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Pienaar's decline leaves Everton looking short on the left

We take a look at the Toffees' options on the left wing ahead of the new campaign...

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Name Appearances(from bench) Goals Assists Crosses
Kevin Mirallas 18(11) 7 1 44
Aiden McGeady 10(6) 1 2 40
Gerard Deulofeu (at Sevilla) 10(7) 1 5 21
Steven Pienaar 11 (6) 0 3

Key departures and arrivals

It’s been a quiet summer on the transfer front for Everton meaning Kevin Mirallas, Aiden McGeady and Steven Pienaar will again contest the left midfield spots at Goodison Park this season. Summer signing Gerard Deulofeu could be employed on the left if required though he is more than likely to start on the right.

Returning players

He may only have been an Everton player for barely 18 months but most supporters have made their minds up about Aiden McGeady. The Ireland winger appears to have plenty of skill (remember when he bent the ball into the top corner against Leicester last August?) but is infuriatingly inconsistent, while his poor decision-making means he will often over-play the ball and lose possession. It appears Roberto Martinez is also losing patience with the former Celtic man given he made just three appearances after being sent off against West Ham at the start of January. A hamstring injury (surprise, surprise) means he will miss the start of the season, though given the minimal impact he has made in an Everton shirt to date I doubt anyone will notice.

Another player who has plenty of ability but fails to produce it on a regular basis is Kevin Mirallas. The 27-year-old looked to be on his way out of Everton after his penalty faux pas against West Brom in January. But, at the time of writing, Mirallas is still at Goodison and remains a key component of Martinez’s side. That’s mainly because he remains one of the most skilful members of the squad, capable of turning games into Everton’s favour. He would be difficult to replace should he leave the club before the deadline.

It’s always hard to see a player in decline, especially a fans’ favourite such as Steven Pienaar. The 33-year-old made just 11 appearances last season thanks to a succession of injuries, with just one of those coming after December. A hamstring strain picked up during pre-season means he will miss the start of the campaign and it looks increasingly unlikely he will ever be able to recapture his best form.

Gerard Deulofeu is an exciting to option to have on the left following his permanent return from Barcelona. However, he is more than likely to be utilised on the opposite flank.

Tactics

Roberto Martinez has traditionally played 4-2-3-1 formation with a reliance on both full-backs for width rather than traditional out-and-out wingers. A fit Steven Pienaar would be ideal for this given his almost telepathic relationship with Leighton Baines as well as his ability and vision to play an incisive pass. Unfortunately his fitness issues means he can no longer be relied on.

Martinez has also experimented with a 4-3-3 formation in pre-season, something that may suit Kevin Mirallas and Deulofeu , who often like to cut inside. As the only genuine out-and-out left winger in the squad Martinez’s tactics may not suit Aiden McGeady perfectly, but that shouldn’t excuse some of his below-par performances either.

Summary

Everton’s paucity of options on the left is a microcosm of the whole squad. Kevin Mirallas is an extremely talented first-choice – if his head is right – but beyond that Martinez is struggling for options.

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