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Gueye’s over-pursuit of the ball exposes Everton defence

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The first episode of our Everton video analysis series

Everton v Liverpool - Premier League
Everton’s Idrissa Gueye chasing Sadio Mane of Liverpool
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Welcome to the first edition of the Royal Blue Mersey video analysis. This week, we’re going to take a look at a player who has become a bit of a polarizing figure at Everton, Idrissa Gueye. In particular, we’ll investigate his tendency to over-pursue and destroy his team’s midfield shape.

We know the Senegalese player has the work rate and tackling ability to make a difference in midfield, but he is sometimes guilty of getting pulled out of position too easily. Let’s take a look at an example.

RBM Tactical Analysis 3-23-17

WATCH: Idrissa Gueye's aggressive pursuit of the ball can sometimes put his Everton teammates on the back foot. This is the first video in the tactical analysis series that we're looking to start.

Posted by Royal Blue Mersey on Monday, March 27, 2017

Below is the transcript from the video -

Gueye is the circled player here. The play starts with Gana interchanging with Schneiderlin in the midfield. He then carries the ball forward, finally trying to pick a pass to Lukaku behind the defensive line. This is a really tough pass, and Idrissa’s strengths don’t really lie in making this kind of play. Given that there are other options around, Coleman and Davies on the right, it’s ill-advised and leads to a predictable turnover.

In an ideal world, Barkley would slide behind Gueye to cover for him, but that's not really something you expect from your right winger.

The bigger problem, though, is that he compounds his first mistake. He chases the ball along the Hull backline when he’s got no real chance to win it, and makes life very difficult for Everton.

Now he's stuck well ahead of most of his teammates -- and Morgan Schneiderlin has to step into a more advanced area to cover for the Senegalese midfielder. When the ball gets lofted over Schneiderlin’s head, he's predictably beat for pace. You can see Jagielka starting to step forward to cover for the now advanced Schneiderlin -- and the results are predictable.

The ball gets past the skipper and there's a MASSIVE hole in the backline for Hull to get through. Thankfully, Leighton Baines is able to cover after the Hull attacker fails to convert the chance – but you can see the danger on that play.

So there’s one instance from last week, let’s take a look at one more – this time unstopped from start to finish – so you can get another perspective.

The play starts with Hull on the ball down the left. Gana is the closest Everton player to him. That Gana chases the ball as the play moves toward his own goal isn’t problematic, but once the backpass comes, he has let the play go. Instead, he chases and ruins the team’s midfield shape. Jags makes a header toward the area where Gana should be, Hull recovers the ball, and the counter is away. When the ball finally comes in from the Tigers, it falls to an open player at the top of the box, the place you’d want to see your box-to-box midfielder in this situation.

There were very few defensive failures against a pretty pedestrian Hull City side last week, but these two came as a direct result of Gana's poor decisions on the ball and over-aggression after turning it over. They got away with it against the Tigers, but he'll need to be more disciplined against better teams, who will punish the Toffees for such indiscretions.