does not need to be as good a passer and crosser as Baines, as he has speed the Englishman could never dream of, but four assists are not good enough from a player as involved offensively as Coleman is.

Tony Hibbert: It has been three difficult seasons for Hibbert, one of the Toffees' elder statesmen. He has appeared for Everton only 19 times since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Part of Hibbert's lack of appearances has to do with the emergence of Coleman, who has supplanted him as the team's top right-back. But, injuries have been just as big a factor, and Hibbert is already facing injury problems this season. Martinez told the media last week that the 34-year-old will be out for at least the first few weeks of the season with a knee injury sustained against Arsenal.

If Hibbert can ever get and stay healthy, his contributions will be predictable. He will be defensively sound, but add little going forward. Hibbert is a decent crosser of the ball, but he lacks the pace to be a consistent threat on offense.

Tyias Browning: Browning made his senior debut in Everton's 1-1 draw against Liverpool last season, but saw the pitch only one other time in 2014-15. He has the ability to play both center-back and right-back, though he will likely only play down the right if Hibbert remains injured.

It is tough to judge a player on such a small sample size, but the two things that jumped out from Browning's first appearances with the Toffees were his pace and his composure. He does not have blistering pace, but he moves well for a player who's natural position may be center-back. Mentally, he looked solid in a debut appearance in the Merseyside Derby.

Browning's best position may still be undetermined, but as a matter of necessity, he may see more time at center-back than right-back, simply because Everton lacks depth in the middle of defense. But, if Hibbert is injured and Coleman needs a rest, Browning may get his shot on the right.

Tactics

Perhaps no team in the Premier League relies on their full-backs for offense as much as Everton does.

With Steven Pienaar, Gerard Deulofeu, and Aiden McGeady all injured to start the season, the Toffees will almost certainly be forced to play with at least one player out of position at the wing against Watford. When players such as Steven Naismith, Leon Osman, and Tom Cleveley line up out wide, their tendencies are to drift toward the middle, opening up space for the full-backs to provide width in the offensive third. So, Everton's offensive width must come from the full-backs at times.

I looked at some of the offensive effects of this game plan here.

Defensively, a lot of pressure falls upon the central midfield pair when the full-backs foray forward. The holding midfielders, likely James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, must always be ready to fill in the defensive spaces left when the full-backs get forward.

Summary

Everton needs Coleman to be at his best from the start of the season, particularly with all the injuries the team has at wing. Hibbert and Browning are both good enough players to occasionally give Coleman a rest throughout the season, but neither of them brings the necessary offensive firepower that the Irishman can.

In short, the Toffees need their top right-back (and left-back, in truth) to be at the top of his game both offensively and defensive if the team is to improve upon last season's mediocre form.