clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Read this before you go shouting that Everton should fire Koeman

New, comments

Match for match, we’re not very different than last season

Everton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

So that wasn’t much fun. Despite looking and playing better than in any match since the Manchester City draw, Everton lost once again. To Burnley. Not exactly confidence-inspiring. All of this has led to real talk about Ronald Koeman’s status as Everton manager.

But how bad have the results really been? Fans see this start, compared to last year, and are concerned. Yet despite this concern there is rarely any acknowledgement that the opening run of matches has been much tougher this year. Arguably it is the toughest in the Premier League this year. That has to mean something.

Because of that we wanted to take a look at the numbers for the matches this year and compare them to the same matches from the previous campaign. So we looked at home against Stoke, Bournemouth, and Spurs this year and last year. We also looked at the away matches between Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Burnley for this season and last year. The first table we have below is a look at points earned.

Everton Points Earned

Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
2016/2017 3 1 0 1 1 3 3 12
2017/2018 3 1 0 0 0 3 0 7

So Everton has 5 points fewer this year than last year in the same matches. A loss compared to a win over Burnley is the big difference. Five points isn’t really that much when you get to the end of the season. And given the opponents so far this year this isn’t really that big of a deal. But it is understandable that fans are concerned

Now let’s look at goals scored. Which is..... not the most exciting chart to look at.

Everton Goals Scored

Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
2016/2017 1 1 0 1 1 6 3 13
2017/2018 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 4

Shocking absolutely no one, the goals scored in Premier League is down, by 9. But if you look at the individual games you see last year was boosted by 6 goals against Bournemouth. But in the other games the goals scored is eerily similar or off by 1. Plus we aren’t even accounting for the departure of Romelu Lukaku. As we’ve detailed before, 20 goal strikers don’t grow on trees and replacing his production was never going to be easy.

The next table we wanted to look at is goals allowed. This chart isn’t pretty, but it is interesting just how similar the numbers are to last year.

Everton Goals Allowed

Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
2016/2017 0 1 5 1 1 3 1 12
2017/2018 0 1 2 3 4 1 1 12

Everton have given up the same number of goals this year, shockingly enough. Seems hard to fathom, but the defensive problems we are seeing right now aren’t exactly new. But when you can score much more easily a bad defense can be papered over.

Now goals scored and allowed are nice, but that doesn’t tell us the root of the problem. Is Everton really struggling to create chances? Just score? Or something in between? What about on defense, are we just a bit unlucky or is there a real problem with defense conceding high quality chances.

To look at these questions we are turning to one of the advanced stats in soccer, expected goals or xG. This is a metric designed to determine how many goals a team “should” score, or concede, in a match. The idea is that we can see if Everton is creating chances and unlucky in not scoring, or we aren’t creating chances.

Everton xG

Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
2016/2017 2.32 0.14 0.01 0.79 0.59 2.79 1.69 8.33
2017/2018 0.72 0.6 0.32 1.15 1.06 0.38 1.08 5.31

So unsurprisingly Everton’s xG is down this year by 3 goals. But there is still a difference between this year and last year because of luck. Last year Everton outperformed their xG by about 40%. If Everton did that this year they would have 7 or so goals. So another 3-4 goals on the season. Do you think that would make a difference in how the season is going? Even if that was 1 goal a game in a few cases it likely means at least an extra point, maybe even 3 or more depending on the fixture.

Below is a look at Everton’s expected goals against, or xGA. This may be the most stunning revelation out of everything we’ve looked at.

Everton xGA

Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
Season Stoke (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H) Man United (A) Bournemouth (H) Burnley (H) Totals
2016/2017 0.19 2.69 2.00 1.14 1.67 2.41 1.15 11.25
2017/2018 0.28 1.14 1.17 1.15 3.29 0.38 0.04 7.45

This is pretty stunning. Everton should not have conceded as many goals as they have this year. The defense is actually performing better this year than last year by our expected GA. But reality is much different. Some of that is going to be luck, and some of that is going to be individual mistakes. But when goals like Harry Kane’s go against a team there may be some bad luck going on.

So on offense Everton is a team that scores slightly less than you’d expect. But more importantly they aren’t generating enough scoring chances with less than 1 expected goal per game. That’s not going to result in many points. But the problem there is pretty obvious. Losing Lukaku, and not finding a quality replacement, is going to be a problem. But it is a problem we are going to see regardless of the manager. Until January at least.

Defense is another story. Everton has been extremely “unlucky” this year. I use unlucky as a quantifier for everything. Maybe some poor reffing decisions, a few unlikely mistakes, and a few shots a la Harry Kane. Even Antonio Valencia’s goal was a bit unlucky for Everton. It was a beautiful strike, but the odds of a one touch shot like that going in are pretty low, even from the center of the box.

And when looking at what we’d expect from goals allowed Everton shouldn’t have conceded this much. That isn’t necessarily something that should cause a move, yet fans and pundits are talking openly about Ronald Koeman losing his job.

Where you come down at that question is the result of answering one question, how much does perception matter? Right now the perception is that Everton are struggling and could even dip into a relegation fight. And that’s understandable because the poor run of results also includes some ugly Europe League matches.

There has also been some.... questionable to completely bone-headed tactical decisions and lineup selections. The lack of wingers has been covered time and time again. As has the refusal to utilize the speed present in Everton’s squad. But even then there have been solid lineup decisions like Manchester City, Bournemouth, and even Stoke City to some degree.

And despite this perception Everton isn’t that far off from last year. The early schedule has been brutal in terms of opponent quality and number of fixtures. Pulling the trigger now is likely a panic move that doesn’t solve anything. Giving Koeman another month or so is going to give us more information on what Everton is under him and honestly there is no real downside to it. Worst case he completely craters and Everton fires him. But remember replacing a manager doesn’t let us buy new players and fill holes in the squad and to see meaningful change that’s what needs to happen.


NOTE: There was an error in the Burnley stats from last season that has been corrected, with the tables and text updated to reflect those changes.